There’s a saying we’re probably all familiar with:
It’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.
— Alfred Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam:27
At many times in my life do I disagree with this. Having loved and lost (not by death but, ultimately, by distance more than anything), I sometimes encounter situations where I can feel the void of someone missing to share the moment with, and at those times do I think to myself, how is this easier?
For those of you who have had their hearts broken, perhaps also multiple times, I’m sure you know this feeling. It’s the emptiness you feel when you experience something so wonderful, yet there is no hand to reach for and clinch in your disbelief of what you’re seeing, hearing, feeling or tasting. It’s the empty air besides you that you instinctively turn towards with a smile, only to creep out a complete stranger who wonders what you just did.
How can this possibly be easier than what we had before?
Mankind’s ability to imagine things is extremely potent, but is it so powerful as to convincingly match the pains felt from this very real void that those of us, who have loved and lost, feel?
I doubt it.
But then, the emotional torment, the stress and the need to find different motivators, different things to occupy your time in life with so that you don’t linger on the past… I must admit, it is pretty powerful stuff, too. Powerful in that, for me at least, it has inspired me to do great things, to write, to educate myself more on life itself. It has driven me towards self-improvement time and time again, in ways I probably couldn’t have had before my first true love in life.
So maybe there’s some truth after all to Alfred Lord Tennyson’s words. Perhaps it is about the foresight to acknowledge that the hurt you have from losing love is what ultimately makes you stronger than anything you could become without it, without that experience. For to truly love is to love with all your heart, so much that you surrender yourself to love itself. Losing that is losing something greater than yourself in life, and recovery from that by its very definition means coming out better, greater and stronger than you were before.
Only one thing I know for sure: once you’ve loved and lost, there’s no going back.