When it comes to being heartbroken, no one wants to go first. Thousands of songs, books, and films have taught us from a very tender age that unrequited love can be one of the most painful things someone can endure, so naturally nobody wants to even think about going anywhere near it. And yet, sooner or later, we all have to experience it in the flesh, and at that point nothing you’ve been warned about it will be enough to prepare you for the abrasive misery that it’ll put you through.
Certain people go on in their lives thinking a broken heart is not such a big deal, as they’ve already gone through breakups without even shedding a tears. Those people, however, probably haven’t actually gone through the whipping sorrow of losing a partner they genuinely loved and with whom they pictured a life together. I say this because for many years I was one of those people. After four breakups during my teens and early twenties, I had come to believe that a broken heart was just a very brief discomfort which quickly went away. It wasn’t until my last boyfriend decided to end our relationship that I realized I had never been in love until then, when the sole memory of the words “this isn’t working for me anymore” would be enough to make my chest ache months after our separation.
After experiencing what having your heart broken is really about, I can now say that anyone who has suffered from one deserves my total and utter admiration, as the healing process requires a tremendous amount of self-work and not just “letting time take care of it” as some might suggest. This may sound harsh at first, but in reality it’s the greatest gift an aching heart gives us: the opportunity to come out on the other side as better versions of ourselves.
If you’re still stuck in that phase of mourn where nothing seems to make sense, know that by taking care of yourself each day soon enough you’ll even be thankful for this temporary pain. To show some of the good stuff that can come out this, I share with you six powerful things I learned after getting my heart broken, and which I’m sure you’ll discover for yourself as you go through this process.
No one is alone
When my partner dumped me, I felt like I suddenly didn’t have anyone else in the world. How was I supposed to feel better if the only person I could talk to about my emotions had suddenly stepped out of my life? I was so lonely, the very first thing I did was look up suicide hotlines online so I could chat with another human being about what I was going through.
Despite having family and friends, I was sure they wouldn’t like to hear about my drama. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Given that it was impossible for me to hide my emotions, suddenly many people began reaching out to me, going as far as to check on me on a daily basis even when I didn’t ask. It was nice to feel supported, and it gave me enough confidence to keep talking about what I was feeling with those around me. It was nice to know that there’s always someone willing to be a shoulder to cry on.
I realize some may not feel like they have many close people to talk to, in that case I’d advice to seek help online. I was amazed to learn about all the different professionals, communities, and support groups out there from which I got great advice and the comfort of knowing that I was not going through this pain by myself.
You don’t need a partner to be someone
Raise your hand if you’re guilty of thinking you’re no one without your partner. If you raised your hand that’s ok, realizing we have been unkind and deprecating towards ourselves is vital to start making amends. Sometimes, when we’re in a couple we start placing our partners on a pedestal, they’re without a cast of doubt the most perfect human beings on the planet, incapable of doing anything wrong. Next to them we’re nothing worthy of being noticed, so we strive to be more like them, adopting their attitudes, customs and even life goals. We eventually become a shadow of them, so when they leave we no longer know who we are.
You were a unique and worthy individual well before you meet your ex, and you’re still one afterwards, even if it takes you a little bit to remember it. As a matter of fact, separating from your ex can actually help you develop a more defined notion of who you are as a person. Being single again will force you to revalue what it’s that you actually like, think and expect out of life without the pressure of having someone by your side to please.
Relationships are overvalued
Society leads us to believe that being in a relationship is somehow a magical solution to all our problems, and that if we’re not in one surely there’s something wrong with us. So when we and our partner fall apart is impossible to forget the “horrors” of being single which have been engraved in our subconscious. In a way, is as if we link our self worth and happiness to our relationship status, so when it changes without warning we immediately go into a state of emergency.
Reality is quite different from what certain people obsessed with relationships would tell us. We don’t need anyone to make us feel complete, happy, and secure about the future. Yeah, I realize this is a cliché, but it’s true! And there’s nothing better than finding it out for ourselves once we got our hearts broken and realize that the world is still spinning, and happy days haven’t disappear from our lives.
Pain can be a good thing
Our brains are wired to escape pain. Since we’re little we learn to avoid all of the things which feel displeasing, or could potentially cause us harm. Once we’re older this translates into a deep rejection of any sort of emotional distress. We believe that anything that feels bad is bad, but in some cases we must put our primal instincts aside to realize that every now and then a little bit of pain is necessary for our own good.
Granted, no one said that dealing with pain is easy. There may be days when you won’t even wanna get out of bed, and every little reminder of your ex will be enough to make you wanna vomit. Nonetheless, this same suffering can also be the fuel which propels you to move forward with your life. In my case, I was so desperate to ease the agony that I immediately started applying for jobs, exercising daily, reaching out to old friends, and picking up new hobbies to enjoy on my own. If my boyfriend had never hurt me like he did I probably would have just stay in my comfort zone, not feeling any need to make positive changes in my life.
No partner is irreplaceable
I don’t pretend to say that we should treat people as if they were disposable, however, I think it’s very important to keep in mind that even if we lose the person who we thought was “the one”, life goes on. We’re allowed to care, miss, and remember those who are no longer with us, but in no way should their absence mean that we have no reason to move on with our lives.
Many of us believe to have found that meant-to-be person with whom we’re destined to spend the rest of our lives together, only to find that our love story did not end with a “happily ever after”. I won’t say this isn’t hurtful or disappointing, but I will say that there’s always a bigger story which we should never lose sight of: ours. I guarantee this one will never disappoint you.
You’re stronger than you think
When I was still together with my boyfriend I was terrified of losing him, once I even told him half-jokingly that if he were ever to break up with me he should kill me, because that would hurt less. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I could never recover from him leaving me, and yet I’m writing this months after our split feeling really embarrassed for thinking so little of me back then.
It’s not so common we have to face one of our greatest fears, but when we’re forced to do it is very moving to discover how much stronger we are than what we think. Having survived the pain of a heart break, now I feel much more confident about being able to overcome all sorts of challenges life throws my way. If you don’t quite feel there yet, don’t worry, the time will come when this pain will only be a memory you’ll remember with a smile on your face and the assurance that there’s nothing that can permanently bring you down.