May 11, 2011

my two cents: on broken hearts.

I find few things quite so beautiful as a person with a broken heart.

It sounds strange, I know, but when someone is brokenhearted, they are laid open—at their most raw, their most vulnerable; they are emotionally stripped. Walls crumble, having no reason to protect what's already been shattered, and the person's real essence rises to the surface.

This is why I love to hear the breakup stories. Why I love to sit around with a group of people, coffee or tea or wine in hand, and learn the stories of each other's breaking. The awful, painful, oh-how-did-I-even-get-through-that? stories of bitter or sweet or sometimes bittersweet endings.

Yes. I, too, have been brokenhearted. And, well, truth is, I sometimes miss who I was then. No, I don't miss the desperation. I don't miss being the girl who moved through days as a shell of a person, a shadow of her former self. I don't miss the dull ache, the feeling of walking in a haze, the sensation of being in pieces—in fragile, sharp-edged pieces I didn't recognize.

What I miss is the fearlessness that emerged from the ruins. That feeling of having nothing, nothing at all, to lose. When your heart is broken, you find and embrace an intimacy with yourself, a closeness to your own spirit, a kind and compassionate self-love that you can later forget to nourish. And in those most gut-wrenching hours of my own heartache, I remember turning inward, and to music, and to literature—toward any place where I knew I'd feel understood. Where I could find, if not the answers, then at least the most important and most compelling questions.

Now, though, on the other side of this--with a heart restored and reshaped and rediscovered—I am struck by my own desire to revisit that girl. To remember how she felt and uncover once again what seemed so true and tender about her in those broken moments. And also, to let her know that the pieces will eventually come together quite brilliantly. That she has nothing—not a thing—to worry about.


MJ said... [Reply to comment]

I completely understand what you are saying! I love to hear the stories of strength and courage and self-discovery. I love the time of new opportunities and fresh perspectives...

Nicole Marie said... [Reply to comment]

you are an amazing amazing writer!! gosh how you put into words the exact things i'm feeling... i am at the "emerging from the ruins" stage.

and i feel like i am whole new stronger better me that is ready to take on the world. cause those days of "hollow self" sucked but i can honestly look back on those and be thankful for the strength it's given me today to do whatever the heck i want to do

Sarah McCabe said... [Reply to comment]

Thank you for that. My boyfriend and I just broke up two days ago, so this post really hit home for me. Right now, I can't possibly imagine getting better, but I know that I will eventually, and it's nice to hear someone else say the same thing.

Renée said... [Reply to comment]

wow I love your writing and it's oh-so-true!

Aimee, Danny, Nya, Teyo said... [Reply to comment]

so true, and so well said!

nicole addison said... [Reply to comment]

this is absolutely incredible. my heartbreak wasnt too long ago, i still remember making the decision that i knew would lead to these feelings and thinking, "ok, it's just me. me, i got this." and i found so much comfort in that. i feel lucky that im still in that stage, but past that gut wrenching pain. as sad and broken hearted as i was... i was almost happier than i had been in a while. i'm sure circumstances affected that but i knew nothing could be worse then the pain i was experiencing and i had a feeling that it could only get better and that, to me was extraordinary.

Oh, My Darling said... [Reply to comment]

Laura, this is such an honest and beautiful post. I experienced the biggest romantic heartbreak of my life about 7 months ago. I was that shell of a person, just trying not to cry at her desk, then coming home and letting it all out, only to fall asleep early from emotional exhaustion and a lack of appetite. Having friends who would listen to my story, as you like to do for your loved ones, was monumentally helpful. Gratitude doesn't begin to describe that feeling of catharsis.

And you are so right about emerging from the ruins. After those first few weeks of pain and tears, I put myself together and pushed onward, full force. The adventures I've had, the friendships I've made, and the risks I've taken since the breakup are beautiful little treasures and reminders of how I've been able to carve out my own wonderful life, without the person who I thought I'd be sharing it with.

Thanks for the moment of self-reflection!

Erin said... [Reply to comment]

I love this, and completely agree with you. You are a truly amazing writer. Thank you for always sharing your thoughts with us.

julierosesews said... [Reply to comment]

I can't tell you how glad I am that you posted this. I'm two weeks past a completely unexpected and painful break-up, and it's one of the strangest periods of my life that I've ever experienced. I'm devastated, and yet there's so much relief, too. I've started taking care of myself again-- doing yoga and going to bed early and eating more healthfully, and I'm slowly realizing that the relationship I was in was taking away all of the things that I used to love about myself, optimism and independence and patience with other people. After two years of molding my life to fit the whims of someone else, even though I still miss that person terribly, my life is starting to feel like mine again. Thank you so much for this post and for making me realize that it's completely normal and okay to have such mixed feelings about a break-up.

Kristina said... [Reply to comment]

This is beautifully written and so very true. I understand exactly what you are saying. Seems quite the opposite doesn't it? When we have lost everything - it seems as if we should shut out the entire world because we have indeed lost everything, and can't bear to lose any more. Then once we have the love of another, and ourselves - we should be dancing, opening our hearts and refinding the balance and love within ourselves, however, that isn't how it seems to work. We tend to shut others out in fear of loss again instead of opening ourselves even bigger, with so much to appreciate and soak in. Ironic huh? I completely know what you mean though with having nothing left to lose, with the heart and soul open on the floor. If only we could train ourselves to do it without pain.

Girly Notes said... [Reply to comment]
This comment has been removed by the author.
Girly Notes said... [Reply to comment]

your words are so beautiful ,till now I haven't been through a heart-breaking break up but just hearing stories about bad break ups making me avoid being in a relationship ,I guess I'm afraid to get hurt.

dmk said... [Reply to comment]

i like this :)

Malin said... [Reply to comment]

Beautifully written, and oh-so-true. I am just in the process of finding myself, and I feel this hope within, as in it can only get better from here on...

Holly said... [Reply to comment]

Very beautifully written & so true. This was exactly me, 4 years ago. What you just wrote brought back so many emotions of what it felt like to be heartbroken. Although at the time of the break-up I was miserable, it put me in a state to get in touch with myself & to start re-building from within. It's strange how connected you can get with yourself after you go through something like that... Thanks so much for sharing this today!

Just Believe said... [Reply to comment]

I am really touched by this. Having just gotten out of a relationship, I can relate to the feeling of having nothing to lose. Now, instead of feeling lonely, I feel strong. Thank you for the inspiration!

Danielle said... [Reply to comment]

Wow, that was perfect. I went through all of this 2 years ago and it's amazing to see the difference in myself then and now. I like how you described moving "through days as a shell of a person" that's so true. Beautifully said as usual Ms. Laura!

Cassie said... [Reply to comment]

Your words always bring a deeper perspective to just something that we hear every day: breaking up. I haven't been broken up with in quite some time and been out of the dating game for a while, but I can look back and see how things are coming together; one "date" at a time. :)

Heidiopia said... [Reply to comment]

A beautiful love letter to finding the silver lining.

Micaela said... [Reply to comment]

"This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something. " - Eat Pray Love (the book that changed my life)

the inbetween... that's what makes us stronger. it's a hard lesson, but when you get through to the other side, the despair will be replaced with joy.

i promise.

that's what i wish i had told my broken hearted self... it gets so much better! beyond what you thought your heart was capable of. that's what i tell the girls going through the ruins now.

because even at my happiest... it only takes an old post of mine when i went through heart-ache to get that pit in my stomach of remembering that kind of sadness...

thank you for this amazing post!

Betsey said... [Reply to comment]

oh, this is such a beautiful post. I've never thought about a breakup quite like this before, but I see so much truth in this! lovely!

Novelista Barista said... [Reply to comment]

i see what you mean, but i dont ever want to go back to that. it was a bad time,, and i dont want anyone to have to see me like that again... but then again, thats at the time when my friends and family were at their strongest and you really know who you real friends are when push comes to shove.
great post :)

Ana* said... [Reply to comment]

i had a heart break last year, my relationship ended on September and i didn't think i would feel any better at the time. I remember a comment you posted on a heartbreak post I had written. You were so right, it does get better everyday.

Eleanor said... [Reply to comment]

hope you are well.
being broken hearted means you are living... and it gives you strength and hope when you get over it that you have loved... and you will love again.
it is so painful but is also very special as it is part of lifes fabric i guess!
great post laura :)
eleanor xx

sherri lynn said... [Reply to comment]

I totally know what you're talking about! I was in that place "having emerged from the ruins" and felt completely fearless and was in a great place. It was then, when I was least expecting it, that my (now) husband and I started dating and fell in love! It comes when we aren't looking for it, I guess!

Kelly said... [Reply to comment]

I definitely understand what you mean. I find heartbreak beautiful for those same reasons. And any type of heartbreak, whether it be from a break up, the loss of a loved one, a friendship ending, losing a job, whatever. Heartbreak is a special kind of grief, and grief can move us to do powerful things.

cOLey24 said... [Reply to comment]

This is an absolutely beautiful post! Such a graceful way of finding the light at the end of the tunnel.

Lauren said... [Reply to comment]

this is beautiful laura. and strangely, i know exactly what you mean. there's something beautiful about broken things. whether it be a person with a broken heart, or a piece of furniture with a broken leg....i just find the restorative potential to be beautiful. thanks for sharing.

Lauren said... [Reply to comment]

oh....and yay for moving to san fran! one step closer to sam....and one step closer to visiting oregon to meet you live and in the flesh :).

nicole said... [Reply to comment]

beautifully written