Heartbreak isn’t something I’ve historically understood when it comes to romantic love. Though other types of heartache I understood, romantic love felt hollow, so any loss of a romantic situation left me simply shrugging my shoulders and saying, “Whatever…”
My attitude came from early on when my trust (though clearly a misplaced trust) was broken and the expectations I’d come to rely on were shattered before my eyes. It taught me some important lessons–romantic love is fake and I should never let any that close. I built thick walls around my heart and while I could send plenty of love out, I didn’t allow much to come back in.
Over the years, people have gotten past my walls. But it’s hard and not usually in a romantic sense. They might get past because they’ve consistently illustrated trustworthy behavior, kept their promises, and righted the wrongs they’d done to me, but this is rare. What that means for me is that when I hear people talking about how heartbroken they are, I can’t relate. It all just feels so shallow and codependent.
But I’ve been wrong.
I’m sitting here, listening to someone cry their eyes with heartbreak. Crying so hard they’re puking. And it reminded me of something that happened to me recently when I finally started feeling the pain of my first heartbreak. I too was sobbing and trying to puke. It was weird. This was long ago and I didn’t really think about what was happening in my body all this time that I held that in.
Heartache might be about a Twilight–Edward and Bella–type codependent relationship, but it can also be about much more. Things like having your world shattered because what you thought ‘was’ actually ‘wasn’t’. It can be about the pain that comes from wanting someone in a way they don’t want you. It’s rejection. It’s your foundation crumbling under you. It’s about wondering how you’re going to feel when the person you’re used to calling or greeting the first moment you get the chance is suddenly not there to greet. Heartbreak is about many things, most of which aren’t shallow.
Having a broken heart is really about loss. Only a part of me realized this. I’d compartmentalized my understanding of heartbreak so I didn’t need to feel it–ever–when it came to a romantic kind of love. I knew if I ever lost someone close to me that I’d feel it, and that was okay in my mind. But feeling it over rejection or the ending of a relationship… my only thought was ‘hell no, no one gets that from me’.
I now understand why my heart has hurt so long.
So as I sit here, listening to this person cry so hard at their loss, I’m crying my own tears. Some from feeling empathy for this person. Some from the losses I’d never allowed myself to feel. And some from the losses I’ve experienced recently. Not big losses recently, but changes in expectations (or what I thought was). And it’s okay for me to feel this sadness and heartache. It’s crucial to getting the pain out of me so I can continue to trust and be full of goodness rather than pain.
I got a lot of body work done last weekend (thanks to a gracious friend) and the worker kept calling the pain I felt while she worked my body and joints ‘therapain’. The pain one is willing to feel during treatment so that you won’t be in pain later. I welcomed that pain. I released a great deal that day. And now it appears I need to release more. But releasing is what I’ll keep doing.
Eventually, the tears in the person I’m hearing will cease and mine will too. We’ll accept the new normal–because that’s the only way to move forward–and hopefully, the holes left will be filled with new experiences and memories or at least, not be so deep.
It’s ironic that I’m prepping for a test on the human heart today. As I stare at the ventricles and valves and heartstrings, I wonder which part of my heart I’m feeling the pain in. All of it? Is the pain in my head? If it’s just in my head, why does my heart feel like it’s racing?
Last week, on Valentine’s Day, I dissected a heart. If I believed in magic, I’d feel like the entire universe aligned for me to teach me these things. But I don’t believe in that kind of magic. So instead, I’ll accept that this was the time for me to learn the lessons I’ve been learning–without judgment–and the reason I’m seeing these things is that I’m finally ready to.
My lessons learned this last week are that I need to let go of pain. That I’m not as shallow as I thought and I’m capable of having a broken heart. That not every loss means I’m worthless, in fact, no losses mean that. And some losses hurt even when they aren’t full losses, more shifts of what is, and it’s okay for me to feel sad and pain over that.
Love is tricky business. I suspect that’s why so many of us put up walls or have limits to how much we’re willing to invest. And that last part makes me sad. Trusting with the innocence of a child gets us hurt, but not trusting–not being open to one another–hurts us in a far worse manner.
For years, I’ve known I send out more love than I allow back in. This has been a safety measure that ended up hurting me far more in the long run. Now, I’m working to find balance.