I was looking into his eyes.
He kept rubbing his mouth.
“I’m telling you the truth,” his words said.
But my stomach was sinking. I felt nauseous and dizzy. As he continued to tell his story, I knew he was lying. I kept looking into his eyes, hoping, praying to be wrong.
How could he possibly be doing this? How could a betrayal of this magnitude happen? As my mind spun, I paused. I took a slow breath. And then I noticed the two lovely, soft hands that had embraced my body so many times. My heart softened. There was still so much love here.
Over the next few months, I grieved. I felt waves of emotions. Sometimes I felt elated to be free to move on with someone new; other times, I felt deeply regretful for even linking myself to him in the first place.
As I contemplated the change in our relationship, I observed a tendency to label what we experienced as a “breakup.” That is, after all, the common parlance of our times, right? When two people love each other and then leave each other, it’s called a breakup…right?
But that term didn’t feel right to me. What was “broken” here? Even though the trust was no longer there, our souls would always love each other, always in some way long for each other. Hmmm…
Over the months, I reflected on the many subtle implications, the many subtle statements about life that are buried in that term. Breakup. I realized how that particular term seems to tell a certain story about how the world functions.
I don’t want to tell that story anymore.
The Path of Sacred Transition
When we use the term “breakup,” we imply that something or someone is broken. In truth, however, nothing is broken. It is simply change that is happening. This is a transitional time.
When we are in a relationship, we learn. It always happens—no matter how toxic or dysfunctional the relationship might become. What a sacred gift, then, to be in a relationship—even when it ends.
The truth is, sometimes even the most beautiful relationships can fall apart. Sometimes it’s just a matter of time and change. The partners simply grow and change and then are pulled in different directions. Other times, it’s a matter of simple neglect; issues are never resolved, and, slowly, resentments and bitterness build up to the point where the only sane thing to do is walk away. Other times, the transition is catalyzed by something horrendous, like infidelity or lies.
Often, when a relationship falls apart, our minds go back to the beginning. We recall the spark of initial excitement we felt. We think of the instant connection or that first moment when our stomachs quivered with butterflies.
If you are sorting through a transition, it can be helpful to look back at how things started. Indeed, a core of truth can be found in that moment of hello. What drew you to that person? What did you love about that person? What seemed mysterious or curious or compelling about that person? What magnetized you to them?
If we consider who we were at the beginning of the relationship and then compare it to how we are now, we will always find that so much growth has happened. No matter who we are and no matter our unique circumstances, we will always find that beautiful things have happened.
Perhaps it’s that we’ve learned to communicate more kindly. Or maybe we’ve learned how to tune into our sexual needs. Perhaps the lessons learned have to do with collaborating on shared projects and tasks. Whatever it may be, there is always something to celebrate.
And as we move away from the person(s) we love, instead of holding regret or malice in our heart, we can view this time as a sacred transition. No one is broken. No one is the bad guy. What is happening is as natural as autumn; the bliss of summer ends and the leaves begin to fall.
As we fall into the ending, we go through grief. Through this process, a deeper connection is formed with our own self. We may find a resilience that we never knew existed.
And it is from this space, this deeper awareness of the self, that we have the courage to step into the next relationship. It is from this space that all beauty emerges.
Some Reflection Questions
If we are feeling the pain and beauty of a sacred transition right now, the following questions might help us uncover some of the deep, rich lessons that are in progress. They might help us gain a sense of gratitude for all that we’ve learned from that person or situation.
1. In that relationship, did I believe—and act from—my own power?
Oftentimes, when we passionately love someone, we neglect our own power. We give our power away to the other person, believing, somehow, that they will “save us.”
As we grieve the loss of this relationship, we might reflect on the ways that we did, or did not, think and act from a place of self-worth. We might think about all the times when we stifled our own opinions. Did we feel empowered? Did we feel confident and wise?
If we’ve found that we lost our power in that relationship, it’s okay. We all do it sometimes. It’s part of being human. Of course we want to cling to someone or put them on a pedestal in order to make life easier. As we wake up, however, we realize that nobody deserves a pedestal. What is most potent is a collaboration between equals.
2. In that relationship, was I able to feel my own divinity?
Whether we want to call it soul or God or Buddha nature or Brahman or Christ consciousness—whatever we want to call it, there is a light within us that is the source of all joy, all contentment.
In an intimate relationship, we can so often perceive divinity of our partner…but then we forget about our own divinity. We sometimes even mistakenly project perfection upon the other person. We put them on a pedestal—and then, oh, the pain when they fall down! When we put too much importance in another person’s words and actions, we cut ourselves off from our own natural intuition. In short, we stop bowing to the guru within.
As we empower ourselves during this time of transition, we look for all the ways we can love ourselves unconditionally. We can become our own best friend, our own amazing partner. We learn to give ourselves what we seek.
3. How did that relationship meet—or not meet—my desires?
One of the interesting things about relationships is that we often manifest exactly what we want—only then, later, to discover that what we wanted wasn’t actually what we needed.
For example, I spent many years praying to meet a romantic partner who had psychic abilities.
Well, I finally got my wish. But it didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped. As we explored our love, going deeper and deeper, I realized that he was often numb to his emotions. He was also really poor at communication and didn’t have much interest in polishing these skills.
As that relationship transitioned, I realized that it actually didn’t matter to me whether my partner was “psychic” or not. Sure, it would be nice to build a life with someone who had similar spiritual abilities, but that wasn’t really what was most important. What I most valued was a shared commitment to valuing and cultivating communication and emotional skills.
As we check in with ourselves during this tender time, we might ask ourselves: Was I disappointed in that relationship? Why? And is what I desire what I really need?
As we gain clarity about what we feel, think, and want, we empower ourselves to cocreate with the Universe. We are no longer alone, no longer at the whims of seemingly cruel fate. And as we let go of outdated terminology such as “breakup,” we realize that nothing and no one is broken. Everything is as it should be.
During the passage of sacred transition, we enter the cocoon of self-love. And we gently prepare ourselves for the time when we will, again, take flight.