Another Valentine’s Day rolls on by like a tumbleweed without fanfare.
Left standing here, I reflect on the past and life and love. My mind wanders to the first relationship, the first love, the first time my heart was launched into outer space through the power of love.
It takes me right to the moon, barren and cold.
And I realize…the first relationship powerfully defines all future relationships whether we want them to or not.
Whoever was that first sets a standard to live up to and grow past—and for me, the first was easy to live up to, grow out of. At least at the surface level.
It has taken 18 years to understand the depth of influence it has held on me.
That first relationship was full of wonder and belief—all the fairy tale romances and possibility of a life together.
Believing in the fullness of the future, discovering sexuality—we were engaged. The future was wide open.
In relating to her, everything was challenged—life fell down like a tower of cards.
You see, that first relationship was devastating—I am sure most first relationships are painful for most people, especially when they end.
I was cheated on…and not just once. To say it was a painful experience is an understatement of comic proportion.
One word from that time in my life was frequently written in my journals … shattered.
I went through an emotional shutdown of epic proportion. My ability for emotional intimacy was stunted. My best, sincere efforts to be open-hearted could only go so far. The pain I experienced was too deep to be fully vulnerable and trusting. All of my relationships since then have suffered and ended as a result of my emotional distance.
Not understanding the subtle impacts and influences of that first relationship shaped my life and subsequent attempts at intimacy.
I felt unloveable.
Ugly. Broken. Lonely. As if it was all my fault. After all, if I was as good as I know I am then how could she have done that?
Even though I could rationalize and understand that it was her choice to be that way, underneath that layer of mind was a deep wound. I was emotionally and spiritually wounded.
My self-esteem and personal value was shaken to its core.
That first relationship altered me in so many ways; the most potent was its impact at my heart and soul. I am a firm believer that the heart, emotions and feeling state exist prior to thought, words and actions. Because of that earliest heartbreak, the disillusionment which occurred altered my natural flow of life. I went from happy and believing, to having doubts and insecurities.
I questioned my values, what I learned in my youth, my course in life, and who I was as a person.
Self-judgment and blame entered my life.
What began to occur is I took the blame for anything that went wrong in further relationships. Somehow, I became an emotional victim. It didn’t matter what the cause or explanation was.
Emotionally immature? Yes, that was me. My relationships with women had hurt me, and I did not know how to love and be loved at that nameless, sublime, wordless domain and depth of love.
Passive-Aggressive? Sure, that makes it my fault as well. I was frightened to be open-hearted for fear of being hurt again.
Broken? True to the depth I myself felt broken.
I read self-help books, seek relationship advice, do everything that a modern, sensitive man is supposed to do to learn how to fix himself. After all, we know that men are the biggest problem in relationships.
What I discovered is that people are people, and each individual is just wired to be who they are. There is no blame to place on any gender, no stereotype is fully accurate, and truth is individual and subjective.
My emotional state drew people to me who had the same emotional state.
I didn’t understand how similar personalities attract each other. While it may seem true that opposites attract, at the core, similarities are what bring people together. Being like somebody else, being able to be seen and valued and loved for how and who one is.
Whatever was being told and expressed to me may have been my trait; more importantly it was the trait of the person expressing it.
The nature of that first relationship kept being experienced over and over.
Even when changing life patterns, not drinking, learning yoga and meditation, becoming vegetarian; all the core emotional qualities that drove those actions were the same.
Healing takes authenticity within.
Heartbreak sucks. So does self-lacerating anger for picking a person who isn’t loving. I picked that first relationship. No amount of new age discussions about past life karma, pre-arranged agreements between souls, sin or virtue, mattered. I chose that. It happened. How to respond is my choice.
Recognizing the subtle influences may take a whole lifetime.
There is no broken heart to heal. The heart is far too strong to be broken. Only ego and false beliefs can be broken.
The depths of spirit and personal authenticity, truth and real love are what remains.
If it is love, it is painful and liberating.
When it isn’t love, it is only painful while holding onto it.
That is life, painful and joyful, binding and liberating. The living experience is only what it is created and lived.
Having the idea of love get shattered is a gift.
It puts a person on the journey to true love, self-acceptance, knowledge, wisdom and compassion.
In knowing the real fruits of love, in having understood the depths of pain, love with tenderness and sensitivity are further awakened and embraced.
In knowing ones own soul, the authenticity of self brings together hearts of similar wisdom, depth and love.
Keep the faith alive.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: elephant archives