Relationships are the most important things in our lives, hands down. Careers are important, sure. Goals and dreams, super important, of course. Beliefs and morals, obviously crazy important. But love trumps all.
When we are in harmonious relationship with our families and loved ones, the rest of our lives flow with ease. Work isn’t such a grind, the air is a little softer, the sun is comfortingly warm. But when things are rocky or discordant at home, it ripples out to every other part of our lives. Traffic sucks more than usual. The weather blows and is personally targeting that weak spot in your jacket. And when a relationship ends, then shit can really hit the fan in all kinds of ways. Sleep suffers or leaves entirely, depression can creep in, job performance can spiral, friendships weaken, food loses its taste.
Everyone knows this truth on some level. Our society is obsessed with relationships. There are countless books, workshops, TV shows, magazines, and articles devoted solely to relationships—how to dress to attract people, how to find love, how you may be sabotaging love, how to keep things spicy in the bedroom, which celebrities are dating each other, Disney movies, Jane Austen remakes, Oprah specials, etc… With this ubiquitous recognition of relationships as the driving force in our human lives, why is the end of a relationship so taboo? Why are the socially acceptable ways to engage with the end of a relationship so limited? We are allowed either to take voyeuristic pleasure in the end of someone else’s relationship or look the other way.
And when it’s the end of our own relationship, we are allowed only a tiny bit of social latitude to grieve. The relationship is supposed to morph into merely a practical, business-type arrangement that must be wrapped up at arms-length. We are expected to put on a brave face, to segregate our emotions from everyone and everything else in our lives, as if the emotional reality of the relationship existed in a vacuum. We’re told, quickly, to move on, get over it, show up to work and other obligations like nothing whatsoever is wrong. Like nothing has changed.
BUT EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED.
Relationships change us. We all know it. They change us when things are magically perfect, and we are allowed to celebrate that. But when a relationship disintegrates and crushes our spirit, we should be allowed to delve into that change with just as much permission and respect. When we find ourselves teetering on the edge of the abyss called heartbreak, we should be encouraged and supported in exploring what transformation we find there. We should be taught how to safely feel the full extent of our emotions. We should be taught how to constructively use and transmute those emotions to become better, stronger, more complete and authentic humans. And we should help each other to do the same.
This is a call to compassion. This is a call to courage. Love really is the most powerful force in the universe, for better and…well, for better-if-we-let-it.