For her, I was a chapter.
For me, she will always feel like an entire book. She had a light anyone would fall in love with; it was extraordinary and helped those in its rays—me—to feel radiant.
I gave her the best pieces of myself at the worst possible times. I immaturely allowed my heart to operate out of the futility of fear instead of being more accountable to the love shared, causing intimacy to suffer on every level.
She taught me that we are inclined to judge others by their behavior and to judge ourselves only by our intent. I am made of flaws, quirks, imperfections, and scars—all sewn together with good intentions. A few months into our relationship, my heart inadvertently developed a protective sheath-reactively and uncontrollably opening and closing with overpowering fears for loved ones enduring once in a lifetime crisis over many months.
Cowardly, I started to experience life through a cerebrally dominated approach. My ego’s self-appointed purpose was to maintain a semblance of control via pseudo-stoicism. Ignorantly processing and dealing with life like a strategically played chess match; thinking in ROIs, statistical probabilities, and predictive defensive measures. Minimizing the amount of vulnerability, I allowed myself to experience, as I was underequipped and overwhelmed. I felt the best parts of me starting to unintentionally close-down.
In their place, I found inescapable feelings of indifference, self-judgement, stagnation, and debilitating unhappiness. I could not identify why. I had the relationship I always wanted—an amazing and supportive partner, my health, a great job, and a beautiful life. How can I be unhappy? I was in a hole; I couldn’t dig myself out. I didn’t realize this depression was my heart, intuition, and spirit trying to tell me that I was on the wrong path and that my four planes of health—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual—were in conflict.
This fear overpowered everything about me, including how I dealt with the world and shared love. It altered my definitions of happiness and fulfillment, cluttering my mind with false notions of success and happiness. I focused more and more on superficial checklists and life achievement checkboxes, because the preoccupation and productive nature felt good in all my sadness. I was physically and mentally present, but emotional and spiritually tapped out. It was a form of poverty I couldn’t identify at the time.
I progressively structured my life, altered my ideals and beliefs, and adjusted my relationship and routines based upon units of measurement that didn’t fit me. I increasingly equated my worth and happiness against milestones and metrics that my soul didn’t find worthy. I was going through the motions in doing all the obligatory things to be a good partner and good human. I aimed to check boxes – cars, houses, events, vacations, achievements, children – in pursuit of that quintessential “American Dream.” Once I have that, I must be happy!
I found myself living a life plagued and preoccupied with activities, beliefs, and motivating drivers that were of artificial substance. Always contingency planning to mitigate dealing with my hurt, avoiding processing my feelings and attempting to effectively channel anxiety, all due to being both paralyzed and controlled by my fear. I was trying to manipulated and manufacture my happiness and fulfillment, based upon ego driven fear-based living and loving.
I forced this ideologically maligned nightmare of an existence on myself and my partner.
She had every right and sensibility to end our relationship. I tried a chaotically timed and poorly delivered “Hail Mary.” I raised my hand and acknowledged each of my shortcomings. I hoped by taking responsibility and accountability for every way I contributed to our failed relationship that it would show her how much I deeply loved and valued her. It would show her that I was truly sorry and willing to do the work, I finally was beginning to understand the immensity of unintentional harm and hurt I accidentally caused being a “slow learner.” I wanted to show her that I was no longer willing to live controlled by ego and fear, but instead would be unrelentingly accountable to my heart and the shared loved.
I made the frightening decision to fully open my heart to her in a way that I had never shared with anyone before—letting her into my thoughts, wounds, fears, hopes, dreams, and spirit. While my attempt was an epic fail, it forced me to deconstruct the unhealed parts of my heart and come to terms with so many truths. In the process of trying to share all of me, it exposed me to the limitations of my loving; places where ego and fear was still limiting my capacity. I had to make time and energy to explore and conquer this darkness and to cultivate a new light. One that truly aligns with my authenticity; allowing me to embrace each day since then with a fuller and open heart. I now recognize we sometimes need to endure the loss and suffering associated with things that are valuable to enrich and broaden our perspective in appreciating those things that are truly priceless.
Months later, I ruminate on how an amalgamation of my cowardice and narcissism caused the demise of a relationship. These reflections oscillate me between two arduous thresholds. On one hand, I compel myself to experience an existential crisis of vulnerability. On the other, I actively redefine how I want to experience and share love in this lifetime.
I now recognize that timing is paramount. It is a travesty when two hearts find each other, but circumstances make a relationship impossible. Meeting her was like hearing a song for the first time and knowing it would be one of my favorites. She was an inspiring anthem, deeply resonating my heart during a difficult period. And while her presence is gone, I still find inspiration from that melody.
That inspiration reminds me to measure my happiness, fulfillment, and quality of life in moments, memories, and array of feelings experienced. It’s strengthening my commitment to live a life enriched in affection, grace, positive affirmation, and non-attachment. It reminds me that emotional intimacy is supreme and openness is a superpower we should use often; that vulnerability is a muscle that needs to be trained every day.
She reminded me that it is never about what we own, what we do, or where we travel. We create our unequivocal wealth and richness in all the minutes we openly, fully, and unabashedly share our authentic self with another. Each day we can beautify our life story, by simply being present to each other and honoring each other fully by being completely accountable to the shared love. The love shared is more important than any hesitation, sensitivity, scar tissue, root, or apprehension. The shared love will always need to be bigger and more important than any of the fears. These teachings should be applied to any version of companionship we value.
Some souls cross our path to alter our direction, to touch and nourish parts of us with knowledge and poignant lessons. She will always be one of the greatest mirrors, reflecting so many things I needed to admit about myself. I didn’t love her differently because of her story, which was so different than my own. I loved her more with our sincerity and lack of judgement; where our love felt like a unique shared consciousness. Some beings profoundly influence us to strive to become more than the sum of our parts and cumulative experiences. To work to transcend limitations in a lifelong mission to become our highest self. To heighten our self-awareness and stimulate a trek of self-introspection that forces us to question our fundamental beliefs and scrutinize our truths. They permanently alter the trajectory of the type of human we aspire to be, the type of life we want to lead, the type of love we want to share, and how we see the world.
She once said, “Actions mean everything and words mean nothing.” I learned to provide words and actions in tandem. Words without actions are empty, and actions without words are puzzling. Never have I encountered a being, it seems, interpreted hurt from every act or articulation of care. Words have the power to hurt, disgrace, and subjugate, but can also liberate, absolve, and inspire. There is always a reason why souls encountered each other; all the heartfelt lessons are why I will always value her as a human.
Her accusations, assumptions, and judgements taught me that people who are hurting sometimes need to hurt people. They emphasized that compassion is not some abstract or esoteric concept that we apply only to strangers. Compassion is best applied towards those with the greatest capacity to cause us pain. That empathy, humility, and care are not easy. They are mindful choices, best practiced by remembering tough lessons:
We are all human, trying to do our best—though it may look, sound, and be different—at any given time on any given day.
Respect is a virtue that everyone deserves, even in difficult times. Strength will never be derived or demonstrated by tearing someone down, but by helping lift them up.
We cannot regret decisions made with an open heart, where we chose courage over comfort in the name of love. Living with ego, anger, resentment, and pride as our primary decision makers only breeds fear-based decisions, fear-based living, and unhealthy love.
Growth is not a straight line; it’s messy and regressive as much as it is progressive.
Life is a continuum and we can make an active choice to operate in the spectrum of kindness, love, and gratitude each day. Gratitude does not make our problems vanish. When made a habit, gratitude does increase our chances of enduring troubled times with more ease, and it allows us to be happier in the good times. I’m not ignoring the problems or challenges, I’m appreciating and acknowledging the resources and people that help me deal with each.
Hate and anger are too taxing a burden when we have a conscious choice with how we interact with the world. We always have a choice in our perspective and the position we exercise. No one makes us angry; anger is a response we choose.
The unmistakable value in living in the present and finding peace, fulfillment, and contentment in that. We are not here to gain, but to find our abundance by giving.
We need to hold space and boundaries for ourselves, our wants, our needs. We need to follow the yearnings of our soul. Self-love, self-care, and affirmation are necessary daily practices and a lifelong endeavor. An empty cup is an empty heart.
Parts of us may feel empty in heartache because we leave pieces of ourselves in another’s heart. But we are whole, abundant, and beautiful in our self.
We’re meant to live a life that is filled with an indomitable level of love, tenderness, intention, passion, conviction, and purpose; aspiring to live each day better than our last. We are not only a witness to our lives, but need to be an active participant and change agent. We might not always be the powerful wave; but even as a ripple, we influence a positive succession of change.
Communication and support are vital to a full life.
I now fully cherish the fact that some types of love can be transformative and help us find the courage and strength to start a voyage of self-discovery. I am a better human for having experienced her. She truly deserves the most beautiful life and love.
I write this for all of us who have had the privilege to live through an ephemeral and paradoxical love—a love as much a tragedy as it is beautiful. To remind us that there is always goodness and growth to be found in our hurt, mistakes, suffering, healing, experiences, and memories. Each element being a necessary unifying “mosaic piece” to help us become a stronger and more dimensional masterpiece with each addition.
I am eternally grateful for this exquisite enigma as it inspired a journey of soul searching and catalyzed my need to cultivate new love languages with myself and the world. I also write this because if my culpability causes even one human to recognize a place in their life where they can consciously choose love over fear, then your happiness is my happiness. Sometimes the hardest lessons we endure are the ones our soul needs to learn the most.
I have had the distinct privilege of living through and sharing several chapters of my life with some amazing humans, but I have no doubt, this “book” will always be one of my favorites. She felt like my North Star in a part of my life that felt like a Category 5 Hurricane. I am far better and more equipped today in my capacity to love myself, my life and another openly, healthfully, and more deeply than ever before and none of that would have happened, if not for the experience of us.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for overwhelming me.