The simple accident of falling in love is as beneficial as it is astonishing .”
Robert Louis Stevenson
Falling in love at any age is a wondrous experience. But love at fifty-something is different than love at thirty-something. For some, it can be just like our first love, but deeper. For others, it is just one more in a line up of years of being in and out of love. And for others, the lucky ones, it is a life-long journey with a soul partner.
Falling in love, truly, madly and deeply is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage and conviction, time and energy and especially an espirit to de corps to open up your heart, yet again. Up until nine weeks ago, I was engaged (yet again). I thought I finally found my true soul mate/life mate/BFF and everything we all dream about for the first and last time — only to have it fall apart in what felt like a heartbeat.
It felt obvious to us that this was meant to be. We had one of those relationships that when people saw us together, they said, “I’ll have what they’re having.” We had so much fun, so many giggles (we once got kicked out of a yoga class) and had so many new adventures, that I was sure I had finally met my other half.
Combining two hearts was easy, especially when you discover you have found someone who is part of your soul family, perhaps divinely ordained from a higher source.
Combining two epicenters into one whole life center is always a challenge, but at this age, it can shake the very foundation of a newly-formed relationship.
Looming in the background were complications, since being on the cusp of 60, we all have a history, habits, responsibilities and stuff in our lives. While all these things can make life deeper, richer and more meaningful, they also make a new relationship testing as we attempt to mold two epicenters into one melded life center.
This is even magnified more when that other (my fiancé) has suffered a great loss and the children are tweens. Like the Nancy Myers’ movie with Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin, It’s Complicated, let’s just say it was more than the love knot could hold.
“In love, we forgive, but we never forget.” -Anonymous
Like the other Nancy Myers’ movie, a fave for all seasons, Something’s Gotta Give, with Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson, their breakup was portrayed with such intense passion. The first time I saw Keaton’s character dramatically expressing her grief, I thought it was ridiculously exaggerated and over the top. But after a dozen times of watching that movie, I began to realize the impact that love may have on a mature adult woman of a certain age. In fact, after my breakup to end all breakups, I realized that I was becoming the caricature of Keaton.
Remembering that song from the sixties, by ? and The Mysterians, “96 Tears”? “Too many teardrops for one heart to be cryin’, Too many teardrops for one heart to carry on,” I found myself grieving the loss with waves of tears. All the grief gurus tell you to let the tears flow through and release. I hadn’t cried one teardrop in over a year and a half, and now I am buried in an ocean! As the days and weeks of this summer of un-love lingered on, the tears began to subside.
While many would argue that this was not a death, for me it was feeling the loss of my parents or the loss of my beloved cockapoo, Domino, all over again. Loss at any age is difficult, and any loss in which your heart breaks, needs to be fully grieved before moving on.
“If you’re going through hell, keep going” -Sir Winston Churchill
Being what is called a highly-sensitive person with an artistic soul, I found that some people in my world of contacts seemed to think I should “tuck my messy emotions into neat packages.” With a diverse group of friends and wanna be consolers, there were so many different opinions about how I should move on.
One veteran actress said, “NEXT!” and described my future mate as having less baggage, “I see you meeting this cute guy with a dog, and the dog’s tail will be wagging and the guy’s will too! You love dogs, he loves dogs and you fall in love, that’s it!”Another said quite succinctly, “You had a relationship, it was good, then it wasn’t good and now it’s over, so just get over it and don’t waste your time torturing yourself on what didn’t work. It worked, then it didn’t work and now it’s over.”
Then there were others who said, “He said he wanted you to move in with him, if you did that, it would have worked out, and the kids would have been OK with it.” (They were not OK.)
Another, with more insight and empathy, was our therapist, who said, “You knew in your soul that it was not right to move in until the family had more healing from the loss of their beloved mother and wife, and your intuition was right.” Without all of us taking on this relationship mastery course together, I knew that I had entered into a potential bonfire and that I was the one who was slowly but surely getting skewered.
So now, I am left to uncover my unhealed parts, to discover myself again, and rediscover who I am as a single woman. Yet for some reason, this time I feel as though I am allowing myself to grieve the loss, unlike so many other times when I listened to my board of directors and just moved on, without really feeling the depth of the love and the depth of the loss. I know this breakup was a good thing — in the long run.
Now, what is left is my time to clean up the unresolved messes of my life, to focus on the parts that I left behind (while I was focusing on him and us) and to have a self-healing and rebirth into my own heart.
I feel the unfolding into a new me, a new life and new opportunities and friends are popping up like surprises in the crackerjack box.
I just got my first substantial interior design job in a decade and am able to revisit my love of helping others create the home of their dreams. I still have the vision and intention of creating a warm, inviting and loving home for myself and my future mate, but for now, my new clients are my focus. They are a couple who actually met in a grieving group after losing their spouses and spent years dealing with the difficulty of merging their families. Finally, when the kids were grown, they got married. With a lot of hard work and therapy, now they are blissfully combining their two homes into one and it appears that they will be living their lives happily ever after!
As for me, I am back on the dating sites, and finding the same searching men who were there before, just with more pounds and less hair! I have also noticed that there are a lot more widowers (sad, but true). Yet somewhere in the back of my mind, I feel a sense that there is someone wonderful out there who is also seeking someone like me, and when the tears are gone and I’ve moved on, he will show up unexpectedly, just like the last one. Hope springs eternal!
And in the end, the privilege of recognizing a deep and powerful connection that went way beyond words and time and space was a precious gift.