On Heartbreak and Healing

There's something in the air.

It's the only way I can explain the seemingly incessant amount of my friends going through breakups and divorces in the past few months, and the amount of heartbreak is, well, heartbreaking. I found myself at a recent dinner party and one person after another began sharing what had been going on with them and I sat, taking it all in, commiserating, empathizing. Hurting for them while my own wounds were still so raw, and wondering just what the hell is going on these days. And while we were connecting with each other in person that evening, a common theme surfaced…the transparency of the internet these days is rubbing the proverbial salt in every one of our overly-sensitive wounds. Sure, social media helps us connect with each other, but in so many ways, these 'connections' are mere 1s and 0s that are but cheap facsimiles of real, authentic connection. They leave us faced with information overload, and when you're going through a breakup, it's often information you don't want to hear. Photos you don't want to see. Knowledge that, five years ago you wouldn't have had. For the most part, knowledge that we *shouldn't* have, but do. And it's turning what is at best an awful situation into an unbearable one.

This group of people I was in all had different stories. Infidelity. Different expectations. Bad timing. You name it, we had it. We were hurting, drinking red wine as one story after another was explained, and after many, many bottles were consumed, I believe we walked away from the situation feeling somewhat cathartic, but sad not only for our own situations, but disheartened by the pain and sadness and fear that so many of our dear friends were going through. These are good people, it shouldn't be this way.

And of course we cited the trite consolations, that each day it will get easier. That one day it will all make sense. That we'll find someone better. That one morning we'll wake up and s/he won't be the first thing that we think of. That our beds won't feel so large. So on and so on and every. single. one. is. true. But every single person in this group expressed that they were still numb, still feeling broken from the experience. Another common theme was embarrassment – how could we have been so stupid? These people are phenomenally successful in life, very proud people, and in many cases, the feeling of failure was overwhelming. And we were at various stages of grief…some lingering in the anger, others, the denial. Sadness was prevalent, and though in this description it sounds like the most depressing conversation around, it was actually strengthening as we were in a group of people that could understand. That were going through something similar. Kindred spirits in sadness, perhaps.

"What's next?", we asked. "What now?" Strategies on getting through the days were all over the place…some were jumping head first into ReboundLand, mining through their 'back catalog' of exes – what I irreverently call "Fucking Former Fuckers" – to help stroke their ego and remind themselves that they were still attractive. Taking the Peaches school of thought to "Fuck the Pain Away." Others became veritable hermits, wallowing in their grief by watching bad movies and sleeping a lot. Most everyone found themselves going on a sort of a bender, drinking more than usual, because, well, they could. A few (myself included) jumped headfirst into immersing themselves in their work. Whatever the strategy, though, I reminded them that it was whatever they felt they should do. Felt they COULD do. Long ago I had been given the wise advice that a breakup was like the flu; just treat yourself kindly. Whatever that means to you.

And it does get better…I've witnessed it with my friends, I've witnessed it firsthand with myself. We're mendable creatures. We heal, at whatever pace it takes us. And it's part of life…the heart – like any muscle – must tear to get stronger. We can't be broken if we don't allow ourselves to break.

But yes, there's something in the air. And we can't wait for the winds to change course…because they will. Soon.

4 thoughts on “On Heartbreak and Healing

  1. Count me in – let the first day of heartbreak begin – many, many more to go. nothing can cure this type of pain – it’s the only feeling present in me.

  2. There’s no avoiding the pain, but pain makes it worthwhile. How brilliant would life’s “ups” really be if the “downs” were negligible? How odd, the dizzying situations that confound and distress us are the very ones we learn from the most – at times when learning and comprehension seem impossible. Hindsight is 20/20, indeed, but risk, though blind, I say it’s the better of the two.

  3. The pain of a breakup is hard to explain, and even harder to take every day. As I recall asking my former lover, former future husband, former best friend,” How do I get over you? How do I stop thinking you? How do I stop wanting you?” Asking, as if he would have the answer. If he was causing the pain he SHOULD have the answer, shouldn’t he? When all I actually wanted to hear was…”I can’t stop thinking of you either.” Like a fairytale in my head. But, my name is not Alice and this was not the looking glass. So, here I sit far in the future…not feeling the pain. Not feeling…anything. What is worse? Well, I am not in a hurry to jump down the proverbial hole once again. When offered the pill of love and angst my lips will part, over my teeth it comes, look out love, here I come……again.

  4. just read this b/c i’m totally behind on reading my, um, reader. not gonna get personal but how could i *not* comment in support of this post. i’d love to explore this part of your opening paragraph a bit more. maybe not “publicly” but i think it’s a unique piece of our puzzle:
    “a common theme surfaced…the transparency of the internet these days is rubbing the proverbial salt in every one of our overly-sensitive wounds. Sure, social media helps us connect with each other, but in so many ways, these ‘connections’ are mere 1s and 0s that are but cheap facsimiles of real, authentic connection. They leave us faced with information overload, and when you’re going through a breakup, it’s often information you don’t want to hear. Photos you don’t want to see. Knowledge that, five years ago you wouldn’t have had. For the most part, knowledge that we *shouldn’t* have, but do. And it’s turning what is at best an awful situation into an unbearable one.”

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