Six Months in Exile

Reflections from the other side of love

In December I shared my thoughts on love and loss – 99 days after the end of a long term relationship. Writing that article really helped to put the true situation into perspective for me, and since then I’ve been asked a lot of questions. This week we passed the six month mark and I thought it was a good time for an update of my perception and to answer a few questions.

A Tangential Journey Through Spacetime

Time is an interesting thing. In the span of a lifetime, six months is barely a blip. A sliver so small it can be perceived as quite insignificant, yet at certain milestones in our lives that same sliver can stretch to eternity. Although the intricacies human perception are vast, I’ve discerned that this feeling is most prevalent surrounding events of two distinct categories.

  1. Anticipation – As we approach a significant event that is time bound, (the birth of a child, a wedding, a big trip, graduation) the closer you get to the event, your perception of time seems to slow to a crawl.
  2. Loss – Conversely, when we loose something we care deeply about, (death, breakups, employment) life seems to grind to a halt. Unlike events of anticipation that pass quickly because of their time bound nature, loss persists for an indeterminate amount of time.

Although, these categories are not mutually exclusive. One major overlap between the two categories is longing. We can both be anticipating seeing loved one again and longing for their presence. This manifests itself much like the way we feel loss (anxiety/depression) and can be a major burden on many relationships. When longing is combined with loss it can intensify both the pain and duration of the event.

Anticipation VS Loss

I personally feel that loss of an intense love is more painful then the death of a loved one. There is no denying that longing exists after death, but death is black & white, it’s an absolute. With love nothing is that simple and without a catalyst such as hate, the feelings of longing and loss will persist indefinitely.

How has life been since 99 days?

There is no getting around the fact that the past 6 months have been terrible for me, filled with setbacks, culminating recently in the loss of my job and a suspended drivers licence. That said I have been working hard to build positive experiences in my life through volunteerism and look forward to starting the next chapter of my career.

Has the perception of your relationship changed?

Writing the 99 days article was like therapy for me and since I have also done an interview for an upcoming relationship podcast. Forcing myself to think through the relationship has given me fresh perspective on a few things. Notably, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I have lost her and the constant anxiety is slowly leaving.

However the longing has not left me. I still think about her everyday, and as I’m sleeping more she still pops up in my dreams. She was far from perfect but like art, in love perfection is found in the imperfections. I constantly find myself reminded of the way she would do laundry or clean the house. Leading to the feeling (as the title of this post suggests) that I’ve been banished to exile.

Would you have married her?

Without question. Knowing that her time to move was coming near, I spent much of the last year we were together planning and saving for the perfect proposal. For me, that was always the plan.

Would you get back together?

That is a difficult question. The simple answer is of course, I love her. The reality is it would have to be a different scenario. I couldn’t do long distance again and because of the reality of my situation she would have to move, get her own place, and take it slow. As much as I believe that nothing is impossible, the probability of that happening is extremely low.

Do you think you could’ve done more to hold it together?

I can honestly say I did everything I could to keep it together. I did hold back on giving her the final anniversary gift I made her, as I knew her mind wasn’t there and I feared it would just upset her more. The one thing I wish I did was identify and mitigate some of the fears earlier.

If you could do it again what would you change?

Honestly not much, but in our 5 years together the one thing I really failed to build a strong relationship with her mother and sister. Although I tried, I was not able to show her mom the value of my love and her opinion meant a lot to both of us. If I could do it again, I would really try to forge that relationship early.

Have you tried putting yourself out there?

My friends say that I just need to move on, get out there and forget her. I’ve had a few conversations with women and went for coffee with one, but honestly, even though it’s been six months I can’t see myself moving on it yet. I have a strict “Don’t be an asshole” policy and I can’t in good conscious court a woman while my heart and my mind belong to another. I made a mistake in the past and lost a good friend because of it, something I still regret. I’m not that guy, I refuse to be that guy. It’s going to take an amazing woman to spur me forward.

So after six months…

I realize my journey is far from over. I’ve come and long way, I respect her decision and have distanced myself. I also recognize that you can’t control love and there is a long way to go. It’s still a struggle fighting the loneliness and making new friends, but there is hope, and hope drives forward motion.