Somewhere around 30, my heart rhythm changed its tempo. At 20, no one could have told me that I would not be married with children by the age of 30. Personal declarations about how I would be married after earning a Master’s degree were a part of my edict. For me, timelines with touch points about when this or that were supposed to happen trapped the reality of what was ordained to be in its own time.  When and where I developed this false sense of reality, I do not know. But, what I know for sure is if my plan had come to fruition, yeah — that would not have been a good thing.

The rapid cadence of my 20-year-old heartbeat drove my actions, relationships, and made me anxious — even disappointed. I mapped out when I wanted to finish school and purchase my first home. I also set deadlines for my career goals, future marriage, starting a family and the list goes on. And of course, it did not help when I had other — shall I say, seasoned — women hounding me about my next move in every area of my life.

"When are you getting married?"

"How are things going with so and so?"

"How much longer do you have in school?"

"Girl, you are almost 30."

Sheesh, talk about overwhelming!

Between my goals, wants, desires and the perceptions of others, it’s a wonder I survived. But I didn’t make it without stress that led to bouts of depression. Sure, I had accomplished a whole lot by setting short and long-term goals, but the pressure I placed on myself to have a successful career and all that I had imagined as a child did not allow me to celebrate all of the wonderful moments in my life. I graduated high school at 16, owned my own home by 28 and earned multiple degrees before 30. Yet, I was speeding through life using an idealistic schedule and fighting to attain what I thought was my peak: career, husband and family.

As I reflect back, I can honestly say that I was most often thrown off beat by disappointments in relationships, nothing else really. Challenges in school or work did not shake me, and neither did managing my finances during times of hardship. It was men. Why had failed relationships caused so much trauma in my life? I consider myself a pretty unshakable person, but when a relationship failed, I painfully crashed like cymbals in a middle school band.

It was not until my last failed relationship that I actually took a step back to understand why I fell so hard from breakups. In retrospect, I was attracting men who were mirror images of the worst parts of my being — men who were rejected by their fathers, or became replacements for my own father. Then there were those I dated who were overly emotional or filled with so much childhood hurt that it was hard to get past their hard exteriors. Whether they had characteristics that resembled my father’s, I will never know. I can only acknowledge that I was drawn to men who represented the most complicated parts of my being. Likewise, I realized what was blocking me from allowing a healthy relationship to enter my life. It was me — my hurt, my pain, my unforgiveness, my rejection, my abandonment, my low self-esteem — me. All that complicated stuff in me.  

Even though there was so much right about who I was, the complicated parts of my being attracted everything wrong. Sure, the guys I dated played a role, and of course the fatherless child played a part in the narrative. But, I can only accept and resolve my own issues. When I began to admit that I was blocking myself from the future I desired, I found out that I didn’t love the “hims” the way I thought I did, point blank. Sure, I loved things about them, how they treated me, their potential or even how they looked. It wasn’t until I made a shift toward self-reflection, self-love and finally healing that I was able to literally change the pace of my heart rhythm. Once I acknowledged what I was doing, I began to stand in my truth. I prayed. I forgave. I believed. I took a breath. I slowed down. I healed. I lived. I acknowledged all the fathers I had, despite the one who left. Then, I was able to celebrate life and my future on a whole new beat.

It was somewhere around 30 that my heart rhythm changed its tempo and slowed down to a more reasonable melody. It was on the downbeat that I was able to acknowledge that I did not love all the “hims” at all. I traded a life driven by a timeline for a purpose-driven life that not only included a career, husband and family but also a new awareness about what I was supposed to do with my time while I waited.

When my heart rhythm changed, my pulse changed. It was then that I found a new beat that allowed time and attraction to meet on the same note, and amongst all the “hims” was the one him whose cadence matched mine.