When a lover, close friend, or family member refuses to discuss their unilateral decision to break off a treasured relationship, the sting of rejection can reverberate for years, plummeting us into the abyss of depression. Our agonising why spins soundlessly like spokes on a rusty wheel.
When the One we love is not willing to speak to us – she distances emotionally, he blocks our calls or leaves our empassioned emails suspended in cyberspace – the answers we long for, the amends we pray for, hang like dust motes in the cold silence of separation that strains over the history we’ve shared. To be silenced, shut out, triggers a primal wound of rejection that may bleed for years.
We all need a story to comfort us in the cold bunker of our loss. Our narratives become a soft blue blanket to wrap our lacerations as we weave some meaning that resonates with our core values and beliefs about the world.
For some, the tale of the despicable Villain assuages the pain for a while. This is a tale full of sound and fury that keeps us tied to the railway track, the hapless Victim, powerless and immobilised. We remain in rigor mortis, clutching the self-righteous umbilical cord to the person who silenced us, trampled brutally on our trust. We may not really want the other person to understand how we are feeling, or to excavate the reasons why they behaved so patronisingly or so sadistically. The subtext may be that we want them to suffer the way we still suffer. The people who have wronged us may never realise or even care to understand how much they’ve hurt us. Nothing we can do or say can make someone love us the way we want them to. Stay when they want to go. Nothing we can say can make them understand our hurt and sincerely apologise. Their own feelings may make them unavailable for an authentic exchange, so we will never hear the words we long to hear – and if we do, will we really be willing to drop the black rose of blame? So they remain a corrosive presence in our lives – lovers, friends, relatives – blocking out the light, crushing the bud of joy, a deadly rot that blights our courage to love again.
Rebecca and Johan had a long distance relationship that had bridged three years. When she received an email from Johan saying he loved her but was not “in love with her”, was sorry for hurting her, but did not want to discuss it further, she felt as though she had been disembowelled. Rebecca pleaded and implored, and Johan stalled, blocking all her requests for an explanation. So the messages on his answering machine remained unanswered, the heart-felt emails floated like confetti in cyberspace… the silence stretched into weeks, months. “I just need to understand why he left me so suddenly. Why he broke it off by email, why he would not give our relationship a chance to grow?” she said tearfully a year later, still weighted with the burden of her loss. “My friends are losing patience with me. They say it’s time to “move on”, “let it go,” “what goes around comes around,” but I just cannot stop myself obsessing, trying to understand what went wrong, why he did what he did.” Negative emotions pickle our attachments; preserving our sense of togetherness with those we once loved so intensely, those who meant so much in our lives. Anger is the glue that keeps us stuck in the obsessive, self-harming thoughts and traumatic events of the past. Nailed to the impotent “whys”.
Neale Donald Walsch advises, “stop looking all over the place for “the answers” – whatever they are – and start looking for the questions – the inquiries which are most important in your life, and give them answers. You do not live each day to discover what it holds for you, but to create it.”
There must come a time when we ask ourselves what we gain by giving the villains of our story so much power over us. Why our energy circuits are still attached to an event which happened so long ago, allowing the vampire of the past to sink its fangs into our life blood, leaving us to float, ghostly spectres between worlds? Why is a useless question. It disempowers, keeps us in stalemate. What I am going to do about my thoughts, my feelings, my own life, has a impetus that is far-reaching and empowering. It implies choice, and control. Our challenge is to retrieve our energy and plug it into the wall socket of present time. To invest in a future where we can courageously love again.
Perhaps Johan did not have a rational explanation for breaking up the way he did. Perhaps he could not tell Rebecca what he did not know himself. Perhaps he did not allow himself to feel regret, guilt or sadness. Rebecca will never know. When she was ready to step aside from the pain, release the fantasy that Johan might one day see things the way she did; when she was willing to acknowlege that what she wanted to hear was her own truth, she vowed to take from her own experience this priceless pearl: she would never diminish or disregard another person or leave someone breathless, waiting to exhale… she would weave a new story of compassion for this soul-mate-teacher-lover who had come to bring her the gift of Truth. Says Marion Woodman, “Don’t talk about being true to yourself until you are sure to what voice you are being true.”
Adele soars as she sings Don’t You Remember