A few words about heartbreak. Listen to me.
You, there… with the broken heart, right in the thick of all that hurt. Yes, YOU.
• Listen to me…
I know that right now, what you’re going through, is the worst pain you’ve maybe ever felt in your life, up to this point. I know how your heart physically aches in your chest at the mention of their name. At the glimpse of a picture you’d forgotten about. At the sound of the first few tunes of a song that was special between you. At all those damn awesome memories that just keep playing like a movie in your mind, the world’s sappiest love story/rom-com.
• Listen to me: Stop looking at the pictures. Stop listening to the playlist. Stop that movie in your head. Don’t just pause it. Stop it. Take it out. Put it back in its case. Put it back on the shelf. Stop.
I know how it feels to be legitimately upset that the sun has the audacity to keep shining. Especially when warm, sunny days remind you of him/her. You wish it could just rain for infinity, because that matches your mood. And those emotions do need to be FELT (as if you have a choice in the matter) but I mean you wanna get DEEP down in those awful feelings. And while you’re down there, ruminate over all that other awful stuff you’ve been through. No wonder you’re convinced you’ll be alone forever. I mean, just look at ALL the other crap you’ve been through.
• Listen to me: If you’re reading this, you’ve made it through ALL. THE. CRAP. You’ll make it through this, too. Was ALL that other stuff easy to get through at the time? Nope. But here you are, on the other side of it. There’s nothing in life that you haven’t made it through thus far. Read that again in a day, a week, a month – it will still hold true.
I intimately understand feeling like you simply cannot breathe. Feeling as if all the air has escaped your lungs… and if you’re being completely honest, you could care less if it ever finds its way back. Those dark, ugly moments you wouldn’t dare share with even those closest to you. The ones where your thoughts have scared even yourself, and if anyone else knew them, they’d surely never look at you the same.
• Listen to me: There is NOTHING and NO ONE on this earth who is worth that. Do you hear me? NOTHING. NO ONE. This is non-negotiable. Slow down…inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth, slowly. Feel that? You’re breathing. It hurts. And it’s taking your concentration. But you’re breathing.
I know how every time some well-meaning person tells you “it’s their loss; you deserve better; they’ll regret this someday; you’ll be ok; you’ll feel again; you’ll find someone, blah blah blah” you think to yourself (or out loud) “you just don’t understand… this was my person.”
• Listen to me: They are not your person. They might have been for a little while, but “your person” would never do this to you. And (spoiler alert) – all those well-meaning people? THEY’RE RIGHT.
I know what it’s like to pour over every single detail, every conversation, every moment, every memory, every text message in that thread, wondering where it went wrong. Wondering how in the world he/she could possibly do this to you after all you’ve been through and all you had planned for the future.
• Listen to me: It does not matter HOW they could do it to you. All that matters now is that they DID. And that, my friend, is one hundred percent on THEM. Stop beating yourself up over someone else’s actions. Matter of fact, stop beating yourself up for your OWN actions, too. You’re not perfect. You never will be. No one is. No one ever will be.
Look, I know this probably sounds great in theory, right? But you may be thinking “what does this broad even know?” Turns out, a LOT more than I’ve ever given myself credit for. A lot more that a lot of people have ever given me credit for. I’ve been counted down and out more times than I can even count. But look at me: still here. Scar tissue and all. I’m no different than you.
You are grieving a tangible loss; the death of everything you had envisioned and hoped for. Not all that different from grieving a physical death. I’ve grieved both, and I dare say that grieving someone who’s still alive just might be harder. There’s no timeline on grief. One day (might be months from now, maybe years?) it will literally feel like you just woke up… different. Not perfect. Not like everything is fine and nothing happened. Just… different. Maybe not even a firm “ok” but you’ll have the belief that things WILL BE ok. Your mood shifts. Your brain shifts. Your outlook shifts. That first layer of dark clouds lifts and you’ll see the sun peeking through and not be pissed at it. And then another day, you’ll realize that another layer has lifted and you can actually see blue sky, and it won’t remind you of their eyes or the fact that they liked the sun or that the sky was blue so many times during your (however many) year relationship and all those other things you now realize were ridiculous to think about. In fact, as those clouds begin to dissipate and lift, you might even see things you didn’t see before, and start realizing that this short term pain in exchange for long term happiness is much better than long term pain in exchange for mediocre happiness. You are not meant for mediocre. Then one day, you’ll delete the pictures, and you’ll delete that entire text thread. Yep. The entire thing. And once that happens, friend, you’ve just reached the top of that mountain and your imminent descent is actually where YOU. WILL RISE. You will mount with wings like eagles. You just have to hold on and keep going long enough to get there.
• Listen to me: You WILL get through this. But in my opinion (based 100% on experience) these things are crucial to your survival:
1. Your faith – whatever that means to you. My faith is in God. Yours may be different. Whatever your faith is, even if it’s simply the faith that one day it won’t hurt this much, cling tightly to it. Both hands. White knuckle. Death grip. For dear life.
2. Your family and friends, or random people, or strangers. Mine were (and still are) crucial to my survival and wellbeing. Those people who come and MAKE YOU get out of the house (greasy hair, no makeup and soft-cup bra that is basically only for decoration because it surely isn’t supportive, unlike your friends) even if it’s just to ride in the car with them while they run errands, or the ones who come and bring pizza and wine — THEY ARE YOUR PEOPLE. Find them. Love them. Be loyal to them. Keep them. These are your “ride or dies.”
3. Laughter. I can’t stress this enough. Through your swollen, almond-sliver eyes, watch as much mind-numbing hilariousness as often as possible. Netflix. Amazon. Hulu. Memes on the internet. Cat vs cucumber videos. Videos of people doing ‘what the fluff’ challenge with their dogs. Spongebob. The Office. Basically any of the Disney movies. Something funny. Trust me on this step, because one day, you’ll hear this sorta familiar weird sound escape your cake hole and you’ll realize you can still actually laugh.
4. Get up. Dress up. Show up. Every day. Sometimes, that may feel like too much. That’s ok. Two out of three ain’t bad. Get up. Show up. Even if that’s all you do that one day, it’s probably more than you thought you were capable of, and it makes it easier the next day, and the next day, and the day after that.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes, by Colette Werden:
“It’s OK if you fall down and lose your spark. Just make sure that when you get back up, you rise as the whole damn fire.”
• Listen to me: The WHOLE. DAMN. FIRE.