A Heart is a Wild Creature, and this is why we keep it in a cage
“It can take years to mold a dream. It takes only a fraction of a second for it to be shattered.”
― Mary E. Pearson, The Kiss of Deception
A close friend was recently betrayed by his soulmate. Most of us, mere mortals, in his shoes, would have been angry, resentful possibly inconsolable and certainly very sad. He had a different approach which quite frankly shook me to the core. He was forgiving and understanding, still loving, but not in a possessive “how could she do this to me approach”. This is the sort of high ground that it quite hard to reach, especially in the early days post a breakup. Yet, it was clear to me that he was sincere in his forgiveness and also in his philosophical way of moving forward. When I questioned how he could be so mature about it, he said simply: “A heart is a wild creature, and this is why we keep it in a cage”. I found this to be not only incredibly poetic but also a bit of an eye opener. What makes our heart look the other way and betray our best intentions, and when it does, can we or should we contain it?
When my ex walked out of our marriage of 22 years, I was certainly not forgiving or mature about it. To say I was spitting nails would be an understatement. I fantasized about taking his and hers hearts and running them down with a monster truck and stayed up at night plotting revenge.
Interestingly enough, it was not love that was riling me. I had a new partner who was making my heart skip a beat. My life was better, I was happier I am sure he was too. Should he have stayed?
Which brings me to another interesting point. If love is a pure feeling, the sort of feeling that we only want the very best for our partner, why do we resent them if they decide to be with someone else? Should we not be happy for them? Does love presuppose reciprocity? My friend was happy for his ex-girlfriend, even though he was sad about the outcome of the relationship. His love for her, was clearly superior to my love for my ex cheating rat husband. Was it not?
In the final analysis, when you fall in love with someone else you have two choices. Go for it, or stay in the relationship out of loyalty. There are reasons that make the latter more likely such as kids, friendship and compatibility. But as my friend said, the heart is a wild creature, so most of us will find it hard to tame.
Assuming your heart has run away in pastures new, how can you minimise the pain to the one you are leaving behind?
· Give them the gift of dignity
Being left for someone else is bad enough. Being lied to for months is cruel and much, much worse. If you are falling for someone new, be honest, totally honest and end your relationship maturely and with dignity.
· Don't torture them unnecessarily
Hinting that you are unhappy and thinking of ending the relationship for the first time as you are walking out the door or going to work, will leave your partner in a state of intense agitation for hours. Be gentle and raise the subject when there is plenty of time to talk, face to face and in private.
· They should not find out through a friend or relative
Your partner should be the first to know your intentions, not your relatives, friends or colleagues. Letting someone else do your dirty work is disgraceful, spineless and disrespectful.
· Don’t punish them because you feel trapped in the relationship
It is not your partner’s fault that you have fallen in love with someone else and want out. Treating them badly will not make them leave you. Be kind and mature and let them know as soon as possible.
· Don’t chicken out mid discussion and breakup sex should be completely off the table
Postponing the decision, saying that you will think about it or giving in to your partner’s pleas to reconsider when your mind is made up will only prolong their misery and fuel your resentment.
My feelings during my breakup were very well summarised by Cyrano de Bergerac’s quote: “Perish the universe, provided I have my revenge!”. Had my loyalty not been trampled in the most undeserving way during my breakup, I like to think that I would have been a much better behaved person. I may have even mustered a small fraction of my friend’s equanimity and philosophical acceptance.
The truly scary thing about undiscovered lies is that they have a greater capacity to diminish us than exposed ones. They erode our strength, our self-esteem, our very foundation.