So last week my first love got married. And not to me–clearly! This has been interesting to go through. I’ve been waiting for this to happen for years. Our relationship has been over now for around 12 years so I knew, obviously, someday he would move on and get married. And yet, the day I saw on the ole Face Book that he was engaged, I burst into tears. I called my best friend and said “Mark’s getting married.” He started laughing–he did not see that one coming! I laughed through my tears as we talked it out. “You don’t want to get back together with him, do you,?” he asked. “Of course not,” I said, “I mean, I don’t even know him anymore.” But there is a sadness at the reminder of the loss of that attachment.
As I have been working on mindfulness and living in the now over the past few years, I have come SO far in getting my thoughts under control, in the sense of not dwelling in the past. I used to be a terrible dweller! As Kyle (the BFF) pointed out several years ago, I can’t even throw away magazines, so of course I have a hard time letting go of past relationships. Now, I don’t allow myself to have magazine subscriptions, and I am learning to let the past be the past. But even though I do not sit around mourning old relationships and decisions, when it comes to love there is something that binds us to one another. And that something is very tangible and does not go away when the label of a relationship dissolves. Not if there was true love present.
So that’s why I cried. And that’s why my heart hurt. I mourned a great love that we shared together for a little over a year, when I was 16 and 17 years old, in a small town in Arkansas. The most amazing first love I could have wished for. A love with high school dances and theater, and notes passed in the hall. My first french kiss, and celebrating our anniversary every month, and tooling around town in his convertible. And visiting him at Ole Miss for a year while he was a freshman. And then, I had to move on and go to college. And I could see two roads: one to Ole Miss and staying in a relationship with him forever, and one to somewhere else where I would be on my own, testing out the world. I knew option one was romantic, but not realistic. At some point down the line, whether it was 5 years or 25 years later, I would need to set out on my own.
We very thankfully remained friends, talking on the phone a lot for the first few years and seeing each other occasionally. Then his family moved away from Arkansas and now it’s been about three years since we last talked. Of course, social media exists now, so we can very easily see what the other is up to. And he’s up to getting married…and sky diving, etc.
While I’m on this subject, I want to talk a minute about marriage and “successful relationships.” I have started to change my thinking over the years, to truly enjoying the day to day moments of my relationships and not judging them. How many of you have broken up with someone and said, “I can’t believe I wasted x number of years of my life on him/her!” I may have thought that way a long time ago but not anymore. If there were days full of love that you shared together, then how could that ever be a waste? I believe living in the moment is sometimes challenging when dealing with relationships but only because there is such a strong need to put a label on them in order to nail down the future. Labels and rules and pieces of paper only give us a false sense of security. If you remove those ultimate relationships goals like marriage, or staying together forever, as long as your time was happy together, it was successful! You shared love for 6 months, or 10 years or 40 years, etc.
I realize that wanting to have kids in a timely fashion may be a reason to feel a time was wasted in a relationship. Or perhaps if there was serious wrong doing going down. But otherwise, I feel we should start valuing the time we spend with a person and not judging it a failure when it ends–whether it ends in a break up or a move on or a divorce. In the movie Cocktail, Tom Cruise’s character says, “Everything ends bad or else it wouldn’t end.” Not only is that incorrect grammar, I don’t think it has to be true. And this concept will be a hard one for you to grasp if you have never experienced a “good” breakup. (Even a “good” breakup is full of heartache, but maybe you come off with some sort of friendship and well wishes for the other person.)
Everyone dreams of a fairytale ending with their chosen mate, but it just doesn’t exist. And I’m not being cynical! (I’m not necessarily anti-marriage.) In fact, the opposite! I am living a fairytale amazing life every day right now! I could not BE more blessed, so I am not in the market for something/someone else to give that to me. And the fact is that we are constantly changing and growing–now, always, forever–changing. We have to have the happiness and the completeness in ourselves because we outgrow people and people outgrow us. Our jobs change, our careers evolve. We move, people move, people die, people start families and it all changes. Yes, we may be able to change with our chosen mate, but should we cling so tightly? I’m not saying it’s easy, but I think it may be true.
There is a quote (that I could not find now that I needed it) that says “Many your heart be broken many times, because it will mean you loved many times.” Well, I’ve felt the love and I’ve felt the heartbreak and it’s blissful and it’s agonizing and it’s wonderful and it makes you feel alive. And I can feel a little pang in my heart when I wish my first love a lifetime of happiness and adventures with his wife, and despite the pang I am so grateful for the love we shared all those years ago.
Peace and Love,