My chest had ached for days, but not in the overt or obvious ways. The throbbing hid under smiles and pleasant conversation that kept alive my appearance of normal, upright and thoroughly keen.
What my heart actually felt was the subtlety of sadness and the quietness in alone.
I continued, up for the daily duties and to bed for the proper number of digits on my electronic radio clock. Lately though, I was sleeping early and waking late so I didn’t have to feel how solitude-driven my soul had become.
People are regular mysteries, and I believe we get precious windows into each other every once in a while, panes of clear glass to look through to see another’s raw spark.
These windows can close quickly, like heavy, wooden porch doors on blustery days, and when they do it is the lack of sense stimulation that they shut out that really hits us to the bone. Where there was once light, stark shadows lie instead.
Falling in and out of love with others and our self is bumpy. It is like rolling out of the back of an old pick-up truck on a windy, gravel country road. It has potholes and dips and large stones, and we wouldn’t expect the things that catch the tops of our knees and on the base of our palms as we tumble down.
Love, even when it is still right there at our fingertips waiting for our grasp, can seem ever so far away. We have a hard time breathing at the thought of being without it, as anxiety fills the holes in our belly that excitement normally would.
Often we hope our needs will get met through contact with another person, but in reality relationships shine a light on what we have been seeking, or lacking in ourselves all along.
Most of us thought validation through someone else would make us feel okay, like when we were young and our parents had to tell us if we were good or bad. Later, we realize this work is actually our own.
To ask for the love that fills our soul to come from an outside source is unfair. There is a digging down that we can do right now, a search for richness through the layers of sediment of our own being. There must be treasures somewhere in here that we hid, while we looked so ferociously to find gold elsewhere.
A hungry heart has opened up, and we are the only ones who can create the recipe needed to nourish it. This is a heart that has waited years for a proper meal.
It may have been a trick, a culturally trained expectation that we could get the love we craved at another’s table, but—love from the outside always comes and goes. Wouldn’t it be great if we could find something that would stay forever?
We are all walking mirrors; what we feel on the inside we see reflected back to us by someone else. When we say we feel we have lost each other, we might just be speaking to the experience of having first lost ourselves.
For if we have tried to make a person our everything, we have certainly failed. There will always be a sensation of not being full until it is we who do the filling. If it is not our life that we choose to live, we will forever be chasing the rainbow of another’s.
Taught to find the happily-ever-after in someone else does not have to be the great step to adulthood that we were told. Rather, the initial stair could be the one leading us back to our own soul.
Sometimes it takes trying to find home in another human to remember that home is actually found much more near.
Home is a place that we feel inside. It is a sanctuary we carry around with us wherever we go. If we understand this, our relationships turn from a fulfilling of need into a celebration of something that we both already know.
I prefer to enjoy this wholeness of self. So I go off looking today, under tree branches and fallen leaves. I turn over bits of nature, stare up to the sun and seagulls flying by and think:
Thank you to all those who left—you allowed me to realize that it is “me” that needed to be found.
We are each the mirror and the teacher. This heartache of ours can take us straight home.
Author: Sarah Norrad
Editor: Toby Israel