Not too long ago, I’d wake each morning to hot tears rolling down my cheeks onto my pillow, and to the pervading feeling of loneliness that brought them on.
Not too long ago, there was nothing I felt any desire to do if I couldn’t do it with him.
Not too long ago, there was nowhere in the world that felt like home except for inside that warm cocoon of the relationship that had been torn from my body, my mind and my heart.
Not too long ago, I could think of nothing more compelling to do with my life than whatever would be necessary in order to win him back.
It wasn’t too long ago I felt all these things. It was only a couple of days ago, to be more exact. And if anyone out there is feeling this way, too—hang in there, baby.
Everything is always changing, including whatever you’re feeling right now.
Since the moment you were born, you’ve never been static. Picture your growth from infant, into child, into teenager, into young adult and imagine if we’d captured your whole life on a time lapse. You’ve never stayed the same for longer than a millisecond, actually. Even the atoms that make up your body are constantly moving and trading electrons with the atoms that make up the world around you.
Nothing about you has ever stopped constantly changing—not your pain, not your emptiness and not your loneliness.
This too shall pass.
I could decide to believe so many things in order to feel safe and give this experience meaning. I could believe that it’s all happening for a reason. I could believe that when one door closes, another door opens. I could believe it will always get better. And in a certain way, all of these thing are true.
But I don’t need to rely on things getting better in order to make it through these kinds of hard times. I don’t want to rest my sense of okay-ness on things getting better, because if I see them as better then surely there will be a time when I see them as worse again, too.
I don’t want to judge the happy times as better and the sad times as worse. Instead, I want to live with equanimity in relationship to happiness and sadness. I want to experience them both with an equally open heart, treating them both as equally valuable because I believe that is how I allow them to move through me and do their work on me.
This is how I will fully experience and be present for my life.
I woke up today excited about the prospect of exploring the world on my own. I woke up and turned up the volume on my speaker system and danced around my flat half-naked. I joyously sang along to songs about relationships, no part of me feeling those familiar pangs of pain and fear that I had been feeling every time something reminded me of him.
I’m writing this because the memory of that pain is still fresh for me. I still have the visceral imprint of that agony of loss and grief in my body. I am not some disconnected, out of touch voice telling you “everything happens for a reason” or “I know it’s hard, but it’ll get better.” I’m a person who just got her stride back after feeling like she would never be okay again and who wants you to remember that you have always been okay again, and you absolutely will be okay again this time, and the next time you’re not feeling okay (and yes, there will likely be a next time), you’ll be okay again after that, too.
In fact, you might even be better than okay.
You might keep your heart open and continue to love the person you can no longer be with, but cease feeling like being with them is the only right way to love them.
You might get excited about all the new possibilities being apart opens up for you—all the ways you’ll be challenged to step outside your normal routines, all the things you never got around to doing and the ways you never got around to growing because you were getting your needs met through your relationship.
You might come to believe, without a single ounce of regret or resentment, that there are ways you could live that are so much more compelling than the way you had been living. You might feel more free to live those ways now that there’s no status quo to maintain.
You might finally find the courage to build your life anew once the comfort of that familiar relationship is no longer an option.
You might find that you can suddenly think of so many possibilities that feel far more compelling than fighting to get the relationships, as it was, back.
And you might find that you’re actually much happier now that you’re using your life to focus on all of those possibilities.
And then who knows what can happen from there.
I don’t know what life has in store for us, but I know that while we’re never safe from pain, we’re also never far away from joy. It’s always shifting, and it will always be okay.
Author: Summer Engman
Editor: Toby Israel
Image: Benjamin Combs/Unsplash