It doesn’t matter how it happened, breaking your heart always hurts like hell. Whether you were ravaged in the furnace of a five year relationship or scorched in the sparks of a fresh flame, the sensation is irrevocably excruciating. Because love is the most powerful of all human experiences, the breaking of one’s heart is one of the grisliest, darkest, and most painful ordeals one will ever face.
However, the heart is resilient above all things. The capacity to rebuild and revitalize is ever present, no matter how your heart has been shattered and crushed. You may be very broken right now. You may be devastated and tormented, and you have every right to be. But “now” is not “forever,” and there is hope for the days to come. You may find it impossible to fathom in this moment, but at some future point, your heart will mend. Although the scars may never fully heal, and the memories may never fade completely, you will be okay. You will be more than okay — you will be happy and carefree once more. Here are five ways to not only survive this broken heart, but to come alive and find yourself again.
1. Acknowledge the pain.
Feel it. Let that hurt in your mind scream and scream until it loses its voice and drowns in the waves of its own pain. Let the feelings rock through you. Let them knock you off your feet and leave you shaking on the floor, fighting to breathe. This is your reality, and it really, really hurts. So let it. That’s the only way to make it stop, to get through it. If you need to, be angry. Be devastated and miserable, for a little while, at least. Listen to every heartbroken or hate-filled love song you’ve ever heard. Cry yourself to sleep. Don’t fight the pain. Embrace it. Acknowledge it. And then let it go.
2. Make goals for yourself.
Though it is 100% essential to let yourself feel your feelings, it is just as important to stay focused on the rest of your life. After your designated mourning period is over, force yourself to get up and keep going. This doesn’t necessarily mean getting over the pain. It means keeping yourself busy so that you can get over the pain. Make plans for a trip. Start a new project. Do something exciting with friends. Your life is full and complete and amazing, even without that person. Don’t let them define you. You allowed yourself to acknowledge your pain, now allow yourself to acknowledge everything outside of the pain. Open your eyes to all of the possibilities and opportunities, to the joy in the little things and the excitement in the big things. You can do anything you want. So be brave and get started.
3. Don’t idealize the past.
Don’t be fooled by the silver lining of your heartbroken memories. It is all too easy to think of all the things you miss about that person, the way they smiled, the sound of their voice, how they made you feel. But this is only a fragment of reality. No one is perfect, no matter how much you may have liked or loved them. Realize that the two of you were just regular humans with regular problems and flaws. There were things they did that drove you crazy. There were things you didn’t like and things that the two of you disagreed about and clashed on. Neither of you were perfect, and you were far from perfect together, even at your best. Try and see the past as a full picture, and accept it for what it was. It was not the end-all-be-all. It is okay to miss what you had, but don’t make it more than it was.
4. Don’t get preoccupied with rebounds.
You will love again. But not yet. Though it is important to stay grounded in the rest of your life, to excite yourself for new things and to push forward, it is dangerous to get involved with someone new too fast, especially if you are doing it to try and numb the pain of your broken heart. Finding someone new will not erase the pain of old feelings, it will only bury them. And they will be back to haunt you, so don’t give them the chance. Work through them now. Feel the pain without idealizing the past. Keep busy without distracting yourself with a short-lived fling. This is a time to lean on your friends and people you love and trust who can support you and keep you grounded. And in a while, when your heart has healed, you will find the strength and inspiration to love again. You will find someone else and be able to give them your new heart, pounding with new dreams and hopes and desires. This will not be a rebound. This will be real.
5. Don’t be afraid to be happy.
Little by little you will find yourself beginning to smile. It may feel strange to smile at something that has nothing to do with a fond memory of the past, to take pleasure in something completely unrelated to your previous love. It may feel wrong to feel happy while you are still so sad. But this is the nature of your beating heart. It will begin to feel again, to feel anew. There is still beauty in life, and love and laughter, and step by step, you will begin to see it. Wait for it. Invite it in with open arms. Let yourself be immersed in the joys of life. A cloudless, sunny sky. The solace of a friend. A catchy song on the radio. Let this beauty inspire you and fill you. Let yourself come alive.
There is no set time or formula for how long it takes to mend a broken heart. But hearts do mend. Lives do heal. Pain does dim. And you will live again. Hold this hope close when the nights get dark, when the pain hurts more than you feel you can bear. Because you are so much more than your broken heart. You are precious and beautiful, and you deserve to live a life that is full and vibrant, pulsing with love and joy. No matter how it hurts now, remember, you will survive this. This is not the end. This is just the beginning.