No-one ever prepares you for it. No-one ever teaches you about it. No-one ever tells you how soul-sucking it is.
And I think if anyone ever did, it would completely be useless. Because a human’s curiosity for even the slightest possibility of love ignores anything that comes close to reason. And when you do get burned you can try to express the type of pain, you can try to show your burn wounds and charcoal-smoked skin, but no-one else will ever understand how that feels like until they go through that fire.
But still, there are ways that I wish I’d known, things I wish I’d read that could change my perspective a little bit. If you’re reading this and are amidst the eye of the hurricane of heartbreak, I just want to say that you are strong, and this time in your life shows you exactly that. The hidden warrior in you, the spear in your hand you didn’t realize you were holding, the golden heart that even through turning black, has the cleaning ability to heal itself back to the most vibrant of reds. A bleeding heart means you’re human, don’t you dare think otherwise.
Forgetting your past
I think the wrong way to approach a situation is in trying to forget it: the person, the situation, the place, whatever it may be. That was surely my first instinct, I believed that I was some type of computer software, capable of “do you want to delete this memory?” Instead, my brain was the glitch that kept asking “are you sure? are you sure? are you sure?” and dancing with danger through both options, eternally pressing yes and no to the grave.
For me personally, it is impossible to forget stuff because I re-live and overthink things too much. So things will always hold a space in my mind, I literally cannot be any other way as hard as I try. In fact, if you’re like me you need to stop pushing away parts of yourself that make you you. Because those are the things that come from the depths of your DNA, and are pretty much irreversible.
I think it’s more meaningful to understand that fact, the not forgetting, doesn’t mean you’re not letting go or making some type of snail progress forward. As much as it may not feel that way (do you see how feelings are the root of all evil??).
You can slowly and slowly be making progress, while memories of the past can still be showing up in your mind, and that’s okay. That just means it meant something to you, and you can’t just snap your fingers and shut it off.
And honestly I refuse to believe anyone is capable of shutting off or switching like that. I think there’s always more to the story that we never get to see, because I want to remind you, we the broken bunch, are very good at pretending.
And I don’t mean to hurt you with some more truth, but some memories may still pop in mind years and years from now. I mean when someone says the name ‘Julia’ or ‘Diana’ the faces of my elementary school friends still float around in my brain. You can imagine what happens when it’s from a more meaningful situation? Of course years from now, you will feel differently, but do you know what I mean? Our brains are special because they are able to hold onto our past, but this doesn’t mean we’re not past our past (haha see what I did there?).
You are not weak, don’t blame yourself
I remember the only thoughts that would ever circulate in my brain were “I can’t believe I fell for that, I AM SO STUPID.” Literally, I would hear them when walking to and from classes, I would hear them from love and heartbreak songs that would coincidentally come on the radio and emulate my situation, and I would hear them at night soaking my pillow.
I just want to say that no matter how stupid you feel you were, taking a chance or risk the way you did, was the bravest thing you ever did. You opened up your heart, your soul, maybe even your body, and just because somebody used that up like a temporary cigarette, stepped and burned you out, just to grab another one, doesn’t mean the experience wasn’t worth it.
I think that’s the cruelest part that comes with heartbreak. The part where you go insane ripping apart every single thing you did, didn’t do, should’ve done, and measure your value by their inability to see yours.
Yet the smoke still lingers, and even though it may take a while for you to harbour enough of a spark to ignite yourself and even someone else, you are still on fire, always and forever. Even if it’s not visible, even if it’s only a little warmth and heat in your heart after/during feeling numb and empty, slow and cautious steps still lead somewhere.
And it certainly doesn’t mean you weren’t worth it, because darling you were always worthy and deserving of an angel. This one just ended up being a dark angel, but one day a real one will fly into your little corner of the world, and bring heaven to you without having you question your value.
Feel those emotions
You don’t have to be tough for anyone. Except that’s easier said than done. I personally have a problem accepting help because I feel like I can do everything on my own (it’s hilarious because I really can’t). It’s really hard to appear “weak” in front of people, to inconvenience their life with your stupid dramas, to say “I’m not okay” in a world where everyone seems like they are.
But even if it’s hard to admit, take time to listen to yourself. If that means you can’t make it to a friend’s birthday party, then so be it. If that means staying home for 2 weeks and not leaving your bed, then so be it. Everyone feels and heals differently, but the worst thing you can do is force yourself to appear like a walking smiley face in town when all you feel like doing is crawling from one streetlight road crossing to the other.
I think the best thing you can do, is to feel the pain. Feel the frustration, the anger, the sadness, the emptiness. No matter what advice people give you, what movies, memes, quotes you read/watch, nothing will get you over it than going through it. You can’t postpone those emotions, because then they will slip up or overflood in other areas in the future, and that will be even messier.
And whatever you are feeling, remember that your feelings are valid. Don’t feel stupid for feeling hurt, you are allowed to! Don’t feel foolish or like you can’t be heartbroken because maybe it didn’t even come close to becoming a relationship, but whatever it was still meant something to you. You are still entitled to your feelings!
And this might be the hardest thing you will ever have to do: survive your own mind. Perhaps that’s getting rid of the ideals that you put on this other person. Pushing their welcome space in your mind is more challenging than letting go of the actual person. But you must feel, for even the sky cries once and a while. But remember what comes after the rain?
Channel your pain into productivity
You don’t have to feel obligated to go and do amazing things in the world, when your deteriorated state just pulls you to the ground each and every second of the day. But when you’re good and ready, channel that pain into something productive. Art, creativity, business, writing, readings, music, adventure etc.
For me, I wrote. I wrote like crazy, and some days, not at all. But I don’t think I would be able to survive without it: poetry, metaphors, frustrated rants, letters, journal entries etc. So find that creative outlook to tie all those feelings into a ball and catapult it into that creative channel.
If you don’t write, maybe focus on new business plans, to feel more empathy and perhaps discover a new way of doing something that you wouldn’t have otherwise seen without that feeling of being vulnerable and bare. Or maybe get crazy good at that instrument you’re passionate about, whether that’s inside your career plans or not.
The most successful people that we all know of today have started from the very place you are in right now. The lowest of the low. Because even through being so low underground buried in the dirt, a ray of light sparkles down, and honestly that sparkle may be the thing that skyrockets your life out of the dark.
A sparkle of inspiration from being destroyed, sabotaged, cheated.
Your situation can be the very thing that makes you successful one day. Because even when the emotions drift away one day (I promise it will happen), the scars will still remind you. So use that reminder to jumpstart that thing you’ve always wanted to do, use those strong emotions to fuel your motivation.
Progress is timeless
This may be a very simple point to some, but I always struggled with it: there is no time limit to healing from a broken heart. I used to hear people say, “two weeks you cry over it, and you move on”, “usually twice the amount of time you were with them”, “focus on new things and you’ll get over it.” And honestly I want to laugh at them, especially the one about getting over it in 2 weeks. It only takes me that long to get over that piece of favourite food I’d hidden in the fridge and looked forward to all day, only to have my brother wreck my life by eating it. No seriously.
So take your time. It may take 8 months for someone. And then your 8-month mark comes up, and you may be nowhere near it. Because everyone’s situation is different, lengths of feelings, intensity of emotions, and all sorts of variables, there is no fixed equation for heartbreak. And as much as I hated hearing that time only heals things, it truly is the only saving grace. And even though you’re not okay right now, knowing that one day you will be, can be comforting.
Do NOT go back to the source of the pain
Trust me. The person who broke you is the last person who is able to fix you, I don’t care what all the Pinterest/Instagram quotes say. Because the person who broke you, will only ever break you into tinier and tinier pieces each time you are hopeful, until you are left so small and weak that your existence feels shattered. Lost. Unwanted. Unneeded.
Because life is not like the movies. I used to wish I had someone to miss, like the beautiful love songs and rom-com movies. But missing someone is the most heart-wrenching soul-destroying drug-addicting thing that can ever happen. And because you’re in that blind state, you have hopes that the person will change, will call you or show up at your door and choose you, and only you.
But even when you’re at the lowest of the lows, you are not that person begging to be loved. You should never have to convince someone to love you, fight and beg for them to stay. If you’re not their only, then that situation has already solved itself out. Period.
Your life is better without it
Letting go is honestly the most difficult thing in life, and I think you have to keep reminding yourself of why you had to let go, maybe because of the negative or toxic environment, person, situation etc. That ultimately in the future your life will be better because of it. Keep reminding yourself of the big picture, months and months from now, so much can change for the better, in ways you’d never have expected.
If the situation or person made you cry more than they made you laugh, then you really need to re-evaluate things. And think of how attached you are now, and how attached you would’ve been if this kept going on. Everything happens for a reason, it’s a cliché but I truly believe it.
We may not know that reason now, but when we self-reflect in days, months, years to come, we’ll have that lightbulb moment. More space in our hearts to attract better things.
There may be nothing I can write or anyone can tell you that will make you feel better. Nothing will because it’s a personal journey that you take.
Just know that one day, you will get over it, and it will be the most freeing feeling in the world.
And I’m going to leave you with my fav quote from Chrissy Metz’s new book This is Me:
“Maybe he’s not the one that got away … maybe I am.”