One of my favorite quotes is from the book Eat Pray Love. Author Elizabeth Gilbert wrote to her ex-boyfriend, “Remember when you said we should live with each other and be unhappy so that we could be happy? Consider it a testimony to how much I love you that I spent so long pouring myself in that offer trying to make it work.”
So often we stay with the wrong person for two reasons:
1. Because we completely and profoundly love them.
2. We worry our hearts will never heal again if we leave.
You see, growing up, I always knew that love was powerful and love was all-consuming. But the thing is, we rarely see love for how it should be. We rarely see the sustainable kind of love. We rarely see the kind of love that is created to last forever. In the movies, love was always dramatic and turbulent, but they always found a way back to each other because they loved each other. In the books, women always fell in love with the wrong person and ended up ruining their lives over it. In real life, we see two people who truly adored each other but also brought out the worst in each other. I think it’s fair to say that most of us grew up believing that true love can only exist as difficult, unpredictable, and incredibly up and down. That’s exciting, right? That’s what we all crave, right? As long as we love each other, we’ll always figure it out, right?
At age 27, I can say that I’ve experienced that kind of love. Truly and profoundly. That extraordinary and obsessive kind of love. The kind of love that makes you stop and think, “This is one of those moments I’m going to remember forever.” The kind of love people make music and write poetry about. The kind of love that is unexplainably special but over time becomes incredibly destructive.
The kind of love that knocks down walls you didn’t even know existed. The kind of love that was written in the stars before you were created. The kind of love that cracks you wide open. The kind of love that demands more from you.
It’s a soulmate kind of love. It’s when their simple presence gives us energy and provokes something deep inside of us. It’s the love of your life. It’s what everyone craves, so why on earth would we ever let it go? You see, the thing is, the quotes, bumper stickers, books, and movies don’t show or talk about all of the irreconcilable differences. They don’t show us fighting like hell and barely getting along anymore. The thing is, over time that becomes enough for a lot of us. We spend our nights explaining ourselves, yelling and cracking at the seams, knowing we’re holding on to something that is just no longer working.
Maybe she wants to travel and see different parts of the world. Maybe he likes simplicity and can silence his free spirit. Maybe she can’t. Maybe she’s a dreamer. Maybe he’s a rationalist.
The question I have for you is, When does love stop being enough? When does the longing kick in? The voice that whispers, “It should be easier than this.” When do we start thinking to ourselves, “Maybe soulmates don’t always figure it out.” We study our emotions and realize how up and down they have become. Then in time, we finally accept that the relationship with the person we love the most has become the root of the unbalance.
But to give up? No fucking way. We convince ourselves that the hurt and the pain and the growth was for us. It was so we can cross over to the other side together and create an entirely new relationship with our newfound wisdom. You know, I believe one of the hardest truths we have to face is knowing that you and the person you love most in the world have made each other better and braver people simply for another chapter of your lives. A chapter that doesn’t include the two of you together.
We’re told not to ever give up on the things and people we love. We’re told being in love isn’t easy, and maybe it isn’t, but it also doesn’t have to be so hard. Sometimes, the most transformative and powerful thing we can do in love is to just let go. So often we wait for the green light, an obvious sign, a guide manual that gives us permission to let go. But we don’t always need permission. Sometimes we need life to completely crack us open. We need to allow what is falling away to simply fall away instead of bargaining and questioning.
Author Rebecca Campbell once said, “Life bends for the courageous.” Sometimes all we can do is allow our lives to crumble right in front of our faces so that we can learn how to lean on hope instead of doubt. We can hope that one day, the pieces will come back the way they were meant to be. We can hope that even in our most vulnerable and naked state we will still rise. We drive by trees in the winter and we think there is no way they will be able to grow back as beautiful and strong as they once were. But time and time again, they do. So, won’t you? So, won’t I?