“I’m just a fucked up girl looking for my own peace of mind. I’m not perfect.”
– Clementine Kruczynski, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
That’s what we do after breakups. We look for our own peace of mind. We create a set of truths that resonate with our experience. It doesn’t mean our truths are accurate, but we pick the story that pulls us out of despair…that justifies our actions and the actions of the one “responsible” for our heartbreak.
But if you were to compare your story with your ex’s, the stories won’t match…they won’t even be in the same genre. So when mutual friends ask what happened, I always say that while I could tell a version of the story, his truth will not be the same as mine…and I’d rather leave his truth intact.
Many of us know that it takes two to destroy a relationship, and some of us search for our part in the panic. Most of the time I see my part clearly: I get involved in a relationship that I ultimately know is not right for me and then find a passive-aggressive, non-confrontational way to push the guy away.
But with Nightingale…I was perfect. I did nothing “wrong.” All I did was love him…as completely and perfectly as I could (and by this time in my life, I’m pretty darn good at loving). The hardest part of this particular breakup was uncovering my lesson.
“Why?” I asked my friends. “Why did I have to go through this? I know my patterns. I was totally and completely ready. But instead of giving me my guy, the universe put me through love boot camp and kicked my ass!”
“Maybe you just had to go one more round,” they said.
“But why? I wouldn’t have done anything differently! Most of the time it takes two, but this time…it just took one. HIM! What the hell was the point?!”
I wouldn’t understand the point until three weeks later, when I drove up to Northern California with a woman and her nine-year-old son. She offered sanctuary in a small hippy town where I could get Thai massages and soak in hot springs at a nudist colony. I thought such purification would calm my frantic mind and take some of the ache out of my body. The fact that I knew next to nothing about this woman and that we’d really only exchanged a few words didn’t phase me at all. She would be more honest and not have as much patience for my wallowing, which I had had enough of anyway. It was time for release…and I couldn’t release in Los Angeles, not in the apartment that was supposed to have been our home.
I had a few epiphanies while there. The first was that he was pursuing someone else, and that he had been at least toying with the idea of pursuing her while we were still together. Who am I kidding? That wasn’t so much an epiphany as an acknowledgment. I saw physical evidence of this pursuit on Facebook. Photos of him with his arm draped around the lovely and the caption “what a great engagement photo if it works out!” (Yes, I was a textbook Facebook-obsessed ex.) My new friend happened to dabble in clairvoyance and she confirmed that he was actively pursuing this woman…that it was time for me to move on.
This was heart-stomping, soul-crushing, and I spent the afternoon crying on her doorstep during a phone-counseling session with a different ex-boyfriend.
“It doesn’t matter what he’s doing with this girl,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if he has a relationship with her…if it lasts 2 years…if he ends up marrying her. It will be dysfunctional. It’s easier for him to try with someone new, than to confront his issues and do the work. Let them have their love. Yours will be so much greater.”
I discovered my next two truths while at the nudist colony.
I’m a California girl, (raised in Nocal, adopted by Socal) but I had never been this far north. The geography of Sonoma is picture perfect…lush, green and unfamiliar, different from any California I had ever known. I did my best to appreciate the beauty, but felt more and more panicked as nature closed around me. I could barely pay for my parking pass without bursting into tears. I knew I needed to release my Nightingale before I disrobed and entered the hot springs.
I walked on the garden path, looking for the perfect place for release but everywhere felt exposed…unsafe. I did not want to be within earshot of the naked woman getting a rubdown by the topless masseuse. I could not bear to hear the chit chat of half naked gardeners. So I left the path and stomped through a meadow of high weeds. The weeds would hide me…the world would not enter.
I came to a break within the weeds. A circular patch of land where the ground had been worn flat. I collapsed, sitting Indian-style with the weeds surrounding me, and I sobbed…and sobbed…and sobbed.
During a hiccup, I opened my eyes and saw, right in front of my criss-crossed legs, an amethyst crystal—one that had been manipulated by humans…smooth and violet-hued. I laughed and wiped my runny nose with the back of my sleeve. Whatever, I’d be naked soon enough…
I wrapped the amethyst in my palm, understanding that it had been sent to help me heal, to open my spiritual and psychic centers, to protect me from fear and reveal sincerity.
I inhaled and called my Nightingale to me. He came in that clichéd, dreamlike way…the fade in, if you will. He was wearing a long-sleeved, button-downed white shirt and jeans that set off his olive skin perfectly.
He smiled…I smiled, and we enjoyed loving one another…for that moment. And I got it. There was nothing he needed to apologize for. Rather, I had so much…so much that needed an ‘I’m sorry.’ And so I began…
I’ve missed you so much. And I love you so much…and I’m so sorry…so sorry I couldn’t go all the way with you. That I couldn’t accept your OCD…your struggle. I want to heal the world, you see…and I can’t heal the world, if I’m spending all my energy healing you.
And I realized, it wasn’t about healing him or us…it never is…it’s about looking at a potential partner and asking a very simple question: Can I accept this person as he is—not as he will be if he stops smoking, or stops cheating, or gets his head right—AS HE IS RIGHT NOW.
We think that if our lover is sick…let’s say an alcoholic…then it’s a good thing if we encourage him to go to AA, quit the bottle, get his life together…if we stand beside him while he tackles his demons. What I had never before understood is that this is not our function as lovers. That was my lesson to learn!
All we ever need to do is to look at someone and say, yes or no. “Yes, I can accept you as a raging alcoholic, or abusive partner, or pot-head or (insert your grievance)”
“No, I cannot accept you as you are right now, so I will take a pass.”
And so I apologized to my Nightingale for not being able to accept his love as it was right then…wonderful some times, abusive at others…and that I had to hold out for a different kind of love…a healthy kind of love that operated at my same vibration.
He told me he understood and that he loved me and then he left…the fade out.
Later that afternoon, while I was sitting beautifully naked in the steam room…just me and a long-bearded gent…I realized one other truth: It’s not that the woman who is able to love Nightingale unconditionally will love him more than I ever could…it’s that she will love herself less.
Leaning my head against the marble wall, I sighed.
“You’re a fairy,” said the man.
“Excuse me?” I immediately regretted the question. Don’t engage nude hairy men in steam saunas, Amy. Come on!
“You’re a fairy,” the man repeated. “I know fairies. They visit me. I have a fairy friend named Elvin Buttonbalm. He helps me…but sometimes he’s a troublemaker. You’re a fairy too.”
“Thanks.” I smiled, closing my eyes. “I’ll take it.”