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August 15, 2023

A Letter to my Daughter: When your Heart Breaks for the First Time, I Will Be There.

My dearest daughter,

I write to you because I enjoy our conversations and since there is something on my mind and I am not sure how well I would be able to articulate myself if I was just to talk about it, I thought I’d write you a letter, which you get to keep, and perhaps it will always remind you how much I love you.

You’re 12 years old, almost 13 (there’s an unfinished birthday wish list on my kitchen table that you started last time you were here, and I recommend you update it), and I hope you’re still a good few years away from your first heartbreak. But I am sure it will come one day. Actually, I hope it will come, because that’s how our hearts learn the deeper love.

I write to you today because my heart broke a little recently, and whilst it hurts, it is just a cracking of a shell that could no longer hold the heart longing for deeper meaning. You see, it’s actually not the heart that breaks but rather its shell (this is obviously a metaphorical expression). Heart simply wants to expand and ultimately love all that is, but like with anything, it needs to grow to be capable of such love and all growth feels like pain.

And ultimately, we either choose pain of growing up or pain of regret.

I was avoiding any pain, and you might not have seen this on me, but I was unhappy and felt empty. But I suspect you knew this. I have seen you making your own conclusions about things you observed, and I must say, almost always you were right. It was through you, I understood what the child in The Emperor’s New Clothes actually says. It wasn’t as much that he is naked, but rather people’s hearts were empty. I will refrain from telling you about Khalil Gibran here and his wise stories about love because you might not like his words yet, but one day, I promise to give you his book The Prophet.

One of the most important and beautiful things is the story of how one recovers from heartbreak. I don’t think I can tell you exactly how—to be totally honest, I am still learning it myself—but writing it down sounds like a good idea. And that’s pretty much what I’m doing right now. But since you have seen me falling in love with someone, I might as well show you how I will try to keep that love with me and in me for the rest of my life, because the truth is, nothing really ever goes away.

It might seem we no longer love someone, but personally, I think it just becomes part of you.

I am sure that you won’t find any of this helpful, though, when it is all happening. It will feel like everything is happening all at once and perhaps nothing will make sense (you might find later as you grow that hardly anything makes sense, but this letter isn’t about that). You just have to do whatever gets you to the others side. Well, I must say don’t do drugs, alcohol, or anything stupid! Talk to people, cry, write, dance, run, scream. And maybe after the worst pain is gone, ask yourself: “What can this teach me?”

I don’t want to scare you, but heartbreaks are just tiny messengers of someone who we rarely see as teacher or a friend, Death. It doesn’t feel like it, but every day we live, we die a little. And perhaps heartbreaks are little deaths.

I think I might be overly dramatic here though, so let’s move on.

Quite often, heartbreaks are teaching us how to let go. I think what happens is we create an idea of how someone or something is in our heads and we decorate that idea up to the point that it becomes our idol. We don’t see the reality as it is but as a product of our imagination. To be honest, I don’t think we can actually grasp reality as it truly is; it is always only as it appears to us. But the disconnect between our perception of how things are and how they really are is greater when we apply the rose-tinted lens of falling in I love. I think what happens is that our deepest dreams get mixed in and suddenly it’s all different.

Then you wake up and are like, “Whoa, what just happened?”

And then, as much as it’s possible, you get used to it. Well, I must say, it’s likely your first heartbreak won’t be your only one.

And what I mean is, you get used to it: you can see the growth, the expansion of your heart more clearly, and you can even come to the person participating in this growth and say thank you to them. There always is someone through whom you grow this way. At some point, you learn to honour them. They rarely stay in your life for the most part; they aren’t main characters in your story, but perhaps they stay occasionally.

You will have all the choices there; they might not be obvious, but ultimately, you get to decide how you will continue in your story.

As for me and where I am going next after this heartbreak, I have decided to explore the new reality of who we are to each other after the veil of illusion was lifted and simply enjoy my conversations with her and be best friends. I think there’s a ton of stuff about just being friends and how it’s bad to be friend-zoned, and so on, and perhaps some of it is true, but I think the friendship I’m talking about here is the one that Simon and Garfunkel refer to in “The Sounds Of Silence.” You’re probably too young to understand, but the time will come when you will play that song and know.

~

My dear daughter,

I wrote this letter to you because I love you, and I wish you only the best in your life.

But I also wrote this letter as a thank you to the last person who helped me to grow. I hope you don’t mind that. You’re still my most favourite person in the world.

I love you,

Dad

~

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