Heartbreak invites us back to the drawing board. It reminds us of the possibilities that lie within romantic relationships:
Being together not based on any kind of need or lack, but a coming together in partnership, in support of each other’s growth, companionship, mutual respect and admiration of each other’s wholeness …
It’s no mean feat, it’s a process, it’s a journey, it takes time – but it is possible.
One of the reasons why this ideal is hard:
It’s hard because we’ve been fed too many seductive illusions, and it’s hard to give them up.
We are attached to the fantasy that someone is going to save us from our lives.
We don’t want to give up the hope that someone else is going to make it all feel better, to reassure us that we will wake up to the lives of our dreams, that we are all going to be okay. We want someone to take away our doubts, our insecurities, our uncertainties, our vulnerable, scary feelings. We want someone to wrap it all up in a bow and keep reassuring us day after day, that it’s going to be okay.
We hope that someone else will fill up our emptiness, will patch up our loneliness, will quieten down the big, swooping questioning feelings deep inside, that keep asking of us: “Will you see us now? Will you hear us? Will you answer us?”
And as long as we keep ignoring the gnawing feelings inside, we will keep running up against the heat of burning disappointments, of heart break, of conflict, of separation, of alienation. We will meet and discard lovers one by one. We will place huge hopes on them and be crushed by our disappointment. We will see their light and attempt to warm our hands by it, neglecting our own homes and hearths.
We will insist on controlling everyone around us – our lovers, our friends, our families, every single person we meet – so that they will give us the sense of safety and security we desire. We will not understand their desires to express themselves as who they are. We will exhaust ourselves and run ourselves down in the process of preserving who and what we think we are, ignoring every single sign post that Love has left for us. “Slow down – sit with me. Do not abandon me. I am here.”
And as long as we do not completely own our feelings – and insist on blaming them on the other; as long as we do not start to learn to hold our feelings and when necessary, examine them with a compassionate lens, our heartbreaks will happen on loop, nudging us ever closer to the space where we have to sit, naked and unafraid, with ourselves… without a single illusion to blur our visions and intoxicate our imaginations.
And accept the truth: no one else is coming to make it all okay.
The Sacred Marriage: Your Union with Yourself
What will you do then with your broken heart? What will you do with your feelings of emptiness? What will you do with all your fragile hopes and dreams? What will you do with the voice you’ve choked down in the hopes that your silence will help maintain the peace, will preserve your cocoon, will make everything stay the same?
And this is when the invitation comes: Will you stop running away? Will you stay with yourself, and not seek out another, simply to take those feelings of loneliness away?
Do not fear accepting the invitation, because even as you make the pledge to never abandon yourself again in the hopes of finding love outside of you, you will never be alone. You will have companions on your path. You will have helpers, guides, acquaintances, teachers, friends, strangers all colluding to ensure you get absolutely what you need. As long as you are bravely treading on the path, shedding illusions one by one, you will have absolutely everything you need to meet and guide you.
But first, you have to be willing to give up the illusions that are wrapped around the notions of romantic love.
Will you accept the invitation?
My loves, attachment issues are forged in childhood. Any time we rub up against something that touches a sore spot within our relationships, we are reminded… Of when we were not seen, heard, wanted, loved, the way we needed to be. Each time we are reminded, we have to see, hear, want and love ourselves more. We have to tend and nurture. We have to hold and examine. We can do it alone or in the company of a present and attuned other (like a good therapist). I read such a great line recently, and it said: “It is not possible for us (as adults) to be abandoned, only left. We can’t be engulfed, only crowded.”
Meaning that each time we feel abandoned or engulfed as adults, our sensitive bodies are only reminding us of the times we felt that way as powerless children, calling out to us to hold and heal these systems. When we repair and heal our systems, relationships will feel so different: we will hold, not cling; nurture, not need; see and appreciate quirks and differences, not harshly condemn and censure; communicate hurts and learn to repair ruptures without exploding. The stable home we hold within ourselves will be reflected in the union we share with the other. There is no other way, yet there are so many ways to get to the same outcome. It all starts with sitting with yourself, learning to hold, accept, and gaze at yourself with love and self-compassion. For those who have experienced trauma – and there are many kinds of trauma in our often violent society – this can be even more challenging. I urge those who have gone through the experience of trauma to not minimize your experience, to seek help, to reach out.