I stood there for a moment and closed my eyes tightly. I felt like there was a million miles between us and yet I could not help but feel his breath upon my skin.
It was as if we needed each other in that moment to fill one another’s lungs with oxygen to breathe, it was as if we needed each other to survive.
He told me to hold my hands out, and so without hesitation, I held out my palms facing upwards as if to prove to him that I was open to acceptance. I spread my fingers as wide as they could go ready to grasp whatever it was he wanted to share. He took my hands and squeezed them tightly, folding his digits over, and under, and over again until there was no distinction of whose index fingers, thumbs, and pinkies belonged to whom. A mess of fingers interlaced with red as we began to squeeze them together causing blood to rush to the surface of our skin.
I opened my eyes to look down for a moment, and laughed at the irony of what this represented: Two people so full of love for one another, too much love, that kind of love which had crossed the lines of love into another realm of what therapists clinically refer to as “enmeshment.”
We needed to find where our own fingers once originated from our own hands, we needed to find where the he and I no longer meshed, we needed to recognize that we no longer worked together, and that for the most part, neither of us really, truly wanted to.
First we just had to learn how to loosen up our grip.
The mess of our interwoven hands was the first time I recognized how long it had been since I had lost my own sense of self-identity.
I loved him, I was proud of him, we had created a life together forming strong bonds of love tethered by dog leashes which had been weathered by our nightly walks throughout the seasons. Yet, I knew that was not enough to hold us together. I knew that I did not want to love him anymore.
There was a larger issue which had developed between the surface of our red fingers. A problem buried deeply within the center of those two hands that enveloped one another in love and pain, strength and beauty, the powers of emotion that connect two people.
I had forgotten what it meant to be alone. Really, truly, physically and emotionally, alone. I had forgotten what it meant to be okay with being alone.
I had to let go of that mess of fingers, of that necessity of another’s breath to carry me throughout the day. I just had to learn how to find myself again.
I let my body melt like a soldering gun to the back of my spine, melting me down as the heat formed steam against the cold pavement as I crumpled into a ball one evening in fall. In that moment I promised myself I would never love that way again. I admitted I had deeply lost myself to love—I had lost myself to loving another man, to loving another family and acknowledged at times that this was okay.
I found beauty in the love we had shared, and excitement that it was time to move on. I found belief when he met someone new to walk with him throughout his life, and gratitude that she loved my dog as much as I could have ever asked for.
I found selflessness in letting go.
I was used to serious relationships, the kind that are full of emotional, mental and physical commitment and while I relished in the state of monogamy, I never truly believed that humans are naturally monogamous creatures, but rather we find safety and security in committing ourselves to another person.
Over the years I worked backwards as if all the romantic comedies had unraveled before my eyes. I learned how to love without loving, and found happiness when individuals from my past relationships found happiness with others in ways I could have never provided. I learned to accept that and felt fulfilled by the vastly different connections I established with others, no matter how simple, short, or serious those connections were. No matter how romantic, platonic or fleeting those relationships were.
I worked backwards from commitment and monogamy as if I had finally learned to take my first steps while many of my friends were running to the finish line. I found that I learned to be selfish, and selfless in letting go. I found space for own needs, and gave others space to search and fulfill their own. I took my own advice which I had often shared with friends “not every relationship is meant for love” and I believed it because I had actually started to experience it.
An underlying ability to want love, give love, experience simple, playful, oxytocin drenched love not enmeshed within monogamy but rather the freedom to experience simplicity.
I found simplicity in life, balance in loving others, determination in continuing to love myself.
I found simplicity in being alone.
I was reminded, that one day, hopefully, we will all find simplicity in love.
Author: Anna Polovin
Editoral: Katarina Tavčar