Three years in the making, I have finished my essay on the end of my marriage. It is likely the most vulnerable and rawest piece I have written.
“It is easy to love the beginning of things. It is easy to love them in bloom, when their colours are bursting, fragrance cast to the wind. Yet how hard to love the end of things — to love their inevitable decay, as blossoms wither and drift once again toward the dark earth.
Make no mistake — one person can never be another’s everything. It’s too much for them to bear. But that doesn’t stop many of us from trying and blaming ourselves for the almost certainty of failure.”
Stories of how it might be different can be medicine for our time. I would love if you might read, reflect, and share with your people if inspired. Thank you.
A Post-Script, Written After the Essay Went Viral
Yesterday my essay ‘Love Will Be The Death of Us’ crossed over 100,000 views on Medium. I’ll be honest: I didn’t think it would resonate with so many people. Reading hundreds of comments on the post and on Facebook has been an exercise is gratitude, humility, and non-attachment.
Many speak of the sorrow hidden away from their own heartbreaks, retrieved from the basement and finally given a place on their altar. Others are grateful and bewildered at the tears that come from nowhere, perhaps recognizing the supreme truth that, in these days when so much calls for anger and blood, it’s hard to show up as a human being.
Some comments are not so kind. They see the portrait of a man who broke his vows and deserted his wife when she was most vulnerable. Others believe the story nothing but the navel-gazing narcissism of a lost millennial, unwilling to commit to true love. (One Twitter user was kind enough to send me a photo of a flaming garbage can and tell me it’s a self-portrait). And another wrings her hands and demands “Who is the hero of this story and who is the villain?”
I’m called to share a few details about crafting the piece.
1. I deliberately wrote in the present tense, to bring a sense of immediacy as the moments unfolded, but also to inhabit the perspective I held at the time. This is the “brutal honesty” that many have appreciated while others denigrated. I released the option to filter my sharing in retrospect, which may have made a “better” version of me, but would have been less truthful.
2. On the question of who is the hero/villain – mainstream discourse has become so conditioned to collapse all stories into the need to identify who is “right” and who is “wrong.” This is a terrible loss of the imagination and the ability to appreciate complexity. Love is downright messy, just like life. In my essay, there is no blame, only actions and consequences.
3. Finally, many of the negative comments are stuck on the “whys” of the marriage ending. (You shouldn’t have done this! You should have done that! If only you hadn’t…) And yet, my wish is for readers to focus more on the questions:
- What do you do when you recognize the death of a relationship is upon you?
- How can its closing be the fullest expression of your love, rather than its end?
- What if sharing our private sorrow allows us to recognize ourselves in each other, and realize we’re not so alone after all?
This essay is about many things, but above all, it’s a personal chronicle of the death of The One, as a conditioned story about what we are told we should be to each other. Given the staggering rates of divorce, betrayal, lies, repression, violence and shame – it is a reckless fantasy that needs to die.
In its place, a new story emerges: the story of The Many. Not a call to flee toward polyamory as the antidote, but the reawakening of the village as the most important work of our time.
Love is too big for two people. We must gather our kin around the fire and be willing to admit two people can’t navigate partnership alone. We need the village to hold us, mirror us, love us, thereby allowing romantic love to be its own glorious self, and not a stand in for the necessary things that are not in our lives.
This is the budding seed in the ashes of my marriage. This is the last gift my wife gave to me, and if you find value in our grief-soaked story, then it is something of which we gift to you.
P.S. A few weeks ago, she welcomed her second child into this world. And our quiet love continues.