Nobody can ever prepare you for a broken heart. If you’re lucky enough to have loved deeply and lost, you’ll know how quickly that love can turn into equally intensive pain.
Make no mistake, grieving the loss of a loved one, no matter how long you were together is a form of grief. There is no formula for recovery. No words can take the pain away. Your heart is shattering and if feels as if you’ll never be the same again. I’m here to tell you that’s true - you won’t ever be the same again. But you will recover.
After I broke up with my partner of 13 years, I battled hard. It was my decision and I felt people were less understanding at times because of that fact… “you wanted this, remember?”. Sometimes the relationship ends through a tragic loss, like death. Either way, it doesn’t matter who calls an end to the relationship or how it comes to an end, there is no ‘upper hand’ to be had in heartbreak.
The pain was simply unbearable at times. There were occasions when I was curled up in a ball on my bed, clutching my chest with a genuine belief that I was having a heart attack. In a way, I guess I was. My body was craving the connection it had been used to for many years. I do not believe it takes years for such a strong bond to form, either. Falling in love and establishing such a meaningful connection can happen incredibly fast.
I read so many blogs about heartbreak. Would these painful feelings ever stop? How could I possibly live my life without that person? How would I live with myself, having made what I believed at the time to be a huge mistake? I kept reading, and breathing, but nothing was like my heartbreak. This was different to everyone else’s. This was a mutated form of heartbreak, which was going to kill me.
I called my mum almost every day. She knew the feelings all too well and I’m sure my tears brought back many memories for her, too. One day she said something that has stayed with me to this day – “I know it hurts now, and all you’re thinking about every second of every minute is your breaking heart, but trust me, one day you’ll catch yourself and realise you haven’t thought about it for a short while. You won’t remember the day, but you’ll know it’s happened. That’s the start of your healing, but for now you must continue to grieve.”
What a wise woman. Sure enough, that day came. I can’t tell you when it was, and it’s hard to describe how I felt. I just knew, about six months after my separation that I felt different. I was eating again, I had space in my mind for other things. The grief had subsided and I was functioning. I was still tender, but I knew my heart was healing. Time is the greatest healer in heartbreak. But so is grieving and I want to say a little more about that.
When something hurts as much as heartbreak, it is completely understandable that you’d want to move on from it as soon as possible. I gave myself such a hard time just weeks after my separation. People around me had heard enough about my sorrow and they wanted the old Adam back. At the time, I wanted that Adam back, too. I looked for distractions. I found them. But they only offered temporary relief from the pain I was in. Finally, I gave in to my feelings and let them run through the core of me. I can honestly say I had never before experienced such intense and painful emotions. I lay on my bed, night after night, crying myself to sleep. I’d never sobbed like that before. The ache in my chest amplified. Yet despite those dark days, I am so grateful I stopped resisting, because I realise now I was finally grieving.
True to my Mum’s words, the pain passed. Today as I wrote this blog, my heart is healed but I am not without scars. My heart remains tender and I think it will take more time before I can open it up fully again. My heartbreak will always be a part of me.
Sometimes a heart breaks, and other times, as I experienced recently, it gets bruised. The time you were with the person is irrelevant and both can feel incredibly painful, but a bruise does heal sooner. Either way, we never ‘get over’ loss, we just learn to accommodate it in our new lives. Self-compassion throughout the healing process is so important.
I know that I will never love the same again, for that is impossible – no two loves are the same. But in the process of grieving I was given a huge insight and incredible gift - I cried for my broken heart. For years I’d had crushingly low self-esteem and little self-worth. But I was crying for me, and to cry for something must mean it has value.
Heartbreak is one of the toughest things I think we humans have to deal with. But we do deal with it. And if you allow yourself however long it takes to grieve, whilst being kind to yourself along that journey, you’ll emerge as a very different person. You’ll learn about your own worth. You’ll realise how lucky you were to have loved so deeply and you’ll know that whilst you’ll never love the same, one day you will love again.