Today’s post comes from Crystalbay
Every spring, a loon appears on Crystal Bay and stays until late fall. Loons are seen very rarely on this lake because it’s so heavily populated with boaters, especially when compared to the quiet, pristine lakes of the BWCA. Late at night this little loon makes the clarion, haunting sounds that only loons can make. I see him out there swimming and bobbing all by himself. In fact, as I sit here typing while facing the quiet autumn bay, I can see his silhouette far off in the distance.
I’ve never understood how a loon could not have a partner. He’s all alone out there summer after summer. I make up that he had a partner long ago and returns each spring to mourn her or perhaps still wait with anticipation. This loon and I share the quiet aloneness of our lives.
I prefer to use the term “alone” rather than “lonely”. For most of my life, if I didn’t have constant human interaction, I did feel painfully lonely. During my first few years after the divorce, I scrambled to find new people rather than face my new singlehood and desperately avoided time by myself. It seemed as though I only existed when others were around. It was a difficult chapter in my life.
I dated like crazy those early years, trying to compensate for a lifetime of being married to two men I’d grown to thoroughly dislike. For the first time in my 40 years of adulthood, I felt unencumbered and free. Eventually, after dating many ill-suited men, I met and fell madly in love with a man I was certain that I was born to be with. He broke my heart into pieces after a few months, then returned to my life once again three years later, saying he wanted to take care of me after my massive cancer surgery. He abruptly left the night before the surgery. My heart was broken all over again.
I had to come to terms with the obvious: I was in love for both of us. I’ll always see this man as the perfect life partner for me in spite of the betrayal and pain he brought, and in spite of knowing that this love affair was an illusion.
That was five years ago, and I haven’t dated since. Illusion or not, this relationship raised the bar so high that I knew in my heart no one would ever fill the piece he’d carved out. Over the years, I’ve self-repaired by contemplating the gift of this relationship and have long since realized that his presence in my life made it possible to experience the joy of being completely in love for the first time in my whole life. For the rest of what remains of my life, I can honestly know how this feels.
And so, he is long gone, but the precious feelings I finally got to feel are with me everyday. I no longer feel true loneliness, only an occasional bout of nostalgia when I see couples slow dancing. I’ve learned that my own company is enough and that one could ever be as perfectly matched for me than myself. Another way of saying this is that I finally feel safe and content with the best roommate ever: me.
How has a heartbreak been a gift in your life?