Time, Love and Truth in a Contemplative Culture


As a woman who was raised to never give up on her dreams, I found it pretty darn difficult to let my past relationship go. That is until I realized that it was, in fact, just a dream of mine that needed to be brought back down to earth.

Now, I won't bore you with the stereotypical details of the long-overdue breakup, or how my ex-boyfriend and I both tried to repair the relationship day after day -- but I will tell you why it took me a very long time to finally call it quits.

Some may say that relationships don't last because two partners don't have time for each other. This is common among my college-aged colleagues, too. I hear "I just don't have time for a relationship," or "She doesn't have enough time for me" quite frequently.

However, in my experience, I've found the opposite to be true. In my experience, the fact that I didn't have enough time for myself to evaluate the relationship or its problems was to blame.

During the time we did spend together, my ex-boyfriend and I would inevitably get into exhaustingly heated disagreements, and even when I knew that it was in my nature to take time to resolve an issue, I conceded to his way of solving them, which consisted of a giant beautiful smile mouthing the lyrical fragments of an apology, a shy kiss on the lips, and an inside joke relating my "accident-waiting-to-happen" Tony Romo calls to my "can-do-no-wrong" Tom Brady boyfriend.

I never got the chance or the time to experience how I really felt about our arguments and put my experience into words. By the time I could, our date had already ended, our problem had become what he liked to call a "thing" of the past, and I had to find time to think about other things. I had family who needed me, I had friends who I wanted to hang out with, I had school to worry about, I had five on-campus jobs to work at, I had an internship and patients to take care of, and I had extra-curricular activities to lead.

There simply was no time to experience.

When our arguments began to snowball, though, I soon realized that I needed to make a decision. To quote The Clash, I was plagued with the overwhelming question of: Should I stay or should I go?

I made my fair share of mistakes when trying to figure this one out, but the biggest mistake I made was thinking that there was a correct answer to this question. On top of that, every time I would think no, I wouldn't stay with him, I would get pulled back in by a heartfelt love letter, by an awesome time at a carnival, by his puppy-dog eyes, or by what he said he loved the most about me.

Every time I would decide yes, that I would stay with him, something he said would turn me off, or I would discover a hidden picture on Facebook and get upset. Every time I would make a decision, I would question my judgment.

While some may say I questioned myself because I was weak, I say that it's simply because everything was happening so fast. I was playing a ceaseless game of Ping Pong with myself, and every once in a while, someone or something would play my offense or defense and either help or hinder my performance.

I allowed external circumstance to prolong internal doubt. And that's another reason why our relationship ended so poorly. There was still no time to fully experience. And I wanted an answer.

Well, I got my answer. And I got it when I came home for winter break to celebrate the holidays this year.

Before, in my meditation practice, the experience of not knowing produced a lot of my suffering. And I had forgotten that during the course of my Hamletesque to-love-or-not-to-love crisis. In this particular case, it wasn't the not knowing whether I should cut ties with my ex-boyfriend that caused the suffering. What caused pain in our relationship was my dominant and relentless desire for an answer when there was none.

At home, I realized that my mind would always go back and forth because that's just what it does. It's what everyone's mind does when making decisions, and sometimes -- most of the time--we just make one and run with it. Instead of doing that, I was trying to critically analyze a play, gauge the possible Super Bowl outcomes when it was still pre-season, and, as a result, I began feeling like I should just forfeit the entire game. I was sucking the fun and the excitement out of our relationship, and I knew it -- my mind just didn't want to admit that I was part of the problem.

During my practice, I realized that I spent two years wanting an answer, and in the few moments that I spent with myself lying down in my bed and looking up at the ceiling not wanting an answer and just accepting that there was none, I came to know exactly what I wanted -- and what I didn't -- and now I know that there is no way I will be able to have the relationship I want right now. It takes time, and all I can do now is accept that and see what happens.

While this breakup is going to be a difficult journey, and while I still care for and love my ex-boyfriend, the best part is that, now, I have all the time in the world to myself.

I'm free of wanting. And I'm free of waiting.

Now, I have the chance to spend more time with me, to continue to live fully by bringing presence and awareness to everything I do and say, and to watch the once-America's-team-always-America's-team Cowboys win some more playoff games.

The truth is that there is time. The secret to health, joy and peace, though, is to use the time you have to get to know and to get to love yourself.