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Why do we expect to bounce back so quickly after break-ups and then beat ourselves up when we don’t? (I’m speaking about myself of course but trying to word it so I don’t feel so exposed.) Wisdom tells me that when we let our guard down and let another person under our skin and into our heart, when we breathe them in and swirl them in our minds, and sync to their rhythms while sleeping and making love, our lovers change us. We are altered on all levels of our being.

Afterwards, integration of all that has shifted and come to light as a result of the relationship takes time to digest, settle, and configure into a newly integrated self that we then carry forward into life and into new relationships. I always seem to need ample time to mull things over from many angles and to process, deeply and thoroughly, all that’s surfaced for me in the relating. I feel strongly about maintaining integrity and yet within that alignment with my truth I am willing to be changed and to evolve. I am willing to reassess my beliefs and behaviors and to grow through these seemingly messy attempts at loving and being loved.

In the opening of myself to another human being, I am affected deep down to the very depths of my psyche. My lover appears no longer in waking life but in dreams encoded in symbols and wrapped in thick emotional themes that wove through the relationship. Part of the aftermath, these dreams either increase the longing for ‘what was’ or deepen the resolve to move on, or both simultaneously. They are part of the mastication of experience as my psyche chews and digests archetypal themes of masculine and feminine and what’s come to light in the recent mix.

People are like one-of-a-kind chemicals that form one-in-a-million reactions when you mix two of them together. Our lovers highlight resonant and dissonant threads in us while we’re with them—I meet the one who giggles, the serious one, the jaded one, the sexy one who lives in me through my lovers’ mirror. I am shown a face sometimes I didn’t know I had, a face that didn’t show up in other relationships. I come face to face with pieces of me that need to be called home for healing and other pieces rise to shine and be celebrated. I believe that a balanced relationship has room for both healing the dark and celebrating the light. 

Photograph by Unknown Artist

We are delicate eco-systems, and when we introduce another person into our world, it potentially rearranges everything. Somehow in that invitation, through making space for another, we create an opening for a new version of our life to take shape. If we truly want that person in our life we must be flexible with the gentle and sometimes fierce rearranging of our world. And even after you part ways, if that’s the way it goes, you may find that a creek runs where there wasn’t one before, that there are new wildflowers growing, and that your landscape, though at some level the same, is forever changed.

For some reason hindsight seems to come with rose colored glasses on at times and I find myself experiencing genuine moments of surprise fueled by an amnesia that seems to omit in memory what went wrong. My friends often need to gently fill in the blanks and remind me of the whole picture. I grapple with my loyal nature and find my loyalty lives on often long past the point of what’s appropriate. I end up with a misplaced devotion for someone who is no longer there until I reroute that devotion home to my self…sometimes it takes a bit.

No, I don’t bounce back, not most times anyways, although it did happen once. Instead, I allow for an often messy and cyclical process of thought, emotions and the eventual integration of new maturity and wisdom. And until that settles in, I give myself over to the spectrum from loss to longing, grief to grasping, from anger to regret, and back again until finally by some sifting process of mind and heart, I finally settle into acceptance.

Acceptance happens in her own time not on mine, and not by me but by grace herself who seems to finally say, “Okay, it’s enough.” In that moment when I let go of clinging to the banks and give myself over to the current of life again, I relinquish ‘what was’ and allow instead for ‘what is’ and for ‘what is to be’. I surrender to the possibility of the new beginning that is inherently encoded in the ending and inevitably, I move on.

2014 © Marie-Ève Bonneau