For her, I was a chapter.
For me, she will always feel like an entire book.
She had a light anyone would fall in love with. It was extraordinary and helped those in its rays—me—to feel radiant. She taught me that we are inclined to judge others by their behavior, but to judge ourselves only by our intent. I am made of flaws, quirks, imperfections, and scars—sewn together with good intentions.
But my heart had inadvertently developed a protective sheath, which made it open and close uncontrollably with overpowering fear, just months into our partnership.
Cowardly, I experienced life cerebrally rather than from my heart. My ego’s goal was to maintain control via pseudo-stoicism. I began to deal with life as if it were a chess match, thinking in terms of returns on investments and statistical probabilities. I was under-equipped to deal with the vulnerability I was experiencing, so I sought to minimize it.
Unintentionally, I felt the best parts of me closing down. In their place, feelings of indifference, stagnation, and debilitating unhappiness emerged. I had an amazing partner, good health, a great job and life—How could I be unhappy?
I didn’t realize this depression was my heart, intuition, and spirit telling me my four planes of health—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual—were in conflict.
This fear changed how I dealt with the world and shared love. It altered my definitions of happiness and fulfillment, cluttering my mind with false notions of success and joy. I began focusing on superficial checklists and life achievement check-boxes, because the preoccupation felt good in my sadness.
I progressively structured my life, altered my ideals and beliefs, and adjusted my relationship based on units of measurement that didn’t fit me—cars, houses, events, vacations, achievements, children, all in pursuit of that quintessential “American Dream.” Once I have those, I must be happy!
I found myself living a life plagued and preoccupied with activities, beliefs, and drivers that were of artificial substance. I was always contingency planning to mitigate hurt, anxiety, and other feelings and trying to manipulate and manufacture my happiness and fulfillment—all based upon ego-driven, fear-based living and loving.
I forced this ideologically maligned nightmare of an existence on both myself and my partner. I was physically and mentally present, but emotional and spiritually tapped out.
Shortly after the partnership ended, I fully opened my heart for the first time, letting her into my thoughts, wounds, fears, hopes, dreams, and spirit. While the relationships may have “failed,” it forced me to deconstruct the unhealed parts of my heart, exposing me to the limitations of my loving—places where ego and fear were still limiting my capacity.
Timing is paramount. It’s a tragedy when two hearts find each other, but circumstances keep them apart. Meeting her was like hearing a song for the first time and knowing it would be one of my favorites. She was an inspiring anthem, deeply resonating in my heart. And while her presence is gone, I still find inspiration from that melody.
That inspiration reminds me to measure my happiness, fulfillment, and quality of life in moments and the full array of feelings experienced. It’s strengthened my commitment to live a life enriched by affection, affirmation, and non-attachment. It reminds me that emotional intimacy is supreme, and openness is a superpower we should use often. That vulnerability is a muscle that needs to be trained every day.
She reminded me that it is never about what we own, what we do, or where we travel. We create our unequivocal wealth in all the moments we openly, fully, and unabashedly share our authentic self with another. Each day, we can beautify our life story, simply by being fully present with each other and completely accountable to the shared love. The love is more important than any hesitation, sensitivity, scar tissue, or apprehension. The shared love will always need to be bigger and more important than any of the fears.
Some souls cross our path to alter our direction, to touch and nourish parts of us with poignant lessons. To heighten our self-awareness and stimulate a trek of introspection that forces us to question our beliefs and scrutinize our truths. They permanently alter the trajectory of the type of human we aspire to be, the type of life we want to lead, and the type of love we want to share. There is always a reason why souls encounter each other; all the heartfelt lessons are why I will always value her as a human.
Her accusations, assumptions, and judgments taught me that people who are hurting sometimes need to hurt people. They emphasized that compassion is not some abstract or esoteric concept that we apply only to strangers. Compassion is best applied toward those with the greatest capacity to cause us pain. That empathy, humility, and care are not easy. They are mindful choices, best practiced by remembering tough lessons:
>> We are all human, trying to do our best at any given time—though our best may look, sound, and be different.
>> Respect is a virtue that everyone deserves, even in difficult times. Strength will never be derived or demonstrated by tearing someone down, but by helping lift them up.
>> We cannot regret decisions made with an open heart, where we chose courage over comfort in the name of love. Living with ego, anger, resentment, and pride as our primary decision-makers only breeds fear-based decisions, fear-based living, and unhealthy love.
>> Growth is not a straight line; it’s messy and regressive as much as it is progressive.
>> Gratitude does not make our problems vanish. When made a habit, gratitude does increase our chances of enduring troubled times with more ease, and it allows us to be happier in the good times
>> Hate and anger are too taxing a burden considering we always have a choice in our perspective and the position we exercise. No one makes us angry; anger is a response we choose.
>> There is unmistakable value in living in the present and finding peace, fulfillment, and contentment in that. We are not here to gain, but to find our abundance through giving.
>> We must hold space and boundaries for ourselves, our wants, our needs. We must follow the yearnings of our souls. Self-love, self-care, and self-affirmation are necessary lifelong daily practices. An empty cup is an empty heart.
>> Parts of us may feel empty in heartache because we leave pieces of ourselves in another’s heart. But we are whole, abundant, and beautiful in our selves.
>> We’re meant to live a life that is filled with an indomitable level of love, tenderness, intention, passion, conviction, and purpose, a life in which we aspire to live each day better than our last.
I write this for all of us who have had the privilege to live through an ephemeral and paradoxical love—a love as tragic as it is beautiful. To remind us that there is always goodness and growth to be found in our hurt, mistakes, suffering, and healing. Each element is a necessary unifying piece in our mosaic that helps us become a stronger and more dimensional masterpiece with each addition.
Author: Jessica Harney
Image: Mateus Lunardi Dutra/Flickr
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis