Lesson 18: Embrace the void

There’s nothing harder than letting go of something – no matter how broken or unhealthy it might be – when there’s nothing else to grab onto instead.

It embarrasses me more than slightly to share this, but in the spirit of letting go, honesty, and helping others (potentially avoid my own pitfalls), I’ll take a deep breath and hit “Publish…”

Last week, after a two-year roller coaster ride of multi-color emotions, it finally hit me: I’d been holding on to a love that didn’t really exist anymore.

Well, that isn’t entirely true. The love is still there – always will be. But the man I loved has been gone. At least for the moment. His energy, his focus, is somewhere else – even if his feelings for me persist.

I held on all that time for all sorts of reasons: Because I love who he is and what he brought to my life. Because he is my soulmate. Because I know what we are capable together. And I know how rare it is to find that kind of connection with anyone on this planet.

But this past weekend I realized that I’ve held on for 1 other reason: Because there was nothing else out there to hold onto instead.

Like a novice trapeze artist, clinging fearfully to my swing, refusing to let go unless I have a hand to grab onto – I have stayed put. As unpleasant as that ride has been. I suppose I figured: at least I’m in a seat, not hurdling through the air towards the unknown below!

Am I really all that different from the people I meet, filling their time with relationships with the wrong person? I know countless women – and quite a few men – who go from relationship to relationship that do nothing but fill a void in their lives. They know it’s not healthy, but they do it anyway. They’re doing the same thing as I am with my memories and hopes: they’re filling the emptiness.

Who can blame us? It can be a cold, lonely world out there – especially in a city as hard and fast as New York. There’s something about being alone in a place where everyone else seems to be living fuller, exciting lives right outside your doorstep.  Some nights, going home alone feels like a life sentence. The ache can make you reach for anything, or anyone, to dull the pain.

Only problem is, it doesn’t really work.

You’ll never find what you’re really looking for, grasping for “something” to block out the loneliness. Those voices in the night.  And – since we only have so much energy to spend and share in a given day, if we’re spending it with the wrong people (or in my case, alone in my head) – we don’t have it to spend elsewhere.

So I’ve decided to redirect my focus, my energy, on the things that make me feel good. I’m dancing again. And leaving space in my calendar, my home and my life for new things to come in. Which can be a bit scary, but also a lot less stressful. I’m learning to enjoy the quiet, alone in my new apartment and I’m amazed at how relaxing silence can actually be!

Loneliness is a deep, dark chasm. It can eat you up and make you feel all sorts of ugly. I’ve gotten to know it well. But like all voids, it also leaves space. For the right person, activities and passions to fill it. When the time is right.

Like making new friends. Weekends on Fire Island. Or getting my writing published. And soon, I hope, the right partner to share my life with. When the time is right.

I’d hate to think that anyone was taking up the space meant for him. Real or imagined.

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