i stopped at the pharmacy on my way home from work today. it was pretty uneventful except that i tripped over a stuffed valentine’s day bear holding up a red heart that had “i love you” stitched on it. and then i found myself wandering through the card aisle, trying to find a card that perfectly expressed all of the words i wanted to say to my boyfriend. you may not be a big believer in valentine’s day, but i’m a big believer in love. and i am especially in favor of a day dedicated to celebrating love, any kind of love– for your neighbor, friends, parents, or pets, love for your significant other or love for yourself. wherever your love is, celebrate that. celebrate it today, on the 14th, or next month. celebrate it with a compliment, a hand-written letter, a sticky-note taped up on the bathroom mirror, or with a “i’ll do the dishes for you tonight.” remember that it’s not about flowers, gifts, chocolate or cards, love is about love.
on the ride home i turned off the radio like i usually do, and allowed my mind to wander. and somehow i ended up going back a few years to the day where i was laying in my bed, crying, and writing in my journal. i remember that heart ache. and not only because i documented it in such raw, unedited words, but because i felt it in such a deep and intense way. a runny nose and mascara-stained cheeks. the kind of heart-ache that makes you feel like you aren’t sure of who you are or where your life will now go. the emptiness that tries to convince you that you are no longer whole. the kind of ache that makes your heart feel heavy and body so weak. heart ache that makes you uncomfortable; you can’t eat when you’re hungry and can’t sleep when you’re tired. that pain that elicits bitterness, anger, regret, and defeat. and it’s that sneakiness of heartache that makes it linger, the surprise recollection of your first memory together, and then your last. a sound that reminds you of his voice. a smell that takes you back to her laugh. that confusion you experience the morning after it happened when you can’t quite tell if it is real or not. the emotion that presents itself by trying to undo and un-remember everything you once had.
but it won’t escape you, because that is your heart. that is your heart trying to heal.
what i know about a heart is that it tries to feel everything at the risk of not feeling anything at all. and when that becomes too much, it will numb out your emotions so that you don’t have to feel everything all at once. the way i see it is our hearts know what to do. and what i’ve learned is that the hurting becomes part of the healing.
i recognize that you can lose a person you love in different ways. the end of a relationship, the end of a friendship, or the end of a life. addiction, mental illness, physical disability. a terminal illness. or simply learning that someone isn’t who you believed them to be. two paths that grow apart or the closing of a chapter too early in the book. and i know that your heart can break in more than one way and in different depths. the shattering loss of a parent, child, partner, or friend. the lost hope of what you imagined your relationship would be, what you imagined your life would be like. the loss of a limb, a dream, or an expectation. heart-break can be that rejection letter, the phone call you wish you never got, or the day you would like to do all over again. heart-break is all of the ways you imagine the things you can never get back.
someone once asked me how to heal a broken heart.
and one of the only answers i have is time.
give yourself time to hurt. time to grieve. to be sad, frustrated, and angry. and give yourself time to heal, accept, and to grow. time doesn’t erase anything, but it can provide you with enough space to be able to breathe again. and then one day you wake up and your heart has a little bit of sunshine in it. and day by day people offer you pieces of their hearts to help remake your own. allow yourself to be where you are at, to feel what you are feeling, and to experience everything that means. and during this process, look and listen for that glimmer of hope. it is there, i promise. and it is waiting for you to see it. because one of the most beautiful things about humans is their capacity to heal, grow, and survive.
facing it. that is how you get through.
and by facing it, i mean without external substances and artificial fillers. i mean experiencing everything internally and sharing it with your external supports. admitting that it hurts and that it is hard and that sometimes you don’t know if you’ll make it. admit that you’re scared to feel better again, to move on, to let go. allow yourself to be honest with what you are feeling. ask for help. and surround yourself with people who will help pull you forward. let yourself be okay. although facing it may occasionally mean confronting the situation or person, it may also mean acknowledging a situation for what it is and taking the high road in response to it. by facing something, i think you accept things as they are and decide how to get through it. and by getting through it, i mean flourish. because you will flourish. and it will be beautiful.
changing because of it.
i believe that when hearts break, we do not stay the same. i also believe in embracing that and taking control over the way that you want to become better because of it. can you dedicate your healing heart to bettering your life? to serving your community? to honoring the piece of you that is missing? can you use that hurt to foster strength and resiliency? can you do it for the person you love and for the person that you are? can you decide to take the broken pieces and replace them with better versions of yourself? if there is one thing i am sure of, it is that you can do it if you try. you can do it. you can do it.
here’s to heart breaks and to hearts being put back together.
….because when you put it back together, it will never be the same.