I normally don’t write about my intimate life, because, well…. for one, it really hasn’t been a huge part of my experience since my son and I started traveling. My focus for the last four years has been to experience life with my son, be present with him and for him and remain open to learning. And it’s been so much fun, so expanding for both of us and such an incredible gift. Together, Miro and I have found passions deep inside of us we did not know existed and have really enjoyed our lives, on so many levels…
…but for me personally, I always feel like something is missing.
Today, I share with you a very personal post. I wrote this for two reasons: 1.) to exorcize the incredible pain I am feeling right now and 2.) to help anyone who might be experiencing (or have had) a similar situation.
I have written about the feelings surrounding being single on this blog before. I have also written about my deep longing to have a companion, to love and be loved and to be connected intimately. It is something I long for and something I am just becoming comfortable saying out loud, without shame.
I’m socially outgoing and people have always been drawn to me. I always find great pleasure in talking to all kinds of people. And of course, I meet men too, as they pass in and out of our lives on the road. On some occasions, men have made it clear they have a desire to pursue more than just a “friendship” with me. Most of the time though, their intentions are really about a “hook up”.
I’ve encountered the range of offers over the last four years. There have been young boys wanting me to be their momma-lover-cougar, Latino men wanting me to be their Madonna-whore, travelers who want me to be their country conquest, and even married men (and in one case, a married woman) who just wanted me for “a good time”.
Trust me, I’ve heard it all.
But for me, these offers are not particularly appealing in the absence of an energetic visceral connection. I just smile, thank them and pass as I would in a game of cards.
I am wise enough to know the difference between sex with love and sex without and I’m simply not interested in going down that path. More to the point, over the recent years I’ve to aligned with what I really DO want. So, when the choice is presented between a “hook-up” with someone I don’t have a connection with or nothing at all, my preference is be to be alone.
Last August, I wrote an article called Independent. Woman. Wonder Mom. Super-Woman. Sometimes Lonely,. I was tapping into the inner desire for love, partnership and connection. But still, doubts surround me, convincing myself that being single was the price I had to pay for choosing a nomadic lifestyle.
A month after I wrote that post a man I was passively connected to for over a year, actively popped into my life. (For the sake of this post, let’s call him “Michael”.)
Michael and I were connected through an archeology group. We shared many common interests. But we were really just acquaintances, without much interaction. Then, suddenly out of nowhere, a beautiful friendship started to blossom.
At first, it didn’t occur to me, that this man was anything other than a friend. In fact, for a month or so, I had no idea what he even looked like.
Miro was thrilled that finally I had someone to talk about archeology, ancient cultures, the stars, the universe, humanity and so many other things that interested me, so he that he didn’t have to. All the things I was interested in, Micheal was too. Micheal exposed me to new ideas like “The Electric Universe” and astrophysics, as his perspective was more scientifically based than mine.
I learned a lot from Micheal and our conversations were always deep and respectful. Eventually we started to share more about ourselves personally and our friendship became more profound.
Because of the time difference, we had to agree on that the best time of our day for us to talk. We decided that after I had finished working around 6:00 was good, because his kids would be in bed then. It was midnight his time but he didn’t seem to mind. For months, we’d come together to talk the same time. At first, it was just a couple of hours, but then it turned into 4-6 hour conversations since we always had something to share with each other. Unfortunately Michael’s sleeping habits changed as a result but he didn’t seem to mind.
The Micheal I knew, was an incredibly thoughtful man, reflective and sensitive. However talking about his own feelings was a new challenge for him, as he explained. But he pushed through the discomfort and we always held space for each other.
Both Michael and I were born the same year. Although we grew up worlds apart, many of our life challenges were similar. However, we discovered we each took different paths and our lives couldn’t be more different. But we learned so much from each other as a result.
A little over two years ago, Michael experienced two life altering events. First, he lost a parent, then he had a physical accident that forced him to face his own mortality. Michael shared the emotions surrounding each of those experiences and how it caused him to reevaluate his life and other worldly perspectives. Michael spent two years in transition, processing what he experienced, and when we met, he said he was just moving through the tail-end of that period.
“Wow”, I thought, “I am so grateful to be connecting with the man he is now, for so many reasons.”
As our friendship grew, Michael and I both “felt” a strong energetic connection between us. We realized we were each able to tap into the other’s world effortlessly and feel what the other was feeling. It was a profound connection unlike any experience I had had before. We were connected and every day it seemed to grow a little deeper.
And there was no doubt, I was falling in love with this man. And he, with me.
As the months past, we revealed much of ourselves to one another. Our friendship deepened and widened. Michael became my best friend. In each other, we found someone to trust, someone to reflect on the issues of the day, someone to talk about our frustrations and someone to support one another.
Michael traveled to the jungle with us, spent New Year’s eve cuddled up together on the balcony, explored new archeological sites and shared many hot cups of tea on a cold night. Although our connection was virtual, we were a part of each other’s lives which continued for over a half of a year.
From my years of being single, I forgot how nice it was to have that kind of connection. This was exactly the partnership I so desired. And not a moment passed when I didn’t feel grateful he had entered my life.
Then, one day, he was here in Peru.
From the first second, we were like long-lost best-friends. Without a moment of awkwardness, we fell into each other’s arms. We spent an incredible month loving each other, traversing the ancient ruins, getting lost in each other’s eyes, talking philosophy and simply laughing in harmony with one another. (And Miro liked him too!) It was a deep connection based on friendship. It was also a passionate romance. We were very much in love.
During Michael’s visit to Peru, we agreed to stay in the moment, experience each other without expectations and be present with whatever happened. That was easy. Each day we shared was special. But as quickly as one day arrived, it passed onto the next.
Our month together was over with a blink of an eye. Tears fell from both of our eyes the day Michael returned to Europe. But we both knew this was just a beginning to something very special.
Michael and I reflected upon our time together. We talked about our desire to explore deeper, and follow our love. We knew we needed to figure out what it would look like since our lives were radically different from one another. But we both knew, we wanted to find a way.
Michael and I agreed to talk about the “future” after Miro and I returned to Cusco. But not until then.
Soon thereafter, Miro and I launched into our crazy 6 week of travels. Michael and I stayed connected, although with our travel schedule, it wasn’t easy. But we made it work somehow, even though Miro and I were moving around so much. However, halfway through our trip, something changed in Michael.
Without a single doubt, I could sense it.
Michael started to withdraw and his responses were not his usual connected self. Then his messages turned into a single lined response. Then they stopped completely. After 8 months of intense connected communication, suddenly, it wasn’t there anymore.
The only explanation I received was a short note explaining that something happened outside of “us”, and that everything became “dark and gray” and he could do nothing but “shut down” to cope.
So I waited for him to “un-shut ” and come back into the light again.
Then another week.
I sent another message reminding him I was his friend, please do not shut me out! I pleaded, “Please talk to me! Please let me support you!”
Then the tears came.
For two weeks, I cried every day. I tried to hide if from Miro, took long showers and sobbed. I applied and reapplied my make up multiple times a day, but nothing could hide the puffy redness of my eyes.
I felt the emptiness of his absence. Not just physical, but an energetic emptiness as well. He shut down and I could no longer feel him. I cycled through every emotion, including incredible anger, a feeling of rejection and searching within myself what was wrong with me.
I felt worthless, confused, bitter, and rejected. I felt incredible resentment towards Michael that he took away my best friend. I felt a deep anguish through missing him. And I felt immense loss.
I had no desire to interact with the outside world during that time on any level other than superficial niceties. The deep sorrow I felt was overwhelming. Then, I turned that feeling inward, and created my own sense of victimization. (Yuck!)
There was nothing I wanted more than to have Michael end the silence and tell me I was crazy for feeling the things I was feeling, that everything was ok.
Again, I waited.
Again, I cried.
Just more silence.
After a couple of weeks of internalizing the silence into something was wrong with me, I wrote one last email telling him how angry I was at him for rejecting me and IT WAS OVER!
Then, I continued to cry some more.
A few days later, this ended up in my facebook news feed. A friend had posted that it was a humorous look at depression. I clicked the page, thinking that maybe it would cheer me up, knock me out of my depression….
I read the words as more tears sprung from my eyes. But not tears of sadness this time. Tears because I realized was, I was not depressed. I have never been, and it has never been part of my experience. Although the article was light hearted look at depression, it made me feel worse.
And then, I knew that Micheal was in a state of depression. And worse, I did not know what to do about it. I really didn’t know anything this disease, other than the harrowing experiences my friend shared on his blog about living in the darkness.
I felt such compassion.
Then, I found a way to move back into my heart, into my gentleness and accessed the incredible radiant love that kept me connected to myself and my power. Finally I understand, this wasn’t about me.
In my life, I have always identified with the role of the care taker. I took care of Miro’s dad when he was fighting cancer. I took care of him when he experienced panic attacks too. I took care of him many, many other occasions after we divorced and he experienced health issues. But the main difference was, he provided feedback and I always knew what was happening.
But now, I was dealing with the silence……
And of course, I take care of Miro. Have been his primary caretaker for his whole life. This has been my greatest role, so natural to me, I think I was born to be his mother.
And with Miro, there is never silence…..
I’ve taken care of countless friends throughout my life. I have always been that go-to friend, the one who was always available to listen with compassion and offer support. That is who I always have been. And somehow, intuitively, I always known what to do and step into my power while taking care of others.
But with Michael, it was different. I was triggered. I internalized his silence and in my mind, I created a story about what it meant. I became demanding through expressing my needs and expected a response.
I can only assume that didn’t work for him, because it resulted in nothing but more silence.
And not having any other option since Michael was about roughly 6,500 miles away, I turned the blame towards myself.
The more I was learning about depression, the more frustrated I was becoming.
Depression is a powerful disease!
I realized that this probably wasn’t the first time Michael experienced this kind of cycle. Perhaps the two years of “processing” he did as a result of the life-changing events he experienced, was also a form of depression. And now, something triggered him and he was back there.
And I was learning, there is nothing I can do about it.
I googled “loving someone with depression” and I found this article called 5 Coping Strategies for loving someone experiencing depression.
Here are five strategies for the person who loves someone with depression.
I DID ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING WRONG!
Strategy #1: Do not take it personally
“Nothing that is expressed or takes place during your loved one’s depression is personal. When they reject you, and they will, IT IS NOT PERSONAL. Rejection has nothing to do with you. Isolation is an instinctive response to suffering and depression. Rejection can also be seen as an act of protection.”
Oh shit. I did just that. I told Micheal I felt as worthless as “a piece of shit on the bottom of his shoe”. I kid you not. I said those words and I took it very personally.
Strategy #2: Accept that you cannot make your loved one be “not depressed” or feel good
Oh my god, how could I deal with this one? It brings tears to my eyes. I am not sure how I can accept “there is nothing I can do”. I’m really at a loss here. I feel hopeless and powerless.
Then there was:
Strategy #3: Perspective: Depression is in a relationship with the person you love, not the person you love
“Your loved one is not depressed. Depression is NOT who they are. Your loved one is experiencing depression. They are in a relationship with depression that has them captured or held hostage. Its a bad relationship. A relationship that isn’t easy to get out of. However, depression affects them and when they have the strength they can affect depression.”
For me, this is an act of acceptance. It makes it difficult along with #2 to realize, not only there is nothing I can do, that this “depression” has a hold on someone I love and while he is there, there is no room for me. The only thing I can do is take a deep breath, send him love and let go.
Strategy #4: Interpreting Rejection
“When your loved one is in a depression rejecting you and pushing you away as best they can. They’re not saying, ‘I need you and want more of you.’ It would be easy to allow their rejection to cause you to dive into a depression yourself and feel heart-broken.
And so this is where I have been. Through Michael’s depression, I feel rejected and am completely heart-broken.
Strategy #5: Your Own Self-Care
When your loved one is experiencing depression, it is not your responsibility to make them feel better. You can’t. It is your responsibility to take care of yourself.
And again, the tears fill my eyes.
I am learning, there is absolutely NOTHING I CAN DO other than declare, “my door is open and you, Michael, are welcome to step through if you want to”. I love someone who is fighting depression. Actually, I don’t even know if he’s fighting it, I just know he is in it. I have no judgement about who he is or why it’s encompassing him. I just know it’s a powerful disease and there’s nothing I can do about it. Depression is real and it’s dangerous.
I have lost my best friend to depression.
But I will never lose hope.
I have so much love in my heart. I can only hope it can transcends depression.
But I just don’t know if it’s possible.
Updated: Please read Part 2 of this post called: The Conclusion: The End of the Road: Lies, Inauthenticity & Depression