Exactly What Heartbreak Feels Like

I was leaving work and I looked over my shoulder, out of the back window of my two-door, silver Mazda truck, to make sure I wasn’t going to hit anything when I pulled out of my parking spot.

The road was clear, but my eyes landed on a monumentally large tree across the street, reaching no less than 40 feet into the crisp, wintery air. The late-morning sun was sneaking its way through the branches and leaves, sending tubes of light through the fog that hung like hot breath on cold nights. It was windy that day.

The gusts came like punches.

Seconds after I noticed the tree, one of them hit — one of those arresting, blustery blows. It was like a giant stood behind the branches and, cupping his hands over his mouth, blew hard as he could.  All at once, thousands of leaves shot from the tree.

Thousands of green, almond-shaped leaves.

Suspended for a moment, the leaves stood frozen before beginning their slow, deliberative dance toward the asphalt below.

“That’s exactly what heartbreak feels like,” I thought.

Life has a pernicious way, it seems, of quietly sidling up behind our limbs and catching us by surprise with its powerful, unexpected exhalations: that call you receive to tell you she’s in the hospital again, and this time it doesn’t look hopeful; the meeting request from your boss that seems all-too-foreboding; his watery eyes as he tells you he doesn’t love you back; the letter that says you won’t be attending next September. When they hit, the powerful blasts of reality, we’re left watching our leaves scatter, wishing we could somehow coax them back to where they so snugly sat during summer.

Where the natural seasons have an advantage is in their proverbially predictable pattern.

Winter always gives way to spring.

The seasons of the soul, however, tell an admittedly different tale. The gusts of heartbreak inevitably come, the deaths and disappointments and disparities and devastation, and before we’ve even caught our breath we’re standing naked and leafless in the dead of winter.

Without him, without it, without that, without her, we don’t think we’ll ever make it out of the cold. Some people never do.

Slowly, ever so slowly, if we begin to painfully examine ourselves, our leafless, job-less, boyfriend-less, parent-less selves, we recognize that beauty remains.  Like the barren tree silhouetted on the mountainside, we become heralds of simplicity.

Friends still sit with us. Children still hug our knees. Songs still speak the words we’re pressed to find.

Until we learn to embrace our bare, exposed branches and recognize our worth apart from titles and talents, the buds of spring cannot surface, heralding new life.

When we learn to love ourselves, winter never wins.

The leaves rested on the ground until kicked up once again by the wheels of my truck as it passed over. In my rearview mirror, I watched them dance one last time before the road veered left. TC mark

image – Rene van Rijn

More From Thought Catalog

  • http://twitter.com/dutchess12x35 Johanna Van

    great piece!!!! this is more like it 

  • Sarah

    This was beautiful.

  • Jenmacaluso

    Thank you

  • Cristal Ribeiro

    Flawless. :)

  • jules

    amazing stuff. 

  • http://mason-jar-memories.blogspot.com/ Grace Elizabeth

    So, this is amazing.

  • Gee

    amazing stuff, love reading pieces like this when I can relate to it so much. 

  • LazyReader

    When we learn to love ourselves, winter never wins.


  • Grace

    So simple and just perfect. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/grc15r Gregory Costa

     It’s a heartache
    Nothing but a heartache
    Hits you when it’s too late
    Hits you when you’re down

    It’s a fool’s game
    Nothing but a fools game
    Standing in the cold rain
    Feeling like a clown

  • Momdarkness

    this was really great, thank you

  • Rhiannon

    So, um, this is nice

  • Sophia

    what a wonderful metaphor. i can only imagine what it must have felt like to see that and suddenly realize this idea. thanks for writing

  • maxo

    great great great. the ones who had their hearts broken will understand this.

  • mkathleen

    this is wonderful

  • jackie

    haunting and more accurate than most would probably like to admit… you sir, are a winner. 

  • kimmie

    it’s as if your speaking to my soul. that’s exactly what heartbreak feels. a naked tree in the middle of winter.

  • james11

    Best article I’ve read on this website.

    I just went through a terrible heart ache. Girlfriend of 3 years dumped me and ran off with another man. Horrible feeling heart break is. Just gotta keep on going.

  • Wizzzmaster

    No more words left to say! very well said, perfectly depicted, yet extremely true…more or less its even real

    Loved it, amazing…Many thanks

  • beatrice

    Written so poetically with such consideration of detail in the description of the metaphor, it was simply beautiful.

  • Guest

    heavy-handed, unnecessary 2x use of ‘herald’, but i still really liked it
    it’s that time of year

  • http://twitter.com/KathHazTrophy Kathy U.

    Until we learn to embrace our bare, exposed branches and recognize our worth apart from titles and talents, the buds of spring cannot surface, heralding new life.
    When we learn to love ourselves, winter never wins.


  • fwwwwan

    it took me SO LONG to finally reach that place of self acceptance, and when i finally did, the heartbreak began to wane. it took 2 years of crying myself to sleep and feeling insignificant, but in those two years i learned so much about myself. despite all the moments of self doubt and masochistic thoughts, i have become stronger because of them.

  • Sravya

    My grandmother died only two weeks ago, and I was rejected from my top school yesterday… this is exactly what I needed.

    I won’t let winter win.

    Thank you.

    • http://twitter.com/todd_clayton Todd Clayton

      You’re not alone, and you’re more than welcome. 

  • srh1987

    My heart is shattered. Loving someone who is incapable of loving you back will do that  I guess. I miss my leaves but you’re right…when we love ourselves winter will never win. I am learning how to love myself a little more every day.

blog comments powered by Disqus