People never do anything but repeat themselves.

The Lower Depths, Maxim Gorky / Akira Kurosawa

Grief most certainly has its way of haunting you.

Two nights ago, by way of gut feeling, I looked at the clues and found out that Ben has well and truly moved on. That did not surprise me, but it was still stomach-churning, and it hurt.

It did not surprise me – after all, I have begun to put myself out there. I’m meeting new people, and sort of going on dates if you can call it that. Though dating after an eight-year relationship is complex terrain – for me at least. So I accept that he too would have been on a parallel journey of sorts.

It did not surprise me – after all, his family, and even himself, used to describe Ben as being a serial monogamist.

It did not surprise me – after all, we met and got together not so long after his previous relationship. And he most certainly pursued me like I was everything he dreamed of.

It did not surprise me, but it was still stomach-churning, and it fucking hurts.

Because what I saw – though mostly still just conjecture at this point – didn’t look like he was only just beginning to meet new people, and to date. What I saw was something very familiar. What I saw looked like eight and a half years ago.

Perhaps between us, there hasn’t been a parallel journey of sorts at all.

In the past eight months, I have grieved the loss of this marriage. But mostly, I have grieved myself – and all the times I had put myself and my needs aside for him. I have grieved the times I had given him an out over the years, but never took one myself. I have grieved the heartache upon heartache left uncomforted. I have grieved the countless deep breaths and quiet tears I have had to take to self-soothe. And I have grieved the cycle of vulnerability and trust I afforded him time and time again, in spite of all the ways he had shut (me) down.

In the past eight months, I have also found myself in situations where I’ve been reminded of the person I used to be – years before Ben – of my youth – and how I am so far from that person today. Perhaps growth really isn’t linear, and does most certainly take its damn time.

And so I refuse.

I refuse the patterns in which the paths are easy to take. I refuse to default to what is familiar, or convenient.

I refuse to repeat myself.

For my own sake – in the past eight months, I have carved and reclaimed space and time, emotionally, mentally and physically, that I am now protective of. I have articulated clearer ambitions – ambitions that were always brewing and distilling, and I am definitely on my way there. I have dug deeper into my friendships, and the emotional intimacy generously shared is so easy, but oh so precious.

And so I bask in this knowledge of self. And I bask in the wholeness of who I am, and who I am continually learning to be.

My dear Benjamin, you have been most tender, nurturing and generous in your love for me. I offer you all that I am and all that I am learning to be, to continue to honour you, care for you and grow with you; to fearlessly pursue Life together; to be a helpmate, best friend and lover; to forgive over and over; with all that is good and all that is broken, with this ring, I marry you.

Over our eight years together, I have had to revisit our vows, repeatedly. While we both shared these vows, I wrote them. And year after year, I knew – as in I have been fully aware and conscious – that I never wrote the vows to promise eternity, (all though the legal things we did have to say included all of that), nor commitment, and definitely not perfection. Because maybe at the back of my mind, I knew that we really only had as long as we would have had. That forever didn’t really matter. And that it was actually always going to end anyways.

Over our eight years together, I have had to redraw my blueprint of how I moved in this world. Today, is another one of those days.

Todays is also 人日 – the seventh day of the lunar new year – also everyone’s birthday. And so I wish for deep personal growth – one year older, one year wiser.

I’m pretty good at constantly rethinking “how we make what we make” when it comes to my work and art. I hope that this year, I channel some of that wisdom and intuitive strategic approach to how I make room for lovers and partners.

Happy birthday to both you and I.

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