“The first cut is the deepest. Baby, I know.” – Cat Stevens
You know, I first heard the Rod Stewart version of this song umpteen years ago, and I wondered what he was talking about. I had some idea that the word “cut” was metaphorical, but that was about where it ended. Then, some years later, I had my heart broken by the one girl I thought would never break my heart, and I understood in a split second what Rod had been singing about those years before. It reminds me of the old adage that some things you just have to go through to be able to understand them. People can tell you until they’re blue in the face about heartbreak, but you won’t ever truly “get” it until you’ve had your heart ripped in two.
That’s why every time I wrote about someone who was sad over lost love, before I had ever been in love, it fell flat. But now, I think I can express the feeling, the emotion, the devastation of the end. But, as an acquaintance of mine told me the other day, a relationship isn’t just about its end, even though that’s what we tend to dwell on after it’s over. It’s the joys and challenges that we share with each other while we’re together that are also pieces in the puzzle. In fact, that’s why the cut is so deep when it’s over, because we have been so close with the other person. We’ve shared so much of the essence of ourselves with them, which is why people describe it as a “hole” that’s inside of them when they’re gone.
“When you’re gone, the pieces of my heart are missing you.” – Avril Lavigne
No relationship is perfect. We have to work at it to keep it relatively sane and upright. That’s because we grow individually at the same time that we’re growing as a couple, and if we’re not moving forward together, we’re moving forward separately. You’ve heard the common excuse for a break-up: “We just grew apart.” This is so true, but it’s just one part of the whole. The whole sentence should read, “We just grew apart because we didn’t try hard enough to maintain a common growth.” That’s why not many people are really shocked when a relationship ends. The process of growing apart isn’t a spur-of-the-moment realization. It happens over the course of time. But no matter how much we might have seen it coming, we’re still hurt, no matter which side of the break-up we were on.
But what is it about first loves that cut so much when the relationship ends? How are they so much different from other loves that may come and go during the course of our lives? I honestly think it has to do with the introduction of that kind of hurt. We remember what gave us a definition for pain of that sort. We recall strongly the first time it happens to us. And that memory returns every time we go through something that tugs on our heart in a similar way after that. That first cut is the deepest because once it’s done it’s ingrained in our psyches. It’s the pain that began pain, and that’s difficult to carry around with us.
“It’s so hard to move on. And still life carries on. Carries on, and on, and on.” – Peter Gabriel
So, what I always suggest is that when we’re feeling that first cut again, try to figure out why it’s there. What did you do to aid in the growing apart process? Is it possible to salvage the relationship, or would you be better suited to be with someone else, or just to be by yourself? I think we often forget that even if we were the ones wielding the knife, it’s not easy to be a part of the cutting process. No one wins when the cutting occurs, but we can and should learn from it.