I used to be heartbroken.
It used to be a big deal, but now it’s not.
I’m OK with it because now I understand the circumstances as to how the romance formed and how it fell apart. I understand what went wrong and how we both let each other down. We have since made peace with each other, established a sense of closure and I can look back on the failed relationship as a learning experience.
I wasn’t always so calm about it though.
Back then, I was melodramatic, cynical, and extreme in my sadness. Initially, my broken heart expressed itself in long periods of self-loathing followed by lengthy dissertations concerning the tragic injustice of it all. I stewed in how easy it was for my sincere intent for love to be turned against me, becoming fuel for such potent agony. The world was a chaotic, gray place, and in short, my broken heart was just like most everyone else’s.
What I came to realize (eventually):
Having living in self-induced grayness for a period so long I had sincerely forgotten when it started, it dawned upon me one day that nothing had really changed. I was still me, she was still her, and the world still was home to both of us.
None of my self-worth or social value had actually suffered any setbacks, and this so-called “colossal event” that I claimed left me completely devastated, was in fact less dramatic than I care to admit. Despite my round-the-clock attempts to act as if the world was ending, it didn’t. Here I stand today, sheepishly acknowledging that I once actually thought my life was ruined.
And in a way, it would have been extremely convenient if any of my pathos turned out to be true. All of the stress and melodrama would have been justified, and the time I spent wallowing might have been a little less embarrassing.
But I have come to embrace this embarrassment. For it was when I caught myself humming the song I had desperately wrote and performed in hopes of winning back an ex (I still think it’s catchy), I realized the principal dilemma that made having a broken heart so miserable.
The cause of so much sadness, was my inability to accept the following two opposite truths about my failed relationship:
A) That the feelings were real, mutual, and at times absolutely lovely.
B) That the relationship made both of us unhappy and breaking up was absolutely necessary.
Accepting only one of these truths will make you sad in the following ways:
Believing only in the sincerity of your past love, the unfairness and wrongness of how it feels to be apart becomes a terrible burden to live with, turning your stomach to knots at the thought of their stupid, adorable face.
Believing only in the absolute necessity of the breakup and denying the sincerity of your past love, the thought of how much time and energy was wasted on a failed relationship becomes a terrible burden to live with, filling your head with spiteful thoughts of revenge via living aggressively well.
And herein lies the most important aspect of getting over a broken heart. You must be able to simultaneously accept the positive sides of the relationship that make it hard to move on while acknowledging the negative sides that leave you with no other choice. You must concede that a broken heart isn’t the end of the world while simultaneously accepting the misery and loss that accompanies it.
Because, despite your broken heart’s tendency to wallow in self-pity, swearing off such treacherous romance, it cannot escape it what is.
It is a heart. It has to love. Leave it alone long enough, and it will find someone to love. As you suffer from the anguish and demoralizing sighs of failed romance, it is already preparing itself for the next attempt at finding a home, some warm place with a sturdy roof to protect itself from the constant downpour of loneliness life has to offer. It is a statistical constant and an extremely safe bet: you will fall in love again. With an exception to those who dubiously justify devoting themselves to loneliness, love is an inescapable reality that you should be prepared for.
Getting over a broken heart isn’t easy: it requires deliberate positive thoughts and purposeful resistance of self-destructive ones. It won’t be a quick transition, but that is to be expected.
Falling out of love isn’t like turning off a light switch, but more like hanging your entire weight on a rusty, creaky lever and hearing it slowly, but consistently, move to the other side, cringing at the shrillness of it all while looking forward to the satisfying thud and following stillness.