When you become a Ferryman, or why to insist your partner leaves their past in the past

He means everything to you. You want it to be true and vice versa. But in his heart there is always someone else. How, then, his heart could belong wholly to you?
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A Ferryman transports people from the shore of Unhappiness, where they feel lonely and worthless to the shore of Happiness, where they alight full of self-confidence and reaffirmed values. The Ferryman’s fate, however, is to remain in the boat, passing between the two shores without fulfilment.


She had what is called an open fracture of the heart, there because she still thought of him, so naturally it was slow to heal. He would return, she was sure of it. She made herself be sure of it with a kind of stubborn desperation, every single day.

She loved him and hated him in equal measure, cursing his new acquaintance, that pretty little cuckoo girl, dripping with sunshine.

She tore up their shared photos, turned them into confetti and laughed, thinking that here was something that you might throw at the opposite of a wedding. In this and other desperate ways she burned what little energy she had left to keep his memory alive. It was like pedaling hard on a stationary bike. It tired her out and the view never changed.

Nothing hurts like fond memories of happiness recalled in times of disaster. Her pain was unbearable, which was lucky, because it’s what made her change.

Instead of dying, she interpreted the pain in her heart as a message: “Do not be alone. Find someone.”

Our hearts ache when we can’t be ourselves. The heart is not fulfilled by living in the past. There it feeds on nothing and so never feels full. The past is junk food, all empty calories.

There are no time machines, the clock just ticks each moment off as if making its approval known and moves on to the next. The heart tries to push back against the hands of time back but bends and then breaks under the strain.

She realised that this was the fate that would eventually befall her and stopped pushing. Now she was free to look back without rancour and forward without expectation, and at life with an open heart, alive to possibility and with nets cast wide. She waited.


He was alone for the longest time so his loneliness had become as familiar as his own shadow.

In the beginning, it hurt. Splitting up should properly be called ‘ripping apart’ because it damages you, and repairs take time. Time to pull yourself together; rebuild the values which you forgot because you compromised them to stop the relationship sinking; time to rekindle old friendships lost, rediscover old hobbies left idle, get reacquainted with your old self. Simply restore everything that used to make you happy.

In time the heartache subsides. All that needs to be written on the heart is almost done; the ache fades as the marks left by each lesson grow more familiar and less raw. The deeper the writing, the worse the pain and experience, that both must be felt to be avoided.

He was already at the stage where important values were restored. He had joy in his life, energy, but he needed to share it to make it matter. He had love for himself now, and plenty to share with someone else, too. Giving love leaves nobody poorer, he thought. The opposite is true. The more you give, the richer you become.

And so, his boat, which was made to rescue others, sailed to the shore of Unhappiness. Who would he rescue? He found a woman with a desire “mainly not to be alone”.


She experienced a fairy tale. Finally, someone cherished her, building her up from her broken down self in no time. She felt regenerated, rejuvenated, just like a vampire after a really good feed. Now she could smile again without thought or effort. She could almost even love him. But…

Her heart was otherwise occupied.

Sorry, it’s impossible.” 

She surprised her rescuer so much that the boat grounded. “I’m here.” – “Happiness!” she chirped as she clambered off.

The Ferryman didn’t get off. The Ferryman never gets off. At best he plays butler with luggage and gifts – all for someone else. At the shore of Happiness, he always remains in the boat alone, and the shore of Misfortune lies across the water in wait.


Being a Ferryman is a thankless task. He msy do all the work but also pays for it, losing faith, ideals, the desire to help, the strength to enter into other relationships. The feeling that love is bad, that love disappoints, grows like a weed.

How can we recognise that we are a Ferryman?

How can we deal with it?

How can we avoid it next time?

Please, continue to the 2nd page.