But, it used to be so good. It was a perfect love.
How often do we say that?
How often to we try to teleport back to a frozen moment in time when the love was as ripe as a dripping mango and the romance was as luscious as budding lilacs in the Springtime?
We refuse to face what’s present.
It used to be so good. It was a perfect love. But how is it now?
Not an easy question. It’s a terrible question. It’s a really goddamn scary, shattering question—one that I tried, at all costs, to avoid. I avoided it like it was a gross, infectious disease, but much like the common cold during flu season, it eventually caught up with me in a sea of snot and all. It’s a question I know so intimately, so painfully, in the shakiest, tear-stained depths of my heart.
When I met him, when I met my “perfect” love—I nearly tripped over my own feet. I was in starry-eyed awe. His presence spoke to every part of me. I fell in love instantly; I fell in love before I could think at all. My thoughts turned to mushy red rose petals and romantic overtures and white wedding dresses and how beautifully his eyes sparkled in the Springtime sunshine. I thought we’d get married. I thought this was it. I finally found the ever-elusive one! And thank f*ck, I was finally done dating.
Oh, but not quite just yet.
Before I could stop or breathe or think, my delicious fantasy grew and grew and grew, to gigantic proportions. It grew into a delusion—a shiny bubble of delusion that no man could live up to. It grew into the kind of sparkly, wistful delusion that’s only alive in the movies.
But life isn’t a well-scripted, sweet little romantic comedy, no matter how much we want it to be.
It’s deliciously messier than that.
But I didn’t want messy. I didn’t want real. Hell no. I was so broken when I met him, I couldn’t face real. I wanted a perfect love, I needed a perfect love—after all the bullsh*t toxic relationships and mind-numbing pain I had faced, I wanted a love that would be the one sparkly sequin on the stained fabric of my tattered soul.
I wanted a love that could save me from my pain.
And for awhile, it did. It was the softest, sweetest love I had ever known. He held my hands patiently when I broke open and caressed my tears with the soft warmth of his fingertips. He was so gentle that I finally learned how to be gentle with myself.
But one fine day, I stopped being broken. I stopped being shattered—and I stopped needing him to hold my hand, caress my tears and whisper to me soft as lace.
I started roaring like the lioness I really am.
Pop! All of the sudden, my pretty little bubble of delicious delusion burst. And this love that looked so perfect—and even felt perfect, too—started to crumble. It cracked and tumbled down to the floor and revealed things I so badly didn’t want to see. Underneath the shiny whipped-cream surface of this perfect love affair, there wasn’t much but hollow dust.
It wasn’t built to last.
This love that had once seemed like the answer, exploded in an eruption of maddening questions—
How could it possibly be over?
Why couldn’t it be like it used to be?
Couldn’t we find some way, any way at all—to repair this once-flawless love and make it as sweet as it was before?
We tried so hard to fix our bleeding, dying love. But we couldn’t. I changed. He changed. We had learned so much from each other, but, like vines, we started growing in two wildly different directions—the directions our hearts needed to take.
Our journey together, was over. We had to let go of our perfect love.
And it was sad beyond belief, but it’s no tragedy—it’s beautiful. It’s real. It’s the dynamic, gritty spirit of life. Of love.
Because if we look more deeply, we see that perhaps there is a greater purpose to relationships than having someone pretty to spend our Saturday nights with. There is a much juicier purpose to love than having a warm body to wrap ourselves around and distract us from our own terrible thoughts and spend Sunday mornings at the Farmer’s Market, browsing around at antiques and locally made cheese.
The purpose of love is soul-deep.
What would it be to accept lovers as teachers—rather than long-awaited answers to our problems?
What would it be to see relationships—not as band-aids—but as questions, as mirrors, as triggers, as juicy opportunities to heal and grow and learn to be darlingly vulnerable?
Maybe love isn’t like in the movies at all. Maybe it’s not about being comfortable or finding that one person to settle down with and snuggle up, all warm and cozy in bed, for the rest of our lives. Maybe it’s about being uncomfortable—being really, really uncomfortable and getting knocked flat out of our precious comfort zones and having our masks ripped away from us and our darkest sh*t reflected back to us.
Maybe it’s about learning. About truth. About gentle wisdom. About learning how to let go, when that seems a twisted fate far too terrifying to face.
Maybe lovers come into our lives to teach us something, and once we’ve learned, once we’ve cracked open our hearts and learned something really juicy—and once we’ve taught them something, too—it’s time to move on.
And maybe that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.
Maybe love is much more temporary than we’d like to admit. Maybe it’s exactly not the place to hide. Maybe love is the bright, buzzing, blazing neon light that shines directly on the darkest corners of our hearts, shakes us up like a salt and pepper shaker and blows the thickest layers of dust off our souls.
We so often want a perfect, pretty love to come and save us and last forever—distracting us deliciously from the wild mouth of our darkness, our grittiness, our pain, our demons, our truth.
But love is the danger. It is the truth. It’s the electric force that can blow our perfect little delusions to bits and make us question absolutely everything.
And isn’t that the best, most terrifyingly beautiful gift in the world?
Love is a teacher. Heartbreak is a teacher.
Let us remember that.
We can go of clasping, clinging onto a perfect love, a sugar-coated forever fantasy—
To the possibility of love
That could make us grow
That could crack us open
Love that could dance with our hearts for a little awhile
And help us remember
Who we really are.
Author: Sarah Harvey
Editor: Erin Lawson