How to Survive Heartbreak

This could have been a 3-word post: I. Don’t. Know. But in an effort to make sense of what I’m experiencing and move on, I need to try to process this…

Does a heart really need to break to open? I never thought so, but then again, I never could even have imagined a broken heart like the one I’ve been nurturing for the past 7+ months of my life and have no idea what the long-term effect of it will be. The hurt of heartbreak is a feeling that I truly couldn’t have comprehended before this. I’ve experienced profound loss already in my lifetime that few people my age have – losing a parent – but never hurt and humiliation inflicted by someone who is still alive and should have the human capacity to prevent any unnecessary heartache but chooses not to. After making myself completely vulnerable to someone, giving years of my life and countless “chances” to do better with forgiveness and compassion, it’s something I’m finding impossible to process, and every set-back just makes it harder.

What I am learning though, is that there is no right way to get through this and “move on” to someday, but people will still try to tell you otherwise, partly because they don’t know what to say and partly because they feel compelled to say something. These are the kinds of things you hear when you have a broken heart:

  • Everyone needs to experience heartbreak at least once in life.
  • What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
  • You’re better off.
  • It’s someone else’s problem now.
  • Just think of what would have happened if you had stayed together.

Here are my responses:

  • Do they? Why? Maybe musicians need inspiration for new lyrics, but I’m not planning on recording an album anytime soon. And even if my life was imperfect in other ways, I’m pretty sure I was doing better at life before I knew what heartbreak was.
  • Thank you Kelly Clarkson (and everyone who has quoted your 2011 pop sensation to me)…Clearly this is an example of heartbreak going platinum. But I don’t find this helpful…There are other ways to build strength, through love, honest communication, compassion, and forgiveness. If we keep with this line of thinking, it justifies heart-breaking actions and excuses anyone who inflicts pain on other people – or even encourages heartbreak as something to endure in order to earn relationship stripes. I will come out of this strong, but I was plenty strong to begin with, and I let someone else chip away at that. The effect of deception over time is incredibly damaging. So again, there are other, better, more human ways to build strength than living through heartache.
  • This definitely feels true, and deep down I know it is…but it also makes me feel like the past almost 4 years of my life have been a complete waste, which leads to feelings of worthless-and-foolish-ness, which I could do without at this stage, or probably ever.
  • This 1 stings the worst. Even despite all the problems we had – and they were endless – all I can remember right now is how good it made me feel about myself to have something (that I thought was) stable, reliable, and building toward a future with someone who (I thought) loved me unconditionally and wanted the same things I did. In reality, I know now that nothing about us was stable, what I thought was reliable was intentionally deceitful, everything about our love was conditional on whether or not something “better” came along, and the future I was imagining was never going to happen – but I was always the last to know, adding humiliation to the hurt. That he ultimately got what he wanted – a fresh start with someone younger, more beautiful, less complicated, & apparently worth throwing away what we spent years building – while I am left to pick up the pieces, re-define my life, & create a new someday just adds to the heartbreak. I will never understand how moving on to someone else while we were still together was ever even an option, it never was for me. So ultimately, I have no doubt that all of this will be someone else’s problem eventually and that the problems we had will just continue to resurface for this new someone else – but I’m still grieving the someday I used to want more than anything, and not ready to move on yet as much as I want to be.
  • This is exactly how I should not be spending my time, and I know that when they say this, people want me to imagine all the horrible things that might have happened had there been a wedding, kids, a mortgage, etc. as if that might make me feel better. But this is the type of thinking that actually filters into quiet moments: What if things had gone differently? What if I had been better/tried harder? What did I do wrong in the first place to deserve this? And most terrifying of all: If my heart does re-open after it fully finishes breaking, is this just going to happen again once I choose to trust someone – or worse yet – what if I can never trust again?

I don’t have a solution yet. Working toward a new “someday” is part of my process, but I wish I could figure out how to completely put yesterday behind me first.

4 thoughts on “How to Survive Heartbreak

  1. Thanks Nikkie! Please notice that I used a term I will always associate with you, and that would be: rage-stroke. You get full artistic credit there.

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