"You never give your heart to a stranger
Or tell your secrets to a friend
You’ll put your heart in mortal danger,
They all desert you in the end.
The more you live the more you love."
-Flock of Seagulls
Recently I was sorting through some of my older writing for a few pieces to post, and came across a poem that was darker and more bitter than most. It occurred to me that I've spoken much of the upside of love and passion lately, but little of its heartbreak. I think it's time.
Over the past few days I've had several memorable conversations, some with you who may be reading now, about the difficulty and occasional pain of relationships. In the fifteen years before I met Sandy I'm not sure how many girls/women I took interest in, how many relationships of varying degrees I celebrated and hurt over, but I had my share. During that time it seems there were more lows than highs. Maybe that's not the case and it's just my mind's way of retaining the lessons. Memories have a way of being discoloured by time's mist sometimes.
Along the way I did some embarassing and stupid things, as most of us do when young and where matters of the heart or physical desire are concerned. Some things I learned from immediately, some I had to repeat two or three times before they sunk in. But most did eventually.
At twenty-one I had a serious relationship with a girl, after a short while she broke it off and I was devastated. I did a fair amount of writing during that time; an example of which follows:
Some nights are better spent alone
Some lives best lived apart
Some hearts are better left untouched;
Their flames burn brightest at the start.
Some questions are better left unanswered
Some feelings never chanced
Some tears are better left unshed,
Some dances never danced.
Some walls are better left unbroken
Some love best left ungiven,
Because when all that we think
And feel has been spoken
Some hearts aren't always forgiven.
Some say there are seven stages of grief (disbelief, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression, acceptance and hope). At the time I wrote this poem it was very much out of anger and bitterness. Those wounds have long-since healed and I've learned from the experience. Do I believe it's always better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? Not necessarily. But I no longer believe what I wrote in my poem; we shouldn't pass up a chance at something great for fear of heartbreak. In my eyes you should say what you need to say and not keep these things to yourself. Life's too short to shelter your heart.
(Recently I had a conversation with a friend who took a chance on someone, and although he didn't feel the same I'm so unbelievably proud of her for putting herself out there. I can't say she loved and lost, I believe she loved and won because she didn't hide behind her uncertainties).
After my relationship ended I dated more casually, just had fun and didn't look for anything too serious. In some ways I feel I did things backwards. I was usually striving for a serious relationship even before the age of twenty. I had girlfriends, but at times when I was single I often ended up being 'that guy', the one who was a shoulder but not a shared heart. Looking back perhaps this experience was part of my life's design. Now that I'm married it's something I'm able to provide Sandy (and have it returned) within a fulfilling marriage, and can more comfortably provide others as any hopes of romance within that role have lifted.
If I could go back and do it all over knowing what I know now, I have no doubt my dating years would have been more 'successful'. But I believe as painful as they are, 'mis-steps' are necessary to help us grow into the person we need to be. We can't go back, all we can do is take what we learn and move forward each day. Experience is what we call our mistakes, and they're only mistakes if we don't learn something from them along the way.