For those of you who want deep love, but are afraid of risking disappointment and pain, here is something I’ve been learning: to say yes to love, is to say yes to pain.
There’s pleasure in romance, of course—the highest form available to human beings (in my opinion).
But every love story has a cost; it’s the cost of opening your heart so fully and raw, so naked and undefended that it can break at the tiniest gesture…an un-returned text, an averted gaze or a feigned smile.
I’ve finally managed to find my soul mate (at 38 years).
We fell in love, got married and now have a baby girl. We do our best to understand each other’s pain (failing only when our symmetrical wounding impedes co-empathy). Yet still, my heart breaks daily in a myriad of microscopic ways.
Sometimes my husband’s tone has just enough impatience to send me into rejection; his sudden need for “alone time” can, on occasion, feel like a dagger in my heart. If I reach for his hand and he misses my bid for affection, I might be crushed. A walk through the bathroom in new panties without his noticing can take down my esteem. Micro heart-breaks lurk everywhere when you’re inside a relationship.
Bigger heart breaks court you as well, especially if you’re in love.
At times it feels as if your romance was custom built by reality to see how far your heart can stretch—to hold more terror, sadness, fear and ecstasy. Strangely enough, the more in love you are, the deeper the heart breaks.
No matter how sensitive and loving your relationship, disappointment and pain are just part of the game. But over time, my disappointment becomes the realization that I have unexpressed expectations of my partner that he’s not privy to.
My pain is often funded by some ancient (I’m-not-good-enough) story that lives in my head looking for evidence in his behavior, rather than a failure of love on his part.
I’ve noticed the more I breathe into and stay with the actual “pain” feelings in my body (somatic sensations) and not get waylaid by the story-about-my-feelings in my mind (mental explanation and justifications), the less the pain lingers and haunts me.
What if every heartbreak was some form of misunderstanding?
My experiential research continually supports this idea—that romantic pain often arises from an incorrect assumption about our partner, an unverified story being held as true. Once their missing perspective is added & understood, the wince of pain & disappointment gives way to new levels of intimacy.
C.S.Lewis says it well:
“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable.
Love anything, & your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly
broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must
give your heart to no one. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies
and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the
casket or coffin of your protection. But in that casket -safe, dark,
motionless, airless- it will change. It will not be broken; it will
become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative
to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only
place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the
dangers & perturbations of love is Hell.”
If heartbreak is a fundamental facet of true love, could you bring more courage, more power and more faith to the broken moments? And if you did that, would you feel more more alive?
When you go to the gym and rip your muscle tissue by lifting weights, it grows back bigger and stronger. The heart is a muscle too, and every heartbreak increases its size, strength and capacity to hold more love.
In the end, heartbreak is your primary access to epic romance. So milk every inch of that pain for your own learning and development.
Someday, if you keep the faith, you will feel in your bones the unmistakable truth…that what you get from being in love is not only worth all the heartbreak, it’s because of it.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Alex Bellink/Flickr