Picking Up the Pieces – the happier aftermath of painful endings

Hello. I’m the Infinite Lover, and I have a confession to make.

I wrote – a lot, and for months on end – about the demise of a certain relationship. I wrote about it until I was almost bored of it myself, and I wondered if any of you guys would even read it. I wrote until it felt like there couldn’t possibly be another element left to analyse, I wrote with a fervour that often felt compulsive, and probably was.

I wrote because there was something driving me to do it, and I gave in to the process, exploring myself in a way I may not have done otherwise. I wrote until I had gleaned every last little grain of self-knowledge which, it turned out, was a veritable shit tonne. So I am glad for the process, even if you weren’t able to come with me the whole way, because I’m not sure any other experience has been quite so fruitful when it comes to understanding and redefining myself.

And now? Now comes the part I’m looking forward to. The part where I get to take a new mental picture of myself, and present it to you, dear reader, over the coming months, for our collective insight and review!

Because eventually, when enough time has passed since your world was turned sideways, you start to feel stable. You start to feel like yourself again. And you start to think about what you’ve learned: about yourself, about love, about interpersonal relationships. You begin thinking about what you want to carry forward, and what is best let go of; about what has been added to your character, and what has been stripped away.

For a while, you’ll feel fragmented. It might be uncomfortable, as you try to work out how the pieces of yourself fit back together. You might have a few new rough edges, you might find smoothness where once it was jagged. But after a while, you’ll realise you have the pieces all gathered together and, even if there’s still a little sliding around required to get them into their perfect places, most of them are where they belong. And if you’re writing about it in a way that leaves you feeling publicly accountable, that fragmentation can provide the inspiration for some seriously in depth analysis. You’ll possibly have reached a new appreciation for yourself on the other side of it. 

I’ve spent many months – years, even, when I think about the trajectory of connections I’ve experienced – picking up my pieces, and putting the majority of them back where they belong. It was somewhat news to me, after what felt like an uphill battle for so long, to realise that I am once again a vibrant whole. Now that my emotional muscles have stopped burning, I’ve been enjoying taking stock of who I am, and who I can be, having experienced what I’ve experienced, and loved who and how I have. So now I’m granting myself the pleasure of describing my pieces to you, thinking about the way they got together, with you as my witness. I know that you love to watch and follow along – otherwise you wouldn’t be here – and I’m hoping the process might even give you some ideas of your own.

On a surface level, there are some simple differences that, quite frankly,  I’m really happy about. Dating an image conscious man with an awesome style means that my wardrobe is officially killer. I would never have thought to add a motorcycle jacket to my collection, or wear jeans that I have to peel off, or undersized blazers that only serve to highlight my attributes. Turns out I look and feel great in all of these things. Who knew?

My music collection definitely came out for the better. Being a professional musician in Sydney means that he had a lot of high end covers gigs, so I got to indulge and develop guilty pleasures like P!nk, INXS and Fleetwood Mac on an almost weekly basis. I think I stopped being ashamed of what brings me pleasure, musically at least. My iTunes playlists now regularly feature Whitesnake and  Black Stone Cherry, alongside other such glorious glam/thrust/cock rock delicacies. And without him, there’s no way I would have found Rick Dangerous & The Silkie Bantams, which is actually unthinkable.

And food…oh, the food! I was already a pretty impressive cook, I’m not going to mince words. But it took a French influence for me to nail crêpes, chocolate mousse and…mayonnaise. We loved that stuff so damn much that I think we may have created the market for mayoporn. I don’t want to remember what life was like before I was making perfect mayonnaise whenever I wanted. It just doesn’t bear thinking about.

I’m still surprised that in the scheme of things, these seemingly superficial details have actually added a pizazz to my days that was worth the darker times (go see Rick Dangerous live – or try my mayonnaise – and you’ll understand!). But strutting around in a sassy outfit while listening to cock rock or feminist pop, before going home to eat a meal lovingly handcrafted down to the condiments turns out to be quite the panacea for feelings of loss and desolation, especially since those darker times also lead to certain self awareness that I’d been unable to reach before facing those specific challenges, at that particular point. When I was able to balance the pain with small moments of intense enjoyment, making it through tough days became a lot more manageable. And that’s when I began to let go of the pieces I didn’t need anymore.

Because until I was more alone than I’d ever been, I didn’t know how much I could give to myself. Until I was so mentally and emotionally unwell, I didn’t know how powerful it could be to focus solely on my own wellbeing, or how grounded I’d become as a result. Until writing was the sole way I could express my confusion and hope to make sense of it, it didn’t become a daily practice. Until I felt totally uncared for by any significant other, I had only a warped sense of who I can be when solely in relation to myself. It turns out that the Infinite Lover, when left totally to her own devices, kicks serious butt!

Until I had moderated my behaviour so significantly for the sake of may partner’s acceptance, I didn’t recognise that I’d been in codependent relationships the majority of my life. Until I decided that this was the last time I would invest energy in working things out with a ‘partner’ in the traditional sense, and had that turn out catastrophically poorly, I didn’t see how, as an infinitely loving human committed to continual evolution and non-attachment, I’d long outgrown that model.

These are the revelations that have informed me about what can be left behind, along with the more painful memories and the old habits.

Relationships formed around expectation are not for me; neither will I apply linear longevity as the marker of a successful connection. Our relationship will be defined and shaped by what we both bring to the table, by the particular alchemy of our subjective selves, by pleasure and kindness and openhearted experience, by respect and willingness, and a deep commitment to honouring ourselves and meeting our own needs while loving each other. This, and not a subscription to a cookie cutter model wherein others are excluded or we act out of obligation as often as warmth, is what builds trust for me.

No longer do I turn to my loves to support me through my darkness, or to heal me when I’m tired or wounded. I am the best carer I can have. In times of need, I choose to focus on myself, and instead of hoping you’ll be able to support me through that, I invite you to share closeness and deliciousness, moments of sweetness and sensuality and simple fun, to inspire me with your light and your vision, when it feels right and possible to do so, rather than from any sense of emotional debt. This is what healthy and enjoyable connection looks like to me.

I am not looking for my ‘one’. I am my one. My care is my own responsibility and my privilege. I do not ask you to opt in to my survival, but that we help each other to thrive by sharing and creating together.

There is plenty more to say about this, but for now, I want to thank you for being here at the walking into the sunset part of the journey. We have so many more adventures to go on, so many more stories for me to whisper in your ear. Like a delicate and fractured Japanese bowl that has been mended with liquid gold, I feel more beautiful and resilient, more aware of my true worth, and incredibly pleased at how well the pieces fit together once reassembled with great tenderness and dedication. While the small, crumbling shards can finally be swept away, the whole has been reformed, and it seems like a damn good fit.

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Picking Up the Pieces – the happier aftermath of painful endings

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  1. typical narcissistic woman. “hey i am the center of everything and my problems are the only thing that matters”. go have a cry. i am a 26 year old guy, never had sex, no woman has ever wanted me. you dont see me writing blogs like these

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  2. You’re spot on that I write from the centre of my own experience; it’s the only way I know how to process things effectively enough to be able to move on and function! And I cried, a lot, for a long time.

    While full blown narcissism wreaks havoc in many people’s lives (including my own fairly recently), being able to critically deconstruct the self and one’s own experiences is an important practice, I feel. I write publicly in the hope that I might be able to help others with less access to the support systems that I am lucky enough to have understand their own situations.

    I’m sorry to hear of your loneliness. I was quite late to intimacy myself, and used to feel an almost physical pain from it at times.

    I’m not sure why you would choose to read about my experience and my attempts to understand and grow from it only to try and shame me, other than that perhaps it is a way to temporarily relieve your own pain, or to feel connected, even if through anger. The Four Agreements is a great book that helped me a lot, maybe you’ll find some comfort in it. I wish you all the best.

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