December 21, 2015

The Agony of Heartbreak: How to Deal if you’re a “Tough” Soul.

Flickr/Andrea Rose

I know it all seems overwhelming and debilitating, but the first order of business is for us to remember to breathe.

Really breathe. Not the short, shallow, unconscious breaths, but rather—the deep, aware, conscious belly breaths—the ones that cleanse us.

We want to shut down—avoid, run, ignore, bury our heads, hide, escape, ignore—pretend it’s not happening.

We want to do anything but feel it.

But this is our chance for growth. This is our chance to begin unlearning the programming that has taught us that “pain is bad,” and that “we need to avoid it at all costs.”

We can start here—do something. Anything.

We can wallow, if we must, but do not stay there. Even when it’s the last thing on earth we want to do, we must pull ourselves out of the wallowing. It’s a natural part of the cycle, but we must beware the self-pity quicksand.

It takes us a measure of self-discipline to pull ourselves out before it gets too bad—but like one of my favorite people said to me once, “When it hurts enough, you will do something about it.”  Infinite wisdom right there.

So first, let us just breathe into it–acknowledge it. Once we acknowledge it, it stops being this big, dark, looming entity that is just over there behind us. Once we stop, still ourselves, breathe into it and say, “Hello, pain”—we shine the lights on its face, and all of a sudden, we see it’s not the monster we’d made it out to be in our minds.

Sure, it still hurts—but putting a stop to the avoidance and denial lessens the pain a lot. I promise.

It’s okay to cry, after we acknowledge it. It’s okay to feel lost and alone—confused and scared—because we don’t really understand the why of any of it.

The important thing is that we breathe, acknowledge, shine light on it and then get up and move.

So for anyone who is hurting and wants to help themselves heal, here’s what turned my recent heartbreak around:

Getting up and doing something—anything. Just get up off the couch. Leave the house. Take a shower. A walk. Get out in the sun. Roam around the yard. Like stiff, sore muscles we must stretch out our emotional pain too lest it fester. I hide in books and pretend the world is non-existent, so I had to put down the books, get off the couch, take a shower and leave the house. I was starting to fester. I didn’t want to shower or get dressed—but I did. And as soon as I got to the bus stop, I felt a shift in outlook for the first time in two days.

Let it go. In some way shape or form—I highly recommend a yoga session with others and a teacher that fits your needs. I didn’t want to do anything, but I usually have a pretty advanced practice, so I chose to go sweat it out in Bikram (which is my least favorite practice). The release and cleansing I felt afterwards was amazing. We can use whatever suits us in our hearts, as long as we go and do it. Break a sweat—sweat it out to help let it go.

Call someone. Anyone. Talk to someone—even via messenger, if we can’t yet bear the physical conversation. When we are ready and willing, we can ask the powers that be for the soul who is meant to hear us in this moment, and they will come to us if we are willing. I’m not a real talker when I’m down and out or hurting, because I never want to “burden” others with my drama. But that’s just ego talking, so I started with message to a couple people that were checking on me. I told myself, “Look they are reaching out to you, obviously they care. Do something different and let them in. Be vulnerable.” And I did—in bits and pieces. And they gave me love, support and encouragement. I immediately felt less isolated and alone.

Get out in public alone. If we aren’t yet ready for one-on-one hangout time with a friend, we can just start here. Even if it’s just for an hour—go to a park, coffee shop, mall—go anywhere there are other people. When we physically put ourselves around others, our minds and hearts can follow. I tend to need a minute before I can be vulnerable face to face with friends when I am hurting, so I ease myself into society. Because I am so sensitive and guarded, I just take baby steps. That first day I mentioned—I got out of the house, I went a got a quick shoulder massage and a coffee at the local shops, and I sat at the coffee shop for about an hour or two just watching other people, listening to the Christmas music and looking at he decorations. Did I feel sad? Yes. Did I feel a little bit separated from those around me? Yes—but I felt better than I would have sitting at home alone, in the dark, isolated. I just sat and continued my breathing, acknowledging my sadness and acknowledging the joy of those around me—letting myself be uplifted by the strangers in the mall.

One-on-one time with a friend. Now we are ready for this—that next step in vulnerability—letting another person see our pain. We don’t have to spend the day talking about it either. Choose a friend that is vibrant, active and social. Ask how they are. When we immerse ourselves in listening to someone else, even if it’s the last thing we want to do, much healing can take place. When we stop focusing on me, me, me—we find that wounds start healing, and when we come back to them, the pain has lessened.

Lastly, we need to mind what we eat. We need to eat to feel good! Not eat our emotional weight in junk! I wanted to wallow on the couch in sweats and eat potato chips and ice cream all day. I even thought about cheeseburgers (and I’m vegan). I was aware, however, that I would regret indulging in my fleeting desires—so I instead opted for grapes, hummus and crackers. These foods actually stir up happiness in me. How can we not love grapes? They are crisp, refreshing, tangy, sweet, crunchy and juicy. So what if I ate the whole bag? I glared at it while I was doing it, because it wasn’t a cheeseburger. The point is, in hindsight, I am not feeling worse because I hid my emotions in junk food. When we take care of our body our mind will follow.

Just remember, breathe, acknowledge and do something different.

Reach out—we are all in this together.

Happy healing and light to anyone who needs it.



“He Smelled like Home, He Looked like Home.”—How to Move on When Relationships Break.


Author: Lindsay Carricarte

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Flickr/Andrea Rose

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