The Other Side Of Heartbreak

Flickr / Roberto Milloch
Flickr / Roberto Milloch

I’m going to admit something that’s slightly embarrassing. I say slightly because you’ve probably done it, too.

I stalked an ex online.

I’m not sure what made me do it, but just utter curiosity. It’s been years since I’ve allowed myself to go to his profile. I’ve written before about how this particular heartbreak was both devastating yet awakening.

But here’s the thing: This time I felt nothing.

No stabby jealous pangs, no wistfulness, none of the achy longing. The memory of a moment in time I once wrapped myself around– no longer had a stronghold on me.

I discreetly scrolled through this alternate-ending life– photos of family, holidays, travels. But I couldn’t picture myself in them. Familiar was the background of an apartment I once lovingly sat in, now more of a sitcom stage fading into memory. I realized the life before me in pixels was never meant to be mine.

Contrasted to previous times, I now perused pictures of him with his lovely wife, and thought: Good on him, he found his happy. It felt like voyeuring a stranger, maybe a movie I watched once, or a vivid dream.

Profound satisfaction flooded through me. This feeling symbolized a once profusely-bleeding wound, one that sporadically ached for years, had finally healed. This haunting love had released me.

The words “this too shall pass” was always a phrase I clung to during times of anguish, but sometimes felt like lip-service. Old-timey wisdom meant for memes on Pinterest that would trick me into temporary comfort.

But I did it. I made it to the other side.

My exceptional fear of heartbreak has always held me back. How could I knowingly immerse with the risk of vivid suffering, of shattering rejection so real? Sure, I’m “fearless” when I’m still somewhat in control. Much like I ride a bike downhill, my hand is on the brakes, tempering down the escalating speed, gripping in calculated safety. Helmet, knee-pads…and bubble-wrap surrounding my heart.

But, what does holding back prevent me from? What consummate joy is lost from not being all-in?

This aforementioned heartbreak is the first time in my life I allowed myself to say all the things. To be unashamedly naked. To put it all on the table in unforgiving daylight. And I felt accepted while revealed in all my infallibility and shortcomings. Free. Infinite.

I wouldn’t take a moment of it back. I wouldn’t trade the abrupt breaking open of my soul, the deepened capacity to love, the selflessness that grew from loving someone a billion time-zones away. And the strength that came from picking myself back up in the aftermath and scraping my heart off the floor, taught me next-level compassion and resilience.

I maybe fell a little more in love with myself after that.

If I can remember the pain I felt following a dance that was meant only for one song will pass, and that my tender heart will heal, I can show up without hardened armor and needless walls. The knowledge I can emerge stronger and more understanding of myself, regardless of the outcome will encourage my tentative steps.

But in the event that the love IS for me, isn’t that the risk work taking? I want to know what is possible when I show up with my heart so open. I want to feel every ripple and explore every edge that surrendered love can take me.

I want him to experience my hard-fought growth, without my unpacked baggage, binding inhibitions or safety pads.

I don’t think I want to hide anymore.

My scars will show I know what hurt feels like, and will therefore treat his heart with immaculate kindness and devotion. My history of heartbreak will show I was willing to say the hard things, to try when I was tired, and to make the constant effort.

This conquered heartbreak is now a gift I bring. My survival and my triumph embolden me to love bigger and love better. The painful path has forced me to look deep into uncomfortable places where I had areas in which to grow, and tendencies in partnership that were unhealthy. My willingness to slowly cross the bridge both shedding and repairing parts of myself along the way is proof of how much I love this future unidentified partner, but most importantly, how I’ve come to love myself.

Some day, some dude should thank this guy…

It’s an incredible place to be on the other side and to see how far I’ve come. Today was proof. You really can make it back. You can make it better.

Thank you to this profound love.

There’s someone else out there for me to go love,

So, thank you most for letting me go. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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