Five years ago today she walked into the room, and everything changed. I heard Astra’s voice down the hall, and when I saw her, I knew I was fucked.
Before I go any further, let me remind you that yesterday’s post was about red flags. This story is full of red flags and largely how I learned about them.
Regardless of the red or green flags, this was the greatest and worst love affair of my life.
There’s space for both.
When she sat down across from me at the table (in a support group meeting), I felt nauseated like a warm wave of energy and adrenaline passed through my entire body. Everything slowed down, and I had such a profound hyper-focus on every detail of her.
I had never experienced anything like this. She was all I could see.
Every little gesture – biting of her lower lip, sweeping her hair from her forehead, adjusting her position in her seat, the direction her eyes glanced…
I swear I could feel her breathing!
What the fuck is happening? I asked myself.
It felt like we were binary stars orbiting each other with an impending collision because of the sheer gravity between us!
Kismet is another word for fate or destiny. It was a word she loved to use.
I don’t know enough about how the Universe works to definitively say I believe in kismet, and at the same time, everything… everything happens for a reason.
I believe the reason she and I met was to learn about ourselves and propel each other into our personal journeys of healing. I can say that’s true for me, and I hope the same is true for her.
At that meeting, we both volunteered to be co-secretaries of the group and exchanged phone numbers.
She immediately texted me and included a 😉 emoji.
From that point, it was on!
Strap in for some red flags of romance!
I promise to keep it clean 😉
We immediately started texting each other. She had a girlfriend. I offered to be a support to her anytime she needed to chat.
I began writing poetry about how forbidden my feelings were for her. I cried in anguish at finding “The One” I could never have.
She reached out to me about turmoil she was having with her girlfriend.
I shared my feelings for her and my burning guilt.
She was the forbidden courtesan, and I was the penniless poet (shameless Moulin Rouge reference).
I was her Romeo and she was my Juliet.
Are you feeling sick yet?
We ate this shit up! We loved identifying as the tragic star cross’d lovers.
She shared so many songs with me about heartbreak, and we reveled in our mutual victimhood/attraction.
This was the stuff of ancient poetry, plays, and modern music and movies.
We were addicted to each other.
The Cycle of Insanity
I’ve often wondered if falling in love should be categorized in the DSM-5 as a mental health disorder. There is little-to-no sane thinking that occurs when in-love with someone (in my humble opinion).
Regardless, I am not besmirching the notion of falling in love, and as stated, this was the best and worst relationship of my life.
Because we both had issues (side note: Issues by Julia Michaels was the first song she ever shared with me…. Red Flag!!! :D), we were really good at clinging to one another during the infatuation stage of obsessive attention and adoration.
However, when we’d hit a month together, the insane cycle of love addict/love avoidant would rear it’s ugly head. I had one friend call it the “Dance of Death.”
I’d want too much attention, she’d pull back. I’d freak out and think I was being rejected and try harder for attention. She’d pull back more. I’d get angry and leave, then she’d pursue me. I’d come back, and we’d do another month of intense infatuation and start the cycle over again.
We repeated this cycle at least half a dozen times (probably more) over the next two-to-three years. Sometimes we’d break up for a week, a month, three months, even a year.
Eventually we’d stop getting back together, but (while in other relationships) we’d message each other and reminisce over the “good times.”
We’d share song lists, record each other voice memos, and send emails.
And there were good times. They were fucking amazing! The airbnbs on the Oregon coast, camping together, getting engaged (for a whole two months).
My personal Instagram page is literally filled with hundreds of poems I wrote about her.
The obvious problem here (besides unhealed childhood wounds which manifested as extreme codependency and love addiction) was that we were also betraying our newest squeezes by having an emotional affair.
Holding Space for Heartbreak
I tell this story in the hopes it will help someone else to relate and heal.
It has been helpful to me to write about it.
It’s been over a year-and-a-half since she has emailed me and just over a year since I reached out to her.
I’ve looked her up on social media, and she looks happy.
I want her to be happy.
I don’t categorize relationships as “good or bad.” And this one is no exception.
There are positives and negatives (if we choose to categorize life that way) in everything.
I have grown tremendously because of the experience with Astra.
I am extremely grateful for her, the time I spent with her, and the lessons I’ve learned about myself.
That relationship drove me into my own personal recovery from codependence because of the sheer pain and grief I experienced around it.
I learned it is not healthy to be so obsessed with someone that the thought of being without them makes you suicidal.
I got to dig deep into my own childhood issues and revisit elements of my failed marriage of 20 years (prior to Astra) and take a hard look at what I bring to the table in relationship.
It’s not just a hard pill to swallow. It’s several pills, and as I peel back the layers of my own self-esteem, I realize I will always be (more or less) working on loving myself enough not to lose myself so utterly in a relationship.
She was not the problem, and she was not the solution.
The answers lie within me, and the Universe is a very generous place to provide me ongoing love and nurturing through self-reflection, meditation, other people, and new experiences.
An Open Heart
This experience has not closed me off from believing I will be in-love again.
In fact, setting aside the red flags, it has convinced me that the Universe will bring a person into my life. And we will mutually adore one another.
I am still a romantic.
I am still a dreamer.
I am a believer.
And I am willing to have my heart broken again. That is the spice of life. I firmly believe that if you close yourself off from fear of being hurt, you will never fully live or love.
Getting hurt is part of life.
Yes, we can learn to make healthier choices about our love interests. (Don’t paint red flags green)
And at the same time, we can be vulnerable and take risks when it feels appropriate.
Today, I have much greater discernment about my future partner.
I am not hooking up with someone just because they express interest in me.
I have goals.
I am focused on living those goals today.
I have written an intention for what I want in my future partner.
I am becoming the partner I want to attract.
I am leveling up.
And the Universe is preparing us for the day we meet.
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Thank you and be well! 🙂