I’m the first to admit that, as of late, my love life is essentially nonexistent. To compensate and/or distract from this, I have been finding various outlets in which to live vicariously in the world of relationships and romance. Shamefully, this mostly consists of New Adult novels, romance movies and cheesy TV sitcoms. In a similar vein, I was recently trolling the internet with romance on the brain and I stumbled upon this blog/social experiment that I found incredibly intriguing
The blog follows two single friends in their late 20’s who decide to take a hack at a relationship for 40 days. Throughout this time they see a couples counselor and one of the suggested activities was to physically illustrate their history of past relationships. Because I tend to gloss over the processing of emotions and instead quickly bury memories deep in my subconscious, I (and my therapist) thought it could be helpful to do something similar. So I set out to write narratives describing all my past significant relationships, dubbing it The Ex-Files. Not surprisingly, this dredged up some memories and feelings that had been completely locked away and forgotten.
Perhaps my biggest realization was that there is one particular Ex that acts as the vortex of all of my relationship angst. Somehow, I have placed all of the blame for my emotional baggage on this one relationship despite the hurt and scarring that has come from a whole variety of people. I realized I haven’t even been blaming my ex-husband/the divorce as the source for most of my distrust in men and fear of commitment. Instead, I blamed it all on this one, singular, Ex.
I was further perplexed when I began to recount our relationship, letting myself actually concentrate and feel the memories for the first time in years. I was incredibly surprised how many memories I had hidden away, and moreover, how strongly I could feel those emotions as I remembered our time together. I realized that for so long, everything has been so overshadowed by our harrowing end(s), that I forgot what it was like in our hay day. And even if I had not long forgotten all of our memories (I mean how can you forget a trip to Disney!?), I had forgotten the emotions behind the facts.
I had forgotten how much we actually loved each other, trusted each other and wanted nothing more than to be together. I had forgotten what it was like for my heart to be truly open.
…To feel like you had found your match.
…To involuntarily, light up in some one else’s presence since they made you feel complete and at ease and understood.
…To lose the worry over revealing all your flaws-both physical and emotional- because you know you are loved unconditionally.
…To actually want to put someone else first because making them happy, makes you happy
…To not question a motive behind every romantic gesture.
…To be giddy at the prospect of seeing that special someone at the end of the day.
…To feel so sure in your choice to be together.
All this had me more worried than reassured. To start with, I realized that I had not felt these kinds of things in almost ten years–including with my ex-husband. It made me see how hardened my heart has become since I now typically turn my nose up at talk of this kind of love or relationship since I don’t see it as possible, let alone lasting, in the “real world” or at least in my world.
At the end of the day, if I am honest about my relationship with this Ex, it feels like this was a once-in -a-lifetime-romance. My initial reaction was to feel lucky that I ever experienced such a wonderful, fairytale-kind-of- love. But then it reminded me of how my mother used to comfort me when I didn’t feel cool enough in middle school by explaining that the “cool” people were peaking in their teens, and the rest of their life would pale in comparison.
Did I peak in the relationship world? Was this truly the greatest romance of my life? Am I ever going to find anything that compares or is it down hill from here?
And since I’m currently the depths of emotional ties to fictional characters these days, it quickly reminded me of the lighthouse dialogue from a recent How I Met Your Mother episode:
Ted: You know what sucks, was when I was at the top of that lighthouse, despite everything else, it was breath taking. And I wasted it. I mean how many places have I ruined forever by being there with the wrong girl.
Lily: So come back with the right girl
Ted: I don’t know. Im starting to think a person only gets a certain allotment of lighthouses per lifetime. And I’ve used mine all up.
It’s truly a haunting thought…that this is it. Nothing will ever get better than it was. There are only so many ‘lighthouses’ a person gets.
But maybe this isn’t right either. I guess at the end of the day, it’s really a mystery. We don’t know what the future holds. I suppose, when I think about it, even those who peaked in high school are still in positions where they are happy today. And then look at me. My life certainly isn’t the glimmering beacon of perfection I had hoped to make up for my shitty adolescence.
And, at least for today, maybe it’s this mystery that is keeping my (albeit microscopic) hope alive…