Lessons in HeartbreakAnja van Kralingen
I recently fell in love. Deeply. I had all the classic symptoms; I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t focus on anything. He was interesting, cute, sweet, sexy, bright, difficult, challenging – everything that I wanted. He told me that he never shared so intimately with anyone, he told me he loved me, he told me that he was a better man around me, he told me that he thinks I could be the one. And the kisses…well, left me breathless.
Now let me take a moment to clarify that I was not looking for this. In fact, I am a pragmatist, not romantic and certainly not sentimental at all. It came out of left field and knocked me off my feet.
The synchronicities and symbols that popped up everywhere made me realise, after our second date, that my animus was constellated. My ex was worried and warned me to take it easy! To which I replied, ‘It’s too late!’. I was in love and I surrendered to the experience completely.
I had thought that I would never feel like that again, that it just was not in the cards for me. When it happened, I jumped straight in with both feet, basking in the warmth and heat of the experience. For years prior to this experience, I suspected that I was like sleeping beauty, frustrated and debilitated by my inability to awaken myself. I felt like something was missing from my life and no matter what I tried and pursued it remained nebulous and out of reach. And suddenly here was my prince, and he brought me back to life with a single kiss.
I was transformed, I felt alive, awake. I was so happy!
Alas! I had to fall in love with the most adult person ever, whilst I was transformed into a love starved teenager. As much as I pushed and loved and embraced, he ran in the opposite direction. Too much, too soon, relax, calm down, he warned. But I opened my heart, my house and more – he said he is not ready to commit, can’t marry again, can’t love again. While having just come out of a nasty divorce, surviving cancer and a bad accident, he told me he is in no condition to love me. My perspective was that this is an amazing opportunity, a gift and an act of grace. Let’s take it with both hands, I told him, let’s lose ourselves in love and passion! To which he replied, you’re pushing too hard.
And shortly afterwards, he broke it off with the excuse that he couldn’t give me what I wanted and that he didn’t want to hurt me.
He didn’t want to hurt me?
I cried for weeks on my green couch. I was grieving, lost in self-pity, yearning, desperate. First came the denial. It can’t be, he will come back, how can he give up on this! After he broke up with me I was unable to reconcile this fact that he didn’t want to be with me. Surely if I felt this way around him, he felt the same way around me? I could not understand it. It felt like a puzzle that I was unable to reconstruct. I simply could not let go and let it be. I felt that he was everything I wanted and when he said that he has nothing to offer me I couldn’t understand it. All I had wanted was for him to love and adore me the same way I did him.
During this process, I met at least four women who told me a similar story, of a great passionate love who left them for some obscure reason. One friend confessed that she still grieved the loss and the vacuum it left four years later. Another one had met her husband afterwards whom she believes she only met because she needed to be cracked open for her to love another. I could relate to what she said. I felt cracked open.
I was devastated! It was genuinely the first time that I had such an intense reaction to someone else. It was a chemical reaction, I couldn’t stop it and did not want to. It is truly want Jung spoke about when he said, “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”
The feelings, thoughts, hopes and dreams that lay dormant within that were triggered were now out and visible to me. Pandora’s box was open. All the hopes and dreams that I didn’t even know I had were floating away. And my chance to grasp it and integrate it was gone!
What else could I do but try to process it as best I could? I spent hours and hours reflecting and journaling. It has been a painful but illuminating process.
I have learnt a lot about myself, about what I want, about who I am and who I want to be. What is meaningful to me, how I want to be loved, and how not. How I want to feel about myself in a relationship. My boundaries. What it is I projected onto him that I haven’t integrated in myself. And the type of person I want to be in a relationship with.
I am different now to who I was before I met him. It was truly a transformative experience.
As much as I am grateful for it and lessons I learnt, I am also pissed off! How could he just rip it away from me? I hardly had a chance to emerge myself in the experience. I only just had a taste of it and already it’s slipping out of my grasp. I am unable to hold onto it.
Yet, as much as I blame him for being a self-absorbed asshole with no consideration for me, I realise that I was doing the same thing. I was only interested in what I wanted, with no consideration for his feelings. But still, why do I feel like he won and I am the loser?
No doubt I projected everything I wanted in a relationship and a partner onto him and never saw the real man behind the projections. I wanted it all and I wanted it there and then. In my impatience, I did not listen or respect what he was saying. I completely ignored his feelings and where he was at. All I was interested in was my own agenda. I treated him with disrespect, disregard and objectified him. I can only hope that he also was transformed in some way and that he doesn’t regret our brief encounter.
A few days ago, I went out for drinks with my twenty-year-old (very wise) daughter. She often mentions that each relationship is a lesson, so I thought I would inspire her to blog about it. During this conversation, she confessed that she had also had her heart broken by someone and still battles to let go. We spoke about the experience at length and I mentioned to her that I had realised that what I missed most was how I felt when I was with him. She agreed wholeheartedly and told me that she thought it was 100% true.
I have been thinking about that quite a bit and I think it is true, for me anyway. It wasn’t him that I fell in love with, as much as I thought it was at the time. I fell in love with the way I felt around him and because of him. I loved being infatuated. I loved feeling feminine and like a girl again. I loved the passion that was awoken in me. I loved the fantasy of our life together. I loved being happy. I loved the somatic symptoms. I loved being in love. I was a different person who experienced the world from a new perspective – an alternate state of consciousness.
Now it is gone and I yearn for that feeling. I am so sad about the loss and ruminating about it is such sweet anguish. I am also petrified that I will never feel like that again. And the truth is I won’t, because it was our specific chemistry that had that effect on me.
It is both scary and wonderful that someone else, the archetypal other, can have such an effect on a person. If I hadn’t met him, would I ever have felt those feelings again or realised what it is I was missing? Perhaps not. Would I then have settled into a comfortable mediocre relationship? Probably.
I want to be in love and now that I know what it feels like, I won’t settle. Yet, I am wary. I don’t want to get hurt again. Will I ever throw myself into a relationship like that again? With total trust, faith, hope and abandon? I doubt it. I also have reservations that I could ever have a similar experience again. Then there is the nagging thought that perhaps we are not meant to have it all with one person. And of course, can it last?
But as my daughter said whilst we were talking about it, we live in hope. We hope to experience something similar, or rather something better. An alchemical reaction that will result in something magical and lasting.
And perhaps this is true for most of us. That we carry within us a secret desire of what it means to have love, passion, meaning and intimacy with another. That we project something onto love, something that will liberate us. Something that will transform our stagnant, disillusioned selves into magical beings of light and love. Because deep down we realise that we can only take ourselves so far, and it is that magical other that is needed to truly awaken us to ourselves.
I would like to challenge you to reflect on your own beliefs about love. How do you feel when you are with your beloved and is this what you love about your partner? Perhaps you have also loved and lost? Perhaps you think this is all bullshit and that you don’t need another to awaken you? Perhaps you too believe that one day, hopefully, you will receive grace and find the one that makes you come alive. Or perhaps you have found the one that has awoken you and it is everything that you hoped it could be.
Whatever it is, I would love to hear your feedback.
Until next time