That is the number of times I listened to "Have a Heart", the matter-of-fact tune by Bonnie Raitt that seems to creep up from time to time on my Ipod. 4.5 plays of that song got me from my house to work and placed me in a more neutral and productive environment.
You see, in months of writing relationship advice, I found it easy to preach my story from a pulpit of success and harmony. Gay relationships are hard to maintain for many reasons. "Men are pigs" as my aunt used to say. Come to think of it, my mom said the same thing over and over. But, regardless of the exploits of men and the tendency of the women in my family to point them out, relationships fueled by one side of the gender spectrum can be tricky. Without delving into the personal, I can reveal that Bonnie Raitt played it for me before, and she is playing it for me again.
Though I like my privacy, and I like to issue advice to others, I have found that many people have given their heartfelt advice to me. "It takes time" or "perhaps it was for the best" can only go so far and those are the lines I typically try and stray from when dishing it to my friends and readers alike. Listening to this very song, I dissected lyrics, took nothing at face value and have spliced it all with the traditional advice given me by others to share. Relationships offer us light, hope, and happiness. They also present challenges, obstacles and heartache. When a long-term relationship ends, we can be left wondering what is next. I have many friends currently feeling the burn of a break-up whether amicable or nasty. If this is you, listen to Bonnie.
If you don't love me, why don't you let me go?
Sometimes comfort can shield us from the hard truth. Love is definitely blinder than a bat in a darkroom. I had friends who clung on for dear life to their relationships long after they realized there wasn't much to do in the way of resuscitation. Long gone are the days of staying in a marriage, or even a relationship, for the sheer sake of keeping up appearances. The recent media upset over the separation of Al and Tipper Gore proved that people today want happiness and simplicity. The line "if you don't love me, why don't you let me go" can be double-sided. Often times, we love, and we let go. Keeping someone in an unhealthy situation may be convenient at the moment, but ripping the band-aid is better for all parties involved. Gays are interesting, because longevity often comes from variety and experimentation in the sexual manner. Open relationships in that sense can be either trying or liberating. For men, it can be liberating. For women, there is rarely a need to explore multiple sexual partners and draw the line at physical attraction. Of course, generalizations may not be the way if you are now feeling the emotional pain of separating from your partner. Making a solid decision about your here and now and the actions you are to take will certainly set you both free in a way. If you don't know that now, you will.
Hey Mister, how do you do? Oh pardon me, I thought I knew you.
I ask you this, readers. Why do we assume people are so different when we break up with them? I have heard from people time and time again "but he (or she) became someone I don't know anymore". I may have been guilty a time or two for saying that myself. I have learned that you still know them. In fact, now you know more of them. We all have our darker sides, and they may come out in times of desperation, in times of crisis or at random. If you can ride through that difficult terrain, you have it made. If you can't then perhaps there is something to be worked on. Not all hope should be lost. In fact, regarding a relationship as disposable is probably a sign that this isn't a right fit. Beyonce once said "I can have another you in a minute", but the reality is that each significant other you lose will never fully be replaced. Everyone is unique, and every single person has qualities that simply can't be duplicated. But the changing face of your parting partner may also be a sign that you yourself have changed. It's time to be introspective and pull positive change out from within.
Talk on, talk on, but love is what you need.
A slightly more commonplace song in our American repertoire tells us that all we need is love. In my experience, it isn’t everything but it certainly makes everything else richer. As you feel pain, it is natural to get an understanding of what you have lost. No matter how much your relationship was in the can, you now have a void. In some cases, that person will not disappear from your life. This may be a good thing. As I mentioned previously, people have unique qualities that make them who they are, and who they are can't be duplicated or replaced. Though the person may stick around in one sense, their place in your life could be shifting. Love is certainly a necessity for living a full life. That's probably not my strongest journalistic statement, but think about it for a minute. Have you ever felt completely on top of the world? If so, who was around you? Love is what we need. If it doesn't come from a significant other, it will come from all around you. Seek out the mainstays to get you through the long haul. Hopefully, if you find yourself suddenly single you may rediscover that strong network around you. I do know many gays who live on the fly (myself included). We think "career, career, career, fun, career", and lose sight of the "hearth and home" aspect that our lesbian counterparts seem to know so well. In the end, we need that too. Whenever I contemplate the future or think of improving my situation, I always think of being centered as the main theme of my future. If you just went through a major separation you may also take comfort in finding the calm, and of course, the love in your future endeavors.
Again, I am the one giving the advice. I have heard a lot recently, whether it was solicited or given when I needed it least. For some reason, splitting up seems to be in the air. As I turn to my readers and dole it out once again, it is easy to see the theme.
You lost it, but you had it. Maybe you still have it, but it will just be different now, and you can rest assured you will have it again in a glorious way. Now is the time to go back to basics. Accusing someone of not having a heart may have worked for Bonnie Raitt, but the truth of the matter is you have a heart that will mend. The heart of the person you lost beats too, and as life's challenges prove, you will both be fine.
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