Losing the love you thought you had = Pain
I have a friend who recently learned that her long term partner is leaving, physically and emotionally. She writes: “After several days of drama, I am zombie-like. I feel like I’ve had a frontal lobotomy. I can’t really function.”
I write today about the loss of love and its related issues: fear, betrayal, and facing our ultimate aloneness, alone. And I’m using my friend’s words, because her pain is very real and present for her right now.
Fear: “Will I lose everything? Will you take not just your heart, your love, your desire for me, but also your friendship, your loyalty, your concern for my well-being?” When we make a home and share a life, we make commitments. If these commitments are conditional on whether the other person loves us more than another, or still wants us in their bed, these commitments can suddenly dissolve. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to me financially. We never had a contract; my partner said we didn’t need one as she’d always love me. I guess we’ll see.” It’s really a one-two punch. Right after the loss of love (the first punch) comes the realization that one’s whole way of life (home, possessions, support, future) is now unstable (the second punch.)
Betrayal: “How can you say you no longer want me? You just gave me a card last week: ‘When I kiss you, the rest of the world disappears’, and another last month for Valentine’s Day: ‘I want you. Forever. And I continue to fall in love with you. Again and again.’ How can you feel these things and then just suddenly stop?!? Or didn’t you really mean them?” Betrayal includes a feeling that one can’t trust what one used to believe as true. When did the love die? Was it yesterday, or last year? “Have you just been going through the motions? Or were you too afraid to be honest, so you lied?” When the mind contorts around these fears, it can feel like a black hole opening up, casting everything once cherished into doubt.
My friend learned that her partner’s lover (they’ve been in a 5 year polyamorous relationship) doesn’t want to be poly anymore, so the two of them (the partner and her lover) want to explore a primary, monogamous relationship. This is relevant in that my friend and her partner and her partner’s lover have already done a lot of work around jealously, sharing, relationship building, and communication. So for those of you open to poly, this is where it can fall apart. And for those of you convinced that monogamy is the only way, this is how it almost always ends – she leaves you for another.
“I am so confused by your words and actions. I believe you when you say you love me, and I believe you when you say you want both of us. What I’m afraid is, you’re bargaining away our relationship to keep your lover.” So in this case, it isn’t a betrayal of a commitment to monogamy, as that was never an expectation from the beginning (although it’s a new ‘need’ of her partner’s lover). Nor was it a betrayal of a commitment to love forever, as this is always a gift that can only be continually renewed by the giver. Rather, it was a betrayal of a commitment to be honest, emotionally honest. Is my friend’s partner giving in to emotional blackmail from her lover; is she making a Sophie’s choice? Or did her partner stop loving my friend, stop wanting to be lovers, long ago and was just afraid to say so? No one wants to be abandoned. Some people are so afraid of abandonment that they will ignore their own inner truths. They may even mislead others just to preserve the stability they crave.
I tell my friend, maybe your partner has been mentally and emotionally getting ready to leave you for some time. Maybe leaving you is so scary that those cards, her words, were intended as a shield against the unbearable knowledge, and the guilt, that she didn’t really want to be with you anymore. That’s happened to me before. I felt so guilty about leaving one of my partners long ago, I went on a buying spree and bought her lots of expensive gifts right before I left.
We can only be honest about what we know, and we can only know what is in our conscious heart and mind. We can’t know what is in our subconscious, and this is where many of our inner truths are born. So the argument may be true, that her partner wasn’t being honest, but dishonesty is only part of the pain. Being honest still won’t alleviate the ultimate pain of abandonment, of being left alone.
Aloneness: Fear of abandonment is an archetypal fear, innate to mammals. As infants, we are so dependant on our mothers’ care, our clan’s protection, that without them we fear we will die. Of course as adults we no longer really need to fear abandonment any more, unless you are the last person left when your team leaves Antarctica. But due to our ability to be aware of our own existence, to ponder our existence and our place in the universe, we can replace the infant’s instinctive fear with another, philosophical, fear. When we are left alone, not by choice, we suffer the terrifying realization that we are, always have been, and always will be, alone. This may trigger a spiritual crisis, or a spiritual quest. Many seek to quell the fear by creating a kind and loving god-figure who will be there for us: a mother substitute. But we can’t escape the reality of aloneness forever, because it is with other people that we continue to seek connection. And they have the power to hurt us by leaving.
There is no consolation for this loss, there is only another day. From Ecclesiastes 1:5 “The sun rises and the sun sets; And hastening to its place it rises there again.”
I tell my friend, you are lovable, you will love again, you can work out an equitable solution with your partner, who aside from this has always been trustworthy. It is important to know when to let go, and to accept that everything changes. And armed with your new understanding of your partner’s limitations, can your relationship really survive? I recall the words of Jane Siberry, in her song “Love is Everything”:
So take a lesson from the strangeness you feel,
And know you’ll never feel the same.
And find it in your heart to kneel down and say
“I gave my love, didn’t I?
And I gave it big, sometimes.
And I gave it in my own sweet time, I’m just leaving.”
[This blog also appears at www.venusaquarius.com Please visit me there too.]
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