Heartbreak | The End

A friend told me not to think this way earlier today, but I simply can’t see the world otherwise, and I feel this worth writing as a cathartic final expression and processing on this topic. This will be the last heartbreak post, hopefully permanently. After this, I will return to the topics of Buddhism, philosophy, and life that generally have been the focus of this blog’s efforts. Hopefully, I can finish out the series on The Dhammapada for instance, which has been mostly dormant over the last couple years.


I’m setting the intention for myself never to have a romantic relationship again.

A friend told me that the person who broke my heart wouldn’t be the one to break me, but the ups and downs, highs and lows, and general games of being drawn in and thrown away over and over were traumatic for me (will return to this below), and furthermore, they act as the opposite kind of bad experience to what I had previously come to know from relationships – the profound unsatisfactory dynamic of a relationship that is settling. The last experience showed me what I want regarding high compatibility, which I know will be incredibly rare to find. I still find it odd, as friends seem to affirm that I should find that and deserve it but then act as though there are solid chances of finding that most anywhere – which shows they don’t really understand what it is I’m looking for or how uncommon those would be as a combination in someone. Some have suggested that I should just be happy with someone who’s nice and supportive, but I’ve been there and know how empty that will be a year or two into a relationship.

I’ve put these suspicions about rarity to the test. I’ve looked over hundreds, if not thousands of dating profiles. There have been so few that even raised an eyebrow about some sort of long-term compatibility that I could probably count them all on one hand.

I’ve been going rounds beating myself up over this again and again – feeling like it’s a quandary: am I too unrealistic and should settle? Does this represent some form of samsaric attachment to feel that these things are a good focus for a future relationship, or are they actually skillful, insightful, and wise? I think the reevaluation is good, but the feelings of self-judgment and guilt aren’t.

Ultimately, I think the only way forward is to accept that the old Z has died. I cannot live my life with some hope of partnership, connection, compatibility, family, and fatherhood in my future. That needs to be buried so something else can live and grow in its place.

I’m still struggling with whether I move towards full abstinence or not as well. Part of me feels it’s necessary, as casual connections, no matter the transparency regarding intentions and deeper emotional unavailability for partnership seems to fall on deaf ears more often than one would expect, and I have no desire to hurt anyone with a broken heart or dashed expectations, even if it isn’t my fault in some sense of clear communication.

I’ve had arguments with friends about intention and manifestation, but ultimately, I don’t believe in manifestation. I’ve had long discussions about that this year, and here are some basic points to summarize. The idea of manifestation, especially in the idea of the law of attraction, is the most mainstream form of magical thinking: magic is inherently the idea that you can use your will to impact some sort of metaphysical flow of the happenings of the world around you without any direct interaction with it other than thought/ritual/word. So, if you believe in the law of attraction, you believe in magic, just rebranded in a new mainstream way. If you respond that no, no, it’s about the psychology of positive intention – then why the near unanimous descriptions of the universe responding to your intention? I could find psychology studies that belief in the results of your efforts will lead to better outcomes (I remember talking about this in a class back in college). The reason isn’t some sort of universal resonance. It’s because you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, so to speak. So, if you get out there and try, taking a bunch of shots, you’re more likely to have a few go into the goal. I exercise those kinds of positive goal-chasing efforts all the time. That doesn’t require the universe lining up to my intention. I ultimately have tried to manifest my desires repeatedly, with all the energy I can muster, and steadfastly for so much time in the last year. It only succeeded enough to bring in some bright moments followed by being pushed away or erratic rejection, which is clearly not success. In the end, I find it incredibly arrogant, in that way that seemingly only mankind is capable of, to think that my will can influence the greater world in some sort of manifestation of my desire. Some counter that you can’t manifest intentions around others, but why? If I can influence objects with my body and can influence others with my words, mind, or heart, why would I only be able to throw my will out there to influence one but not the other with manifestation? I think that the idea of manifestation is an over-extension of armchair psychology (see above) and apophenia.

I bring that all up to say: I don’t believe that an intention to find the person who’s right for me, opening my heart for them to appear, or whatever other way you want to phrase it will make that person suddenly exist or cross my path from wherever they’re currently going. However, I can intend to set my mind and heart on a path to protect themselves from wasted effort and painful hopes. That’s what I intend.

To close, I’d like to return to the idea of trauma I mentioned above. Years ago, as a masters student in clinical psychology, I wrote a chapter in my final paper about trauma as understood from the philosophy of hermeneutics. I argued that trauma is a realization of the meaninglessness of existence beneath all the understandings we have projected on top of it. That realization shatters everyday life, making it clear that the trust we put into the world is built on nothing. The therapist’s job is to help bear witness and accompany the process of building/finding/creating new meaning and trust in life after such an experience. I feel precisely that way now. I don’t feel any meaning in my existence now beyond showing up to help and care for others in my life. The pursuits of love and partnership in particular feel beyond empty – I don’t trust that others will see me, will connect with me, or that even if they do, that they will show up in turn and love back in a supportive way. These are empty of both meaning and trust.

All in all, I can act as a therapist to myself in finding a new way in life, a new story where I find new strength of heart and mind, but I believe neither that I can find meaning and trust in love and partnership again nor that I can find the person who would reinspire such meaning and trust. I don’t have the energy or will in me to expend the effort to resolve these deep existential wounds.

For them to be “healed” in the way most generally use it would require nothing short of a miracle at this point. I’m open to being surprised, to someone obliterating all of this, but I will not put any further effort into finding a unicorn.


May this close this topic forever on this blog, and may it help others feel companionship if they feel this way themselves.

Gassho!

Heartbreak | Self-criticism/Self-compassion

It’s ironic to me that in some of the roughest moments of the relationship I grieve that I was called prideful or possessing a big ego. There are few moments where I’ve felt less seen.

The truth is – yes, I’m confident in my insights, intellect, and my ability to adapt to circumstances, including failure. However, I sell myself short all the time. I was reminded of that this evening when I went to the grocery store and was met with absolutely exuberant amazement and praise at the fact that I was wearing a mitten I had knit and designed myself – just completed this evening. It kind of shocked me (I don’t really feel that any of these efforts are that spectacular), but that’s the point – I assume that many around me are greater than myself. I’m continuously surprised by others and keep my mind open to their possibilities – my philosophical and spiritual approaches would be mere bluster if I didn’t truly feel that way. I give others the benefit of the doubt, and even though I have studied years to know about a variety of topics, I often find myself speaking to others as though they know the same information. With knitting, I feel like an imposter still trying to find some small modicum of excellence, even though I’m designing my own projects on the fly now. I just feel that others around me must be more experienced and know more – because I know how little I know.

The same goes in recent times with feelings regarding my physique. I have felt unattractive for months despite months of push-ups, pull-ups, and physical effort, but I have gotten overwhelming positive reactions from people recently, and for the first time in quite some time, I see myself in the mirror and feel powerful. It’s been a key point of healing.

A friend recently told me that whichever woman I end up with in the future (although, honestly, I expect that to be no one) will be incredibly lucky because of my intelligence, kindness, and general awesomeness. I don’t feel that way. I feel that I’m worthless, day in and day out, but I show up. I do my best for others. I try to learn. I try to grow. I try to be kind. I try to be present.

All I can do is try, but in part, this time is learning to be kinder to myself in the process and learning to see that any excellence I do have is honed by this very phronesis of aiming for the good and being humble enough to doubt myself along the way. There needs to be a balance between self-criticism and self-compassion.


May this inspire others to both push themselves and be kind to themselves.

Gassho!