February 17, 2017

What Rumi had to Say about Unhappy Love.

Not every love story has a happy ending.

Unhappy endings don’t necessarily mean lovers become enemies. Some lovers separate on good terms, but the ending is still unhappy because they’re not together anymore.

I’ve experienced one unhappy love story in my lifetime. We loved each other deeply, but the circumstances were beyond our control. Though we separated, the distance didn’t stop the flow of connection between us. To this day, I get chills when I remember this person.

Although I lived many happy love stories, that particular unhappy story is imprinted on my being. I believe it has affected me so much because it initiated a change in me. Our separation broke my heart, but it opened my mind. It felt as if I’d been sleeping my entire life, only to wake up after my lover’s parting.

I saw myself, life and people differently. The separation made me grow and grow up simultaneously. It was the good kind of slap that I needed to understand everything better.

Love changes us on many levels. However, I’m convinced that only unhappy love can prompt an unexpected transformation. Rumi, the mystic Sufi, eloquently speaks of this love in his poems. He nailed it, for he lived it with Shams Al-Tabrizi.

Rumi and Shams had a particularly strange friendship. When they separated, Rumi’s life changed. The separation didn’t put an end to their love; it awoke them both. In his writing, Rumi explains how the distance from Shams made him realize the meaning of union with his lover, God, and the universe. The distance is “turbulent,” but beneficial.

This is what unhappy love can do.

Sometimes, things don’t always work out the way we want them to—especially relationships. Nonetheless, we can find the blessing that unhappy love brings. We can feel it as deeply as Rumi, and benefit from it as he did.

As Rumi puts it, we may never recover from an unhappy love, but that’s the reason why we awaken. The wound is so deep that it leaves space for the light to penetrate.

If you have loved and lost, remember Rumi and Shams. Remember that the mind and the heart can never awake unless a part of our soul is ripped away. Although Rumi and Shams separated physically, they reunited again in poetry.

In Rumi’s words, we see the sadness that separation imbues. Nonetheless, we can also see the healing that love inspires, every second, with or without the presence of our lover.

“Seeing you heals me.
Not seeing you, I feel the walls closing.
I would not wish for anyone else
such absence.


There is no greater turbulence than unhappy love.
That is one we may never recover from.

It is not cured by hypocrisy, or courage.
A true love has nothing in it of power,
or of faithfulness.”

Source: Rumi: The Big Red Book


Author: Elyane Youssef

Image: Flickr/thatsbreathtaking

Editor: Toby Israel


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