Originally posted on ethanrenoe.com
A while ago, I wrote a post called “How To Get Over Anyone.” I believed all the advice I wrote in it, and I still think it can be helpful. I think it will take away some of the pain but not all of it.
Unlike scars on the skin, I don’t think the pain ever really goes away when you really love someone.
There’s this idea that the pain goes away over the years, the further you get from one heartbreak or another, but I have not found that to be true. Looking back over my 29 years, I can pinpoint a few loves which really shaped and shook me. One was in high school. I used to think that I’d meet someone else and our love would eclipse that of my high school romance.
What I’ve found instead is that I carry the strangeness of the flame from that first tumble down the hill of love into every one that follows it. Each flame burns a slightly different color, and when I finally meet the woman I’ll spend the rest of my life with, we won’t be striking flint together to make a new flame; we will be joining the ones we’ve been carrying through the years.
You don’t get to start over.
Essentially, what I’ve learned is this: You never really get over anyone.
If you really love someone — and I mean the type of love which is so beautiful it hurts, like slicing your souls open and pressing the juicy wounds together — then you will never really move on.
You can deal with that experience in a healthy way, of course. You can function properly and move forward. You can even pretend it doesn’t affect you anymore, but for the rest of your days, those previous flames will shape who you date and who you become.
I wish I could escape it, but even now, even 13 years later, I can’t help but to nostalgically long for the summer days on Cape Cod when we split grass in half and swung for the clouds on the swingset.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to communicate the sheer depth of the day Claudia and I got stuck in the rain in Guatemala — not because it’s shameful or bad, but because the breadth of what a human being is able to feel was pushed to its limits.
Looking back, I can point to three, maybe four relationships which literally changed who I have become. Whether it was my interests which shifted over that time — because of her — or me realizing what I do or don’t want; what I do or don’t like to do, where I want my life to go, and so on, I was not the same person after spending time with her.
So in that sense, I’ll never be over them, because they altered my life. They may have changed the trajectory of my life by a single degree, but even such a minute alteration would take me to a vastly different place decades later.
We’ll never know who we would have been or where we’d end up if we hadn’t gone out with ____ …or if we had gone out with ____.
You may marry someone else and authentically love them, but you’ll never be over your former loves.
They’ll trickle their way into your future like a love-shaped shadow, always calling out in voices which now sound like distant echoes,
“Can you still hear me over the sound of the passing decades?“
They’ll pull you back like the string of a bow and fire you, the arrow, at whatever target their lovesick hearts desire.
You can’t help it.
Either you surrender to their marksmanship
or you weren’t really in love.
To love is to give it all, because to hold any of yourself back is to act. And if you’re acting, you’re in anything but love.
There is no 90% in love.
No, you don’t get over those you really loved.
You carry them with you.