February 11, 2021

The Journey from Heartbroken to Healed in 21 Steps.


The power of heartbreak.

In the midst of this pandemic, I’m sure many relationships have begun, many have collapsed, and many will have started and collapsed before this is over. The pandemic has something in common with heartbreak—they bring feelings of loss, they make us feel lost, for something that has happened out of love—a person, a thing, a project.

But it won’t last forever. It’s a test of our resilience, it helps us develop mechanisms to not only cope but overcome, become stronger. Just like those heartbreaks that feel like earthquakes.

I first wrote this piece in January 2018. I still had fresh scars from one of the toughest breakups ever.

I was still in pain and retracing my steps, thinking about what I had done wrong. Yes, of course, I blamed myself. Of course, I thought that, once more, I hadn’t been enough.

Was it that I wasn’t beautiful enough, interesting, enough, fun enough, smart enough, skinny enough, adventurous enough, sophisticated enough?

Reality: I wasn’t enough for him to overcome whatever was happening in his own life battlefield. That love wasn’t strong enough for him to want to fight for it.

And then I finally started using my brain instead of using my broken heart to process it all. I thought of how silly I was for considering I wasn’t enough. After looking inside of myself, I realized that perhaps he was the one who wasn’t enough. He wasn’t able to love me as I wanted (and deserved) to be loved, so what exactly did I lose?

It sounds obvious now, but at the time, not quite so.

And here I stand now, looking back at how hard it was, and being grateful that I haven’t felt that kind of pain again. I’ve felt sad and disappointed since then, yes. But not destroyed. I think it means I actually learned something from it. It was a catalyst event and a reference point for where I never to go back again.

Because I am enough. So much more than enough.

And therefore, it’s not just enough that I’m looking for. I’m looking for extraordinary. And we can find extraordinary in the most “ordinary” people as long as they want to offer the extraordinary that’s within them. It just takes curiosity, friendship, love, and willingness. Okay, let me throw some—actually, a lot of—spice in there, too. Nothing should be flavourless in life.

So, this is where I stand now.

But three years ago, this is where I stood:

What can I say about heartbreak?

It sometimes strikes you when you least expect it, and other times, somehow, you predict it.

It doesn’t really matter when or how it strikes…it kills you anyway.

It pulls the ground from under your feet, and you just free fall, not knowing if there will be a soft landing. Well, I have news for you. It’s everything except a soft landing.

You crash. You break every little piece in you until nothing seems to be there anymore.

You can’t breathe deeply anymore. Your stomach is always aching. It’s just emptiness and loneliness within. You turn into tears for an indefinite amount of time. You’re groundless and silent.

You are gone into a dark, empty place where you care about nothing but the person who is gone. You’re lost without them.

Suddenly, your routine changes. You don’t know what to do. You can’t stand the thought of being home alone. You can’t stand the thought of being alone at all. It’s a deep, dark hole. You don’t know how to climb out of it, and you don’t want to climb out of it. You just want to drown in self-pity and cry. It’s the end of the world. The end of your world. And that’s what matters to you.

No more “someone taking care of you and making you laugh.” No more “someone thinking of you.” No more sharing your love and cuddles, your thoughts, your inner, intimate self. It’s just you. Again.

You can’t focus at work. You can’t eat. You can’t speak.

You question yourself: why?! Why did this happen? What did I do wrong? Will someone ever love me again? Will someone ever understand me again?

You rely on your friends to help you manage, but there’s only so much they can do for you. They are there for you, not allowing you to be by yourself for a long time, listening to your heartbreak. Listening to your tears and mumbled words. Giving you hope. And that is already half of the pain taken from you.

You realize it needs to be your job to pick yourself up. No one else can do it for you.

Slowly, you start coming back to life. You’ll smile, even if you don’t feel like it. You’ll drag yourself to do something. And you miss the person you were before the world of tears.

So you start building yourself again. Picking up the scattered, tiny pieces of yourself from all over. And you understand that if you’re not strong enough, you’ll just be in that dark hole all the time. And that’s not you.

Necessarily, each heartbreak changes you. It takes a piece of you that you may never get back.

But you do come back to life. A full life. Where you laugh again. Where you find yourself useful again. Beautiful again. Independent again. Some people go for endless rebound relationships; others find some peace in being with their friends and designing a new routine.

One day at a time. Make plans. Work on them.

Everything is still slippery, uncertain. And scary. But there’s no way out. You’re still breathing. Your heart is still beating. You’re still moving, your body is working. There’s life in you. That’s your major gift.

Human nature is an unsettled one. You always want more. You still can’t find your peace. But, at least, you recognize that while you’re alive, you can’t be dead inside.

You begin to honor this gift that you were lucky enough to have received.

You live. You are present.


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