I spent the afternoon listening to Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well” on repeat, the deep, heaving, guttural sobs of the early day giving way to high-pitched wailing in late afternoon.
“And I know it’s long gone and there was nothing else I could do, and I forget about you long enough to forget why I needed to…
And maybe we got lost in translation, maybe I asked for too much, but maybe this thing was a masterpiece ’til you tore it all up…
It was rare, I was there, I remember it all too well.”Taylor Swift
My son embraced me and spent the evening at my side. My daughter empathized over a video call. All over a weeks-long relationship six years ago with a man who was short, fat and bald.
I had made him into a myth in my mind. I had made him and our relationship unassailable and perfect (which it was not), all because I felt more hope, joy, love and warmth in our time together than I’d ever felt before. I had wrapped all kinds of hopes and dreams up in my wish that he’d come back. I had also bundled all the grief and hurt and pain of my ex’s death, along with a lifetime of unresolved hurts, into a package and slapped a label with Perry’s name on it. My therapist friend helped me understand terms like “complex grief” and “ambiguous loss.” I spent thousands on therapy, coaching and personal development. Yet here I was, finding I hadn’t fully healed from it all six years later. As I became aware of my thoughts, I realized I had made him into an imaginary friend, who I talked to in the mundane spaces in my day.
And yet, I had managed to go the better part of four years while in another relationship without thinking about him all that much…
[Now I realize I was on the receiving end of this same dynamic in my more recent relationship: he wanted my love to fill a gaping hole of hurt stemming from a tumultuous childhood, horrific experiences in the military and other hurts. It was as though I could see this huge void / need and, having known him such a short time, all the love I could give was little more than a bandaid on an amputation.]
Things I’d learned along the way came back to me:
- You should be able to experience several soul-affirming relationships before deciding who to commit to. — from a relationship coach
- Men coming right out of a divorce are not themselves and are prone to over-giving, over-promising and love bombing, none of which will last. — another relationship coach
- Use the feeling as a compass. You will know your next relationship is right when it feels the way you want it to. — yet another relationship coach
Trouble is, no other relationship yet has.
When I look back, I remember steeling myself and thinking, “I have loved so deeply — and even though I’m hurting, this is a sign I’m close. No doubt I will find my mate in a few months.” Ha!
I spent the weekend journaling, clearing my energy using the intuitive process I’ve learned in the last year, and was ultimately called to a practice of forgiveness: I’ve made a list of family members, exes, friends and even former bosses I need to forgive, and used my intuitive tools to learn how many times I must forgive them. It’s become a 90-day practice, and I’m just 10 days in. I’ve already learned so much. Short version: all this stuff I need to heal is mostly not about Perry. And it’s mostly about forgiving myself and re-parenting my inner child for not having the tools or resources or power to create and hold boundaries, ask for what I need and share my truth — and for allowing my thought patterns to make us into more than it was.
This past weekend, I found myself still listening to Taylor’s “All Too Well” on repeat. But I’ve been dancing in my kitchen, singing at the top of my lungs, creating space for hope to creep back in.