Everyone I’ve ever known has had a broken heart at some point in time.
Hearts break for so many reasons. They break when we love and lose: when our loved ones die, when our expectations are not met, when life’s challenges seem insurmountable, and when we love so much (as we do with our children) that we think all that love will surely break our hearts.
Our hearts break, and we survive, even when it feels like we can’t possibly go on. But, we do go on in time, and we reconnect with our joy. We may even feel whole again.
The thing with broken hearts is that sometimes we leave them broken for too long. We nurse the pain longer than we need to, rather than allowing the hurt to heal.
If what I say sounds like it’s coming from the voice of experience, that’s because it is. I’ve had my heart broken many times over the years. Pets died, loved ones passed on, friends moved on without me, and lovers left. It could all be summed up easily in two words: “Life happened,” or “I lived.” The heartache in itself was not exceptional. But, sometimes we carry the hurt and allow it to fester rather than let it heal.
So, how do we let heartache heal?
We feel it. We let it out. We forgive ourselves for feeling it. We accept. Eventually, we move on. Nursing a broken heart consumes our time. It consumes our thoughts and occupies space in our conversations. It haunts our dreams, and it changes the tone of our lives. It can cloud our judgment and keep us from experiencing good things.
Oftentimes, we don’t actually want to let go, we don’t want to end the heartache that connects us to the experiences in our lives, however they may have ended. But, there are so many more positive things we can let into our lives when we stop wasting our time dwelling on the hurts of the past.
Here are just a few:
We can enjoy a sunrise over a cup of coffee. We can find pictures in the clouds and spend an afternoon napping under a tree. We can go on a picnic or sit in the hot sun with an ice cream cone. We can watch a sunset—perhaps with a glass of wine. We can lie on our backs under the stars. We can look for fireflies to light up the night. We can go to sleep each night and dream of all our possibilities.
We can wake up and be thankful for the things and people that make up our lives right now—in this moment. We can be thankful for all that we’ve survived—for our fortitude and resilience and courage. We can express gratitude for our bodies, our health, and our breath.
We can learn something we’ve always wanted to learn or go see a place we’ve never seen before. We could make a new friend or read a book. We could find a way to make ourselves better in the time we usually spend making ourselves heartsick with memories.
We can enjoy the relationships in our lives that make us feel loved and cherished. We can take in the expression of love and kindness. We can savor a hug or a kiss or simply the touch of a hand that reminds us that we are connected to others. We can look into the eyes of others and just be with them. We can allow ourselves to connect and love again—even if it scares us.
We waste so much time living out the “what ifs” and “if onlys,” and we can’t get them back. And, while a certain amount of that is to be expected, we eventually have to find a place inside of ourselves that wants to be free of it.
We have to dig deep for the courage to break away from the hurt long enough to recover our joy. We have to want that joy more than we want to be connected to the pain of our heartache. We have to risk letting all of that go, the familiar ache of what’s gone, for a future that is unpredictable—but filled with wonderful possibilities.
We have to figure out how to believe in those possibilities again.
No, not just believe. To passionately pursue the possibilities. To be relentless in our efforts to find out who we are and what we need. To be willing to fail if it means that we will learn. To be willing to succeed, even if it scares us. To be willing to love, even though it’s entirely possible that our hearts will break again. To know, in fact, that our hearts will never stop breaking and to embrace that vulnerability.
There’s so much time we’re spending nursing our heartache that could be spent enjoying every beautiful moment of our precious, fragile, impossibly brief, extraordinary lives.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Matt MacGillivray/Flickr
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Social Editor: Travis May