How do you let yourself love again?
Ironically when I wrote the first draft of this article my phone autocorrected “love” to “live”.
I can’t help but wonder if these two words can be exclusive of each other.
Love, connection, and belonging, I really believe these are deep human needs.
I believe we experience so many types of love.
Love of a parent.
Love of a child.
Love of a sibling.
Love of a best friend.
Love of a hobby, sport, or some activity that feeds your soul.
But the love you have for a partner is different.
It’s bigger, because it’s like all of the above combined into one: It’s like the stew of life. You learn many other loves first to prepare you on how to love and accept love from a partner.
So when that love is separated, it is devastating.
Separation is such a common word today, that I never realized the magnitude of what it meant until I chose to unpack it.
By clinical definition according to www.dictionary.com, separation is defined as:
- the action or state of moving or being moved apart.
“the damage that might arise from the separation of parents and children”
If we are wired to need connection, then the act of disconnection must have a profound impact on the brain.
It certainly has on mine.
I think for many couples the disconnection happens slowly over time. I think the date when the couple actually chooses to separate is just a physical manifestation of the emotional state that’s been in existence for a long time.
I remember having a deeply personal conversation with a dear friend whose marriage was weak and vulnerable. She described herself as “emotionally starved”.
She said, “Michelle I’m emotionally hangry. You know when you get to the point where you will take anything because you just are starving… you will eat the cookies, the junk, whatever because you just need to feed the hunger.”
That conversation deeply impacted me. I think as life happens: Kids, bills, jobs, and adult responsibilities, we are vulnerable to become more and more disconnected from our partner.
If we don’t feed each other, there’s a tremendous sense of loneliness for both partners in my opinion.
Death by a thousand paper cuts.
The tiniest things left unattended eventually become a bleed out.
So we choose a disconnection. We choose a separation.
And then what??
You desperately seek connection, but your wounds are so deep you can’t fathom ever letting yourself love that deeply again.
But if we need connection how are we to move forward? How are we supposed to heal?
Well, I suppose like all wounds, you take care of it, and you wait.
One of my biggest fears is repeating history.
Making all the same mistakes I made the first time.
I have this visual in my head:
You spend your life at the beach, building, sculpting and protecting the most precious sandcastle.
This sandcastle is your everything.
It is your identity, your reason for waking up every morning. This sandcastle is your job. As far as you’re concerned, you need to keep this sandcastle from being destroyed, and you must constantly add to it to keep it from falling, but it’s so delicate, and it is so much work.
You need others to help you take care of it, but sometimes your pride gets in the way, you don’t want to burden others with your responsibility, so you just try to keep it together on your own. Sometimes you spend too much time looking at others sandcastles, wondering why yours doesn’t look as good.
Comparison is the thief of joy, and an unhealthy distraction, and just like the sandcastle you have a breaking point, and one day it finally collapses and washes out to sea.
You are left destroyed and feeling completely worthless. How will you ever recreate that sandcastle??!
You can’t and you won’t.
You will start again but it will never be the same, nor should it.
You need to be happy that sandcastle was built, you need to find peace in the lessons it gave you, and you need to know how important it was.
You didn’t fail.
You didn’t quit.
It is time to rebuild.
The Phoenix rises from the ashes, strong only because of those ashes, and if we don’t find gratitude in those ashes we will never grow.
There is no time limit to heal wounds, because everyone has a different healing factor rate.
I will never love the same again.
Nor should I expect myself to.
I am not the same person.
But I cannot deny myself the need for love, to give it and to receive it.
We all are worthy, of what we need.
And yes, the Beatles knew it best.
All we need is love, but allowing it to find you is your choice.
In the meantime we wait for the bleeding to stop and tend to our wounds, because if we don’t, we cannot move forward.
Be kind to yourself.
Listen to your thoughts, feel your feelings and give yourself permission to feel numb, sad and disconnected.
And also give yourself permission to feel connected again, and to want to feel connected.
You can’t wait for someone to “save” you, you have to take ownership and start building that sandcastle again. This is on you to get up, adjust your expectations, apply the lessons learned and take the breaks you need.
And remember, when you need help, ask for it.
To watch my video explaining my separation, click here.