Some advice for anyone who’s recently left a relationship

English poet and philosopher David Whyte was once called on to give a friend some advice. This friend was in the middle of leaving a relationship. I’ve been there – in the position of counsel. Mostly it takes me straight back, like riding down a razor blade, to the times I’ve had to leave love myself. I don’t know that anything is harder.

Image by Maia Fore
Image by Maia Fore

There’s this: We think we are not just losing that person, but the part of ourselves that loved.

And this: We share dreams with this other person and we pivot our very selves on those dreams. When we leave love, we have to now give these dreams up too. Is there anything left? Is there a stable pivot point anymore? The last time I was in this space, I know I honestly felt that the ground had fallen out from beneath me and that I was left with nothing but thin air to try and tread through. Like a nightmare.

And also this: It all seems so arduous to start up again with our own dreams. Doesn’t it? Where to start from when your platform is a nightmare-like abyss of thin air?

Whyte wrote a poem for his mate that sums some of this up. I find it funny that previously my Poem of Comfort was a poem of the same name by Mary Oliver.

The Journey

Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again

Painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.

Sometimes everything
has to be
inscribed across
the heavens

so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.

Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that

first, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.

Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out

someone has written
something new
in the ashes of your life.

You are not leaving.
Even as the light fades quickly now,
you are arriving.

I like this. Our lost loves are the lessons that wake us up to what our true selves have known for eternity and have been trying to tell us for just as long. Oh yes, at the grim end of a relationship, we just don’t hear our little souls whispering. Everything hums too loudly (with fugginess).

The scary abyss that we drop into when we leave love is the exact space we require in order to find the part of ourselves that will create new and better dreams. Because, I tell you, when a relationship goes stale, we lose our imagination. “Someone has written something new” – it’s a nice way to phrase things for someone in the throws of the razor blade ride. There is more than hope.

Don’t you think? Does this reflect your experience the last time you left love?

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