If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 23 years, it’s that the human heart doesn’t mend in a linear pattern.
When you break a bone, you’re subjected to some X-Rays and then the doctor will determine your course of recovery. Maybe it’s a cast, followed by some physical therapy and rest. If you follow the doctor’s orders, you’ll be sure to find yourself and your bones okay again.
The heart isn’t like that.
You see, the heart is composed of a peculiar kind of muscle memory and it will react and contract to the simplest of stimuli, stimuli you weren’t immediately aware you had association with. The catalyst could be pieces of your broken heart wedged between the letters of a street sign, a sign that marks where you first realized you were falling in love with the person in the passenger’s seat, which now finds itself vacant. It could be something as cliche as a song on the radio, it could be that godforsaken Facebook post from mutual friends where you see them, smiling and happy, even though you’re no longer in that picture or the pictures to come.
And it’s going to hurt like hell.
And when it’s hurting like hell, you’re going to feel a range of emotions that I can’t predict. I don’t know you, but I do know myself and I know that as humans our experiences tend to overlap so let me project here a little bit.
You’re going to feel like you’ve failed. You’re going to feel like this sadness or anger or jealousy you’re experiencing is no longer valid because the other person is no longer in your life. That you’ve lost and they’ve won because you’re still feeling. And just like that, you’re a few steps backward or to the left or to the right. It is not going to be a straight shot to healed. So then you start trying to comfort yourself. That maybe they miss you, too. That it’s scientific fact that life looks better on Instagram. They’re not really that happy. They’re just pretending like the rest of us.
But here’s a difficult possibility to consider: they are actually that happy. They don’t miss you, not even slightly. They have moved on. Most of their pictures don’t have a veil on them. Their life at that moment is indeed that perfect.
Keep with me, though, and consider the upside: that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve happiness, too. Their great life doesn’t mean you don’t get a great life. Their second shot doesn’t mean you don’t get a second shot or a third shot. They’re just at a different point in their journey, that’s seriously it. It’s no great symbol of how much you suck. It’s just a different life.
I don’t know how the heart becomes free and better and light again; sometimes, I don’t think it ever does, not fully. And that’s okay. Maybe it’s just a sign that you put your entire being into something and it didn’t work out. Maybe the exhaustion we have leftover from the effort we expended is the only remaining particle of a boy who didn’t love us back. Of a boy who did love us back, but life happened. Of a friend who couldn’t be there. And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be left with the knowledge that my sadness is the result of a faulty heart that gave its all than feel nothing.
Bottom line: Your heart will not mend in a linear pattern. Your heart will take the backroads to recovery, it will stop and it will take other detours. Sometimes it will hurt and feel light again in the same day and sometimes it will take a little longer. Even though our hearts are never exactly full again, they can love again. They can be happy again. And they can be healed.