As far as love goes, like most girls of the 50’s, I grew up believing in the fairytale—a settled constant with one true love that lasts forever and is our all—a knight in shining armor who will take care of us. In that year of learning to paint I met and fell in love with the man I thought was my healthier, adult, modern version of that. I believed I was finally getting it right and had found a love that would last forever. We married and, after several years, moved to southern Utah for his job where, in a few short months, my fairytale ended.
There are many small deaths in a lifetime. There is always plenty to heal and much letting go to be done. Our culture tells us we’re meant to seek permanence but that’s the myth. We are supposed to shift and grow, die and be reborn, expose new layers of work. We are, each and every one of us, incredible works in progress. And we will be presented with the same lessons over and over again until we learn them.
But left there alone in that desert, far, far away from my home, my friends and family, completely and utterly alone, I railed at the gods, at the sheer injustice of it. Why had I been brought to this barren wasteland only to be left? Why indeed? Believing in an active and benevolent universe as I do, I had to look at the possibility this was by design and for my greater good. Despite my shattered heart, I knew the time had come to face myself. I had to do the work of figuring out what lessons were being presented.
Walking in that parched land, among the canyons of the ancients, I came to know I was abandoned to mother earth so that I could make my peace with abandonment; to forgive; to leave the past behind. My heart was broken open with the hope it could stay open. I was to befriend my own silence, to find comfort within my own interior. I was being told to take care of myself—to be responsible for my own life, to be unafraid. Within these lessons I learned compassion, acceptance and unconditional love.
Anthony De Mello says in The Way To Love that we “… try to build a steady nesting place in the ever-moving stream of life.” He asks us to examine our belief that we can’t live or be happy without a particular person. He maintains that genuine love exists only within freedom and in liberating our beloved from the lover (that would be us). I believe we hold to others in an effort to deny the very aloneness we’re here to embrace. We are born alone and we will die alone. I think we’re meant to do a lot of our living in our own autonomy as well. When we have fostered a good relationship with self and love the other not from need or exploitation, but from a genuine desire for their good, we have no need of fairytales because reality is better.
Bottom line, we are our own knights. That doesn’t mean we can’t share our lives, but we are the true love stories. It is our love that will last forever.