The last thing I want to do is write this post. (Anything but this post).
The post where I tell you it ended, and it hurt. The post where I tell you I blew it. He blew it. We both made a giant mess of things.
I want to tell you about all the good moments that I had with him. How I felt more swept up with him in the short time we were together than any man I’ve been with in years. I want to share how he cared for me, made me laugh, treated me like a woman, and reminded me what it feels like to be pursued. That part is easy.
But the heartache? No. I’d rather keep that to myself.
I’d rather be in a quiet lonely corner to lick my wounds, and go outside with a shiny mask that says “Oh ya we dated, but it was so brief. It was nothing…I’m fine”.
But for me, the reality is that it was something.
It may have been brief, but it was significant to me.
And he meant a lot to me.
Sharing this feels like I have a bruise that people keep accidentally knocking into. It’s not unbearable, just tender. Really tender.
So it may sound a bit vague and ethereal, but for now it’s what I can share with you.
It’s over, and just like that, the heartache begins…
Late on Saturday night, I knocked on my best friend’s apartment door. She opened and the tears had already started. My heart was aching, no … actually it felt like it was bleeding full of remorse and what ifs. Like the best friend she is, she held me and let me cry. Not judging. Not trying to fix. Not giving cliche answers. She just let me be, and I felt safe.
She made me hot chamomile tea and sweet potato fries and as I laid on her lap she fed them to me. Something about it felt holy. I cried some more, and then called a cab to take me home. Right before I left, as I zipped my puffer jacket to enter into the freezing cold New York winter night, she hugged me and whispered,“The sun will rise tomorrow, my love,” and I wept into her arms before heading downstairs to my waiting cab.
I climb in the cab exhausted with questions swirling through my head.
Less than ten minutes later the cab stops, and I quickly pay my fare through muffled sniffles.
My legs, like lead, take me upstairs.
As I open the door to my bedroom, I finally give myself permission to come undone.
And I do.
My clothes fall to the floor and, like a robot, I change into my pajamas, curling into a tight ball beneath my covers.
This hurts so bad. My hands grip my chest and belly as if the pain were physical.
Why does it hurt so bad?
I wish I didn’t care.
Why did I let myself fall for him?
Maybe it would be better if we’d never met.
How long will it feel like this?
Does he feel it too?
Seconds or hours later, I’m not sure, with mascara tears falling onto my pillow, I drift to sleep…
And you know what happened?
The next morning I woke up, and the sun also rose.
With puffy eyes I laid in my warm bed remembering the pain of the night before, and the aftermath of the heartache I still felt. But she was right: The night turned into dawn, and the sun also rose.
I wish I could say that I bounced right back, and got right back out there. But the truth is that I didn’t. At times I felt silly and dumb for being hurt. But my heart did hurt, and I needed to give myself permission to let it hurt.
And haven’t we all been there: the painful solitude of heartbreak.
Vulnerable and exposed; you feel lonely, and it’s exhausting. The heaviness hovered, and seemed to be my constant companion in New York’s cold restless nights.
As the long winter days passed all I wanted was for it to be over, but the reality is this: Heartache is an experience I had to go through head-first. There is no easy answer or quick fix. There’s absolutely no quickening of the process. No one can tell you how long it will last; it may be one night of tears, or a year down the road before you wake up unexpectedly realizing time has healed your heart. “There is nothing we can do with suffering, but suffer”, C.S. Lewis wrote after the death of his wife.
As I journeyed the valleys of my own heartache I reminded myself of it’s worth. Love brought my soul to life. Love invited me on a journey to dive deeply into the unknown. Love asked that I let go of control, and surrender to the process of it all. The first step was the hardest: allowing myself to be known, seen, heard, and cared for by another. But the freedom and joy that accompanied that was incomparable.
We gave each other permission to be. To hope and to struggle, and, in those quiet moments together, I learned love creates a sacred space between two people.
Because as pain can feel all-invasive: is it not the same with love? Love permeates and crashes into every cell of our beings. I would argue love is the most powerful thing in our human experience.
Love creates and evokes.
Love is magnetic.
Love heals and sets our souls free.
Love connects and unites.
I look back on those freezing winter nights that collided with my broken heart, and I sit here with spring on my front porch and a spirit ready for a fresh start.
My winter wasn’t eternal (even though it felt like it at times), and the same thing is true about my heartache. The morning did come. And with it so did spring, and a new beginning. Moving on doesn’t mean I forget the past. My moments with this incredible guy will stay with me. They were special, and I’m so grateful for them, and for him. He taught me that with love there is endless possibility. If that means I must experience pain along the way, I am ok with that. I wouldn’t take back one moment. To live a full life is to love, taking on the great risk of the pain that might accompany it. Pain is real, there’s no denying it, but love is more real. You may—no, you will get hurt—but to love is the only way you will truly live. I can get back up. And I’m ready for that.
So, I invite you to join me in the journey of spring.
Because no matter how dark a season the winter will always turn to spring.
And the sun will always rise again.