I always say that my ex taught me how to love. Because he did. In so many beautiful ways. He taught me that love was steady when I thought it was reckless and unpredictable. He taught me that love was unconditional when I thought it was judgmental. He taught me that love could be soft and accepting when I thought it had to be defiant and lonely, that it could wait when I was in an impatient huffy hurry.
And at the ending of our love story, he’s taught me the deepest lesson about love. I’m not sure he meant to, but what I know is that when we fear our life is veering off course, what lies before us is our greatest opportunity for healing if we’re willing to see it all differently.
My ex taught me how to choose love, and just when I got really, really good at partnership and showing up and loving more deeply than I have ever allowed myself to love, he said, “I’m done.” Actually, he said it twice. But he had to really because I didn’t want to hear it. I just wanted to keep loving. After all, he’d taught me this – that love can wait.
“Look what I can do. Look what I can do,” I wanted to shout like our beautiful 10-year old boy – His beautiful 10-year old boy. “Just look at how I can love you and be ok with what you are capable of giving and hold this beautiful grounded space for the two of us – the space that you held for the first 3 years. I have learned so much. Just trust me. Look at what I can do.”
But cries of desperation are never flattering to the crier, and they fall on deaf ears to the already gone.
It was over. A month passed, and I just kept loving. I’ll be honest, it was really fucking hard. I love him in this unconditional way I’ve never been able to love anyone – in a way he may not even be able to love himself right now. And this is a love so big, it causes an ache when it’s not received. What am I supposed to do with this love – this unconditional beast he awoke in me? Where do I put all that I’ve mastered when the teacher has vanished?
I kicked up my feet (and did a lot of Yoga) on the beaches of The Bahamas to help my heart heal, and I read a parable in the book The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz – because you know my random roommate at the Ashram happened to throw that book in her backpack at the last minute even though she’d already read it. That’s how God works isn’t it? Always conspiring to get us exactly what we need in magical ways.
In this story, a man invites The Master to his house for dinner and The Master says he will come. A hungry man, a thirsty woman, and a cold child show up to the man’s door that night and the man shares his best food, finest wine, and warmest blanket with them– all the things he was saving for The Master. The Master, who never came, showed up that night in the man’s dream. I was there, the Master said. I was there in the form of a hungry man, a thirsty woman, and a cold child. You gave me your best and loved me. I was there.
And in that magical moment for me, that miraculous moment when perspective shifts – because that’s what a miracle is, isn’t it – a shift in your perspective – I got it. All that love I learned to carry, the permission to allow a person to be as he/she is, to show up with what they offer and love that to the fullest – all that I learned from my ex flooded through my body and now it had a place to go. Of course I wasn’t meant to keep it. So I handed it out everywhere I turned. I walked into what I feared was to be a lonely part of my life and love showed up everywhere because I was giving it out. Not to one special person, but to everyone who crossed my path – to the Danish diplomat, the professor diagnosed with breast cancer, the athlete who had to put her dog down, the teenager afraid of her path, the judgmental Yogi, the recovering alcoholic, and the depressed man from New York who tried to hit on me. I showered them with acceptance of exactly where they were and loved them for no other reason than I had love to give.
Love isn’t meant to be saved up for a person or a small group of people. It’s meant to be a state of being that washes over everyone in our path. We just have to touch that steady part of us below our wounds and let love rip through the world and heal in its wake.