It’s occurred to me lately that I’ve spent too much of my life loving the wrong hearts.
In hindsight, I realize I often directed my love to hearts that were, shall we say, less than worthy. Not just lovers. No, more than that.
And I should say first, before I go any further, that love is never the wrong answer. Love isn’t wrong; we shouldn’t regret it. The fact that we have the capacity for such an abundance of love is what’s actually right with the world.
No, the problem isn’t that we love. The problem is that we spend so much energy loving those wrong hearts that so many right ones receive only what’s left over.
Case in point: A friend of mine is in a bad relationship. It’s not a little wrong; everything about it is wrong. And yet she stays, continuing to invest her time and energy to keep the sinking ship afloat. And while she may have her reasons, she’s burning out energy and love that could be directed elsewhere—to family, to friends, to a special hobby or passion that adds beauty to the world.
I look at the situation and think: How many times have I done that? How much time did I waste because I was unable to let go when it was time to move on?
More times than I can count.
While I tend to live with few regrets, I wonder how many of the relationships in my life suffered while I tried to make something last. After the end of my marriage, I set about righting a few of those wrongs, apologizing to the people in my life whom I had slighted because I was so busy trying to pretend like nothing was wrong that I didn’t have time left over to invest in the people who cared. (I’m a firm believer in apologizing when we’ve hurt others, however inadvertently.) Thankfully, I was able to salvage most of these relationships. Some couldn’t be saved.
I look back and see clearly how I handled the dissolution of my marriage: Keep trying to make it work. Deny everything. Push away anyone who gets close enough to see the obvious cracks.
I’ve been single for over a year now, and already I’ve managed to get my heart thoroughly shattered. Sometimes I think I could not have chosen a heart any less worthy of receiving my love. Not because he didn’t return it—I never expected him to, not really. Loving him, particularly after the end of my marriage, was an act of bravery. He met that bravery with avoidance, and it is that avoidance that makes him unworthy.
Something changed in me some time ago. After processing the end of my marriage and apologizing to all of the people I’d inadvertently hurt, I chose not to continue the pattern. So, when the man I loved decided to delete me from his life, I kept living mine. In fact, it was like I finally and completely woke up. I took a good, hard look at my life and decided to make it everything that I wanted. Minus, of course, the man who didn’t love me back. But who really wants someone like that to stay anyway?
I joined a gym, started back to yoga, planned adventures with my kids, went back to work on projects I enjoyed. I made sure that I was investing my energy in the people I loved and not wasting it pining for someone absent. Not to say I didn’t pine, but I didn’t allow it to consume all my energy that’s better directed elsewhere.
We come to a point in our lives where we begin to see patterns in our relationships, and we realize that we want to fully invest in love that’s returned to us.
Sometimes that means evaluating friendships and even family relationships to see which ones add value to our lives and which drain our energy. We look around and decide that we want rich, beautiful lives where our love is accepted and appreciated. We reach a place where we’re just not interested in investing our time and attention in those who don’t see or value us.
We realize love is never wrong, but we spend less of our energy trying to hold on to what’s gone already. We can love those hearts without giving them all our time, attention and energy at our own expense. Instead, we focus our energy into being fully present in all of our other relationships. We spend time with lovers who are connected. We make time for family members who value the relationship. We nurture the friendships that support and nurture us in return. We let go of the drama.
Love is never wrong, so we’ll find ourselves loving the wrong hearts from time to time. But we will no longer let these loves consume all the love we have. We’ll learn to love from a place of non-attachment, knowing that these hearts aren’t for us. We’ll stay open to meeting hearts that connect deeply with our own. We’ll live our lives fully, feeling buoyed by our relationships—not weighed down by them. We won’t feel depleted after each encounter with another heart, because we’re not allowing those hearts to absorb our time anymore.
We’ll find that we’re able to love more, when we let go of what’s not for us.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Helga Weber/Flickr
Editor: Toby Israel