There aren’t many experiences that suck more than being heartbroken. But even heartbreak and loss aren’t all bad. In fact, they carry incredible opportunities to grow and love harder. Your mindset makes all the difference.
No matter how sincere and good-hearted your friends are when telling you ‘he/she does not deserve you’, if your heart is broken, these words can only do so much. They mean little to nothing when the heart wants what it wants.
But like with any disappointment, heartbreak can bring you blessing upon blessing upon blessing. If you approach it with open curiosity at least. And give it some time.
It ended, therefore, it wasn’t
One of the things I’ve often thought when a relationship ended was that is must not have been that great after all then. We must not have meant much to each other. How else could we now be parting ways?
And when I was the one who did not want the relationship to end at all, I’d feel like I had been lying to myself all along. Telling myself: you see, he broke up now. You were never that special to him to begin with.
Obviously, that is not completely true. There are many reasons why people decide to leave each other. Different expectations for instance, or different life goals.
People change over time, and that could also change their feelings toward each other. Maybe the two of you were just not growing together that much. Or not laughing enough with each other. Maybe you didn’t share similar values or weren’t creating enough intimacy or heart to heart conversations.
It started once because you both thought you were amazing. Pretending that it never happened or desperately trying to forget about someone hardly ever works.
It ended, but it was
Beating yourself up over it does not promote healing. Acceptance, on the other hand, does. “Don’t tell yourself you are broken. Tell yourself you are healing”, a wise friend once told me. Your attitude towards your sadness matters. Allow it in, with a strong knowing that it will pass.
Was the connection even real?
I’ve experienced a mismatch of expectations many times. And there has come a point where this made me question my ability to tell whether the connections I made were real at all. How could it be, I would think, that we understand each other on such a deep level, and yet we are still not ending up together? It must all be a figment of my imagination.
But here too, it’s much healthier to attempt understanding that whatever you felt, was just as real as the sun rising and setting and the earth turning. Don’t torture yourself by thinking you must have been wrong all along. Trust what you feel. But also, be honest. Because deep down, most of the time we also knew something was missing, something was wrong, or things were going downhill. It’s just not always that easy to admit.
Investigate, when the time is ripe to move on, with honesty the parts of your interactions that were less than perfect. The moments in which you were let down. And ask yourself why you were let down in these moments.
Because when you dare look closer and take full responsibility for how you showed up in the relationship, you can avoid making the same mistakes the next time you fall in love.
Nobody is perfect. Not you. Not that other person. And that’s a revelation. Try to remove the pedestal from under one’s feet. Especially when love is not reciprocated.
What’s love got to do with it?
Another question I’d often ask myself after my heart got broken, was: what’s love got to do with it anyway? If I loved, and he did not, or does not anymore, it could not possibly have been love.
But anyone who has ever loved knows exactly what love feels like. Don’t start denying your heart, just because your love is not answered (any more). Let it love freely, even when it hurts. When I chose to do just that, I got the chance to discover that my love was never only meant to be directed to only this or that one person to begin with.
By being alone long enough, I learned that just like a dog, a child, or maybe just a human, I can love everyone – including myself, for absolutely no reason. Just because.
The one thought I learned that comforts me when heartbroken is this one: I trust this is for the better. With the emphasis on trust. And on better.
Although I am unsure of many things when it comes to romance, here is one I am 100% sure of: I don’t wish to be with anyone who isn’t thrilled to be with me, and vice versa. And I do not wish that upon anyone else either. This realization should, in theory, make every parting more bearable.
Unfortunately, this certainty is not enough to overcome the accessory pain. However, the pain might actually be needed for the blessings to come forth.
“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen
The cracks in my heart led me to find at least two major blessings already:
1. Friends for whom I am grateful beyond words;
2. And the courage and motivation to move things forward in my life, so I can grow into the best possible version of myself.
I’ll elaborate on the latter here. Not because one is more important than the other, but because the lessons in the area of personal growth were so profound in my life.
“Suffering has a noble purpose: the evolution of consciousness and the burning up of the ego.” – Eckhart Tolle
With each and every heartbreak, I’ve experienced that the ego dies a little. And oh, does that hurt. Especially, when you have a big one of those.
But ironically, this is actually one of the biggest gifts our heartbreakers leave us with: a little less ego. And hopefully some lovely memories, of course.
Because as it turns out, we do not need it that much. The ego is more often harmful than it is helpful. Both to ourselves and others. Although ego would definitely disagree.
Your ego is not your friend. It’s your ‘frenemy’: hanging around like it wants to have cool experiences with you and like it has good ideas, but whenever somebody says something it doesn’t like, it also gets petty as fuck. Immediately.
The ego either tries to bring you down or ‘blow’ you up, meaning it makes you feel either worse or better than others. And both are lies.
Discovering that I could do with a little less ego is not the only way in which heartbreak made me grow.
The pain involved in the greatest disappointments can become the greatest motivators for us to move forward.
What is it that made you fall in love with someone in the first place? Was it the qualities you like about yourself that you saw mirrored? Then that’s great, because you still have them. Was it something that you admired about that other that you do not master yourself? Even better: go learn!
Learn from your attraction. What do you like about someone? What character traits, what behavior do you admire? Like someone’s confidence, independence or kindness? Then why not work on improving those qualities in yourself?
Loved his or her adventurous nature? Go do something that scares you a little. Loved his or her stimulating conversations? Find out more about the stuff you’d like to talk about. Read more books, take on new hobbies, talk to strangers. If you can’t be with someone, be someone.
This is exactly how losing one person, can make you find another. And by finding that person you can find the key to connecting with everyone else. Because that new person is more wonderful than you could ever imagine someone to be.
And it’s a person you don’t even have to imagine, ever, because that person is you.
Become the person you’d fall in love with, so you can fall in love with yourself. And when you undertake the things your ‘ideal spouse’ would, you’ll probably increase the likeliness of bumping into him or her too.
So here’s to all the men who ever ended up breaking my heart in one way or another: thank you! You rock. You really do.
The blessing in loss
Losing someone because they have passed on is obviously a totally different story. And this form of heartbreak is the hardest one to discuss in a positive light, because of the undeniable sorrow involved.
Therefore, I would never call anyone’s passing in itself a blessing — at least not for the ones left behind.
However, I do believe a blessing can be found here too. Always. And that is; the life that was here.
There are people who are no longer present in my life today but mean so much to me still, that they have since their passing become what I like to call my ‘personal angels’.
Some inspire me to work harder to achieve my goals, to grow smarter, or to live healthier. And then there are others who inspire me to live more consciously, more fully or simply love myself more.
But whatever it is they inspire, the beautiful gifts they’ve given to the people whose lives they’ve touched, are still here.
Their advice is still with me when I need it. Their thoughts are still here. And most sensibly, their love remained. And so it will forever.
I often wondered whenever I was heartbroken in the past: ‘where does love go, when it goes unanswered’? But I think I have finally found the answer to that question: it simply remains.
Love just is. It’s right here, it’s infinite and it’s always a blessing.
A true love story never ends.