Embracing the Contradiction

JUNE 29, 2014
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Photo by Garret Oledzki

I’m a super logical person. The feedback I actually get from people is that I’m hyper-rational, which suits my line of work. (I hope – I’m going to be a lawyer. For all of you who see the irony in that, you’re right. Sometimes the law has nothing to do with logic. But I digress.) So you can imagine my internal systems crashing when I realized the following fact: you can love someone, and he/she can love you, AND it still can NOT work out.

Let’s backtrack and figure out why that might seem logically inconsistent to someone like me. Here was my reasoning. If I really love someone, and they really love me, heaven and hell beware, I will find it in my power to move you in order to find my way to that other person. How many times have you heard from happy couples and friends in satisfying relationships, “If he/she really loves you, and you really love him/her, you guys will find a way to make it work?”

All those years of romantic movies really play into it too. Love conquers all, right? Nine years, a lot of flirtation with self-destruction, hysterical, melancholic, and angry tears later, I realized that no, sometimes no matter how stubborn you are, how much you don’t want to quit, and how hard you try, you cannot make something work that simply would require too much sacrifice from both people. In the end, I had to break up with someone I truly loved.

The end was a long time coming. There were many moments in our relationship that belonged in novels, but reality intruded on the perfect ending, as it so often does. As much as we loved each other, we grew apart. I kept moving away. We both had to sit and watch as our paths ran parallel and then away from each other rather than obediently becoming one. It became increasingly apparent that there were needs on both sides – some old, some that began to grow – that the other person could never fulfill.

He was hyper-rational too. We believed in supporting each other’s growth, and being together would have required us to hold each other back. We were both so dependent on the relationship at such an early age that it was no longer clear what defined us as individuals. We were both becoming unhappy. The time had come when separation would be healthy. So both of us let go. I had a difficult time reconciling this with what I knew “love” was supposed to be. I kept ruminating, “how did this happen?” The answer didn’t come until a certain class I took on how to have effective conversations with other people. The idea was that sometimes when we talk to others we say things like “yes I understand…BUT…”. That “but” negates the “I understand” part completely, and the other person often completely loses interest in what you have to say after because you have essentially told them that you don’t care about what they have to say. The answer is to say ‘yes I understand…AND.” The “and” means that while you acknowledge their viewpoint as valid, you have a different viewpoint that is equally valid and can coexist in its validity with their statement. And that is how I realized I could approach the issue of this breakup.

I really loved him, he really loved me, AND we broke up. I am not going to waste time blaming myself or blaming him for what happened, or tarnishing the memory of the relationship in my mind as not being that great. It was indeed great. AND now its over. I can sit and be sad about it AND not feel like I want to get back together. For girls like me, the realization that all these pairs of facts can co-exist in perfect harmony together has been liberating. For all those stuck on the same treacherous path of rumination like I was, I hope this can help.

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