blonde in bed

This Should’ve Been Us: Regrets and Love Lost on the Quest

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You know those mornings when you just miss someone that was previously a prime source of joy in your life? The change of seasons, the smell of wood fires, and waking up alone in a cold bed with only the cat. And you’re heart still longs for this dream you held so many seasons ago. How is their flame still burning inside you? Deep and buried unless you listen for it, the echoes of past lovers bounce around generating warm fuzzies or dopamine antagonists. Some of us connect deeper or feel harder, still nurturing embers of lost lovers inside our hearts.

When I Think of You

This morning the cold weather has me aching for a lover. (Mine is 10 miles away in her own place.) I’ve got everything I need at this moment. House is warm. Dogs are asleep. Cat is still a future dream. But, a real girlfriend has arrived in my life, ready and loving. There’s nothing I am lacking. Still…

Little flickers or lost loves still exist inside of me. I’m not pining for them. I’ve moved on. And yet, there are frozen moments that awaken at random times, triggered by a song or a smell. And I’m transported into some inner longing. Can I still be longing for lost lovers, lost opportunities, lost best friends, who have moved on? Of course. Our hearts connect in deeper ways than we know. Mine is especially good at attachment. Less good at letting go. Again, I’m not pining for these other lovers. In the same way, I’m not pining for my mom or my sister, now angels. I don’t ache for them, but I can feel their loss, their absence in my life. I miss the jokes of the alcoholic. I miss the kisses and laughter of the fractured sex goddess. I miss the child of the most recent near miss.

We can allow ourselves to feel loving connections with past partners and still continue to let them go. My feelings are chemicals. My moods are triggered by all kinds of things. My choices come when I decide what to do with my energy, with my impulses of love. What action can I take? In the case of former lovers, mostly the answer is *nothing.* Do nothing. Feel the feeling. Acknowledge the love and the lack of some element of it in your current life, and then kiss it goodbye and get on with what’s next in your plans.

A Longing Response

I have been prone to depression and loneliness. These days, I’m more inclined to make note of a mood or intrusive feeling when it emerges. This morning, a simple illustration triggered a longing response in me. I wanted to be in that picture with the cat and the adoring lover. “Hello, longing,” I said. I identified the moment and the chemical changes inside me that signaled the potential of a phase change in my moods. “I am feeling sad about losing the connection with the cat girl. I’m missing the cats in my life. I’m wishing I was joyfully curled around my woman (present). I note that I’m warm, safe, and well-loved and that this memory is neither happy nor sad, it’s just a longing. Yes, a tinge of sadness at the passing of this remarkable woman, and all the remarkable cats in my life. (Raja – when I was a kid, Peter when I was a college student and on into fatherhood, Othello, as I attempted to rebuild a life after my divorce) So many blessings!

My feelings were all mixed together. They were complex and tasty. My mind and heart love to dive into old memories and feelings. My dopamine system is lit up when I’m in a neutral or happy state. When I’m able to explore the ache without fear of depression, I can pull apart a few of the threads for identification.

  • I miss this particular person in my life
  • I miss the significant cats in my life
  • I miss my lover in my bed

And that’s enough, just to identify the mood. I don’t want to give it too much time this morning, but I do want to honor both the loss and celebrate my current lover and this deep feeling of safety. I am lacking nothing. I am alone this morning but secure in my connection with my amazing partner. I am now writing the mood and longing post to explore a little deeper what’s going on in my heart this morning. And with illumination, the ache loses its sting. Yes, I miss these former lovers. Yes, I miss my former cat-panions, especially Peter who lived to be 18.

Reverence of the Losses

I think I pay homage to my former lovers and cats by giving them a bit of airspace in my mind. My heart salutes them with a shot of dopamine or serotonin. And I bless them and the memories of them. Then I get on with what’s next in my life. This morning, it was to write it down so I could help myself identify what the different threads were of the big feeling. That’s all I needed.

I have a reverence of my moods these days. I am no longer beholden to them. I can love these former lovers and still do nothing to reach out to them. I am pointed in a healthier and happier dream now. Bless each one of you. I appreciate what you brought into my life, there are parts of you still inside me. And, like my long-gone cats, I will pet you only in my mind.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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