“When we think of loss, we think of the loss through death of people we love. But loss is a far more encompassing theme in our life. For we lose not only through death, but also by leaving and being left, by changing and letting go and moving on.”
Break ups can be traumatic. No matter what side you are, accepting that the love you once felt is gone or worse, no longer returned, it's no wonder so many movies and songs are written about it. Everyone can relate to the feeling, the hurt, the disappointment. But what about when the end is absolutely final? Even if it isn't final, what about when you don't have the opportunity to ask why? Or when you don't have a chance to say goodbye. Loss on any scale can wound us forever but we shouldn't allow it to break us.
It was New Years Eve and we had been dating on and off and were currently off. We had been fighting a lot and I was tired of the back and forth. I ended it a week before telling him I loved him but I was no longer in love with him. Around 10pm he left me a voicemail telling me to call him back or else he would kill himself. I called back and said “Stop being so dramatic. I'm sick of your bullshit. Stop trying to ruin my night, just leave me the fuck alone.” It was the last thing I ever said to him. That night he attempted suicide. He never woke up. A few days later he passed away in the hospital. Irreversible brain death is what the doctor said.
He left a letter for me; I didn't read it for weeks. Instead I was furious with him. I was furious with myself for not listening to him. I wanted to take back my last words to him. I wanted to go back in time and change every thing. Reading his words broke my heart, I experienced a plethora of emotions and promptly bottled them up. I forced myself to carry on and convinced myself that if I moved on I would forget and eventually the overwhelming guilt and sadness I felt would disappear. I vowed I wouldn't let anyone break my heart ever again. I vowed to choose my words carefully from that moment on as well.
The cruel thing about a broken heart is that it doesn't kill us. It can feel so intensely painful we beg for mercy yet it still persists. An aching in our chest that fades only in time. We may plead with the person leaving us, bargain with them, beg; anything to escape that depth of sadness, the broken heart. And even when it's over it might not be, after all couple's get back together now and then, fights can end in reconciliation. But death, death is final. We have no choice but to eventually accept the loss and move on.
“And our losses include not only separation and departures from those we love, but our conscious and unconscious losses of romantic dreams, impossible expectations, illusions of freedom and power, illusions of safety – and the loss of our own younger self.”
When relationships end mourn the loss of the imagined future as well as the love. It is a necessary part of the grieving process to let go of the what ifs and maybes. I struggled with regret. We must accept that some questions may not be answered as to why it ended or what went wrong. Take comfort in knowing you are not the only one who has been through this. A natural reaction is to invest time in building a wall around your heart so that no one might break it but that is pointless. Even walls fall down when that irresistible person enters your life.
“These losses are part of life – universal, unavoidable, inexorable. And these losses are necessary because we grow by losing and leaving and letting go”.
Death, loss, it will change a person just as a break up teaches us new lessons. You may find that you are stronger than you thought. I broke my vow and got my heart broken a few times after that. Losing him allowed me to love fully even if it meant risking my heart. I know that heart break is inevitable and people will disappoint and hurt you. We are all just human and fallible. But if you keep your heart in a cage safe from harm, never investing yourself then you may never find that real love. The risk is worth the pay off. You may never understand someone's motives for leaving you, hurting you, wanting you or loving you, so, just let it go. There is freedom in letting go.