In the midst of abandonment, seeing the way forward can be difficult, with our hearts feeling like pulp, and our brain in overdrive, yet half functioning.
Making a vision of future happiness practically becomes impossible to imagine.
Even scabbed-over abandonment wounds ache at the acknowledgment of their existence, but the good news is this is a sign we loved with our whole hearts.
It may not feel like good news, but looking back will evoke a sense of self-pride to know we were open with ourselves and another, in a profoundly vulnerable way. It is the thing all great love stories are known for, a depth of connection beyond the boundaries of the physical world.
After abandonment, we embark on a quest to find a sense of inner harmony, conscious or unconscious, led by our desire to feel something more pleasant than the painful, hollowness deep in our chests.
It is not a destination we seek or a state of being achievable with permanence, but rather a reemergence from our discomfort into a place of knowing. To me, this journey is all about our acceptance to join the cyclical dance between joy and sorrow, syncing with their expanding and contracting rhythms.
It took years of sorting through the emotional rubble after the suicide of my mother for me to discover a simple truth: One emotion cannot be felt indefinitely, and therefore travels with its equal and opposite balancing counterpart as a package deal. When we open to feel one kind of emotion, we agree to remain open to its partner.
The wisdom presented itself as a sort of visual short story in my mind’s eye:
“To experience joy is to know the sweet kisses of life on our face, while conversely, their absence is to know sorrow, and our journey is the motion of this concept.”
The idiom, two sides of the same coin, comes to mind to further explain the sacred union of these seemingly polar opposite emotions, shedding light beneath the veil.
Imagine one side of the coin is joy, the other sorrow, and in casting into the air, their courtship is set into motion and revealed through a series of ringing flips that sing their romantic tragedy to life.
Much like the stories of a lost loved one or past romance, we speak of affectionate high notes with hints of deep melancholic undertones that create a relatable symphony from the amphitheater of our hearts.
When applied to the object of relationships, this perspective points to how we can embody two opposing emotions simultaneously and how we thrive when given the space to express, explore, and accept the vastness of ourselves.
The throws of life are not unfamiliar to us; they are a crucial ingredient in living a full life with fluctuating extremes from clarity to confusion, faith to doubt, or security to instability.
The more I understood this and the place sorrow rightfully held in my life, the more enjoyable its presence became and the sooner I was able to soften into its tenderness.
Sorrow, enjoyable? I must be off my rocker, but stick with me here; it all comes together.
Roughly two years after the passing of my mother, I wrestled to gain footing on my sadness while still feeling love for her, a second realization occurred to me on the concept of emotions traveling in pairs:
“If I want the pain of missing her to stop completely, I would have to stop holding onto the love I had for her.”
This would have meant closing off my heart to its innate capacity to feel to the fullest extent and any future deep feelings all together: happiness, contentment, and love included.
That was a non-negotiable aha moment of clarity for me. I knew then what path I needed to take to move forward. I forged an agreement with myself that I would keep the love alive because the opposite was not an option, and I permitted myself to open up to experiencing gratitude for and happiness in each tear.
This was a turning point in my perspective of a broken heart.
The history of my joy is written across my memories as a dedication to how I shared and experienced the nuances of love. They are stored as a reminder of how beautiful it was that I had lived with my heart wide open.
This devotion to continue loving my joys long after they were gone showed me how to celebrate my sorrow as an experience I would not trade for anything else.
This brings us back full circle to the final piece of wisdom I wish to gift you from my time sitting with abandonment.
Remember, in between each breath and heartbeat that pulses through the body, and beyond the sadness that creeps up with every memory, exists an inner harmony ready to be claimed, patiently awaiting the moment for us to declare, “ These feelings are okay.”
When we hold compassion for our ability to feel the scope of human emotion, allowing each one to be experienced without judgment, we set ourselves free from the expectation that we have to make it through life unscathed and without scars.
It is in our willingness to soften that we connect to the most meaningful moments of life. In a world filled with hardness, the only way to make it through is to be like water and show ourselves how malleable we are.
As the love story of joy and sorrow, we are here to see our journey as an invitation to dance with our heart wide open, to find glimpses of harmony nestled within each step, and to smile because it happened.
Or as Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, said:
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”