8.8 Editor's Pick
July 19, 2020

The Excruciating Beauty of our Shattered, Messy, Empathetic Hearts.


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I woke up this morning, wrapped my blanket around me as tightly as I could, and sobbed.

My heart was sliced in half seven years ago and then into quarters, eighths, and sixteenths before being placed into a blender and turned into a different consistency. Once a solid, I have become a thin liquid that’s been thickened with artificial thickener in an attempt to make it another day.

There’s no word to describe the pain of this process, except maybe the Brazilian word, “Saudades.” I feel a longing so great that when I hear of people dying of heartbreak, I don’t question their cause of death. This pain hurts, and yet, I can’t pinpoint where it all is. I’ve lodged some of it in my throat and a bit between my lungs.

I’ve been told that time heals all wounds, but does it?

I’m not sure this is true. Will this wound heal, or will I need to keep thickening my heart every morning to not evaporate from the California heat?

I have seen time heal my broken arm, but I have never witnessed my liquified self returning to a solid-state without the help of artificial thickener.

I thought if I did intensive therapy, fell in love, and wrote my heart to the world, I could glue my shattered heart back together. I have done all of the above, and I still wake up and wrap myself in a blanket and cry over the longing of what once was (even if it wasn’t great)—the pain of rejection.

I’ve been told I feel everything, and it’s true. I’m highly sensitive and struggle with regulating my emotions. I often fluctuate between the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. When I’m feeling the highest of highs, I’m in a state of flow.

It’s a feeling where I become lost in my work and life without stopping to question much at all. I wish I could stay in this state, but I often fall into a deep sadness that reminds me of my childhood trauma and has me endlessly yearning for someone to love me.

My therapist calls me a collector of souls, and she’s right. I collect every single one of them, no matter who they are. I have thousands of friends, many families, and several individuals in my life who I consider “mothers.” Many of these relationships are beautiful. Others are not so much. It doesn’t matter, though. I never let things go.

On occasion, I’ll set things down, but not for long. I am known to pick up my past—chew on it just a little longer—until I fall once again into the hole of doom.

While I fell in the hole again this morning, I crawled out a little faster. “Let’s not go there this morning, Rebecca,” I whispered to myself. Instead, I got dressed and had breakfast with the newest family that has taken me in. They call me “Rebe,” and I laugh with them as if I have known them all my life.

Maybe healing isn’t about fixing me or gluing anything together. Perhaps healing is learning to allow me to be just as I am—emotional, empathetic, messy, and loved by so many.

My heart may be shattered and unable to be fully glued together, but it doesn’t mean I can’t heal. My heart will likely never fit any mold after this process, but does any life fit into one?

I have decided to stop attempting to fix me. Instead, I think I’ll keep learning—let myself unravel, and enjoy the beauty in observing my life take its own unsolidified shape.

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Rebecca Donaldson  |  Contribution: 96,890

author: Rebecca Donaldson

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