There’s a danger in love. There’s a danger in losing yourself to love – whether it’s the love of a parent, a child, a friend, or a friend-friend. It’s a set up, of course. Because while saying you want them, need them, in your life – you’re also admitting to the very real chance that they won’t stay in your life. In committing, you’re gambling.
Is the happiness now, worth the pain of losing them later?
I was talking to a friend who said the whole “better to have loved and lost, than never loved at all” is crap. Total crap. Because, you see, she had experienced love with a man. And it was everything it should be. They were soulmates and business partners. Best friends and each others’ better-halves. And now they’re not. And she didn’t choose this life all alone. She lamented that she wishes she had stayed single – because then she wouldn’t have known the difference. There is no loss without something to lose.
Yet, isn’t life lived in the depths? In the extremes? It would be one thing to play it safe. To stay in the shallows. But think of all you would missing.
There’s a poem by David Whyte called “The Well of Grief.” It starts like this:
Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief,
turning down through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe,
will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear…
He describes grief in this tangible and evocative way. In a way that only those who have loved and lost can understand.
This past weekend would have been my anniversary. A year ago, a lifetime ago, I never would have predicted to be here. And preparing myself for a toxic cocktail of emotions, I booked a retreat at The Queen of Angels Monastery.
Surrounded by this aging group of nuns – these 30 or so women who chose celibacy and singleness – I was struck by the structure and safety of it all. To be insulated from the outside world seems so nice. So easy. Why didn’t I think of entering the monastery instead of marriage?!
Because I was 21 and in love. Because I thought I could muscle my way to happily-ever-after. I could feel significant because I had a significant other.
I rolled the dice. Gambled. And lost.
So here I am. Healing from a broken heart. And for the first time, I’m able to say that I don’t regret my past. Truly. There was happiness and hope and this kind of bittersweetness. C.S. Lewis says, “Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”
And part of the healing – the diluting of the pain – is being able to admit being grateful for the lesson.