Over 20 years..many miles…heartbreaks…restarts…losing our way…finding new ways…healing and growth. Mark and I have been through our fair share of trials and tribulations in our personal lives and within our relationship.
I want this blog to document the wisdom we still seek and that, which we have garnered thus far, through our walks in nature and our relationship with our canine companions. These pearls of wisdom may solely apply to just Mark and I and our journey toward growth and healing, but I doubt it. I believe that we are all here to learn, grow and heal on this journey called life, toward loving ourselves and others, unconditionally.
Mark and I started where many others do, me, loving conditionally and he, wondering if its love at all…for years. We entered the relationship as our “functionally wounded” selves and the trauma of our past was in the driver’s seat. I say functional because we both appeared like socially acceptable, quality candidates for any thriving professional with a bright future ahead of them. However, concurrently, there were…issues, seething from gaping wounds, in equal proportion between the two of us, that were dysfunctional enough to sabotage, undermine, kill, a perfectly beautiful partnership. I was looking for the relationship to fulfill my needs for worthiness and acceptance. Mark was looking for companionship and unconditional love, which by the way has nothing to do with time frames or anything that looked like commitment by most standards or definitions.
We were in agreement to live “child free” so I felt at some point in time that we needed to care about something outside of ourselves, commit to some other living thing. So, I became obsessed with adopting a dog. I bought Cesar Milan’s Dog Whisperer series and proceeded to watch each and every one of them 3 or 4 times over the next few years. I chose Cesar Milan because he had a pit bull, Daddy, and I was only going to adopt a pit bull, for reasons I’ll share in another blog. Three dogs later, two very short stints before our current dog, we are a strong pack of three. Ziggy’s part in our lives, as you will see, has elevated our quality of life in ways, immeasurable and profound. He is the reason I can put the word unconditional in the title of this piece because he is as 100 as they come, teaching Mark and I to be the same. We started our long walks for Ziggy but they have become a life source for all of us.
My definition of unconditional love today is:
- You accept them, 100%, given their faults and mistakes.
- You accept their changes physically, spiritually, emotionally, etc.
- You truly forgive past mistakes, which is so much easier when you reflect on your own past mistakes and hope that your significant other has forgiven you.
- You love them as a human being, not as your spouse, co-parent, companion or partner.
- You love them enough to allow space for them to grow on their own accord which may or may not include you, your ideals or five year plans.
In this blog I will share some of the talks on our walks that have helped Mark and I to get to these types of realizations. I will also share the answers to some of life’s most intriguing mysteries (laugh loudly, that was a joke)! A side product to considering my points of view about life and relationships will be to provide resources for beautiful walks in different parts of our breathtaking country.