I’ve just finished writing ‘Love Is’ in 22k gold on four hand-made ceramic mugs.
I was pondering what comes next in the sentence –
The scent of strawberries on your breath?
The reflection of moonlight in your eyes?
The silvery stretch marks around your centre?
And then it clicked. That is the full sentence. Love is. It’s a declaration of existential proportions, and one which I want to repeat ad infinitum.
I can hear my soon-to-be-ex murmuring ‘kitsch’ under his breath as he rolls his eyes. But I don’t care. In fact, it is he that inspired the series.
I look back at the photo from my first blog post where I placed a sticker saying ‘game over’ comically over his face. Indeed, the game is over, but that’s only the epilogue. What came before that were many chapters brimming with that ephemeral, transcendent, often fleeting state which is love.
Painful as it may be, it serves me well to remember it. To celebrate it, even.
I’ve been dwelling on the importance of accessing your emotions. In the last few months I’ve been working on this in zoom therapy. (Zoom therapy is the most honest therapy I’ve done so far. Frequently, the therapist’s screen goes blank and I’m sitting there looking at myself talking to myself. No pretence there [haha]).
But seriously, a few weeks in, my therapist gave me an exercise to do to help me connect with my emotions. It was the simplest task, and seemingly obvious, but no therapist had asked me to do this before.
He told me to consistently take a little time out of my day to explore my emotions, by saying out loud “I feel” followed with whatever comes to mind.
I decided to try it that evening, starting off with the easiest things – I feel excited about the launch of my website; I feel nervous that no one will visit it, I feel proud of myself for dedicating the time to it etc… but then, something happened.
Instead of avoiding the vulnerable emotions – I. Went. There. – At first, I was pointing the finger ‘I feel betrayed by B’, I feel B betrayed our love’ but that took me to ‘I feel that I believed in our love’, I feel sad to lose our connection’. And then, I started to cry. For the first time since separating, I allowed myself to grieve the loss of our love.
In order to grieve, you have to acknowledge the value of what you’ve lost. You can’t hide behind anger, or blame, or ego. You certainly can’t block it out entirely and distract yourself with 18 hour work days, binging a series in the last waking hours and repeating the cycle for weeks on end (as I had been).
And here’s why it’s important – I believe in love. It is a faith of sorts, one that I always want to hold. If I don’t acknowledge what we had, what was lost, I’ll become cynical and bitter and I won’t be able to open my heart again, when the right person crosses paths with me.
With that in mind, I’m busy making a new line of mugs for Valentine’s Day, with gold hearts and ‘love is’ written on them, so that those who have love, can rejoice in it, and those who don’t, can continue to cherish the idea.
This wouldn’t be a complete Valentine’s post without sharing what I consider to be an invaluable relationship tip: Do not take advice about your relationship from forums, friends, acquaintances or anyone who doesn’t fully understand the intricacies of your particular relationship narrative.
Someone recently confided in me that they’d been told their relationship was ‘the definition of insanity’. They used that fly simile, you know, ‘it’s like flying into the window again and again, expecting different results.’
That simile works for simple things. Flies don’t really change, they don’t have the processing capacity to truly go through transitions. Short of throwing a rock through it, a window doesn’t change.
But, humans are dynamic. Every moment we’re learning new things, responding to experiences, having circumstances change on us, getting older moment by moment and we are changing!
To the person who tells me a relationship is ‘the definition of insanity’, because they’ve tried many times and haven’t yet come to a different outcome, I’ll respond ‘No man ever steps in the same river twice’
(Thank you for your wisdom, Heraclitus).
It is hard enough for an individual to repeat exactly the same thing twice, because they are no longer the same person, no longer driven by the same motivations, no longer inhabiting the same emotional or mental space.
But, for two people to interact in the exact same way twice?? Impossible. Too many variables, too many shifts. It’s reductive and simplistic thinking which is the enemy of progress and enlightenment.
So please, if you have a relationship which is on the rocks and worth saving, go to a couple’s therapist. Speak to each other. Don’t allow yourselves to be influenced by people who don’t fully grasp all aspects of your story.
I’m going to leave you this time with a link to the incredible, tragic love poem ‘Scheherazade’ by my favourite contemporary poet, Richard Siken:
Happy Valentine’s Day!