It’s Never Too Late…
A musical journey through love and relationships
A musical journey through love and relationships
I’m twenty-three, sitting in traffic on my way to work. It’s a brilliant, sunny day. I don’t want to be in traffic but I do want to be at work because at work I can forget. I can forget that my fiancé is no longer my fiancé and one of my best ‘friends’ is no longer a person I ever want to see again. That the two of them are who-knows-where but together, and in love, and RSVPs to the wedding that Will Never Be are still coming through the mail slot at my parent’s house.
Work is my solace, my escape. That and music.
Music acts as a container for the intensity of emotions that bubble up and wash over and through me. I listen to anything I can get my hands on, seeking lyrics and vocals to capture how raw everything feels. Alanis Morissette, P!nk, Sarah McLachlan — they sing to my broken heart, to every broken heart.
My life, my perfect life that was planned out in five and ten year plans, obliterated in a weekend.
(Oh to be twenty-three, to think that life can ever fit a perfect plan, to be so dramatic and flamboyant, as if heart-break was my own discovery)
Not that it was just the one weekend. There were the days that followed the weekend when my heart shattered, dropped carelessly by the realisation that She Didn’t Love Me Anymore.
We had a strange and tedious back and forth. I realised that even though she was in love with someone else, I’d have to be the one to give her back the ring and explain that it was over. That it wasn’t just that we weren’t going to get married. No, you can’t keep living here. No, I don’t want to see you again. No, we can’t be friends. Can’t you understand that I’m simply struggling to not hate you, so the idea of friendship is impossible?
I use the music to buffer, to cocoon. I’ve been wrapping myself in lyrics:
‘So, so what? I’m still a rock star. I’ve got my rock moves and I don’t need you…’
‘Love has made me a fool, it set me on fire and watched as I floundered…’
‘Every time you speak her name does she know you told me you’d hold me until you died? Til you died, but you’re still alive…’
And then a song comes on the radio, as I’m stuck in traffic, unable to move. A silly pop-punk song by a silly pop-punk boy band sung in a squeaking teenage voice:
‘It’s never too late to start over again…’
I am irritated by this song. It grates at my last nerve and I turn it off. Sometimes, I think, it IS too late.
I resolve to never fall in love again.
Did I mention I was 23?
I’m twenty-seven and it’s a different face but the same story (almost). She says she loves me but isn’t in love with me. She only married me because she wasn’t ready for the relationship to end ‘yet’. She names every doubt and uncertainty I had going into the relationship as her reasons for wanting out. Reasons which she dismissed when they were mine but cannot ignore now that they are hers.
But at least this time I know (because I lived it before) that starting over can be done.
Knowing this doesn’t make it less painful, but at least makes it more bearable. Still, I hold the tiny pieces of my shattered heart up for people to see. I despair at the suffering caused by hope. I think it shouldn’t hurt this bad, be this hard, or this big of a deal. Broken hearts happen every day and it’s not like someone died.
My psychologist gently reminds me that divorce and separation are two of the most stressful things a human being will endure — and yes, I will endure.
It is the same but different.
Money is tight and I just started a new job and with a cat it’s difficult to find a flat, a place, any place, where I can get away. But as soon as I do, as soon as I am disentangled, I see the gas-lighting: accumulative rebuffing, scolding, a condescending tone. The abuse is so obvious, so painfully obvious, from the outside. It was a constant barrage that echoes in my psyche. I jump in expectation of for months afterwards, never feeling like I’m good enough, striving to live to impossible always-changing expectations trapped in my memory.
Mild PTSD, my psychologist tells me. Totally normal. Totally workable. But we really do need to work with it.
More music. A succession of songs to sooth, to inspire, to heal — turned into art this time:
This time I am not so foolish as to think falling in love is entirely a choice that can be made, but I am also certain that I will learn from my mistakes.
I write a description on my online profile, thinking such a person couldn’t possibly exist. I have no expectations, no hopes, no need to find a relationship. It’s more a reminder for myself: This is what you want. It is okay to want these things. Do not settle for less.
You should message me if:
…You don’t have any expectations.
… Being in a relationship isn’t essential to your happiness.
…you like books, travel, philosophical discussions, fart jokes, good food, and being spontaneous.
…you’re comfortable with letting go, working with your mind and you never hold anyone else responsible for your own well being.
… you take life as it comes and have a sense of ‘no big deal’, appreciating that all we can do is care for one another and that righteous indignation, fundamentalism and hatred aren’t helpful (even if they’re invigorating).
… you’re curious.
and she does.
I am thirty and I am standing in front of everyone I love in the world — directly across from someone who loves me wholeheartedly, immeasurably and joyfully — about to declare it and legalise it and put a ring on it. We are both surprised, amazed, in wonder of the other. It’s magical and entirely ordinary at the same time. Completely unsurprising because we have seen this magic before, in the love between our parents, the love we see in certain couples we know, the love we see in ourselves.
Because I have learned.
I have learned that life is a constant opportunity to start over, to do things differently, to think in a new way and the fun of the experiment is that every time you get a little bit better at it and that is it’s own reward.
Originally published on Medium
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