You think that heartbreak won’t happen to you again when you’ve learned your lessons from previous relationships.
But pain comes back and peels another layer of yourself you didn’t know existed.
It’s been a few days now and I’m fresh off the heartbreak train, or maybe I’m in my last few stops.
Trying to come to terms with a relationship that ended before it has even begun is a strange place to be. You almost feel like you don’t have a right to grieve it, because in the eyes of others, what’s a few months of dating? When most people around you are in long-term, stable relationships, sometimes owning these illusive spaces we find ourselves in can be difficult.
But I’m accepting that this connection mattered to me and that’s why the hurt runs deep. It’s been difficult dealing with the disappointment and the quiet moments that find me in the day and compel me to burst into tears. But every time I’ve cried, my anxiety got palpably less and I could feel pain leave my body and disappear into the ether.
I’ve realised this pain has awakened parts of me that have been lying dormant for a while. In the crushing ache of it all, I’m strangely reassured that this was in my best interest. I’m beginning to see how this pain has a purpose. I sat down for a while and contemplated if anything ever happens without a purpose, and I actually struggled to think of anything that doesn’t—pain included.
Everything is part of a plan, like how there’s an ecosystem and a reason that flies or mosquitoes exist, we certainly don’t write love sonnets for mosquitoes, but here they are, existing. They can be a vector for disease transmission and nasty bites, but they are also essential for pollination and as part of the food chain for other species.
When I reflected some more, I began to see how pain is a portal to some of the richest experiences we can ever have. So is joy. This isn’t an ode to pain in a masochistic way or encouraging trauma bonding or reaching out for painful experiences, but instead, an invitation to see how pain can be a gateway for some life-changing decisions. If we allow the pain and the catharsis to teach us, we can often transmute this sorrow into something substantially grounding and life-affirming.
I’ve realised at the crux of pain, it’s can be a portal to:
1. The Divine
Had I not been so heartbroken, I don’t think I would’ve turned my face toward a kind of divinity that would wash away this pain. I kneeled down in full surrender, palms up, relinquishing myself of all control I perceived I had. In reality, we aren’t in control of everything. Some people are visitors that teach us a lesson, or stay for a season, and then go. Our job is to listen closely to what’s required for us to grow and step into a fuller, healthier version of Self.
2. The Serene
When the heart is wrapped in turmoil and deep fried in existential fears and anxiety, once we cry or open up, bit by bit, we become reacquainted with a soft quietness within. It’s a solitary feeling of sorrowful bliss. Like we are just unable to move, because the pain has taken us to our knees. In this place, we are in absolute serenity and presence, painful as it is. It’s a kind of paradox many of us have experienced before, when we’re walking the line of duality.
3. The Authentic
Shedding pain, sheds layers of dishonesty with it. It sheds parts of ourselves we no longer identify with, and also notions we had of others which may not have been true after all. Rainer Maria Rilke once said:
“I want to unfold.
I don’t want to stay folded anywhere,
because where I am folded, there I am a lie.”
4. The Expansive
When we are full to the brim, we have no choice but to expand and evolve into something new. Staying where we are is no longer an option. Pain pushes our boundaries and our perception of how much we think we can take or how much we really know. It takes us by the hand into a new arena where perception expands and no longer shrinks to suit the needs of others.
5. The Other
Nothing is more healing sometimes than the connection we have with another person who understands what we’re going through. While pain can often make us withdraw, it also makes us connect with others in a more genuine way. It allows us to appreciate the value of having someone who hears us and validates our experiences. It amplifies the richness of having a sister to talk to or a best friend you can watch a movie with. Our relational problems heal through healthy relational connections.
6. The Present
When I am in pain now, I’m in pain now. Pain is a loud f*cker. It lets you know it’s there. This takes us into our feeling body, and where we can feel pain physically, like tightness in the chest or anxiousness in the shoulders, we are always somatically experiencing our symptoms. If we sit with them and address them, or go and do a yoga class and move dynamically through the energy, we can experience the present moment in such a rich way that the past falls by the wayside.
7. The Deep Love we have within
Beneath the pain, our heart is beating alive and well. Pain can show us cruelty and harshness out there in the world, but in contrast, we return to the refuge of ourselves, and there we learn we have been our own best friend all along. No one can take away that relationship. When we get in touch with that place again, we begin to feel more alive. More ourselves. We see that inner child and we can hold it, and rock it to sleep. We find access to a kind of love that is embedded in our DNA from the moment we were born. I don’t know about you, but rarely does joy take me down this road on such a cellular level. It’s usually found in the hardest moments when we are reaching for something more meaningful.
Opening our hearts to someone and getting heartbroken is never easy, and there will never be a glossy veneer to shine over the hurtful space we are left in, but if we can remember the value in this pain and remain receptive to the wisdom that is there for us to grow, pain can be a portal to a life that will genuinely astound us.