“The hottest love has the coldest end” (Socrates)
Whether we realise it or not, when life throws us into the darkened depths of emotional trauma, the journey forward follows the same path for us all.
Years before, on the day her husband had called her at work with news of redundancy, as she sat in the staff room, numb with shock, a friend took a sheet of paper and drew what she called “the trough of despair”. The journey from loss to hope. It is always the same. The initial shock, numbness and denial, anger even, trying to make sense of it all. Then the fear and loneliness set in, those long days and nights, when it feels like there is no way out. And then, finally, an acceptance of what has happened, starting to mend and finding hope. That’s just how it is.
What makes the journey different for us all, is the depth the trauma and how long it takes us to move from the loss to the hope. For some, while the journey is still hard, with love and support, they will find a way forward. Others may never climb out of the darkness.
While the end of her marriage would always leave a sadness in her heart, the grief had crept up over many years. What had never occurred to her, not for one second, was that her journey forward could bring with it such desperate depths of emotional despair, in the form of a broken heart.
Surely that was the kind of thing that teenagers went through, when they struggled with the onset of puberty, rampaging hormones and low self-esteem. Surely, this woman who had been brave enough to leave a 30-year marriage that was no longer fulfilling her, surely that mature, confident woman, would have the benefit of life experience to avoid those pitfalls? What hadn’t occurred to her, was that she was probably the most vulnerable she had ever been in her life.
She had seen it coming, of course. Truth be told, we can always see it coming, if we are brave enough to look. It is there, just sitting, waiting, waiting.
With him, she always felt it in her stomach. An ache that she chose to ignore, because the desperate realisation of what it meant was too awful to bear. Ignoring it meant she could hold on to hope, and, in those early days, hope was all she had.
He was so self-assured, not arrogant exactly, but with a nonchalance that made him all the more attractive to the opposite sex. It never really felt like she would grow old with him, but their emotional highs were so life-changing for her, and the physical attraction so strong, that the relationship became like a drug, always coming back for more.
It was always going to end this way. but she, in all her vulnerability, had fallen in love. She heard his hesitation, the intake of breath at the other end of the line, and those four words. “I’ve met someone else”. And she broke.