We all read fairytales as kids. We are all familiar with the ‘happily ever after’. We are all by now, perhaps even more so, familiar with the reality that, outside of the TV screen, there isn’t always a happy ending. Yet the ‘ending’ itself is something we continue to believe in. It’s a deeply embedded linear way of thinking that often causes the moments in between the milestones to be dismissed as simply periods of transition.
However in reality, while we have experiences, which indeed do come to an end; in the story of our lives much of the chapters are actually left unfinished for longer than we realise. While there are key moments, snapshots, and game changers, so much occurs as an unconscious process. People pass in and out of our lives, not with clear stage directions and purpose, but like people sitting in a coffee shop. They come in and out, just as the pounds creep on, or fade off. Rarely does anything happen overnight.
Our story is continuous, as, more often than not, the moment we recognised to be an ending is not the ending at all. The end sometimes lives within our imagination, it is our own construct. And the new beginning? It started long before we welcomed it into our lives, because time does not pause while we wait for the next chapter to begin.
In the story of our life, the love story, or stories, are an explicit example of this. We think of the ‘break up’ as an ending. The finish line. The expiration date. The final separation of paths. However, rarely is that the case, more often than not our love stories remain unfinished a little while longer.
The relationship may be over. But, like a fire which once burned arrogantly bright and has now been put out, the smoke lingers on for a while and infiltrates your senses. You can smell it. The haze clouds your vision. You can still feel the warmth, or rather the lack of warmth, as a mere shadow of the intense heat that once was.
The end is never actually the end. You think the chapter is written and the page has been turned. But it’s not long before you go back and re-read it, and your opinion of it changes each time as you point the blame at him. At you. At him again. Realisation instead comes long after the chapter is written, and peace comes even further after that.
Love is like a drug, anyone who has met with him will know this all too well. With love you enter an altered state of being where everything is slightly skewed. And like with any addiction, or any habit, walking away is rarely a cold turkey situation. The memories, the anger, the affection cannot just be flushed away. Instead they filter away slowly, drip by drip. Sometimes we do anything we can to keep our story unfinished. We hold the torch with the hope of reigniting that fire. Maybe we argue, we check in, we reconsider, we make excuses. Sometimes we try again. We cross out words we once wrote with conviction in an attempt to change our story. We search for ways to bring it up in any conversation, hoping for someone to shed light on the situation in a way that you may not have considered yourself the first thousand times. We want to relive the story. Our story. You miss her all over again. You hate him all over again. It’s definitely finished this time…all over again.
And then finally, eventually, you become tired of your own story. Like a song you loved and listened to on replay, or a dessert you thought you’d never tire of, the thrill and allure of it, even the pain, and vivacity behind all that emotion, whether it be tragic or beautiful, becomes dull. You composed the song, and at one time it physically resonated inside of you. Now it is an echo at best. You occasionally hear the familiar melody when passing the café where you first met and it takes you back, but not quite and not always.
Without realising, the story never ended. It simply changed into another.
This article was originally published on The Collaboration Club