I never thought I’d have to say goodbye to him. Not now. Not ever. Not a few weeks after my 38th birthday. Not a few weeks before I was moving my entire life to be close to him.
There really isn’t any tidy way to process the loss of a relationship. Loss is a shit show. But boy does it fertilize the heart for massive growth and change, even if we never wanted to have to grow in this way. At all. Who wants to lose? Not me, that’s for sure.
No one chooses loss as the avenue for growth. But what other choice do we have when real love is lost? As I’ve come to see it, we must honour that (lost) love by honouring our grieving hearts. And how do we honour our precious broken heart? We grieve and we grow and we walk forward into a devastatingly beautiful transformation, a new unplanned future, but still, a future. We embrace a new path forward, and we forge a new pathway inside our mind and heart, that leads to somewhere new, somewhere we must believe is good-er and better-er than the path we so abruptly had to depart.
This summer was a devastatingly messy one. My heart seemed to be bleeding out of every pore in my body. It wasn’t just the break up. It was all sorts of other things, one of which was walking through the final dying months of my best friend. July is still a difficult blur in my heart, but here I am, somehow in September, and I’m alive. I’m really alive.
I’ve seen a whole new side of myself I didn’t know I had. A whole new level of power I had no idea I contained within me. In my most devastating, vulnerable, fragile moments this summer, I shone powerfully. I so purely and wholly released this man I didn’t want to let go of. My love had no cage, and I let the bird fly free, the moment his wings chose to.
I’m still so proud of myself. I have an even deeper root system of dignity for how I handled myself. I’m sitting here, in a puddle of tears, feeling both fragile yet strong, and so damn proud of myself.
There’s a quote I saw on Pinterest a few weeks ago that simply said,
“Once in a while, blow your own damn mind.”
Well, I can honestly say I’ve blown my own damn mind this summer. The shit has produced some glory in my garden. Even in the mess of vast extreme emotions, I am so proud of myself. I have a newfound dignity and strength that borders on an intimate invincibility that I’ve never felt before. I don’t feel any fear. I’m not afraid. I have no arrows of depression trying to lodge inside me. I feel alive. Invincible, even. And I’m not talking about that rock hard kind of invincibility that pounds the chest, roars and rejects any vulnerability. I’m talking of the invincibility that comes from keeping a soft and tender heart in the midst of having a precious dream shattered.
Love is always a risk. Love takes a fragile invincibility. Love is not for the faint of heart. It’s so much easier to shut off and isolate the heart from connection.
A couple months on, my September self can tell my July self that the risk I took for love this past year was worth it all. Even the pain. The immense loss has produced some surprising blossoms in my garden. I see some beauty peeking out of the dirt.
I took the risk. And I lost. But I’ve won, too.
The past year I would read this amazing poem by Leo Buscaglia on taking risks, and it would summon me forward in my relationship, as I was often tempted to close off into safety, but somehow I would continue on in risking relationship with another. And that has made all the difference…. even though that relationship is no longer.
Here’s the poem, entitled “Risks”:
To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk being called sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas, your dreams before the crowd is to risk loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To hope is to risk despair, and to try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, and becomes nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.
Chained by his certitudes, he is a slave, he’s forfeited his freedom.
Only the person who risks is truly free.
– Leo F. Buscaglia
That last line sums it all up. Only the person who risks is truly free. And I guess that’s what I’m experiencing right now. A true freedom in myself. I risked love. And I lost.
But I won.