Learning to Accept Your Failures

After twenty-something years of marriage she had ended it. Now, the house was up for sale and the kids at university. After years of indifference, “flat-lining’, I call it, it had come to this. She had moved out. She was, after all, the one who had been working on herself. Workshops. Retreats. Therapy, lots of therapy. She was the conscious one who could no longer take the status quo. But now she was feeling like a failure, berating herself for ever marrying him.

“I don’t think I ever loved him,” she continued. “Why would I ever have married him? God I was stupid!”

“All is good,” I heard myself say. “He was the necessary stepping stone to the wise woman you are now. All experiences, even the unpleasant ones, have something to teach us.”

But I never loved him, Grace!

At 20 we call it love and maybe it is, but as we grow and mature and live life, the heart stretches so that the love we feel and give is deeper, richer, more textured.

“Well, I’m sure you loved him with your 18 year-old heart,’ I said. “It was the best you could do.”

My friend grew up with a psychotic alcoholic mother and an absent father. “Dysfunctional” doesn’t even come close to describing her childhood. There was cruelty and constant fear. She was the oldest, so she took the brunt of the abuse. Finding Tom, who was a gentle heart, and seemed stable at the time, felt like finding an oasis in the desert.

Maybe it’s a different feeling at 18 or 20—it’s not the love that we can feel at 40 or 50 when life’s wisdom has taught us the difference between infatuation and true love. And whatever this euphoric feeling is at the beginning, what we know is that if we have not done any of our personal work, healed our wounds from childhood and figured out who we are, we end up asleep for most of our waking lives. We become blind to the beauty in our beloved because we don’t see it in ourselves. We don’t know how to love each other because our heart is burdened with emotional pollution. And digging it up at midlife seems much too painful. It’s easier to go on anti-depressants. Marriages flat-line because we flat-line. It happens to many modern couples and it happened to Tom and Sara.

I take a sip of my latte and look out over the lake.

“Maybe you’ll meet the love of your life now,” I tell Sara, trying to be encouraging. “You have healed the past and prepared your heart. You’re ready to attract a different man now.’

If it is true as research suggests, that women grow more confident and self-accepting with age, then it’s also true that a woman of 50 loves and accepts herself more than a woman of 20. The self-doubt demons seem to heal by menopause.

“Maybe,” she says, “but I still wish I hadn’t married him.”

How about you? Do you have regrets? Do you criticize yourself for a failed marriage or relationship?

“The world, Govinda, is not imperfect or slowly evolving along a long path to perfection,” Siddhartha tells his friend. “No, it is perfect at every moment … therefore everything that exists is good—death as well as life, sin as well as holiness, wisdom as well as folly. Everything is necessary, everything needs only my agreement, my assent, my loving understanding; then all is well with me and nothing can harm me.”

I have always loved that passage in Herman Hesse’s novel, Siddhartha. I think it’s very wise. The point is that nothing in life is a waste, no experience was put there at random. Everything you experience, the pain, the joy, the peaks and the valleys, are perfect because they make up the you that is reading this right now. Imagine if you could delete some events, a few relationships, a marriage, a job here, a bad decision there … if you could take any of it back, then the mix would be all wrong and you would be all wrong. You are a perfect recipe, and your life is unfolding perfectly—just the way it should. Take it all. Accept it all and most importantly, love it all. That is the way to internal peace. That is the way of the spiritual warrior.


Grace Cirocco
179 King Street
St. Catharines, ON
L2R 3J5 Canada
Telephone: (905) 688-0868
Fax: (905) 688-2788