Heartbreak | 2 + 2 = 5?

I’ve been trying to figure out how to approach this one. I feel compelled to write something, but whenever I think of what this post might be like, even in a vague, general sense, I start to lose it immediately. The basics are that I want to share the difficulties of my recent process. I’ll focus on that. This is going to be a bit raw and deeply uncertain. I hope in sharing this that others who experience deep doubt regarding love and relationships feel seen, understood, and accompanied. In fact, every time I post on such things, someone tells me they’re grateful for my vulnerability and shared experience. I hope this post generates the same feeling of not being alone in the dark – that is likely the only version of suffering that is not useless.

This post is one of two that I am making for my birthday as kind of a creative gift to myself. The other, I recorded last night (actually on my birthday) as a first attempt at a true podcast-style recording, more intentional than my previous recorded clips. This post is the dark, shadowy path of the emotional process. The other one is kind of a counterpoint – a philosophical exploration of love and my personal experiences. It’s sad as well in parts but was also a joyous discussion of ideas and life. May they both find the audiences they benefit.

I met up with her about 10 days ago. She reached out after a solid radio silence. I actually thought I would never hear from her again, as our previous contact felt like she was either annoyed with my existence or at least that it was on the edges of her life and goals, or she didn’t want to feel guilty about the clear pain that I have been going through. We met with the intention of giving me the space to say whatever I needed for closure, but ultimately, to me at least, there were more than a few edges that felt like justification for being cut out.

I came home afterward with an article of clothing I had lent her and had been requesting back for some time. I smelled it, breathing in her scent and all the ideas of spending more time with her. I cried.

The moment that really broke me in this meeting was me trying to explain the ongoing evidence of how powerful our connection is. How unique. How profound, and she simply brushed all of that aside and said that she has a stronger connection with the other guy. I took it in stride, saying something like “Well, that’s that then,”, and clinked glasses with her, but honestly, it felt so crazy, so impossible, that she may as well have asserted that 2 + 2 = 5.

Here’s the thing: I’ve had long-term relationships with a few people. I’ve had dating adventures and sexual exploits. My connection with her is unique. It’s something that has made me question some of my perspectives and experiences, getting me to much more fully believe in magic. We’ve had oodles of moments of synchronicity. I can feel her presence sometimes. It’s an intuition that speaks to me and has led me to shared moments. It’s fully bizarre and something that can’t really fully be put into words. It’s deep. It’s meaningful.

To indicate that some other person has a more meaningful connection, who from all descriptions, seems completely unworthy of that category, is so intensive of a dissonance with my experience that it really makes me question everything I’ve felt for the last several months regarding her. It’s like after all these conversations about said connection being told that those were meaningless or not true. It simply seems impossible or utterly dismissive. Something is magic or it isn’t. You can’t claim something is magic for a long time and then just say it isn’t. It feels like gaslighting – not that that’s what she’s doing; it just feels like it in terms of emotional impact.

Ultimately, if love, relationships, and trust therein felt shaky before, they feel even shakier now. I feel so incredibly empty, so deeply called into question regarding my values and experiences. I feel like nothing means anything, not in any way I can trust.

I’m going to share portions of a couple recent journal writings to show this set of feelings unfolding candidly.

What’s wrong with me? At the same time, my heartmind is shifting to not having her. It’s cold. It’s dead. Life feels completely dull, empty.
Video games are about the only thing that has engaged me in a way that I don’t feel this existential ache. In the ache, love feels a lie. Relationships seem a manipulative game.
What can I do? Just sit. Sit in the pain. Sit in the existential doubts. The depths of the life underneath me opens. It may destroy my understanding of who I am and how that person lives and loves with others, but anything less than finding my way through this experience would be denying it and covering it over. The moon card. With gratitude.

Another from the day before my birthday this week:

One more day till b-day! I don’t really want to celebrate this year, to be honest. I feel generally like a failure and unlovable. Furthermore, I feel like love may not even be out there or trustworthy if I find it.
I sit with the feelings but they are deep and ongoing. I take care of myself and push forward with resolve and renewed focus on sitting and letting go, but it’s hard to grieve, and it’s hard to unravel a deep love and stories about yourself.
Something about this time is sending my mind into loops about how things could have gone differently, and it has plenty of room to whirl with these thoughts often.
I hate when the hard edges of anger come up in the process. It’s seldom — almost completely despair, but anger feels so much worse and ultimately far more pointless other than bolstering self-righteousness and a closed heart rather than empathy. I prefer the vulnerability and empathy. With gratitude.

At this point, that’s kind of where this has to end. This process unfolds. The opening to vulnerable, existential doubt is a sitting that I’m still in. The one really interesting overlap there that I’ll point out: I don’t believe in astrology, but I do hold an open mind about it as another interesting perspective to consider, rather than dismissing out of hand. Sometimes it seems quite insightful, and that can at least push questions, rather than give answers. I have been using an app called “The Pattern”. It provides “patterns” of the influences in your life, supposedly based on astrology, although unlike other astrology apps it doesn’t line out signs or planets, etc. Anyhow, I’m currently in a pattern that lasts almost two years which is supposed to challenge me deeply. They’ve called it “Mission Realignment”. The timing of events and the description are quite accurate and leave me pondering it as things I’m encountering on the path right now, even just as food for thought for breaking down current ego stories for new ones (I struggle with things being called “destiny” – maybe karma?). There’s so much of this that points to practicing harder to overcome the suffering of samsara as well as solid advice about just sitting in the difficult times and difficult emotions of life.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime period, during which you’ll face events designed to take you deeper.
It’s a period of intense activation. Events and experiences beyond your control may challenge your idea of who you are and help you align with your intended path.
You may feel like your deepest fears are surfacing, possibly believing that you’ll never reach your destiny. Or maybe it’s a general feeling that something crucial feels missing from your life and you’re being made aware of it.
You might imagine worst-case scenarios, worrying that you’ll be stuck living an unfulfilled life or never get what you want. You may be experiencing feelings and circumstances you’ve never felt or known before.
In this period of transformation, you’re being taken where you’re intended to go – but you can’t get to your future without going through this underworld initiation.
This energy takes you to a deeper level, forcing you to shed parts of yourself that are no longer necessary. You’re facing any shadow or unconscious behavior and uncovering anything you’ve kept hidden and repressed.
These issues are holding you back from aligning with who you are and they need to be dealt with in order to move on. It can be uncomfortable, painful, and trying, but the intention of this time is to overwhelm ordinary reality and cause you to question everything you hold to be true.
You may feel motivated to take a much deeper look at your life in the world. There could be a sense that things are getting out of control and buried secrets are being exposed or need to be revealed.
You might start to feel that your life is merely being lived on the surface, like there’s something inauthentic about it and you’re disconnected from your true instincts and genuine feelings.
It can seem like an immense gravitational force is making you look inward. On the extreme end, it might appear that everything you know is being destroyed and your entire identity is being dismantled.
In response you might have a desire to overturn ordinary reality or even wreck it as a way to speed up your transformation and growth.
You may have to face a situation that you can’t change or solve. Your will, strength, and logic don’t seem to help, and you can’t detach from it or pretend doesn’t matter.
You try, but you may feel like you can’t escape your fears and the feelings that are emerging. But you’re being taken out of your depth for a reason. What seems random and chaotic is, in fact, a set of instructions for self-development.
You’re overwhelmed because it feels impossible to do anything to make it better – so don’t try; instead, surrender to what you’re feeling.
This isn’t personal – you haven’t done anything wrong; this transformation is intentional. You’re being asked to courageously experience all the feelings and circumstances that arise without being able to control the outcome.
It’s a time to embrace the irrational and allow yourself to really feel, even if it’s fear, anger, or confusion. You’re being forced to sit with deeply buried emotions, and there’s no need to do anything but feel them.
This time may seem irrational and intense, but it’s an important initiation – freeing you in order to reach your destiny. If you consciously choose to participate, you’ll emerge stronger and more empowered.
You’re learning what it’s like to start from scratch and build yourself anew. In a spiritual sense, you may have to die to be reborn. Let go of any expectations and simply give in to your experiences.

The Pattern app – Timing

Another way to think of that – a combination of the Hermit, Moon, and Hanged Man cards, the three main cards that have continually appeared for me over the last few months, with just a pinch of the Strength card as well.

May this post make others feel seen and accompanied in the deep meaninglessness of heartbreak.


Heartbreak | Music | Songs for the Deep

I hadn’t planned to write more heartbreak posts, but ultimately, the journey through the abyss to safety (recent I Ching reading but also reminiscent of the Moon card) is a fraught one with new challenges and rapids along the way. For me, this is much more true than I’d like to admit. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve cried about her, thinking about how I’ll never see her skin and smile again, or reliving a moment I wish I could change to maybe make things end up differently. It hurts so bad some days, and I couldn’t tell you why those days are worse. Every day, I wish my heart would stop beating. It just hurts too damn much, and some days, like today, something breaks you into full on panicky hyperventilation and crying, and you can’t even really say what triggered that exact moment. However, even then, there are events that make you feel understood and seen.

I went to a concert last night – Garbage and Alanis Morissette. These two artists really brought this to mind because they both have songs about some difficult emotional experiences. Listening to them and seeing how popular they both are, even 20+ years later, made me think of previous heartbreak and the sense at that time that so many songs are about love lost and pain around it. There are certainly more songs about this experience than the opposite (not that there are none of those), and it made me realize that the experience of loss, grief, pain, and frustrated hopes is more common, impactful, and lasting than that of some deep joy realized, which is generally more fleeting and less deep.

If we think of this in spiritual terms, we’ll quickly arrive at the Buddha’s fundamental truth that upholds all of the Four Noble Truths – the first one: there is dukkha. There is a suffering in existing. It occurs on both great and mundane levels, and those great levels speak to our greatest desires (see the second noble truth) and the difficulties involved in them ending or not being fulfilled.

Our relationships with others are a fundamental. They are part of being in the world (riffing on Heidegger here but pulling in a Buddhist direction). We become entangled in the desire of being with, regularly. There is both some of the greatest beauty and the greatest suffering in this, as other humans reveal the depths of who we can be, what we can feel, and how we can flourish.

In any case, I wanted to pick a few songs from this experience alongside a couple others to really pull at the heartstrings regarding heartbreak and the pain in it. Music can give voice to the human experience in profound ways that make us feel seen. Perhaps this is cathartic in itself. I know that even in just driving to the concert, “You Oughta Know”, spoke to my more fiery feelings of being overlooked, unvalued, and cheated. I’ll just leave it as a reference here without linking it for better options that don’t delve into such anger, but even that can be valuable and worth expressing in its own way.

First, let’s go with Garbage’s “It’s All Over but the Crying”, which speaks to ending, loss, and the grief afterwards as well as the poor treatment and misperceptions of someone else. They didn’t play this at the concert, but I was really wishing they would have played something from “Bleed Like Me”.

Beyond that, Garbage played a newer song, “Even Though Our Love is Doomed”, at the concert that really spoke to me. The main refrain kept asking why we kill the things we love the most. I kept wondering the same, as my feeling time and again is that extraordinary was traded for ordinary in my situation. I can’t help but feel like I was told I was superlative repeatedly but then was not chosen because of more or less bullshit reasons that never really made sense and seemed historically revised and over-hyped over time. In the end, I have to wonder why we kill the things we love the most, and I’m sure I won’t be the only one who feels a resonance with that question. Furthermore, the song has a “even though” this killing is doomed, you still want the person anyway because you see the beauty of that love. I couldn’t understand that any deeper than I already do. As a friend pointed out today, that’s why I hurt so much now and feel dead – I loved that deeply that its passing is a grief to my core.

Between sets, songs played over the speakers, and an old fave came forth and reminded me precisely of the strength of crying out against not having been chosen, of the feeling of what it is to roll in the deep of the abyss. Adele’s song is a classic for a reason in this genre.

In a note more fitting with my usual musical journeys of late, I was walking home today, listening to my newest post-rock album release of focus, the fantastic Transmission Zero’s “Bridges”. Their song, “Still No Sign”, has this haunting feeling of floating through space, waiting for some signal and it never coming. That’s the feeling of waiting and not hearing anything, of feeling on edge with the hope that continues to cut rather than soothe, as every moment is that Buddhist play of dukkha and tanha arising together. I felt so haunted by this song that I stopped in opening my building’s door and just rested my head on it for a second to catch my breath and resolve. It’s simple but feels like a deep journey of waiting and yearning.

Finally, most importantly, I wanted to share a positive note. Alanis ended her set with “Thank U”, and it struck me hard, even though it was a song I never really liked before. The journey through pain, through the heartbreak, even in its angriest moments like some of her more memorable moments from “Jagged Little Pill”, is ultimately soothed in gratitude, in moments like telling the audience that she certainly recommends getting your heart trampled on to anyone. These are part of living with others and vulnerably putting our hearts out there. In the end, that’s how we become strong and how we give back grateful compassion. Every day, I feel like dying right now. I really wish my heart would stop sometimes, but ultimately, I also always paddle on past that abyss of deep waters, keeping my resolve to continue, do well, and give my kindness to others. It’s incredibly hard, but every time, I’m thankful for continuing, despite feeling unworthy and unfit for the challenge. I love the closing lines. I’m thankful for my own disillusionment, my facing nothingness, my sitting in silence, and the clarity of strength I find in myself every time I do that with vulnerable surrender and resolve rather than anger or self-involvement:

Thank you India

Thank you providence

Thank you disillusionment

Thank you nothingness

Thank you clarity

Thank you, thank you silence

Alanis Morissette – “Thank You”

May this help others feel both expression and some gratitude for continuing forward in heartbreak.


Heartbreak | Poetry | Undeath

Loss, death, grief
The heart stills
And feels empty
Yearning for a spark
Life — no longer present

And yet, not dead either
Like a hungry ghost,
Starving for the desired
While still shambling around in this body
A facsimile of the person before

Unheimlich” — unhomey, uncanny
The space between alive and dead
The heart between overflowing and pulverized
How do you sit here in undeath? In unlife?
The presence of sitting contains multitudes…

The depths of feeling light the way
Truth lies not in a covered heart, in a comfortable story that explains away
Courage to face everything authentically
Such is real love
Such is the intensity of life and death to wake the heart

May this help others find their own ability to sit in the feelings of loss, confusion, and despair.