A few weeks ago I awoke from a morning dream in which my girlfriend broke up with me.
Later that day, she broke up with me.
We were moving through some rough weather at our six-month mark; nothing I thought catastrophic. I was sure we’d get through.
Then she ended it.
I was devastated. I did not see it coming, despite that spooky dream.
Every relationship lives inside this reality: No matter how charming and wonderful and delicious a catch you surely are, your partner may still choose to leave you.
I’m even a relationship coach—don’t you love the irony?
However, when I work with couples, I’m always clear that I can’t know if our work will keep them together. It might even facilitate their separation. I know to trust in Life’s bigger agenda, which is often far beyond what I can see.
I did not see her decision coming. I still do not really understand why. I even know in the deep, gritty cracks of my marrow that it doesn’t have to be this way because I’m a man who’s totally willing to grow.
I’m certain we could work it out together. If only she’d stay.
Yet she chose to leave. And suddenly, she left my world feeling like the Death Star just lasered it to rocky smithereens.
When a relationship ends that you didn’t want to end, it can leave you utterly shattered, cruelly fated to endless sleepless nights agonizing over what went wrong.
Rather than wallow in the sickening futility of it all, I’ve adopted this powerful healing practice: I’m finding the gifts in her leaving.
In that spirit, to the exquisite woman who recently broke up with me, I say:
Thank you for leaving me.
Thank you for helping me remember…that a woman choosing me does not make me more of a man, nor does her choosing to leave make me less of one.
Thank you for reminding me…that my sense of self-worth and identity do not come from you or any woman.
Thank you for being a courageous example…of what it looks likes to follow the truth of your heart even when your mind—and mine, and most everyone else’s mind around us—really wanted this to go so differently.
Thank you for reminding me of the futility of fear…I see even more clearly now that when we shape our choices around fear, intimacy suffers. We literally created our worst fear—the fear of losing each other—by making choices and demands intended to avoid it.
Thank you for reminding me to never take for granted…the delicious gifts of beauty, sensuality, laughter, tenderness, playfulness, adventure and everything else I find delightful about being in the presence of a woman! I’m so sorry I ever took the gift of you for granted.
Thank you for sometimes overwhelming me…with the depths of your feeling. When you were willing to show me all of you—even though my fighting and running proved I could not yet handle all of you—you revealed the limitations of my loving. You showed me where I still carry old wounds, where fear gets in the way of my loving. I see more clearly today where I can bring softness, kindness and compassion to my inner world, and therefore to the entire world.
Thank you on behalf of the next woman…who chooses to dance with me, for she will have a man even more surrendered to love, with a richer heart and an even bigger embrace in which she can dance her wild heart.
Thank you on behalf of the entire planet…because as this rips me open and expands my capacity to hold all of a woman in my love, my capacity to hold the entire world in my love expands, too.
Thank you for not insisting I change to please you…but instead recognizing that who you wanted me to be is not who I deeply desire to be. I’m so grateful you had the courage to set me free to go…be me.
Thank you for being so amazing…for holding me, crying with me, reassuring me on the day we said goodbye that life just too often doesn’t make any damn sense. All we can do is surrender and trust that life, and love, know what they are doing, even when we don’t.
Thank you for shattering the armor around my heart so thoroughly…or unleashing this agony so dreadful that I’ve too long been stuffing deep into my bones where it could only fester and surely one day rise to kill me. Your leaving stabbed me so deep that this thick, nasty buildup of poison can finally flow free from my body.
Thank you for helping me feel such pain…that I may have more compassion for others in pain. I’m so profoundly sorry I was not always able to have compassion for your pain.
Thank you for being an exquisite, extraordinary woman…and giving me the profound thrill of being your dancing partner for this brief, infinitesimally minute flash of time in an infinitely vast and timeless universe. Of all the possibilities of existence that I could have chosen to experience during those six months, I would not have chosen one goddamn thing different.
Thank you for loving me, and for allowing me to love you.
I wish you well on your journey into infinity.
I take you in my heart with me on mine.
See you when we get there.
I love you.
A Thank You Letter to the Woman my Ex-Husband is in Love with Now.
Author: Bryan Reeves
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Photo: Taylor Nicole / Unsplash
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