Justifying the Ugly Pain of Loss and Longing

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Do you know what I just noticed about my posts? I really don’t talk much about romantic relationships. Other than mentioning my frustrations with the idea of love at first sight in some of my Disney posts and a recent post inspired by the cardinals in my neighborhood, I couldn’t find any. And that’s not super strange because I try to write about things that I know, things that have meaning to me and I feel can have meaning to you. I talk A LOT about the kind of love we have for friends and family. But it’s weird that I would neglect this totally legitimate, really deep longing for the intimacy that comes with romantic relationships. So today I am going to do just that!

Actually, that was a bit misleading. In all seriousness, I’m going to talk about not being in a romantic relationship. Wooh, singleness! Now, in my opinion, there are the happily single and the unhappily single. And if you’re happily single, good for you! And then for the unhappily single, it’s more difficult. Because you’ve heard at least once that you don’t need another person to make you happy, that loving yourself is more important than others loving you (and that, as long as it’s not narcissism, it will actually help others to love you). And those are all true, and you can probably intellectually see the truth in those statements.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy to accept emotionally and enact. It may be easy to admit that we are whole without another person, but it still feels like we shouldn’t be alone. And that is completely valid. That’s the hardest piece to give up because it’s the piece most engraved in our minds. Loneliness, while not always remedied with romance, is a very real and very dark emotion. And there are only ever a handful of people at most that we can share our deepest selves with. That’s love, being so comfortable with someone that you can be your realest self with them.

This quest for intimacy is also explored in a beautiful project that you may or may not have heard about. It’s called “Lovers Shirts,” championed by Carla Richmond Coffing and Hanne Steen. They take pictures of people (mostly women, but there are a few men), wearing the shirts of their ex-lovers and talk about it. And it’s a very profound thing to see their vulnerability and read what they had to say about love and loss.

This project was by no means about heartbreak, but it does bring up comments about it. And I really can’t talk about heartbreak because I have fortunately never had to experience it. But what I will say is that it’s okay to be hurt. It’s okay to feel the pain of loss. Yeah, it’s nice to heal. Everything feels lighter and easier when we’re not in the throes of loss. It’s better for our emotional health. But It doesn’t make you weak or overly emotional or anything. It may not be pretty. But it means you truly loved, and what is the shame in that?

Epylle Spydre

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