Separation from the Beloved Is Separation from Self.
Not all separation is physical, but a sense of heart separation can be caused by physical circumstances, if we allow it.
I subscribe to the belief that we are all one, and separation is not real at a soul level, but this is difficult to remember with our acute human senses. Senses that perceive the negative more strongly than the positive, that are quicker to summon the sad memories and cannot as easily retrieve the good ones.
It is part of our survival mechanism — to remember painful experiences so that we can avoid more like them in the future. Or that’s the idea at least. I have known well from recollection that a situation had a good chance of bringing up pain for me; still, I steered my ship deliberately into the center of the storm. Many times, there was as much wreckage as I imagined in my premeditation.
I have found that I did not feel true remorse about allowing myself to have the experience unless I expressed my pain to another person and took on their feelings about my situation.
Any survival mechanism is not of much use to me. Survival is not enough. If it were, I would not be an artist.
I know that there is growth in pain. There is also healing, but it’s not always, or often, a straightforward process. This is something that I talked about in my essay for the Adelaide 2017 Literary Contest: healing is not a linear process. It doesn’t always come about in ways that make sense. Sometimes it happens in waves, and other times, it seems like it isn’t occurring at all, or even that it has reached finality.
We can think that we have moved on from a situation, but a certain song or scent is all it takes to shatter that idea. Most people seem to think that the solution lies in repression, in forgetting our most poignant moments in time. As if that were possible.
When a person says or does something that conflicts with what you want from them, you might say they broke your heart. In response to this, people will say, “Stay away from them. Forget about them.” Normally, you put everything that reminds you of that person in a box and throw it away, or light it on fire — literally or figuratively.
But no matter how many times you wash your hands, you can’t erase the memories. You can’t control what brings them up for you. And would you really want to? Would you want the good to go along with the bad?
If I treated my pain as most people do, I would probably stop playing guitar. I would get rid of memorabilia of certain bands. I would still write, but perhaps my most beautiful pieces would not exist. I don’t want to get rid of the things that serve as reminders — I wouldn’t be myself anymore.
If my muse is gone, so am I.
At a core level, the pain would still exist. Getting rid of the reminders does not change that. I would prefer for the people I love, who choose not to actively be a part of my life, to live inside me as ghosts rather than not at all.
I like to think that the advice for heartache will get better someday. I believe it already is, but I do not know how widespread it is or how receptive most people are. Rather than plugging our ears and screaming at pain, “I can’t hear you,” we must let it in. Any form of resistance is going to magnify it. If it is buried too deeply, it can come up later in another situation without our understanding why.
Some people’s pain receptors may be more exaggerated than others’. What if we, with the exaggerated ones, considered that a blessing and not a curse?
Too many people live their lives in a numb state, stay in the same situations for decades, and then wake up later in life. They feel disillusioned, lost, but worst of all, they feel as though they’ve wasted precious time that they can never recover. And this is what happens when pain is buried, when we refuse to listen to the signals that our bodies, hearts, and minds are giving us.
This is what happens when we refuse to go deep within and feel the pain, to process it. Don’t fret if this is you; you’re realizing it now, that’s what matters. You can make a conscious choice now. Never look at anything as a waste of time if you learned something from it.
When you love someone, maybe you must give up on your ideas of what they should be to you or with you. But you don’t have to give up on love, on loving them, or make them bad because they didn’t do what you wanted them to do.
You don’t have to increase the torment of this perceived separation by closing your heart to them, and to yourself, by cutting out everything that reminds you of them, even at your own expense — ridding yourself of the things that make you You.
Heidi Hendricks has been published in Adelaide and Buck Off Magazine, and was a finalist in the Adelaide Literary Awards 2017 with her essay, “Nonlinear.” She is passionate about music, and plays the guitar as a hobby. She is currently working on a book of poetry and essays. Her favorite topics are self-exploration, unconditional love, and healing.