It’s been a year since we parted ways. This relationship has been significant in my life. It was the first time I moved out of my mom’s place to move in with a partner. Throughout those 3 years I not only experienced a loving and fun relationship, but I also made a best friend. He was the first person who saw me for me and loved me for me, despite our differences. Our relationship quickly felt like a safe haven for me, I felt protected. I felt loved even when I couldn’t love myself. And I loved him just as much. I grew comfortable enough that I began to settle for the idea of comfort and consistency more than the idea of change and movement. I didn’t realize how strongly I secluded myself from the world and from myself because of this “comfort zone”… until our relationship fell apart.
It took a few weeks for me register that we would no longer be together, that I would have to move out of the space we shared, leave Toronto and go back to my mom’s place in Montreal, all while having no single clue where I was headed. I was swimming in the “scary” unknown. Those three years spent together became “life as I knew it.” They became my reference point, my world. I have built friendships there. I had a partner I could always count on. I lived this new life in Toronto and I didn’t plan to have it any other way anytime soon. But now, all of it was gone, just like that.
I was always one to preach about how everything happens for a reason, but this time, the mere concept in my head didn’t cut it. I was devastated. I freaked out.
- Loss: I felt like I lost my best friend and the man I loved.
- Rejection: I felt rejected by the man I thought loved me for me. “I guess me wasn’t enough after all.”
- Feeling left out: My friends and him would continue hanging out as usual, yet I could no longer be a part of it. I moved far away and was no longer “in the picture.”
- Feeling unloved and unimportant: I equated this whole experience with being less loved. “He broke up with me because he no longer loves me. I am no longer important to him.”
- Feeling Alone: Because I felt unable to relate with most people in this world, losing the one partnership I felt like I could relate with brought me face-to-face with an extreme feeling of loneliness.
For months, I was still trying to mentally pick up all of the pieces and stick them back together. I would call him in tears and pity myself wondering why no one ever called me. “Weren’t we the closest friends just a month ago? What happened?” I would say. I could not bare how rejected I felt. I felt like a victim. My love was intimately tied in to a feeling of bitterness and blame towards him for how he managed to dig up all of my darkness. And he left me alone with it.
For a while, I tried to control my pain by controlling my relationships. At times, I tried to squeeze out any bit of love and acknowledgment I could get from virtual or phone conversations with him and sometime others… But every bit I could get came with an aftertaste of my own inability to be at peace and in love with myself, with my own inability to just love unconditionally.
And this… this is why we needed to break up.
I needed to grow up. I needed to first and foremost accept the current condition of my emotional state (rejection issues, fear of loss, aloneness, powerlessness) without solely reacting to and blaming the circumstances. Without trying to patch it up with something or someone. I couldn’t patch it up anyways, and this was a true blessing disguised as deprivation. Besides, I carried this baggage long before I entered any relationship in life. Relationships simply brought them to my awareness. This baggage was mine to carry, and mine to let go of.
“If you cannot be at ease with yourself when alone, you will seek a relationship to cover up your unease. You can be sure that the unease will then reappear in some other form within the relationship, and you will probably hold your partner responsible for it.” – Eckhart Tolle
This was no longer a matter of REcovering from a breakup, but about UNcovering myself from all of the limiting beliefs and thoughts that have made my world more narrow, my relationships more narrow, and my perspective more narrow.
- When I expect my relationships to be a certain way before I can love and be at peace
- When I rely on someone else to feel comfortable in my own skin
- When I refuse to accept the transient nature of experiences and rely on predictability
- When I live my life in fear of change
And more specifically…
- When I define love as some label, some “way it should look like,” some opposite of something else…
I forget what love is.
Love. Just. Is.
As time went by and I became too exhausted to hold on (not that we always have to wait until then lol) I finally gave up on reacting to everything and resisting the flow of my emotions. I had to accept, and so I did. By accepting not only the situation – but everything I felt – the dust gently settled. My emotions calmed. My thoughts quieted. I was able to sink back into the present moment and experience life as it was – not as I thought it should be. I could still hear the echoes of my ego telling me “hey, what are you doing? You need to stay in control here. You need to keep thinking about how you’re going to fix your life. You need to reach out for something or someone as soon as it gets uncomfortable.”
But by that point, I had gained a certain level of maturity where I understood this would only throw me into the same cycle of endless reactions. Did I need to repeat this, or could I now learn my lesson and just let it be? I didn’t know where “letting things be” would lead me. It sounded directionless, not to mention it didn’t change my situation. My ego did not like that, but my intuition knew it was what I needed to do.
As I let things be and chose to simply “not go” with the same old mind stories as they would try and taunt me, I soon realized it wasn’t love that hurt. It was the mind stories. It was the mental interpretations, meanings, beliefs and conditions I built around love, not love itself.
It didn’t hurt when I allowed myself to love:
- It hurt when I told myself love was lost.
- It hurt when I told myself I wasn’t loved.
- It hurt when I told myself I couldn’t love.
- It hurt when I told myself love should look this way or that way.
- It hurt when I saw myself as separate from love.
By choosing to no longer feed those stories, I realized that Love isn’t really something we do or reach out for, it is something we are. And it is from this space that we are able to love truly.
“How we relate, or rather how well we love, depends on how empty we are of ideas, concepts, expectations.” – Kim Eng
Love & Attachment
Attachment, which we often confuse with love, is the subconscious act of “investing” your own inner-discomfort and emotional baggage in something or someone else to protect yourself from facing and feeling it. This is why we become possessive and dependent. This is why we tend to reduce the other to a “thing” we get addicted to. This is why we can go from loving to hating as soon as our partner pushes our buttons and triggers something uncomfortable within us. Attachment has to do with personal fears more than it has to do with loving someone.
Unconditional love, however, begins with the understanding that all of your relationships – even the challenging ones – have something to teach you. If they push your buttons, they are making you aware of your buttons. This may sound like a “bad” thing at first, but just a little step back can give enough perspective to realize that a button pusher is simply reminding you that you have the option to either stay with your issues and protect yourself from ever having to deal with them… or acknowledge them, see what they’re all about and perhaps work on letting them go. It becomes difficult to not love unconditionally when you lose the tendency to blame others for your own reactions. 😉
“There’s two ways to live your life:
1. You do everything you can to avoid the button pushers.
or 2. You get rid of your buttons and at last enjoy everything.”
Yes, it takes a lot of self-observation to get there… but all it takes to begin the journey is the will to turn your attention inwards when your sensitivities are brought to your awareness. That way, you no longer get caught up pointing fingers out there while dismissing the cue to work on releasing whatever is weighing you down.
Unconditional love is the kind of love that emerges naturally once you stop believing all the junk in your head telling you “you are not enough, you need this and that before you can feel peaceful, you need others to be a certain way before you can let them be etc.” As you let go of such thoughts – not by judging or fighting them but by simply releasing your grip on them – you naturally enter a state of peace and wholeness within yourself. You then get to feel for yourself that true love is not about what others can give you because you feel lack, it’s about the love you can share freely because you’re already complete.
“Love is about complete freedom. The freedom to be 100% oneself and give that same freedom to others.” – Franco DeNicola
Love has no opposites, no conditions, no rules, no separations. Such things exist only in our minds as concepts and ideas trying to shape something so immaterial, immeasurable and vast into a compact, solid shape. It may sound normal due to how we are taught relationships should be like. It may sound normal due to all of the definitions of love thrown around in movies and magazines… but once again: Love isn’t a definition. Love Is.
How This Changed My Life & Relationships
You would think letting go of chasing, controlling, needing and attaching to others would leave you lonely and unable to relate with people. But as I simply began to live in the present moment without struggling to change it, change others or change myself, not only did I begin to enjoy my own company – I actually began to attract more wonderful connections and relationships in my life. In this new state of being, I am now able to enjoy those relationships more fully for what they are because I no longer use them to fulfill a personal agenda.
In fact, I am now closer than ever with my ex, who triggered this whole learning experience for me. Ever since I released my expectations, it became so easy to be friends once again. No resentment, no drama, simply an unconditional love and gratitude for everything that we are and have taught one another. I am now able to see more clearly the gem that each of my relationships have to offer: opportunities for growth, for both parties to identify their blockages and embody even more freedom within themselves. It doesn’t mean that I no longer have emotions, fears or feelings of attachment that come up, it only means that I am now able to see them for what they are and no longer identify myself with them. I am now back in the driver’s seat of my life, more able than ever before to experience and embrace all that life has to offer.
P.S. I love you.