I was asked to write about Love.
"Come on Dewi, be honest. You know that you can do this. A sensual part of writing is like getting naked to have other people see into the most private side of you while you tickle their mind in silence," my friend said over our cup of coffee during one of our monthly catching up sessions.
Her request got me thinking. Yes, I have always loved writing. I wrote poems, short stories, random essays, but what do I know about love? So she said, "It's easy! Have you been in love? Have you been broken hearted? How did you cope? Have you been in love again after the heart was broken? How was it different from the one before? How did you love? In the Past? Now? Write your feelings, your thoughts, your heart. Writing only requires one thing, your honesty. And with honesty the words will flow."
I have been in love and loved. And I have been broken hearted, a time that seems light years away when it was only a few years back. And I somehow still remembered the pain vaguely, how miserable the mornings were and those sleepless nights.
I came to the practice of yoga and meditation to quiet my mind, to let go off all those pain and to stop thinking. To find a moment of peacefulness that will allow me to heal, gain clarity and slowly rebuild what was left of me after almost a decade long relationship. I did not know any other form of love but the kind I had with him, and the thought of having to let go and move on was painful enough that I crumbled to the floor each time I tried to pick up pieces of the broken heart.
It took me time. Space. Quiet moments. And too many hours of yoga classes.
Until one day I woke up and suddenly my body felt lighter. The mind was clearer. The heart was slightly more open. I could breathe deeper as if a heavy burden had been magically lifted from my chest, freeing some space to allow my heart to expand and fill up the emptiness left by those pieces that had been broken and fallen apart.
Could this be a new beginning? I stepped out of the bed and stood on a pair of legs that felt new. They seemed to be stronger and I could feel the solid ground once more. Knowing that I could walk and actually feel alive, a little bit more than the day before.
I would love to think that I have completely healed myself, though I still wonder if this is the truth. Getting over pain and letting go doesn't mean that you are ready to move on. Sometimes we float so much in that empty space in between the past and the future, while living an aimless present. We numb our emotions, thinking we’re doing ourselves a favor, when in fact it’s merely a blanket over misery and loneliness.
I remembered being cynical for awhile, and I think remnants of those cynicism is still in my blood, returning from time to time, as I nurture the belief that all true love and fairytales are fiction existed exclusively in the dream world of Disneyland and the Seven Dwarfs. I convinced myself that what matters most will be for me to be emotionally independent and to continuously being strong.
My yoga teacher, Paul Dallaghan, told me once that being in a relationship for nine years is more like being married and that a separation after such a long time of being together is like a divorce. Your life has been so much intertwined that the roots are tangled. When separation comes, the roots are forced to stand on their own and the tree is shaken. For a while it will struggle to keep strong, to learn how to absorb the right nutrients for the body of the tree on its own. It’s not easy, but its possible. It will take time, but definitely doable.
He told me that being strong doesn't mean that you have to be numb to pain. Being strong means that you allow yourself to cry, allow yourself to be fully destroyed, crumbled, fragile and to drop down in defeat. At this very moment of darkness, the spirit will become stronger because at that very moment of unloved, you will re-learn love. And re-write love. Starting from yourself.
So I took my first lesson in love. Learning to love myself more. To have neither fear nor guilt, to learn how to be free from my own troubled mind, and to be fragile and bringing softness back to the heart. In those moments of a solitary journey, you have the chance to listen to yourself more without the voices of others. Some may call it selfish; some may think it’s weird. But I think that the best gift a separation could give is a gift of love, of loving ourselves beyond anything else, of listening to our heart without fearing that we may hurt others, and of learning that only from the space of love we can be happy.
It took me four years to rebuild everything that I thought I had lost. Was I full of regrets? Not really. It was tough. But it took me to a place where I should be. It was a beautiful gift from life – a lesson that can only be learned through experience. And when we learned it well, life will send another lesson. This time though, I will be more prepared.
I still can’t define love, nor can I describe it. And I don't think that I will ever be able too. But what I know is true for me is that to love begins with yourself. You have to love yourself enough before opening your heart to another. And you have to be OK with the prospect of joy, happiness, pain or misery. You have the courage to open up a space, make time for another and at the same time be willing to be exposed and fragile. To allow the world to crumble from time to time and to have the strength and courage to pick up the pieces and glue all things back seamlessly.
History cannot be erased, and the past exists as a guide to the present. I cannot change what has passed, but I can re-write my story, my dream and make it closer to the reality. I can also enjoy all the happy moments while they last, while getting ready for them to pass when the time comes.
Dewi Indawati Loho is a hopeless romantic who believes in magic, love, dream and fairytales. She loves to travel, read, write and spend a lot of time with her pens and paper trying to capture images that run freely in her mind. On her down time, she can be found in the kitchen, baking her favorite cakes, or in her jewelry workshop in Ubud, playing with gemstones and all things beautiful.