I’m taking an amazing class this semester called “Behavioral Health Issues for Clergy,” in which people struggling with mental health and/or behavioral issues like addiction come in and tell their stories and we, the aspiring clergy, learn how we can and cannot be part of the process of outreach, treatment, and recovery. One of the first things we learned this semester is that one cannot move on from tragedy without taking an inventory of things lost.
I lost a lot of things this week. I lost my sense of permanence, a huge source of joy in my life, and the future toward which I thought I was moving. It’s highly personal, incredibly painful, and I can only hope (but not quite believe) that it’s for the best in the long run. I have serious misgivings about putting this out into the gaping maw of the Internet, but here it is.
These losses were born of losing my boyfriend. I hate the word “boyfriend,” by the way, when referring to him. After two years, two shared apartments, a bank account, a dog, and uncountable numbers of experiences huge and tiny, we have been so much more than “boyfriend” and “girlfriend.” We were friends, yes, but we were also lovers, partners, community, compatriots, and home. We defined the term “helpmate,” making each other’s goals more possible. I stayed up all night editing his grad school papers; he stayed up all night kashering the oven. We were each other’s solid center. I wish we had been married– not for the usual reasons, but so people could better understand me if I were to describe our split as a divorce.
No matter how badly a relationship has deteriorated, you can’t give this much of yourself to someone and come out of it whole. I can’t yet figure out if it’s better or worse that our relationship didn’t deteriorate. We love each other. We like each other. We enjoy each other’s company, we share the same dreams, and we have the perfect mix of differing interests and personality and absolute compatibility. We are a great team. Every partnership has its ups and downs, but ours stayed functional and loving. It is just…intangibly not right. It does not seem to have the future in it that both of us want for ourselves. And so, with many tears and a careful avoidance of causing unnecessary trauma, we are separating our books, picking out our respective socks from the drawers, and telling ourselves we can start over and be happier apart.
I used to say that I saw Divine work in human relationships, that they were how I best experienced God. Today, that’s not untrue, but it’s not quite on the mark. God could never hurt me this way. There is something so deeply human about love, and perhaps more human about heartbreak. Together, this man and I discovered the joys of Jewish observance and grew into stronger people, the whole of us greater than the sum of our individual parts. We completed more than each other’s sentences– we completed each other’s souls and hearts. We built each other up. And now we have to tear it all down. It echoes Divinity, perhaps, in that the Biblical God is also sometimes random and illogical, not capable of making sense to rational brains. Why did God create a world of imperfect beings and expect perfection? Why can we, two perfect-on-paper people, not make our love translate into the life we wanted together?
I want to honor this relationship because it has meant more to me than any words could ever convey. I am not whole tonight. I will not be whole for a long time. But for a two-year period of whirlwind romance, absolute surety, shared bodies and beds, and companionship that spanned the continent and globe, I was whole, and so was he. May we both be again.