People tell you that everything happens for a reason. And they expect that to fix you. They believe that it is a truth that trumps everything else. Maybe this breakup doesn’t make sense to you now. Maybe you can’t understand, right at this moment, why you’re going through all this pain and darkness and heartache. But eventually, it will all make sense. Everything will be fixed. Everything will be perfect again. Because everything happens for a reason, right?
But it’s hard for you to grasp onto – the idea that there’s this master plan behind your pain, that it’s only happening to you because something better lies in store. People want you to convince yourself that you’re the protagonist in what will eventually be the greatest love story ever told. You’re sad now, but your breakup is happening for a reason – it’s leading you to the person that will make you forget that you ever felt any suffering before you met them.
People tell you this with good intentions. They tell you this because it’s the way they got through their own breakups, their own heartaches. They imagined themselves suffering like a puppet on a stage, while Fate stood above them with strings, moving everything along and making this into the most perfect fairytale that there ever was.
It’s how we get through things, or at least, convince ourselves that we’re getting through things, on a daily basis. The idea of fate, of the perfect plot, of everything coming together for a beautiful climax that ends in happiness and fulfillment for the remainder of your life. Just get through this difficult time, earn your happiness, and once you’re over the bridge, you’re free from heartache. You’ve won.
You want to believe all of this, because you’re sinking quickly and you can barely breathe and all you want to do is to grab onto something, anything, that will keep you afloat. Something that will help you wake up in the morning and swallow some food and leave the house, even though all you want to do is shut the blinds and close the door and muse over the fact that food suddenly tastes like nothing.
We’re not doing this to ourselves on purpose. We’re not trying to be overly self-involved or dramatic. We’re just trying to find meaning – we don’t want our suffering to be for nothing. We want to believe that there’s a higher being with a greater plan for this suffering than we could have ever imagined. We just have to go through the pain in order to get our reward.
Maybe this is why heartbreak often doesn’t make any sense to us. We’re trying to tell ourselves that everything – every tiny little thing – happens because of a perfectly concocted story that will wrap us up and save us. We get caught up in this idea of giving every single occurrence some kind of meaning, instead of considering the fact that maybe some things just happen, for no reason at all. They just happen because humans are humans; because as humans, we have free will and we make choices every single day.
I’m not saying we should give up hope or give up on love. I’m not saying I believe that we’re all walking around on this Earth just breathing air and killing time until our bodies give out and we cease to exist in any way, shape, or form. I do believe in a higher being, and I believe that this higher being has a plan for each one of us.
But in this situation, my spiritual belief doesn’t even matter. Because whether you are a Christian or a Buddhist or an Atheist or a Jew or a Muslim or someone who simply believes in the power of the Universe or somebody who honestly has no idea, I believe you can make sense of your heartbreak.
Not by searching out for some kind of hidden meaning. Not by repeating the mantra Everything happens for a reason to yourself everyday until some higher being fixes your life for you. Not by sitting around and keeping your eyes open while you wait for your new love to walk into your life.
I believe that you can make sense of your heartbreak merely by becoming aware of the changes it causes within you, the realizations it brings you to, the emotions it pulls out of you, the fire it ignites within you, the empathy it causes you to feel, whatever. I think that making sense of heartbreak isn’t about trying to treat your life like a story. I think sometimes, a breakup is just there to remind you that you’re alive, every second, every minute, every day.
This idea of bringing about your awareness, and the idea that everything happens for a reason, are not necessarily mutually exclusive. They can both be true. I just think that sometimes, we look too deeply into the idea of everything happens for a reason. We take it literally. We think He broke my heart or She shattered me into pieces or This breakup has thrown me into a deep depression. And then we think I wonder if he broke my heart because it led to me discovering my passion for music or Maybe this breakup threw me into a deep depression because it lead me to joining a running club which lead me to my new girlfriend.
I think that if we wait around for some kind of sign or change or new thing to enter into our lives, our breakup was for nothing. It’s not about making sense of the breakup. It’s not about asking Why me? or Did this happen because someone better is going to come along?
Maybe, if you want to find meaning in your breakup, you just have to stop trying to make any sense of it altogether. Rather then treating the healing process like plot points on a storyline, look at it as an experience that exists outside of time. It’s not the event that led to the next event – you quitting your job or trying dance classes or going to that bar where you ran into your husband.
Rather, it’s the thing that simply brought out the aliveness within you. It made you strong and weak and thirsty and curious and depressed and empathetic and insecure and angry and brave and self-indulgent and dramatic and tough and deep and everything else inside of you that makes you alive.
What this breakup was really doing, all along, was just helping you get that much more serious about the long and never-ending road of becoming yourself.
New relationships and passions and jobs and life courses and successes all happen afterwards, too. But not because everything happens for a reason. They happened because you chose to become aware of the fact that you are alive.