When I was 16 I had a tiny little black heart tattooed on my left hand. That was half my lifetime ago. Now the heart is more of a blue/grey splodge; a ghost of its former inky-black self. It is battle-scarred and worn, forever changing with the passing of time… and I like it that way.
People sometimes ask if I ever think about getting it re-done, but I never would. There are some things you just can’t change; they are meant to be imperfect. To me, it shows on the outside what my heart looks like on the inside.
When I was 18 years old, I met a man and fell deeply in love with him. Maybe even a little too deeply, as I lost myself completely in the murky depths of our relationship. Somehow I gave myself up to the role of being a girlfriend, and let go of who I was beyond that. It was wonderful for a while, and then it was just comfortable – a habit neither one of us seemed capable of breaking. Then after nearly a decade together, another woman came along, and it finally broke.
And I broke with it.
I had been so wrapped up in my relationship that I no longer knew who I was outside of it. The pieces of myself that lay in tatters across the floor were unrecognisable to me, and I had no idea how to put myself back together again.
I had to start from scratch.
Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.
– Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
I booked a flight to Costa Rica, and spent six of the most incredible weeks imaginable getting to know myself again. It was a trip that changed my life. From that moment on all I wanted to do was travel, and just a few months later I found myself on the road again, this time to India.
It was another trip that left me forever changed, but in a completely different way.
Sitting in a little beach shack in Goa with my sister, I saw two men walking along the shore wearing kilts. I nudged her and pointed – Look at those two idiots down there…
Famous last words.
They say that love comes along when you least expect it, and boy are they right. I couldn’t have expected it any less than I did, but there it was all the same.
Lee, a confident Scotsman, was at the start of a year of travel, and I was on the last day of my holiday. Though it wasn’t exactly love at first sight for either of us, in the mere twenty four hours that we shared together there was a connection that we both felt, and couldn’t ignore.
We became Facebook friends as our only source of sharing our worlds, and over the next year and countless emails, we became a part of each other’s lives.
I flew out to join him in Bali and Australia, and began to open my heart to new possibilities. I was truly myself for the first time in years, and that was the person Lee wanted to be with.
It wasn’t easy for me to let love back into my life, believe me. But now I have learnt to give and receive it on an infinitely deeper level, and am grateful for the destruction that brought me this peace.
I am happier than I ever dreamed possible.
My past is not something I like to dwell on, but it is still a part of me, and I recognise the role it played in the life that I am now living. Five years on, I have the clarity and awareness to see it for what it truly was. A gift.
It has shaped and determined the life that I am currently living, and set me on course for a future full of adventure and ever changing landscapes.
Love is a journey that you map out for yourself; you have to learn to use your heartache to help build a new path. The cold, hard rock of pain that presses against your heart – find a way to reach inside yourself and pull it out. Use that rock to pave your way forward, and as you walk over it, leave the pain behind.
If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.
– Frank A. Clark
No, I would never change my heart, tattooed or otherwise. Perfectly imperfect; deeply scarred, yet beautiful and strong, it beats out its own unique rhythm, and I happily march forward to it.
Today’s post is a slight break from the norm, and was written to help the lovely Therese Schwenkler over at The Unlost celebrate her one year single-versary. She asked me to write about love and heartbreak, so as Therese’s words have been such a gift to me, I am offering mine in return. Happy single-versary Therese!
You can check out her love/heartbreak post and those of my fellow invitees here: