Romantic love. There is no other emotion that has the ability to take us from the euphoric heights of bliss to the gruesome depths of despair... all within 24 hours.
I have always been fascinated by the concept of romantic love and the idea that it can be sustained as two people evolve over time. Why is it that some people can spend decades together and remain happy and fulfilled while others can't? Is it true love or just a steely determination to make it last?
I remember the moment I first met my husband and the instant knowing that he would be someone special in my life. And he was, for a long time. In that very instant he took my breath away and continued to do so for many years.
When my marriage ended 14 years later I felt like a failure. I spent endless nights trying to work out what went wrong, who was at fault and if there was anything else that could have been done. I felt like I had been unable to live up to the societal expectation that we will grow old with the person we procreate with and had, at one stage, promised to commit our life to.
There was a deep feeling of shame, embarrassment and failure that compounded all the other emotions I was dealing with.
Why was it that so many people succeed in going the distance but I couldn't? There was a deep feeling of shame, embarrassment and failure that compounded all the other emotions I was dealing with. I had two children who loved and adored their father and at the end of the day he had done nothing wrong. The woman I was when I married him was not the woman I had become and unless I made the decision to leave my life would be a lie.
So many women have shared their stories with me about the enormous suffering experienced over the breakdown of their marriage. Further, some of my married friends also express a fear that one day their lives may shatter around them if their marriage ever fell apart.
Like all things that break, they can also be mended. They may never be the same, there will certainly be imperfections from the original mold, but this is what gives us character. I don't want to be the woman I was when I got married at 30. I don't want to be perfect. I want to make mistakes, I want to have jagged edges, I want to take risks and fail because this is how we build our authentic character.
In her book Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert writes: "A true soulmate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soulmate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soulmates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave."
I knew that I was leaving my marriage as a better person than I was when I went in and therefore I had no malice in my heart.
If life is a journey of self discovery, surely the unification of two people, regardless of the amount of time they spend together, is something to be celebrated. Romantic love, as apposed to the love we have for our children, family and friends, forces us to become vulnerable and it is from this place that we truly learn about ourselves.
I knew that I was leaving my marriage as a better person than I was when I went in and therefore I had no malice in my heart. Memories are not stagnant. They ebb and morph depending on how we choose to embrace them and I choose to remember the happy times we spent together and hold them dearly in my heart.
Maybe Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin's expression of 'conscious uncoupling' was one of the most insightful ways to describe the end of a union. As Paltrow announced on her blog GOOP: "We are and always will be a family, and in many ways we are closer than we ever have been." I share her sentiments entirely.
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