A funny thing happens when I write about relationships, love, loneliness, singleness. People connect. This subject, more than almost anything else we have, puts humanity on radiant display and we relish the opportunity to share in it.
If you’ve been hurt, as I have, you join that ignominious club that’s full of both empathy and advice born from personal experience. This is the collection of bodies that are held together like papier-mâché, offering some semblance of comfort as if to replace “the one that got away.” It fails to measure up, but it doesn’t stop them from trying, and touchingly so.
For a few months, I’ve been teetering on the edge of heartbreak. And during the course of this time, I thought about what I might do if it came to pass. This space I’ve created for myself is built on the premise of vulnerability and transparency and I promised myself, if the day ever came when I didn’t want to share, I’d shut it down. Naturally, right now, I’m so tempted to shut it down. But I’ve decided, for the time being at least, to keep it alive because I find this worth sharing.
This will be hard for me to write.
We love on a spectrum of self, and by that I mean we all love in some combination, selfishly and selflessly. It’s not any sort of boasting to tell you that I was able to love more selflessly than not, in a way in which I was able to bind myself fully, my joy and my wellbeing to the joy and wellbeing of another. In the end, it was more important to me that she was happy than it was for her to be with me…and sadly, I ended up having to choose between the two.
Here’s the brutal question that looms over it all: What if we are able to love in this way only to find that it’s not enough?
“That’s just life” is the response that I hear most often to this question. But you have to be careful with “That’s just life”, because while this is true, it not only diminishes the hurt I feel, but it diminishes life. It is just life, but I remind you that life is intensely personal. This hurt is my hurt, and though I can learn a thing or two from others who have gone through something similar, they’ll never understand how this particular pain interacts with my particular self.
And still, the floodgates open up and the outpouring of stories, commiserations, and testimonies are impossible to hold back. What is it about hurt and heartbreak that invites other stories of hurt and heartbreak?
As I’ve learned, heartbreak doesn’t come from losing the ones we love (though this hurts), it comes from the void that we end up pouring our love into, which then cannot possibly reciprocate. Love is complicit in creating the fissures which then become the faultlines; a void cannot replace the living, breathing warmth of a person.
That void is a scary thing, a very scary thing. What was once there to fill a big place in your life is gone. The red light on your Blackberry stops blinking and the thing that occupied the front of your thoughts is relegated to the back of your memory. In its place lies the void. Follow that train of thought all the way through, all the way down the rabbit hole…and you’re lost.
If you stand there alone in front of that void, it will eat you up because it is relentless and it is voracious. But almost like white blood cells rushing in to coagulate an open wound, that papier-mâché army comes charging in, armed with their stories of heartbreak, saying, look…you don’t have to stand in front of this monstrous void alone.
I’m getting a bit too metaphysical with this talk of voids and papier-mâché armies, so let me speak plainly.
She means a lot to me. She filled in the blanks of my narrative. Now she’s gone and I miss her. I miss her terribly. In her place, she’s left a silence and while I’d rather wallow in it, I’ll try to surround myself with those who do their pathetic best to bind themselves to me. So I talk with people who have stories to tell and similar experiences to share. I turn to my faith which is a faith entrenched in love. And though the blunt force of the Holy Spirit, nor the diluted love of friends and family, is enough to replace her acuity, it doesn’t stop them from trying:
You have heartache.
I have so heart-a-c-h-e.
You have broken heart.
I have so broken heart.
I don’t have any word so i pray…
I love you son.
And touchingly so.
Figs and Fodder on hiatus