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It is so easy to fall in love, as easy as walking in a warm summer rain, bathing joyously in  gentle droplets from the heavens.  But to get over love, that is, to recover from love – well, it might be easier to retrieve each and every raindrop and and return them to the clouds from which they fell.  Yet this is my challenge.  You see, my lover, best friend, and soul-mate is no longer with me.  And now, it is my task to “unlove” the love of my life.  After several wondrous years of adoring her, caring for her, putting her before myself, constantly searching for new ways to express my devotion and affection, I must abruptly give that up.  I have been told that it’s time to move on, forget about her, let it go, find someone else, and a variety of other polite versions of what amounts to “get over it”.   Thus, it would seem that I am expected to simply not love her anymore.  Would one suggest that the ocean not rush to the shore?  That birds neither sing nor fly?  That the wind never again blow across the open spaces?  Yet I am supposed to make a soul-deep love die.   I have seen many books that talk about how to love, but never one on how to NOT love.  Indeed, how does one unlove?  How does one remove something that has become part of his soul?  And consider my condition.  My heart does not feel broken so much as it feels as if it has simply stopped.  Yet in this fragile state, I am expected to summon up the will and strength to overcome love, the world’s strongest force?

It is as though my ex-partner created a deep well within me, then filled it up with happiness and laughter. That well is as deep and wide as ever, but filled now with sorrow and longing.  How does one empty a bottomless well?  She took me to snow-capped mountaintops that I might see gorgeous views I could have never dreamed.  Now, as I lie broken in the deep valley, how am I to forget the wonders I experienced at the top of the world?

Oh, I have lived through my share of dark hours and troubling emotions in my life.  I have developed strength and endurance that carried me across seas of sadness and through fields of
fear. But this is a challenge for which I am not equipped.  Am I weaker than I imagined, or simply facing a more formidable foe?  Is love, for all its glory and grandeur, a monster that can eat the heart which it inhabits, a weight so great that it cannot be unburdened by a man’s sheer will?

Can anyone tell me how to break love’s hold?  How do I escape the clutches of this unyielding source of aching and emptiness.  How do I unlove?   Oh, the advice flows freely from my unknowing friends.  “Stay busy”, they say.   But the love sits so heavy on my heart no matter what I do!  “Don’t think about her”, they advise.   And shall I not breathe as well?  “Find someone else”, they recommend so casually.  True love is not replaced, certainly not with acquaintanceship or casual romance.  Love would punish me for any disingenuous effort to find relief through substitution.  I have come to believe there simply are no strategies, techniques, or rules for how to unlove.  Love comes of its own accord, and leaves when it is ready, and not before.  And the greater its strength, the more it determines that it will take its time.  Oh, yes, time -- the great healer, they say.  The only known relief.  But it provides me no respite today; nor shall it tomorrow or perhaps even the next thousand tomorrows.

Indeed, who knows if time will ever diminish this love?  Are there not some loves, so great, so true, so profound, that even time cannot break their hold?  For this love of mine grew to immense proportions and crept into the deepest reaches of my soul.  I’ve been told that the sweet memories that both thrill and torture me will gradually fade into pleasant, but largely unemotional, recollections.  But still I wonder, for my memories of her seem to be contained in every cell of my being.  Will my eyes ever forget a beauty that once stunned them into tears?  Will my skin forget the fingers that expressed such tender love through the softest of touches?  Will my ears not recall the laughter that, in the worst of times, made life brim with hope and spirit?  And how shall my heart forget the love and devotion that made every emotion I ever felt before seem pale in comparison?  Yes, the images may fade, and recollections of words and events will probably get fuzzy.  But there are memories so integrated into my being that I fear they shall pass only when I do.  No, waiting for memories to decline in their impact is not a strategy for successful unloving.

I loved her with a desperate passion, not just in the way a body longs for another body, but with an intense passion for her soul, her essence.  Now I miss her with the same fervor and ferocity with which I loved her, and it is almost as if my pain is now my passion in how it consumes my heart and fills my days. 

Now none of this is to say that I am dependent on her presence in my life to be whole and well.  No, I insist that I am complete unto myself, without anyone else.  But, I am a different self without her.  And I wonder if I may be a more joyful self as part of the whole that we created in our sweet union.  I know that I, like a bird with a broken wing, will heal and fly again.   I suppose my fear is that I will not return to the same heights to which I soared with her.

It seems strange that love, that magnificent energy that once filled me with unbridled joy and vigor, is now the burden that mires me in emotional quicksand, pulling me down and suffocating me. But love is indeed the ultimate irony. It takes you both to the highest of highs and to the lowest of lows.  It brings elation, and devastation.  It makes us heroes, and fools.  And, of course, no one has the power to inflict hurt on you like the person who makes you the happiest.  Indeed, my ex-mate is not even part of my day-to-day life anymore, and yet, because of her, I dwell helplessly in the house of sorrow that love built.  And I have never been more acutely aware of just how much I love her.  If love weren’t so spectacular, I would think it totally insane.

Why do I grieve so? After all, no one has died.  I am still alive and well. My ex-partner lives on.  Yet I have this sense that someone or something has died.  I suppose I’m grieving the loss of “us”.  Not me, not even her, but me with her.  We, as a couple, became like a separate living being, savoring all the sweetness to be had in this life, thriving on good times, and growing stronger in  hard times.  And now, that joyous, spirited entity  is dead.  I’ve lost something I cherished, and for which there is no replacement. Yes, the “us” that lived and loved all those years has been eulogized and buried – but my grieving has only begun. My, how I do miss us.

And although it seems as if a long, cold winter has settled in my heart, I would not give up having had the love I shared with her.  Even knowing what suffering lay ahead, I would choose it again, for that rare gift is worth whatever price, whatever pain.  In fact, even in my grief and hurt, I still thank God for letting me experience this overwhelming  love – a love able to  generate feelings of such strength and power that they swell the heart with their intense passions, both invigorating and debilitating, but always expanding the capacity of the soul to more fully know itself.

It seems odd to want to unlove, to choose to quit loving someone.  After all, is not love the greatest, most sought after thing in the world?  It creates happiness, fosters hope, stimulates harmony, bonds one to another, soothes troubled souls, and generally makes life tolerable in the worst of times.  And yet, I am bound to eliminate this deep and abiding affection I have within me for a wonderful person I have adored and admired.  It is a daunting challenge, and perhaps that is as it should be.   But the love that once buoyed me and made me feel invincible is now a source of hurt and despair.  It is as if my body is rejecting what was once a life-affirming agent that now must be expelled in order for me to recover.  What once lifted, now burdens, what once generated inspiration, now engenders desperation.  Thus, this love must somehow be eliminated, or at least modified in some way so that it is less disruptive, distressing, and demoralizing.

So here I sit, in love, without the object of that love in my life. There is no quick fix, no short-term intervention to cure me of this condition. The fact is, one can NOT unlove, at least not in
brief fashion.  And if one does manage to accomplish this quickly, I maintain that it was not a true love, and thus not a real act of unloving.   So I must simply endure and wait – wait for the
gradual erosion of my love just as the earth goes round the sun so slowly that we do not notice. But the earth does travel and the seasons eventually change; and just as the next season cannot be rushed, neither can my unloving.  So I shall persevere, moment by moment, day by day, moving in tiny minute fractions toward some future morning when I will wake up and realize, I do not love her.  Or will I?
  
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