It happened like this…
One day out of the blue, I had a powerful dream.
In it was a man who I’d been in a relationship with three years before.
He wore a black shirt, the scene was hued in sepia tones.
The air felt thick. The mood, pensive.
No words were spoken, it was a silent film clip.
I woke up fully alert, and filled with the unusual weight of this dream. It was the kind that stays with you all day.
The relationship had been relatively short, and I had been the one to break it off. Even so, I had been torn up over it for many months. I understood too late, that there had been something there. Something real that could have been more.
Have you ever felt regret over ending a relationship, but couldn’t grasp why until later?
They say there are no coincidences. With the dream still fresh in my memory, the very next day I came across a piece in our local paper about his new band. From the article I learned that the dream had come exactly one week after a release party featuring the band’s very first single. And in one of the group photos, there he was. Wearing the same black shirt, even striking a similar pose as in my dream. The photo was finished in the exact same sepia hue, it was almost identical to the scene I had dreamt of.
I could not ignore so many signs, the need to pay attention was clear.
So I listened. And in an instant, I knew that this song was about me.
It was about a girl, all caught all up in her head. Tangled in the past, chasing a false future. Clinging to ideals and perfections. Thinking in black and white. A girl who could not dare.
The words were intense. Blaming. True.
And then there was the cover art, which stopped me cold. A cartoonish caricature of a girl. A disproportionate paper doll cutout, with a small, limp body and an over-sized head.
I looked into that girl’s face, with her wide, vacant eyes. Her mouth, slightly askew. A disturbing frozen expression.
I saw such ugliness there.
The ugliness of a girl who cannot just let herself be loved.
I thought to myself, ‘This poor girl. She is a fool, she is lost…she is lost’.
She is me.
I had not realized that I was operating under an outdated formula. One that had cleverly lodged itself so deep within my layers, long ago when I was a tiny girl. A subconscious belief that I could not trust someone to truly be there, that I had to do it all alone.
And the terrible irony is that what I wanted more than anything was to magnify all the love that I feel inside, out into the world. But I could not see that I was preventing myself from having the very thing that mattered most.
I had forgotten that it’s impossible to give and express love at our fullest capacity, without also being able to receive love.
I had forgotten that allowing yourself to BE loved is also a form of self-love.
Suddenly something deep inside of me broke open.
I looked back across the span of my whole life. And I was utterly overwhelmed with grief for everything that had been lost. I am 42 years old as I write this. So much lost time. So many wasted opportunities for love and connection, for marriage, for having children of my own. All gone.
So much had been lost, all caught up in fear. Fear so unconscious, that she didn’t even know.
I felt myself slip into a Dark Night of the Soul.
And it brought me to my knees.
I could not eat. I cancelled my appointments.
I managed to go to work, but I was barely keeping my shit together. I alternated hiding in the bathroom and in my cubicle for days, crying and fighting back the immensity of my emotion. It didn’t go away quickly. It still hasn’t, not fully.
I was so raw, I couldn’t do anything.
Except to surrender into it. To just hold still. To FEEL. Finally.
Then I had a vision of myself sitting in a small boat, floating upon a vast, calm sea. I glanced behind me, knowing that going back is not an option. Knowing that once you reach this place of breaking open, you cannot go back to the way you were before. Then I looked out across the sea spread before me, toward the horizon. The unknown.
Now I must find a new way of being. I don’t know how, but I know that is where I will go.
How do you heal a heart that is broken because you could not open it in the first place?
I want to FEEL more. More deeply, more fully, more embodied. To FEEL the whole spectrum, from light to dark, and back again. To be truly present with every emotion and every sensation. To cultivate that.
Rumi said, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
My soul is indebted to that man, my ex-lover.
He held up a mirror, and I saw my own darkness, my shadow self. I did not like it one bit.
That moment of looking has transformed me forever.
“The success of a relationship is measured not on duration, but based on the extent of the lessons learned” ~ Kute Blackson
Now I want to break open even more.
I want to fully BE the love that I am, that we all are.
So I’m creating a new paradigm for myself. I don’t have a guidebook or a map, but I will find a way. I want to.
Come with me. Maybe there’s still a chance for us. To really learn how to love. To reject those old imprints, and rebuild more pure and genuine ones. To become more whole.
Have you ever lost love because of your own ‘stories’ that you couldn’t see?
I wrote this post for me. Because our experiences are powerful, and their telling can provide a path for healing. But I also wrote this for YOU. Because maybe you’re like me, and you need help breaking open too. And maybe reading about my experience can bring you some comfort, showing you that you’re not alone.
Have you ever been so lost that you could not dare to love? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Image courtesy of Fade Qu