Let’s face it: Valentine’s Day is overrated. For all those who have been dumped, crushed, and heartbroken or are just miserable in this season of over-affectionate lovey-dovey crap, take heart! You’re not alone. This post is part of Converge Magazine’s cynical celebration of heartbreak.
My friend and her boyfriend broke up last week. They are back together now, but for how long no one knows.
Through tears she told me how he didn’t love her anymore. He just gradually stopped wanting to spend his life with her. It doesn’t really make sense to me how this happens, but I guess for some people it does. For some people, love is just a feeling. When things are no longer effortless and fun they bail. Sometimes they reconsider, and sometimes they don’t.
Seven years ago when the guy I thought was “the one” turned out to be no one in particular, I was devastated. Two years ago when the man, who had at one point said he wanted to marry me, said he didn’t love me anymore, my brain couldn’t wrap around how you can love someone and suddenly decide the love is gone. Remembering the pain all too well, I said very little as I held my friend’s hand while she cried.
Finally she said, “What do you think about it all?”
What are you supposed to say? It sucks. I paused for what I am sure felt like an unreasonable length of time to my friend who was holding her breath for my response.
I told her, “Grief comes in waves.” Sometimes the pain washes over you with such force the breath is knocked from your lungs. With its ebb comes a surge of manic independence and anger. You grow accustomed to the ocean’s nauseating instability and eventually have enough presence of mind to step back on to dry sand, away from the water’s reach, while your body still feels the ghost of its movement.
As much as I wanted to tell my friend that she’d wake up the next morning and forget all about this jerk, that’s not reality. When you share your life with people, they write a story on your soul. Once they’re gone, their story doesn’t just fade away; it’s part of you.
Relationships are messy because we don’t have control over what people write and we are constantly at risk of whatever is going to be written. We can’t hide and be in relationship either because hiding isn’t real relationship. We do, though, have the power to label the story whatever we want and write the ending.
The story of my unrequited love and my almost trip to the altar can be what ruined my life and stole my joy. But it could also be what brought me back to life and gave me new capacity for joy.
Photo (Flickr CC) courtesy of Sister72.