To clarify: two kinds of people often write to me. The first group worry about partners who do not worry for them. The second group don’t realize the value of what they have in their relationship until they lose it – then, suddenly they wake up in a panic and want everything back the way it was.
Living with a dead flower
“Sorry. I will not water a dead flower,” she said abruptly, and left.
He felt deceived. After all, everyone makes mistakes; so, everyone deserves a second chance, right? Right?
Wrong, not everyone. Now, he was sitting next to me, wanting me to explain what it meant to be a ‘dead flower’.
“Women do not leave because we make too many mistakes; they leave because we make the same mistake twice,” I told him, carefully, mindful of his pain and confusion.
“But it’s still just a mistake!” he said. “People make mistakes.”
“They do,” I said. “but a mistake that we make again is no longer a mistake, it’s a choice, a voluntary decision. A healthy relationship is not one in which no one makes mistakes, it’s one in which no one makes the same mistake more than once.”
He hung his head.
“Is it possible to revive a dead flower?” he asked, more with his heart than his head, because the head must have known it was impossible.
“No, it isn’t,” I smiled. “but we may plant a new one… perhaps even a very similar one.”
“And can,” he started, and I immediately knew what he wanted to ask, “the same two people plant a healthy new flower?”
“No, I’m sorry,” I answered. “The SAME two people would only rewater the dead flower. A new flower needs new life, so it has to be with the new couple. But don’t worry, I believe that you can change, you’ll no longer repeat mistakes, as long as it’s with someone new.”
Life with a phantom
Now, she was sitting opposite me. She had taken that initial step. She had ripped out and thrown away the dead flower.
Still, she did not feel better and she wondered why, even though it was obvious.
“How could you expect to feel better when you have lost your flower?” I asked her. “You do like flowers, don’t you? It’s natural to miss them!” she nodded. “But honestly: Do you really miss this dead flower?”
Whenever she recalled the bad things that she had gone through with him, her heart ached, but memories of the good things could not be dimmed. “I miss him,” she answered, “but…”, she struggled to define it.
“I know,” I smiled. “You miss the HEALTHY flower.”
As I wrote in the book Twelve hearts, the irony is that sometimes the one who we love the most becomes the one who hurts us the most. His arms, which had previously only embraced us, suddenly push us away the hardest. How can we believe this turnaround? We don’t want to.
In our minds the ghost of who he was persists, the version that we fell in love with, and we are trying to hold the hand of this phantom, this someone who is no longer with us. His later mistakes might have hurt us, but they cannot change our deeper feelings, because though our minds will always feel hurt, our hearts will always nurture longing. The mind will always advise us rationally and the heart will cling to hope, and to the man was.
“Why am I sitting here today, when he betrayed me with so many of the same mistakes? Why am I sitting here unhappy, when I did the right thing and left him?” She laid her head on the pillow of her hands.
I smiled, “It does not matter how angry we are. In the end, we end up forgiving the people that we love.”
Love sometimes means to love the ones who are impossible to love. Forgiveness is to forgive the unforgivable. Belief is to believe in the unbelievable. Hope is to hope for what seems hopeless.
“I lived with a phantom, with someone who was only alive in my imagination. That is no way for either of us to live.” she said. “How can I cope with this?” She turned her pleading eyes to me.
“You already have,” I said, surprising her.
“How?” she asked.
“You could very well. You did not force him to love you, you only forced him to leave you. Now you will see if he really loves you and if you really love him. The one who really loves remains, even though he is far away. – You ‘left’, but only in body, not really in spirit. What if he’s feeling the same thing?” I said.
The next day I was sitting with him again to explain what the difference between life and film was….