The people who have lost love know that someone else’s love isn’t yours to lose.
Someone else’s love is yours to experience, but anything beyond that is just becoming attached to an idea, a hope, a big ‘ol “supposed to be.” The people who have lost love know that right there is the point at which you lose yourself — when you start believing someone else will carry some part of you with them when they walk away. When you start seeking salvation in the very person you have to be saved from, believing that someone else — someone other than yourself — can save you.
The people who have lost love know that you can lose things you never really had, end relationships that never really started, that never ran the course of all the dreams and plans you had together. They know that you can mourn people who were never really there at all.
The people who have lost love know what it means to fill the empty spaces in your bed with pillows and in your life with work or dates that don’t matter much or just the acknowledgement of sadness. They know the therapeutic quality of embracing it.
They know what it means to be absolutely certain there is no feasible way you could ever love somebody as much as you love that one person. They know what it’s like to have your concept of logic and sense and justice and fairness and “supposed to be” turned all the way on it’s ass.
They know that you don’t always spend forever with the person you love the most, but you can spend forever trying to reconcile that fact in your mind.
And more importantly than those things, they know that moving on isn’t a conscious choice, but rather what happens when you stop trying to. When you stop forcing yourself to forget. You forget about them when you start thinking about you.
They know what it’s like to look back on the things they thought they’d never get over, and to realize that even the hardest things somehow dissipate with time, ease with understanding, release with awareness.
They know there is incomparable strength in having seen yourself through the worst.
They consider their actions before they’re reckless with other people. They know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of carelessness. They become the gentle lovers and cautious suitors whose hesitation and timidity might be confused for indifference — but it’s not, and this is significant. They gain a reverence, and an understanding, of just how deep a human heart can love, and how fragile an ego can break.
The people who have lost love know that tight, stinging, burning feeling in your chest and throat and legs. They know what depths panic can drive you to when you’ve exhausted every option.
They know that soul mates aren’t what people think they are — they aren’t happily ever after most of the time. They are a love that lights every part of you up and exposes the unhealed layers; your true soul mate is the one who shows you to yourself.
And they know that’s the point.
They know that you can love a person, but never as much as you can miss them. They know what it’s like to have no choice but to live in the moment, to have to mentally walk yourself through every hour of the day, because otherwise your awareness will be pulled from sifting through what happened and worrying about what will and wondering about where they are and if they even cared at all.
They know to appreciate what they have while they have it.
They know that there may be no deeper pain than seeing someone you love be in love with someone else. Or, more accurately, someone you thought belonged to you, suddenly belong to someone else. That simply. For all the great oceans of depth that you could feel running between you, that it can be over in a simple drop.
They know what it’s like to carefully daydream running into that lost-love again. They know what it’s like to be picking out clothes with them in mind, rehearsing conversations alone in your bedroom, cutting their hair and running a mile longer as though a simple shift of appearance could make someone fall in love again.
They know what it’s like to actually run into them, when they’re with someone else. Someone else who is in so many ways not what they are, for better, for worse.
From that extraordinary pain, they learn that someone’s love for you isn’t lessened or greatened by how much they love someone else. It’s not a singular, expendable thing.
And that knowing this may be the greatest lesson of all.
They know what it’s like to live with the ghost of what would have and should have and maybe-still-could be. To be walking down the street with the constant-running narrative of what they’d be saying, what they’d be thinking, if only they were there. To be out at the bar when the conversation seems to drift from your awareness and all of a sudden all you can focus on is the faint thought of what it would be if they were sitting next to you. To be holding your basket in line at the grocery store and hear your song come on and all of a sudden, to be imagining all the ways you once thought they imagined you, and how they must think those very same thoughts, send those very same texts, act that very same way, just with someone else.
They know what it’s like for there to be strangers in the world who once knew everything about you.
They know that you somehow always call into your life exactly what you need — the most painful, the most changing amongst it.
They know you never lose love. They know that what you experience, how you grow, what you take and learn and see and do because of it, is the point. Not to have it forever, but to become what it was meant to make you.
They know that — at first — you’ll spend your time trying to figure out what to do with all the love that is left lingering.
And they know that you’re supposed to give it to yourself.