“Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” ~ Pema Chodron
They say that love is complicated—but it’s not.
Love is simple and truthful and kind.
We are the ones who are complicated and who stumble around love, like flamingos in stilettos.
We are learning, all of us, how to navigate the purity of love without tripping over ourselves.
I wrote this with a romantic relationship in mind, but the healing process applies to any situation where our actions, intended or out of our control, contribute to the breaking of hearts.
“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride.” ~ Pablo Neruda
Sometimes we get hurt in love, and sometimes we hurt others. Sometimes we rip open our vulnerable hearts and see them trampled ungracefully and ungraciously. Sometimes we’ve had enough.
When it is our turn to stand up for ourselves—when we finally reach that pivotal moment that secures our freedom from a lack-luster love—how do we deal with breaking that other heart?
Because it’s not always obvious to the one we love that we are hurting enough to leave. And it’s not easy for the one we must abandon to face their own broken heart either.
They may be brutally devoid of the capability to love us as we need to be loved, they may be masters of passive-aggressive behavior and strip us of our self-esteem, or they may be narcissists and deflect all the blame—or perhaps it is our own issues that break down the love-affair, or a bit of both, but no matter how it plays out, the one we leave will inevitably suffer before they heal.
The knowledge of that possibility often keeps us trapped in situations that make absolutely no sense, because we don’t want to hurt another human being.
So what can we learn from having to pluck up our courage and face hurting another?
If our own pain is so overwhelming that we simply don’t give a flying f*ck about the other person, leaving is made easier.
But what if we are sensitive to their situation, or what if we still love them deeply? What if our compassion for them as a human being overrides our own anger and hurt?
“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” ~ Pema Chodron
What if we are empathetic to the hurt in their eyes when we announce the end of our relationship? What if our hand on the door leaves them broken and pleading? What if we almost crumble and stay, because we cannot face the pain of hurting them?
We are all human. Practicing detachment is not easy. Even if we can shut down our emotions, and pretend that we no longer care, after sharing love with someone, there are energetic bonds that need unraveling.
When we promise to love, we create a soulful connection that is not always dissolved with words or walking away. A promise or a vow is what we use to protect ourselves. We ask for such promises as guarantees and later hold them up as trophies. “See here? You promised to love me well.”
Except that love asks not for guarantees, or even forever. Love just is, flowing without expectations.
For those of us who agonize over hurting a lover, for those of us who cannot fathom destroying their comfortable existence, even if we must, and for those of us who feel deeply for even the most unhealthy love situation, there is hope.
Commit to your journey. Know why you’re taking the path you are taking, and value how you wish to be loved. Listen to cues from your soul. Feelings of emptiness, unworthiness and emotional starvation are messages from your most authentic self. Accept what is.
“Bring acceptance to non-acceptance. Bring surrender into your non-surrender. Then see what happens.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
Leave your lovers “work” at their feet. Their pain is theirs to transmute into healing. You cannot do this work for them, just as they are not doing your “work.” Allow them the space needed to process and arrive at their own conclusions. If you nurture their pain, you are most likely not focusing on your own healing process. Observe if this is a pattern for you—to take on your partner’s emotions.
Find the boundary between what is yours to heal and what is theirs. I don’t mean not to process the fact that you also hurt for causing them pain. Acknowledge it. Sit in it for a bit. See how it feels if you detach from it—become the observer. Chewing on it until it is a constant bad taste in your mouth is not recommended. Let it move through you. Observe the change in your emotions.
Do not assume their pain is so great it will kill them or they will never manage without you. They will. And if not, then they have not tended to their journey. That is their business. Most emotional pain stems from our thought patterns. We are good at creating our own suffering and imagining just how bad we are making someone else feel.
“Suffering begins when you label a situation as bad. That causes emotional contraction. When you let it be, without naming it, enormous power is available to you. The contraction cuts the power off, the power of life itself.” ~ Eckhart Tolle.
Practice not letting your mind run away with a continual loop of thought that points to your having created this uncomfortable situation. Consider that perhaps this is not really as bad as it seems. In the big picture, most of today’s suffering is not that dramatic in scale. Think big picture.
This too shall pass. You will survive. They will survive. All shall be well. Repeat this mantra.
Write a letter. You can mail it or burn it. Writ one letter to yourself, saying “I forgive me,” and another to your lover, saying “I move on in peace and gratitude.”
To have gratitude for something (even if it ends badly) sheds a comforting light. It allows for movement of emotions and finding peace in the fact that you have made room in your heart for healing and acceptance. No matter what happens, practice gratitude. To forgive oneself is to move mountains.
Sometimes we do not practice self-forgiveness as a form of self-punishment. This can be an unconscious reflex. We may be trained into this behavior from early on in life. To suffer is deeply ingrained in the human psyche as a form of ascension. But it’s a bitter lie and does not serve any conscious purpose.
Create mindful movement. As your body moves, so will your thoughts and emotions. If you enjoy meditation, begin there, then add moving meditation such as walking, yoga, swimming or whatever makes you happy in your body. Release. Breathe. Three breaths in of self-love, and three breaths out releasing guilt and worry.
Spend time in nature, with or without others. Nature is the ultimate healer. There is no judgement, no expectations. Just being.
When hearts are breaking, they need silence to mend.
I hope your journey is filled with insight. I hope you forgive yourself and the love that was. I hope you see that you are worth the process of moving on.
Author: Monika Carless
Images: Instgram @nausicaatwila
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina