My heart is broken.
One of the people that I love most in this world has cut off contact from me. And at times it feels as though I can barely breathe.
This person is my brother. Never in a million years would I have thought that something like this could happen to us. But it did. It is happening.
The interesting thing about my relationships with my brothers (I have three) is that there's never been much drama between us. I mean, we've had our normal sibling bickering and such, but nothing noteworthy. We rarely fight and we've always said, "I love you," with ease. My care for them (and theirs for me) has been a given for as long as I can remember.
So how is it possible to go from that to this? How can you love someone so purely, only to have him exit your life in a flash?
These are the questions that make us shake our heads in utter disbelief. The answers just aren't there.
And yet, it happens. I imagine it happens a lot. Relationships bottom out, and regardless of the love that exists, things fall apart.
In my discomfort, my mind desperately tries to find an answer to the equation that my heart tells me is impossible.
Where did I go so wrong?
How could I have done better?
Was I that horrible?
What details am I missing?
I think and think and think, but never fall upon an answer that brings me any peace.
In the worst of moments, my ego grabs ahold of the darkest explanation of all, "Because the problem is you, Shelly. Didn't you know that you were so awful?" No one should have to stay in that territory too long. It's just too damn dark.
Luckily, the larger part of me knows that this isn't true. It's just not.
Not about me. Not about you. Not about any of us. None of us is so awful that we are undeserving of love.
In my mind, this particular scenario isn't about he said/she said, or who's right and wrong. Those are just stupid details that, when you get down to it, don't mean a thing.
I'm not saying that as people, we should discount the ways we hurt one another, or be in denial about how our actions impact our relationships. For a relationship to be functional, both people have to take responsibility for how they affect one other. It won't work any other way.
But I also believe that at a point, none of that really matters. It just doesn't. All that matters is the love.
That's it. Just the love.
My life is centered around learning how to evolve as a human being; I believe that relationships are the catalysts for our growth. While I don't know why this particular scenario is happening the way that it is, but I do know that it's happening, and that means there's a lesson in there for me.
The lesson is always about love.
How can I continue to love, even though I feel so hurt?
How can I continue to love, even though I feel so angry?
How do I set boundaries that are appropriate and self-loving?
How do I feel my feelings, without being overtaken by them?
How do I continue to believe in love, even though it's hard to feel it in this moment?
The answers to these questions are the edges of growth that I'm pushing as we speak. And let me tell you, I am growing.
The unfortunate thing about growth is that it rarely happens unless you're really compelled to do it. What I mean is, unless s#*t hits the fan, you'll continue to sit pretty. But as soon as things get so bad that you can't ignore them anymore, you suddenly have no other choice but to dig deep and rise to the occasion. In this way, crisis becomes both a blessing and a curse.
When it comes to relationships, here's what I know for certain: They're complex. We are complex. Love has a shadow side, and for anyone who has loved deeply, you know that it isn't pretty.
But I also know this: When we're talking about real love — the love we feel for the people we care about the most, the big L love, the unconditional kind — it can't be destroyed.
Oh yes, it's true that it may not be felt in a particular moment. It may be covered up, or buried, or distant, or unreachable.
But it never, ever dies.
The love I have for my brother is that kind of love. And I know, deep down, that he feels that type of love for me, too. My heart tells me it's true. It is in this truth that I find peace.
I've been heartbroken more than once, and I can guarantee that it will happen again. If I allow myself to fall madly in love (with lovers, family, and life), part of the package is feeling love fall apart. This is the human condition! The key is knowing that unconditional love can weather any storm.
If you've loved and lost, I encourage you to keep reaching deeper into yourself. Rise through the loss. Recognize the love within you is unstoppable; know that it will never go away. It's the force that withstands all.
Please leave a comment below telling us about the lessons you have learned about love from loss. Thank you.