It’s fascinating how much of a strong filter that heartbreak can have on your life. What was beautiful and perfect and colorful yesterday or last week or last year is now dull and empty and meaningless and ugly to look at.
Heartbreak is powerful. And at some point, it stops becoming an emotion, a feeling, a phase that you’re just going through right now.
Instead, it becomes like a gas that fills up your entire body. There’s no end in sight. It always seems to be expanding. Getting stronger. Filling up the space in your veins and your stomach and your head.
You wake up with it, you go to bed with it, and in the hours in-between that you have to fill, it’s your constant companion. Sitting with you when you drink your coffee in the morning. Vibrating behind your eyelids while you’re sitting at work trying not to cry. Tapping on your brain every time you try to open a book to get away from it, just for a second.
Heartbreak, when it’s strong and severely crippling, can take on a life form you’ve never seen before. It affects the way you look at the world, it affects the way that you have fun, it seeps into the light moments that you try to have with your friends and reminds you that, no, laughter is not something that belongs in your life right now. You should be sad.
You’re mourning right now. It’s absolutely different from the sadness that you feel during a tragedy, or during the loss of a loved one. But it is still sadness in its own way. It is still a loss in its own way.
You’re mourning the loss of what could have been. You’re mourning the fact that, at least for a little while, you thought you had found your person. You felt so happy and filled up and peaceful and you thought, this is it. This is what everyone was talking about.
You had someone to come home to at night. Someone to think about when the days were long and you were nervous about your job or your future or your grad school exams or your family troubles. This person didn’t get rid of your problems for you. But they helped you deal with them. They were like an energy around you – difficulties could still creep through the shield, but they were less terrifying when you knew you had someone by your side.
And then in an instant, that all evaporated. Whether it was your choice or theirs or a mutual decision, it stings and consumes you and convinces you that this is all you’ll ever be able to think about for the rest of your life. This is your story – a happiness and then a breakup and then a never-ending bout of loneliness and depression that you’ll never get away from.
You try to move on. You do the things you see in movie montages where the sad person is “fixing” themselves – you go on runs and you show up at happy hours and birthday parties and maybe you even go on a few dates. You try to smile, and to let out breaths of “satisfaction,” and to do anything else you’ve seen on a screen that supposedly signify that you are now okay.
But none of it works. And you’re still heartbroken.
That’s because this is real life and there is no switch. There’s no audience planted in seats with bowls of popcorn, watching your movie for an hour and fifty-two minutes. Your life is not going to follow a setup:problem:climax:resolution storyline.
You will not have an aha, I’m all better now! moment because those don’t exist in real life. We don’t heal in one perfect scene, on the top of a hill overlooking a city skyline.
We heal in little moments that we don’t even notice. One night, you fall asleep without dwelling on the fact that you didn’t say good night to them. You don’t even realize this happened, because you’re back at it the next night, tossing and turning and reminiscing on the times when you used to kiss each other good night or murmur sweetly on the phone. But still, that other night happened. The one where you just fell asleep without any sadness or dwelling. And another night like that will happen soon. And eventually, at some point, the “normal” nights will outweigh the sadness nights.
You will put yourself back together in bits and pieces. You will learn to enjoy your hobbies again. You will find new hobbies. You will watch the old shows you two used to watch together, you will watch new shows. You will still have days where you want to cry at work, and you will have other days where you’re too busy to even think about them.
Little by little, you will be okay. But that’s why heartbreak is so hard – because it’s little by little. So little, in fact, that it often feels like you’re not making any progress. It feels like heartbreak is your fate and you might as well get used to it, because nothing is apparently changing.
You cannot go to bed each night wondering if tomorrow is THE DAY – the day where you will wake up and be okay again! That’s not how it works, because tomorrow is not a plot point in your character arc. Tomorrow is just tomorrow.
But tomorrow is also another tiny piece in the little by little way that you are healing. It’s not noticeable, it doesn’t cause any significant change in your life. But it’s another day that you will wake up, and do stuff, and talk to people, and keep on living. It’s one more piece of proof in the argument that your life will go on without them.
It’s okay to feel shitty for a while. Just as long as you don’t get caught up in the idea that it will be like this forever. Because it won’t. Things will change. You will begin to become happier. You just won’t notice the change happening.
And then, one day, you’re sitting in your office chair, and there are no longer tears vibrating behind your eyelids. You don’t even notice this fact. All you know is that you’re doing your work. And you’re going to happy hour later. And you’re going to laugh without feeling weird about it. The world is still moving. Your life is still happening. You’re okay. You will be okay.