There’s this beautifully written piece by Lauren Skirvin circulating around the internet. The title alone, grabs your attention, “The Absolute Tragedy Of Meeting The Love Of Your Life At The Wrong Time.”
In fact, judging by the way it’s being passed around the internet and the comments underneath the article itself, quite a few folks have been there.
Even if you hadn’t, Skirvin’s description of the concept, will have you wondering if you have.
And then, you are thrust into what I like to call “love purgatory.”
It’s a place where you know who the love of your life is, but you aren’t currently together.
Maybe you dated briefly, maybe you had a full-fledged relationship or maybe, you have never been officially together.
The connection with this person is so real and strong and magnetic that you are constantly pulled back. The relationship hasn’t reached its potential yet, so it can’t be over.
In fact, this might be the person you end up with. But, you aren’t together now because of timing, schedules, missed opportunities or blah, blah, blah.
You should definitely read the entire article, but those words are the ones that pricked me the hardest.
I read this article with a sense of relief. For two reasons. One for knowing that my situation, which sounded both unrealistic and perhaps even dysfunctional to some, wasn’t all that uncommon.
I too was in an on-again, off-again, “never been officially” together relationship. We went back and forth with each other from the time I was thirteen to the time I as twenty five. And just like Skirin described, I also couldn’t be with the person who I not only thought, but believed was the love of my life, the man I was going to marry. On the surface, it was timing and distance that kept us apart. He dated people in between, I dated people in between but we always ended up being drawn back to one another because there was never any resolution. We never had a chance to be together, in the same place, for any extended period of time and do the things couples who live near each other get to do. When we did get to spend time together, there was so much pressure and expectation that even some of those reunions ended sourly.
But more importantly, I read that piece relieved to have finally climbed out of love purgatory. Thank God. And not in the cliched way we always say Thank God; but seriously, thank God. It wasn’t always as agonizing as Skirvin describes; but looking back, from the other side, I can tell you that this life, outside of love purgatory, even with its new set of challenges, is far, far better.
Skirvin concludes the piece by offering another shred of hope: “For those currently in love purgatory, we will one day be with our person, too.”
When I read that last sentence, I furrowed my brow, not agreeing that you always end up with the person who put you in purgatory. I know I didn’t. But it was a commenter who offered a different perspective.
He said, “I took the last lime to mean that we’ll eventually find someone to break the purgatory. It may not necessarily be that one who put us there.”
I was going to write that the person who put me in love purgatory wasn’t the person who eventually broke me out of it. But in actuality, it was: Me. Perhaps there was a part of me that enjoyed the drama of being a tortured soul who couldn’t be with her love. But mostly I believed in the love we had for each other so much, that I was willing to put myself in purgatory, over and over again, thinking that when I got out it would that much sweeter.
It wasn’t until I came to the realization that it wasn’t just life circumstances that kept us from being together that I was ready to start the climb. We could have overcome just timing and distance. But character flaws and unaddressed baggage were stronger forces than that. And though the baggage and flaws ensured that I would never have the closure I wanted, I had to give it to myself.
And after I gave myself closure, there were more gifts I bestowed on myself. I gave myself time to stop holding on to the hope for that relationship and then time to get over it. People have all these arbitrary rules about how long it will take to get over someone. But you’ll know when you’re over it. And not just when you’re in that lying to yourself about being over it phase.
Once I’d gotten to that point and no longer mourned the what-ifs, I found that while that person, that man might have been the love of my life up until that point, he wasn’t the one who I was destined to spend the rest of it with. Which then opened me up to the possibility of really putting effort into pursuing a relationship with another person, another worthy person, without the headache of wondering when the “love of my life” would come back around.
I think a lot of times we buy into the notion that you only get one love in your life. And if you fall in love with someone and can’t make that work, then you’re doomed to never have love again. Thankfully, that’s not always the case.
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