I like dark chocolate. Bitterness that melts into sweetness. That was the kind of chocolate I insisted upon having this “Love Day” (as if the reappropriation of Valentines’ Day saves me somehow from the bitterness of my first V-Day without Aaron). As I allowed myself to just be with the sadness that came up for me, … to watch with secret and not-so-secret envy at the ritual celebration of significant others celebrating their time with each other, … I could not help but reflect on how dramatically different my life looks. Even last Valentines’ Day, I already knew that the possibility of Aaron’s departure was imminent even if he hadn’t decided for himself yet that that was his choice.
I have borne the first ache that came from Aaron’s departure. Loss, and the grief that comes with it, has brought me to my knees and left me bruised and disoriented. Only now am I finding the strength to stand on my own two feet again. Only now am I seeing my life without Aaron. … again.
In walking my own path, though, I have discovered a second ache: The ache that comes with looking upon others and comparing them to Aaron. It doesn’t feel fair to any men who might come into my life nor does it feel fair to me. Still, for all of his faults, Aaron was as close to “the One” as I have had the privilege of experiencing. To look upon others now, … to feel “not Aaron” come up, … seems like a greater curse that I must now endure. It is yet another ache wrapped in the ache I was already surviving. …
And yet, it is those moments when the ache is most unbearable that we finally understand the blessed nature of Love. It is in those moments when Life stretches us beyond comfort and consolation that we are taught to love more deeply and openly than we ever thought possible.
A question that has kept coming up for me in meditation is: What do I believe about how long relationships are meant to last? I recently made the assertion that I recognize that relationships have a beginning and an end, and it’s what we do in the middle that counts. I further claimed that it’s going to go the way I say it will, i.e. if I go into it believing that it’s going to be short-lived, then you can bet that I will find a way to end that relationship.
I can’t help but wonder if the notion of lasting relationships is an anachronism. Consider that the cultural messaging around relationships in most patriarchical societies is that relationships should serve as the precursor to a longer-term heterosexist marriage model. And as lifespans get longer, we’re less likely to have a long-term partnership that will last as long as we will. If we don’t expect our jobs to last forever anymore, why do we expect similarly of our relationships?
What is the cost to holding on to the fiction that relationships last forever? As I look back on the one with Aaron, I can see that I took things for granted, believing that he would always be there. I lived more in the “someday” than I did in the “now.” I lived wondering if he was “the One” rather than enjoying him for his perfect imperfections.
What would it be like if we lived in relationships like they really were going to end tomorrow? Would we appreciate our partners more? Would we better savor the deliciousness of each moment? Only one way to find out! …
Loneliness, to say the least, is an unhappy experience. And it doesn’t help that I operate in a cultural environment that puts a premium on being in a heterosexual marriage model. By extension, the cultural message is to feel bad for someone if they aren’t in a relationship.
Is it any wonder, then, the lengths to which I go to fit in? I dress to get someone’s attention, rather than as an expression of my inner beauty. I communicate indirectly with a guy, because I want to test the waters but don’t want to scare him away. My self-confidence is often a function of whether or not I can make a guy’s head turn when I’m walking past him. … It’s insidious the ways in which culture and society have colluded to compel to play this game. I am told that my value or worth is to be determined by someone else’s interest.
Yet, I’m realizing, as I move through my healing process around Aaron, that I am “the One” for someone, just as there is the One for me. … I am already someone’s partner. And what would it be like if I came from that place? What if my self-worth and value came from the place of knowing that I already am Whole and that I have something to contribute to another man’s life?
What would it truly be like if we walked in this world with head held high as the kings and queens, … the “already partners” that we are?
I think another thing that makes it so difficult for me to be with this transition is that I just can’t shake the feeling that Aaron is “the One.” My friend asked me recently what that means, and it gave me pause as I thought of past relationships in which I thought there was potential yet they were not the One.
My initial response to the query is that the One is the man who I know is everything I want in a lifelong romantic partner. And what is it that I want? He is someone who puts me at ease with his calming, grounded influence. He is able to listen past my self-doubts and remind me that I have much to give to the world. He is a solid communicator, comfortable with his sharing his emotions and powerful in using subtle actions to make a statement. He believes in his capacity to make a difference in the world, that his work might transform the lives of many. He believes in family and is okay with hanging out with my extended family. He is patient. He is kind. … He is the embodiment of Love. …
And I understand that to have the One be in my life, I have to be the One for him. …