“Tis better to have loved and lost than never have loved at all.” - Alfred Lord Tennyson
I stare at this quote and think to myself, “Are you sure?”
Because my body doesn’t seem to agree. My heart hurts. The pit of my stomach hurts. And the empty left side of my bed hurts.
Because my brain doesn’t seem to agree. My mind constantly thinks about you. My eyes search for you in everything that I look at. And I replay our final moments together in my head like a cassette player on repeat.
This is pain. This cycle is called, “losing love.”
As humans, we live to love. But we’re not talking about finding love today. Today, we’re talking about what happens when you lose love and how to heal from that body-hurting-mind-numbing pain.
“Love,” I think to myself. What does it mean to love? To love means to become vulnerable. To love, you have to let someone into the darkest parts of your self that you barely like to open up and expose to anyone. But you do, for this person. For this person, you would do anything. Even if that anything is to walk away when you don’t want to walk away. Because you know that is what’s best for you both in the future. You hope. Well, there’s nothing else you can do about it than accept the situation and do what you need to do despite the pain.
It’s never easy to walk away from something that is comfortable and stable. When love is gone and it’s time to move on, what do you do? Because I am talking about cutting the cord. And all the connections. That means losing someone for good. It means packing up the last bits of things in the apartment. I am talking about losing their friends. I am talking about re-planning out your life because your plans were once intertwined and saying a final goodbye. You remember every time you wake up in the morning that this reality is your new reality. So what do you do?
Do you sit there and say to yourself, “Well, better to have loved and lost than never at all!”? I don’t think so. I think that comes with a lot of time. And living through a lot of moments when you are alone, trying to pick up the pieces of your life that once formed a whole. Time is also a tricky thing. Because time is good. We all know that. But does time make you forget everything? Maybe it just helps you forget how bad the situation was or maybe it helps you realize who you are again. Or maybe time just shows you that it was never meant to be.
Suddenly, you realize you have a lot of “you” time. This, my friends, is where the healing begins. When was the last time you talked to yourself? Or checked in with your dreams? Really asked yourself what do you want to do? (Yeah, I know: It’s been a while.)
You start creating. This is the magic. This is where you find yourself again. This is where you open up and express yourself, allow yourself to feel. If you like to write, write down all the memories. Write down all the thoughts and emotions. If you like to paint, get your hands dirty and start somewhere. If you like to cut up magazines and make collages, do it. Because by creating you are expressing yourself in the most authentic form.
And, also, down the line, someone will likely tell you that your creative project resonated and that you helped him or her feel something unexpected. As soon as you open up and show your vulnerability, others will greet you with open hearts and expose themselves to you too. You can completely lose yourself in your work and come out surprised with what you’ve just created.
So, I look again at this quote and think to myself, “I loved. I lost. And I am finding out what it means to love again, in another whole-hearted way—to love myself.” I am learning to love my creativity. And my art. And my emotions. And my friends that have opened up to me. And the strangers with whom my work resonates.
This is healing.
This is how you love again.