There’s a half-moon rising behind a building and people are clapping and banging wooden spoons on metal pots outside my bedroom window because it’s 8pm on a Thursday in mid-May during COVID-19.
It was 2 years at the start of this month that I kissed the lips of my last long-term love and said goodbye. The one I picked up on the side of the road in Australia in 2014. The one I moved to Canada and bought a house with. The one you said I was brave to leave.
I spent a month drifting through London streets, a zombie, only half-alive realising that love is not enough. I spent a month with one of my best friends Lily travelling through Eastern-Europe chasing umbrella-covered beaches and shreds of our former selves. Her recovering from harrowing final exams, me from heartbreak. I started the third month at a music festival finding speakers loud enough to drown out all the other noise to shake my body at until I was empty.
I wish I could say that I navigated the heart-wrenching path of transformation after ending a relationship with grace and ease. I did not. I was human and messy and hurt and it was painful and scary and awful.
A new life emerges from those in-between spaces. I came through it relieved. I found happiness again. I remembered what it is to choose, just for myself. Uncertainty becomes a treasured resting place.
So often, women who have been traversing life alongside me that past few years, will ask me “How did you do it?” “How did you leave?” “How could you be so brave?”. They want to soften the blow of their own bleeding hearts with some discourse that all these sharp edges are somehow worth it.
There are a few things that have helped me navigate the ending of a relationship that naturally preludes a new life. Mostly, they draw on my spiritual practices.
SURRENDER TO TRANSCEND
That last day before I left. The deep sadness and loss and grief I felt was infinitely excruciating. I couldn’t stop sobbing. I remember breaking down on the floor that I had just meticulously cleaned for the very last time, falling apart and letting the tears soak my sweater, a dripping wet substance from my nose leave snail-trails on my face. I knew I had to leave. There was no question about my choice. But the despair I felt was unbearable.
Sitting that hardwood floor I remembered that there is no way out of heartbreak (or any other affliction) than through it. I surrendered to the pain. I let myself fully feel it. The depth, the intensity, the pinch of it. I resigned myself to it. I yielded my entire body to the present moment of complete anguish. Within the intensity of feeling and falling into surrender, something happened. A spark of joy began to bloom within me. A deep gratitude to feel heartbreak, to feel such depths of emotions, to be able to despair for love. In those moments I transcended heartbreak. I reminded me of what it means to be humans and why we choose to have a physical experience and that even the most anguishing moments are filled with beauty.
Society told me that I had the perfect relationship. He was a very sweet man whom I loved very much. I couldn’t rationalise why I was so incredibly unhappy. It didn’t make any sense. But the body keeps score. In its infinite wisdom, it will remember and know all the times that you are out of alignment with your path. And that was the thing, I had veered so far away from my path that I didn’t know who I was anymore. Not knowing myself anymore was more painful than ending the relationship.
I had to trust my body when my mind was failing me. I had to believe that, as painful as it is, what is happening is for everyone’s highest good. I had to conclude that love is infinite and always expanding.
Months later, out of the bewildered haze, I started to see how I had started to shrink myself, cut part of myself apart, lose myself, just to stay. How I was severed and divided into feeling that I wasn’t deserving of more. That I was asking for too much when I asked even just for one thing. No wonder I couldn’t breathe. I was drowning in unspoken gestures that repeatedly told me “no, you can’t have what you want or be who you are”.
OFFER YOURSELF SPACE
I gave myself 3 months with limited work/life/expectations/commitments to just be with the grief. I let myself go through the messy process of separation which at this point is more about the emotional and energetic tentacles that we wrap around each other in communion. The physical process is swift. It’s the hundreds of promises, the tender words and the future dreams that take time to unravel.
Letting go and healing requires space and time. It is within that space that a new life begins evolving out of you.
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