“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” -Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
I have this innate desire to love and be loved with everything in my soul. It is something that embarrassingly consumes most of my waking hours thinking about.
I am constantly making lists of places I want to go and things I would like to do with my romantic interests. I plan seriously for days that don’t ever seem to come to fruition. Any normal person would see this as frivolous but my wayward heart continues to plan still, yearning for those days spent together and so disgustingly in love.
I still want this. Despite every pitfall with every ex-lover or almost lover, I am so incredibly optimistic that I will find the one person who I can come home to at the end of the day and laugh with.
I have always found my love life laughable at best with very few relationships that have ended in a mutual friendship. I blame myself time and time again for the failure of these relationships and I am ultimately embarrassed at how un-dateable I truly feel. I torture myself with endless nights crying into my mattress at all the failures and discount my self-worth after each passing lover. After each almost loves I feel like a cheaper, less authentic version of myself.
And after I self-loathe, I grieve.
I grieve for the loss of the relationship that might have been and I grieve for the nights I had planned in advance and the trips and dinners and nights that will no longer happen. I think about the kisses he will no longer steal from me mid-sentence or the way he would sing in the car, or the way he would look at me and ask me what I am thinking about every five minutes that used to drive me insane but now I would give anything to have it all again.
And so I cry.
I ugly cry like Kim Kardashian losing her diamond earrings in an ocean. Gasping and crying and hysteria and the dead set panic that something that could have been wasn’t; only I don’t have a Kris Humphries to relocate my broken heart like a lost artefact.
All I have is old text messages and photographs that I clutch onto like you would the steering wheel of a swerving car on black ice. Every night I rehash old memories by opening that box of remembrances and re-watching the videos of us together and it hits me like a brick that its all gone. And I often find myself with a sudden rush of memory that would ignite the feeling of touch, smell or sound that he would give off and it is as though all the progress made to get over this past lover is wasted and gone.
This cycle usually repeats for weeks to months on any given relationship. I need my time to grieve and mourn the relationship for all that it gave me and taught me. But see, I refuse to be the girl who is bitter from past loves and does not take each failed opportunity to learn and grow; I am a work in progress and I am constantly revising myself. I can no longer look at past lovers as fruitless time spent but rather I must look at them as the steps I have taken to become my best self.
See each man has left me a piece of them just as I with him. I have given them nothing but the best parts of myself to look back on and they with me. I find myself truly grown after each encounter, no matter the length or quality of time spent. These moments spent with them: performing to punk rock in his car, or educating him on the importance of the art nouveau movement in the AGO, or cheering on his team at sports games, they are moments that I will forever hold in my heart.
Each encounter has made me more optimistic than the last that my best friend is out there, digging through his almost lovers to get to me too. I will not let the failures of past lovers derail my optimistic heart from pursuing true love. Despite every failed relationship, I have this incredible optimism that my time will come, and that love will persevere.
I find that I cannot still my beating heart long enough to let my love sit cold like leftovers on the counter. It is so much more than that and it is for this reason that we grieve for the relationships of the past. In doing so we must see that our grief is a reminder that the great love that once built a home in our tender hearts may be gone but new love will take its place.
That once burning love that consumed your waking being was just a placeholder for something far more intense. So it should be left with this quote from Terri Guillemets “even hundredfold grief is divisible by love”. As long as your heart is open to love, your grief will never shallow you; so never still your beating fragile heart for it is growing larger to accommodate for the outpour of love you will one day receive.
Photograph: Klimt, Gustav (1862-1918): Beethovenfrieze, detail with personification of “gnawing sorrow”, 1902. Casein on stucco.