New Year, Open Heart
“Always is relative.”
Such were the cruelest words ever spoken to me, by my “soulmate,” as I pondered aloud the meaning of the engraving on his ring, which I had worn for almost a decade. It said: “ALWAYS YOU.”
I had the supreme fortune and the supreme misfortune to fall head over heels in love at the age of eighteen. He was unlike any human I had ever encountered, a wild-eyed, brilliant artist whose dreams and energy knew no bounds – my perfect match. A fellow adventurer, he was a grand romantic and our relationship was filled with momentous gestures, tender moments and incredible voyages. We traveled the country and the world as a team, moving to new homes across oceans and cultures, raising dogs together and bonding with each other’s families and friends. Our relationship was truly something special, as anyone would tell you; we were one hell of a power couple whose profound relationship was the envy of almost everyone we met. He was a joker, a charismatic vaudevillian that could charm any living being on earth. Everyone loved him, but no one more than me.
My love for him was truer than the sun, inspiring countless horrible poems and keeping my spirit afloat in the rough waters of young adulthood. I knew without a doubt that he was “The One,” and that someday I would marry the love of my life barefoot on a beach and that we would grow old together, holding hands and laughing into our final sunset.
Unfortunately, his love for me was not quite so true, and what I thought was a Romance Of The Ages turned out to be just another young relationship that fell victim to the cliché of the charming philanderer. We had been together almost a decade when he confessed that he had actually been cheating on me with multiple women, multiple times, across multiple years, from before we ever moved in together to just a few weeks prior. Up until that moment, I would have bet on my life that he was true to me. I was a naïve girl that had no exposure to the evil ways of men, and I believed without a shadow of a doubt that love conquered all.
The dissolution of this relationship, which I had based not only my life but much of my identity around, threw me into a long, dark valley of despair and the most dangerous time of my life. I felt as if my life had gone horribly wrong, that I had been forced down some alternate track that was never supposed to exist. One month after we broke up, he moved in a new girlfriend (into the house I had found and the home I had created) that looked suspiciously like me. I literally could not peel myself off the floor of my interim home, eating trays of cinnamon rolls with my hands and imagining the new couple lounging on my couch with my dog watching Saturday morning cartoons. He had destroyed not only everything I believed in (love), but also much of who I was. He had turned my life completely upside down – so I decided to turn it even further on its head. I quit my job, put all of my belongings into storage, bought a plane ticket on my credit card and moved to New Zealand. If he had made me alone, I would make myself even more alone. And I did.
On the bottom of the world, I was at the lowest point of my life. For several years I worked through a slog of backlogged emotions, despair and anger, mostly at myself. I searched the bottom of thousand bottles for answers, took insane risks in my travels and indulged as much as possible in psychedelics and dopamine-enhancing drugs. One day, I realized that music could take away my pain better than any drug and over half a decade later, I have made it out! I have finally pulled myself out of the dark and dangerous valley that threatened to destroy me, and realized while he was the right man for me at one point, he was never the right man for me forever. I am ready to love again – or at least I want to be.
With another new year comes another comes another fresh chance to open your heart, but you have to want to open it. The wall around my heart can be seen from outer space, and many times I am not too sure that I want to dismantle it. I ask myself: is love worth the inevitable pain? But then I look back at what I experienced for ten years, and know that love is worth the pain – because I would do it all over again. Knowing what I do today, not only about his infidelity but also about the terrible dark valley that consumed my life for years after we separated – I would do it all over again in a split-second! Being in love was the most meaningful experience of my life, and it was worth every scream, every shredded photograph, every single tear.
I have hope that I will love again, and I WILL pry my heart open even if it takes a goddamn crowbar. For those of you who are dating and discouraged, who are searching but not finding, who are looking for someone to hold you at the end of the day and tell you that everything will be all right: it is worth it. Your search is worth it; love is worth every bad date, every flubbed sexual encounter and every asshole that doesn’t call. Love Is Why We Are Here. Love is our highest calling as human beings, and it is your duty to love in whatever way suits you best.
I no longer believe in such bullshit as “The One” but do believe that there are at least a dozen men in my metro area that could be a fantastic husband or perhaps just a fantastic fellow adventurer. Opening your heart to love also means becoming vulnerable and opening your heart to pain. While I have not found a man to open my heart for just yet, I have taken an important step towards letting love back into my life: I have adopted a puppy. He shoves my heart open another millimeter each day with his fuzzy wiggles, unfailing devotion and copious amount of slobber. And I know that someday, I will love again.
I wish you luck on your journey to find love, and from the dark side of the trenches I will tell you in hopes to inspire you: it is worth it!