Several times in my life I have experienced the situation in which I have been in love with a woman to the point that we exchanged a mutual commitment to pursue a relationship yet she changed her mind. Whether it was an old flame coming back into her life, her wanting to pursue someone else because they had history before finally “moving on” from that person or her finding a “better for her” soulmate, the pain that I experienced was intense. In several cases, the scar from the loss is still present and sensitive.
The most excruciating and lasting memory of this was with a woman who I dated in my late twenties. In less than two weeks after we agreed to pursue a relationship, planning to introduce each other to our families and enter into relationship counseling (not because anything was wrong but because we wanted the tools to communicate effectively and to ensure that we never had “relationship problems” through which we could not work), her high school boyfriend—her first and great love—showed up recently widowered, she being a widow herself. He took solace in her comfort and she jumped at the opportunity to pursue him.
To say that I was blindsided and wounded would be an understatement. The pain was excruciating. I was heartbroken and had to fight despondency. At first I struggled with bitterness over her broken word but after several months had passed, the pain had faded to sorrow tempered with compassion fueled by the love that I still had (and have) for her. I had said to her that all that I wanted was for her to be happy and at that time, she was… finally… in a way that she apparently had not been with me. We were good for each other but in the end, they were better. They are still together today with several children.
As I have been considering this and other such events over the days leading up to Valentine’s day, I have been struggling once again with loneliness and finding my contentment without being in a relationship. This day always does this to me. I have yet even to be dating, let alone in a relationship with, someone on this day. The “holiday” itself means nothing to me per se, it is just that with “love” being thrown in our faces by so many commercial interests, I cannot avoid it. Thus, I decided to write about it.
Here are two poems in which I merge the details from several of these experiences into a unified musing in which I address broken trust, the resulting pain and forgiveness. In writing these, I placed myself back into the emotion of these experiences, speaking in the present tense relative to that time. The first, A Farewell to Love, is set shortly after the breakup; the second, Revisited, is set several months after that.
I hope that those of us who have experienced this pain will, if we have not done so already, consider opening our hearts to forgiving, accepting, being grateful for and loving them in spite of our loss and pain, helping us in our healing process.