It’s strange how the heart continues to beat even when broken.
It beats, blood flows, and we continue on. Worlds do not end, the universe does not cease to exist, and our lives don’t stop because we feel broken.
Nothing quits because we need to pause a moment to breathe. We can’t freeze in that moment before the thing—whatever the hurt is—happens so we can prepare ourselves. The world keeps moving forward, and we collide with whatever it is that breaks us.
And then we heal. We go on. Until we’re broken again. That’s life.
I’ve been listening to Sounds True’s “Self-Acceptance Summit,” while simultaneously feeling myself break. Oh, not for one reason. I wish life was that simple.
Changes come, whether we want them to or not. And, I find myself leaning into the pain, even though a voice inside me shouts, “Run!”
I do the thing I know I have to do, even though what I want to do is to find a dark place, a quiet place, so that I can grieve my loss privately.
Mine. My truth. And, maybe it looks like yours, because we are not alone, no matter what breaks us.
There’s always someone somewhere going through the same hurt, fighting the same battle, and feeling like it’s lost. So, I offer this up for someone like me. Maybe someone like you. To say that our hearts don’t quit even when we want to.
Here are the things we can do, even though we may not want to, so we may find healing. Here’s our way back, which is to say—through it. Through the hurt. Through the grief. Through the anger.
So, here’s a map:
We can trust again. Even though we wish in this moment that we hadn’t. Even though we know it will inevitably hurt again one day.
We can take it in steps. Today, this is our best, and it is enough. Tomorrow maybe our best will be less, or more. Whichever it is, it is enough.
Loving is never wrong. We can feel it and hurt in it, and still one day, we will love again. Not this day, perhaps. Maybe not the next. But, one day our hearts will open, and we will love even though we know that to love means we can break.
We can be honest. With each other. With ourselves. This is our experience, and no one else has to like it or agree with it. It’s not about making anyone else comfortable. We can speak our truth or choose to keep it private, but our story doesn’t change because of someone else’s narrative.
We can give ourselves what we need. More sleep, healthy food, exercise, fresh air, laughter. We can recognize our needs and take steps to meet them. As a mother, I find this essential. I cannot be the best mom for my children if I don’t take care of me.
We can be students of our experiences. What did we learn? What did this experience reveal about ourselves? How can we use it as a growth experience?
We can lean into the struggle. It won’t go away if we ignore it or distract ourselves from it. It won’t magically disappear because we deny it. But, if we lean in we can get to the other side. It doesn’t feel good, but this is how healing works.
We can remember ourselves. Whatever has happened, we retain our essential selves. We are worthy of love and compassion and kindness. We deserve joy in our lives. We have to remember who we are and live a life that resonates with our spirits.
We can choose not to be stuck in shame or hurt or anger. We can go through it and see what’s beneath it, and what’s on the other side of it. What’s done is done. We can’t go back and change it, even if we wanted to, even if we could. Instead, we can accept it and do whatever it takes not to stay stuck inside the feelings that follow the experience.
We can look for truth, kindness, and beauty in each day. We can look for the little things that make life wonderful. We can do this by grounding ourselves in nature, by spending quality time with those we love, and by being mindfully present in our lives—even when what we’re experiencing is deeply painful. We can choose to look for our joy—because one day we will find that light again—the one that feels like it went out.
I’d love to stop experiencing the loss that makes me grow. I’m tired. I don’t want to shatter and emerge stronger, shatter and emerge stronger, shatter and emerge stronger. My re-knitted bones and patched up heart would really like a life experience that simply lifts me and brings me joy without a feeling a need to break me again and again along the way.
But, sometimes the universe gives us what we need, not what we want. We can learn from it, even though we feel tired and discouraged. We can learn to keep rebuilding our life until what emanates from it is joy.
We are not the things that hurt us. These things do not define us.
In this moment, a broken heart still beats, blood rushes through our veins, and we breathe. That is enough. We hurt, but we can still breathe through it, to the next moment. Then the next.
Simply going forward is enough. One step at a time. Softly. Steadily. Until we reach the other side of this thing that hurt us…but did not end us.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind/Imdb
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Social Editor: Catherine Monkman