I wrote this a while back:
I’ve just had my heart broken. Not in a small, ‘Aw, that’s a wee shame’, kind of way, but in a ‘My heart has been utterly shredded by the one person I trusted with it, I think I’ll spend several weeks alone in a darkened room and swallow a lot of Valium’, kind of way. No one has ever experienced the pain I have experienced. Ever. Not Abelard, not Romeo, not Don Quixote, no one.
Well, except you. You have.
Love is a wonderful, wandering thing when it’s going well. It fills you, enriches you, and informs every decision you take. Your mouth is drenched in new flavours, your ears hear sounds that haven’t been heard since the very beginning of time, and the colours? Oh, the colours. Your every waking, and probably sleeping, moment is focused on that perfect object of your adoration, and it just feels, well, divine, doesn’t it?
But when it goes wrong, when it stops unexpectedly and unasked for, you become transformed into a zombified, undead shadow of yourself. All that moment-filling and decision-informing continues, and your waking and sleeping moments remain focused, but your loved one no longer loves you back. Your emotional skin has been torn from your soul and the world you inhabit is an ocean of salty lemon juice. It fucking hurts. You cannot move, you cannot function. And no one understands.
Except, everyone does.
Let me be candid, I’m old. I’m beyond all this teenaged, fanciful, hearts and flowers nonsense. I have lived, sired children, earned money and respect. I have bedded down my gravitas in silver hair and aged wisdom, yet when my heart was broken, I was six years old again, crying for my mother. It was truly awful.
You know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t you?
It’s not the first time my heart has been broken. It was demolished when my marriage ended. That was the worst thing that had ever happened to me, and I knew I could never live through such pain again, hah! And before that. And before that.
Why do we open ourselves to such potential destruction? We have a desire, it becomes a need, our need is returned, and fuels our own desire. We immerse ourselves in love, in the sure knowledge that every nanosecond of avidity will be returned, as fiery and hungry as all we’ve offered. In love, we consume one another, but the returned love restores us, and so we have a perpetuation of the conflagration. The fire that builds as it burns. I’m beyond all that though. Yet I’m not. No one is. Not if we are to genuinely live the lives we’ve been given.
Vulnerability is an essential part of being human, it allows us to connect with people, with things, and incorporate them into ourselves. If we don’t embrace that vulnerability we are rejecting one of the basic building blocks of our individuality, of our commonality, and we reject life.
The thing that sets us apart and makes us unique, the sharing of a unique bond with another unique being, is the thing that connects each of us to every other. And the pain that arises when these bonds are broken, betrayed, thrown under a bus, trod upon, mocked and destroyed, is a pain we all share. I once heard a counselling tutor make the observation, ‘it is our wounds that connect us’. Understanding this doesn’t reduce the pain, but it does make it easier to bear.
Buddhism talks about the concept of non-attachment, the Dalai Lama said ‘attachment is the origin, the root of suffering; hence it is the cause of suffering’. I see the wisdom in this, yet it’s not something I can comprehend, selfish, self-centred man that I am. I cannot reconcile non-attachment with loving someone else. Maybe that’s the point, maybe it’s weakness that causes us to cling to people and things as though our lives really did depend on them, our desire is what ails us after all. Non-attachment and detachment are, so I’m told, totally different things, but I’m not sure I can understand the difference. I guess I am a long way from ‘satori’.
I feel as though these new wounds, on top of old scar tissue, will never heal, though I see evidence of healing every day. There’s a paradox to be observed here, maintaining your vulnerability in the face of rejection is somehow a protection against the hurt that vulnerability opens you up to.
And here’s the thing, the flash of inspiration that keeps me going, you know what I mean, you know what I’m talking about.
Love is a battlefield, and I’m not convinced anybody wins..