Just So You Know, Heartbreak Can Be Beautiful

Woman stares intently into camera while standing alone in a desolate field
Becca Matimba / Unsplash

Heartbreak is an interesting feeling. It’s a feeling of overwhelming distress, loss, and sadness, that seems as if it will last forever, and there isn’t a rulebook or guideline for how to deal with or overcome it.

When you’re in a relationship with another human being, you tend to lose bits of yourself. We all know what I mean by that right? You’re excited about your new love-interest and you want to spend all of your free time with them, you want to spend time with their friends and family, learn about their interests, you eventually pick up on their daily habits, and after a while, you become a version of yourself in relation to them.

We’ve all experienced the pain of heartbreak, in one form or another. For me, the heartbreak was the end of a six-year relationship that left me stranded on a road of self-discovery, but it also led me to discover healing. 

Somewhere between Ben Platt interviews and YoungArts performances on YouTube, I stumbled across a piece written by John Patrick Shanley, entitled “Tennessee.” In the first few minutes of the reading, the words “A waterfall is a river broken in two” are spoken. At first, I didn’t think anything of it, but then I wanted to cry.

You’re probably sat there wondering why would that sentence make me want to cry? The answer is simple, that is the most beautiful metaphor I’ve ever heard.

“A waterfall is a river broken in two.” 

In this instance, me, my life, I am the river. My breakup is the waterfall. But this applies to all of us who are experiencing heartbreak. 

Those of us that are experiencing heartbreak, we are the river; we have a path and a process. Along that path, we’ve picked up bits of the world around us– people, experiences, etc. These are things that we, presumably, will carry with us for the rest of our lives. However, a river can lose bits or “drop/shrink its load” along the path due to attrition.

Along our paths, we’ve changed and attrition has caused us to lose things that we once carried with us and our [ex]boyfriends/girlfriends are one of those bits. However, he/she probably wasn’t just a small rock that you lost along the way. The break up is bigger than that. That’s the waterfall.

Our paths have been altered, changed, and broken. We didn’t want to lose our significant others. We didn’t want to change the path we were on. However, nature and the course of erosion made it happen, and that decision was out of our control and now we are free.

Not that we were ever trapped to begin with, but now we can truly live the life that we’ve always wanted to live. You can pursue the career you’ve always wanted, you can move to the city you’ve always wanted to live in, you can do all of the things you’ve always wanted to do, and be the person you’ve always wanted to be. Granted, you were broken pretty badly and the drop was steep. So, it will take time to heal and for us to gather ourselves before we can move on but that’s what waterfalls do, too, before they continue on their path as a river.

At the bottom of a waterfall, there is a “plunge pool” where the water is gathered before it moves on. That’s the stage I’m at now. I’m gathering and reconstructing myself before I can move on. But from here, I’ll pick up more interests and people and experiences.

I will become a new version of me, carrying some bits of the old me, but not all of them, and so will you. And that is comforting, scary, exciting and, ultimately, beautiful.

Here’s to rediscovery and moving on. TC mark

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