Heartbreak is something we tend to think of as happening to us, that somebody else caused. As you get older, you realize that sometimes we don’t need other people to break our hearts – we do that quite well on our own.
Sometimes we break our hearts by going for the things and people who are not meant for us, even when the writing was always on the wall. We want something and we want it badly, and we think that alone, is enough to have it. But no matter how much you want it, it’s not yours, and you have to let go. Not let go of it – because you never had it in the first place. You let go of wanting it, and that breaks your heart.
Sometimes we break our hearts by not being able to be the person we think we really are, or the person we want to become. It’s terrifying to be yourself in the world, more so when you’re not always sure who that is, and don’t feel like you have the space to decide. But when you think that self won’t be celebrated or accepted or even come to pass, you replace it with someone unfamiliar, and that breaks your heart.
Sometimes we break our hearts by refusing to change, or changing for all the wrong reasons. Maybe being softer or harder than you need to be, being less than what you are capable of, or pretending to have and know more than you actually do. You become a subject in the story of other people’s lives, passive; never learning how to write yourself into the story or to write your own story, and that breaks your heart.
Of course heartbreak isn’t always a bad thing, even when it always hurts. But we need to believe that hurting in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. A good heartbreak can come from fighting the good fight in all the ways you’re asked to in this life. It can come from a terrifying, sacrificial, and iridescent love. It can come from the effort of trying, sometimes winning, and sometimes losing. Indeed as Elizabeth Gilbert so aptly said, “This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.”
Being alive, and being fully alive means learning to live with a broken heart. Sometimes that heart is less broken, and sometimes it’s more broken than not. Sometimes that heart is broken for good reasons – great and beautiful reasons. And sometimes that heart is broken for reasons that if we’re honest, are not just worth it.
But it’s not always easy to tell whether heartbreak is good or bad, and even when it is, we might choose to break our hearts anyway. Still, if you’re going to break your heart, try for the good reasons, the very of best reasons: loving earnestly, creating passionately, and being authentically. The rest of the time, know that it’s okay to protect your heart; it’s okay to not let your heart break so often.