If You Love Something, Set It Free

Falling in love is one of the most exciting, invigorating, and intoxicating feelings there is. You have a new face to memorize, a new set eyes to come home to. Their scent has the significance of a home-cooked meal that you crave. You begin to live more presently and with less inhibitions, and you feel a certain rush of importance that you haven’t felt in a while. You feel amazing about yourself, and it becomes almost impossible to think of that person ever doing anything to sway your mind about them.

Falling in love is like experiencing a high you never want to end. And if I wanted to, I could have chosen to write about that and that alone. I mean, it’s Valentines Day right?

But because I’m me, here’s this.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This past November, I ended things with my most recent boyfriend. Yup, the one from that insanely long and personal blog post. It was the most healthy and most real relationship I’d been in by far/so far. We went on trips I couldn’t have even imagined going on with any other guy from my past, we had conversations that made me realize that he was my best friend, and we took care of each other in ways that I honestly didn’t think was possible between me and anyone else. I loved him, my family (extended included) loved him, my friends loved him. Even some of our college professors loved us together.

It was that type of love. You know, the type that has you thinking things like, “Yeah, you know, I would probably be happy ending my dating life here and now with this person. I feel good and secure about this relationship and I’m proud to be in it.”

Besides being the realest and the healthiest, it was also the longest relationship I’d ever been in and everything just looked right on paper.

But that’s the thing about paper; if things look good on it, you can get blinded by the pride and security you feel from it. The issues that kept making themselves more and more present throughout the relationship were rooted deeper than I was choosing to think and I was in denial for a long time about them. It was absolutely devastating making the decision to end the relationship.

It’s an extremely confusing and complicated feeling breaking off a relationship that was healthy and happy for such a long time. Ending an unhealthy/abusive relationship has it’s own difficulties and complications, and I speak from firsthand experience when I say that, but there’s something about ending a for-the-most-part healthy relationship that leaves you questioning your own character and what kind of person you are to hurt someone like that.

By the way, I use the term “for-the-most-part healthy” because I don’t believe any relationship that comes to an end was 100% healthy. Just my opinion, but if you had to end it, there was (at least) something not working right. Something you could no longer accept.

But here’s the thing: As confused as I was with myself about ending the best romantic relationship I ever had, something in me told me that it was the right decision. I couldn’t put my finger on it; it was the first time I ever felt so sure about something that was supposed to feel so wrong. Even through the emotional outbursts that had me sobbing so hard that I literally could not speak, my gut and my heart never once asked me, “Are you sure about this?”

I wish that had been enough to leave me feeling at peace. But with my logic-based mind and my masochistic need to pin down answers about my feelings, this still didn’t satisfy me. I racked my brain for weeks on end, desperately trying to find the answers to “What exactly made you so sure about your decision to break someone’s heart? How could your gut have known things so confidently?”

Maybe my mind ran itself to exhaustion on the search for the perfect answer. Maybe it was my preoccupation with my job and shiplife. Maybe it was abcd…xyz (see? I’m doing it again.)

But about two months later, the answer found me in the most gentle, beautiful way.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A couple weeks ago, I rented a bike on Castaway Cay and pedaled to one of my favorite spots of all the ports we go to (and Castaway isn’t even my favorite port by a stretch.) There is bike trail that is surrounded by various plants and foliage that brings you to it. Living on the ocean, you don’t see much green at all, so this alone is already a blessing. At the end of this bike trail, there is a bike rack and a cul-de-sac where you can park your bike and there is a lookout point just a few steps away. The view isn’t grandiose by any means and it isn’t obviously breathtaking to the average passerby, but if you take a few minutes to put your phone away and just absorb everything in silence, there is so much to see.

This is one of my favorite spots of all time because it is here that you can observe the four elements working in perfect harmony. The water from the ocean caresses the earth and the rocks with each crashing wave. The wind dances through the trees, glides alongside the water, and makes way for the sun to shine. The earth makes it possible for all of this to take place on her grounds and lends unconditional support. The sun and its fire give life and sunshine to the other three, illuminating everything so that this scene, this lesson, is possible to observe in the first place.

That Friday, as I sat on the wooden railing and took in the salty scent of the water, the ocean breeze in my hair, the sound of the tree leaves rustling, and the sun on my skin, I was almost blinded by how much love there is in nature.

No matter what each element is giving to the other, none of them demand anything from the other or mourn when it leaves.

The earth knows that she cannot be angry when the water retreats from the aftermath of a wave; she understands that water has a free flowing nature and will be back soon.

The water knows that the air cannot stick by it’s side in every moment of it’s rolling, rushing, crashing and rocking; it sees that air must chart its own course to live in its truest form.

The air knows that the sun won’t always be there to shine down upon it; it recognizes that the sun must cater to both halves of the earth.

And lastly, the sun knows that it cannot always be visible for everyone to acknowledge and admire; it understands that clouds sometimes must cover the sky for days at a time and create rain, which make it possible for life to grow and thrive on earth.

Love is a circle, a cycle, of what we can give. And when we give, we automatically receive in some way or another. When I sat in silence and watched nature demonstrate the purest, most perfect ways of love through the elements, I realized that breaking off my relationship was an act of love, in its own way.

It was then that my heart whispered to me, “This is why I was so sure.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Breaking up with someone is the worst. It’s just plain and simple. Both sides hurt and feel betrayed, disappointed, in their own ways. Each person has shared so much with the other; their time, their effort, their heart and their mind. You’ve been building at trust for some time now and you thought that all the fights, all the forgiveness, all the compromise would all be paid off one day. But you realize that all of it has be put to an end for a reason greater than all those things combined. You’re forced to accept the fact that the person who has been your partner through so many times of loss, love, and triumph will no longer be that for you. All the time and effort you spent trying to form a good relationship with their family members and friends is no longer relevant. It feels like so much has gone to waste, and if you’re like me, you feel like a quitter.

But when I set my ego aside and look at it from a distance, I realize that “quitting” is the opposite of what walking away from a relationship is. “Quitting” gives the notion that someone is too weak to handle a certain situation or someone. But, in reality, walking away from a relationship that you know isn’t right for you, isn’t right for the other person, and just plain isn’t something you want to be a part of anymore is strong. It shows that you have a mind that recognizes what you want and don’t want, a heart that is grounded and persistent about what it feels, a character that knows the true value of self-preservation, and the courage to act on behalf of all the above.

Shortly after posting my last blog post on SwingLife, I decided that I wanted to write about “The Transition Out of Love” for Valentines Day (ha, naturally.) Seeing as this breakup was a huge change that happened smack dab in the middle of one of the most important times in life, I could see no reason as to why this topic wouldn’t simply flow right out of my fingers and into the keyboard. I would proudly post my thoughts and feelings about the subject on the 14th of February for the world to see and I would most likely make some people feel less alone.

But as I sat down to write this genius, masterplan of a post that I thought would be so effortless to write, I got stuck. I would return to my laptop sometimes as many as 3 times a day, picking at my brain for something juicy about The Transition Out of Love. But now I realize why I wasn’t able to write about the subject: there is no transition out of love. Transitioning out of a relationship and healing from a breakup, yes. No longer being in love with your ex, yes. But transitioning out of love, no; there’s no such thing.

Yes, I could have written about what transitioning out of my relationship was/is like. That’s certainly good enough blog material for some. But honestly? That subject matter is both too personal and too boring at the same time (almost an oxymoron in our technology-driven era, right?) Talking about a breakup online or through any public forum for the world to see just feels really cliché and privileged and self-important to me (it’s one of the many reasons why I didn’t think I could get through Eat Pray Love.) It’s just that one, it doesn’t actually benefit anyone and two, everyone can already guess at what a transition out of a relationship is like. It’s kind of like that question, “Why’d you two break up?” Babe, it’s the reason why everyone breaks up: you want different things.

Traditionally, I think we all like to think of Valentines Day as a day dedicated to celebrating the person we love. That person who makes us feel secure; who belongs to us and who we belong to. But this idea of security isn’t really what love is about. In fact, I think it’s the exact opposite.

Using words like “mine”, “ours”, “belong”, and “own” when referencing our significant other adds a sense of possessiveness to a relationship. And honestly, we’ve probably all said them; they make us feel secure in our love for that person and their love for us. But, as always, our feelings do not always equate to the reality of a situation. I can absolutely tell you that saying someone is “yours” and that that person “belongs” to you is not love. It’s just not. It’s about the self more than it is about the other. And love is about focusing on the other; what you can give.

So if love is about what we can give and pass on, then we should never strive to “transition out of love.” We should always act in and with love. Each relationship feeds our capacity and ability to love period; regardless if it continues or ends. All of those efforts that I thought had gone to waste and made me a “quitter”- forming good relationships with their family/friends, building trust, and creating memories- none of that has gone to waste. On the contrary, it has all made me a better person and a better lover. Experience, negative or positive, teaches you many things and there is no such thing as a “successful” or “unsuccessful” relationship; it is successful by nature, regardless of outcome.

If we know that we have loved something or someone with our whole heart, if we know that we have given all that we could have, we have nothing to regret and nothing to mourn. With this understanding, I can only believe that one of the best ways to love someone or something, is to set them free.

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