Dear Broken Hearted One … When You’re In The Thick of a Break-Up.

Break-up, separation, relationship break-up, breaking up

Dear Broken Hearted One,

I’ve been where you are.

I know that loneliness, that messiness and that ache that steals you. 

I know that searing silence that comes at night before you fall asleep, and the lengths you’d go to to avoid it – keeping the light on, the music, the tv on low.

I know how empty space can be so heavy and thick with memories, that it can drive a longing so crushing it takes your breath for a while.

I know how it feels to not want to move – from the bed, the shower, the car, the house, the floor, but at the same time wanting to be anywhere else but where you are. 

I’ve cried so hard and felt pain so intense that it was only that primal, automatic magical thing that keeps a heart beating on its own that got me through.

When someone walks away, it can feel like a personal assault. So you wonder what you could have done, or how you could have been, that could have made the difference and keep the break-up away. Perhaps the answer is something and perhaps it’s nothing. It doesn’t matter. The thing is that we humans are a glorious, beautiful mess – a bundle of parts with some that are close enough to perfect and some that are nowhere near it.

Not everyone will love you for who you are, but who you are will always be enough – better than enough – for the right person. Loving enough, funny enough, smart enough, strong enough, gentle enough, giving enough, sane enough, crazy enough, level enough, wild enough, beautiful enough. The imperfect, messy parts of you won’t matter. On days they’ll drive the one who loves you crazy perhaps, but never enough to matter. Never enough to break-up. You will be loved anyway – sometimes despite them, sometimes because of them. 

That’s what love does. It makes the messiness of each of us not matter, then slowly, quietly and gently, it supports us in bringing the best version of ourselves to life. If it doesn’t do that – if it feels hard, or fragile, or unpredictable then it’s not love in its most nurturing, healthiest form – habit maybe, fondness maybe, love in the best way it can be – but not love in the way you deserve. In love there’ll be fighting, conflict, sometimes you’ll be crazy with hate, you’ll feel good, feel bad, want more, want less, but there will always be warmth, security, safety, a wanting and a fulfilment – and a view to the very best version of you.

People come into our lives to learn from us or to teach us and not everyone is meant to stay. There are so many reasons for this, and none of them have anything to do with you not being enough.

Sometimes the person we want isn’t ready or willing for the bending and flexing it takes to be in the relationship at that particular time. Perhaps he wants more bending and flexing from you, but so much that it will change you in a way that will make you less than you are meant to be. Sometimes, the growth just comes to an end, and the break-up that follows doesn’t mean the relationship wasn’t important or loving or exactly what each of you needed at the time. 

It probably feels as though the world is different to the one you’ve known and for a little while, it will be. Right now, something inside you is changing. It might feel as though you’re falling apart – I get that – but you will come back together in a way that’s stronger, wiser and more powerful. That’s what heartbreak is all about. Few things have the intensity that can breaks us into pieces like that, and make way for compassion, self-love and courage to fight to bring us back together, better than before an closer to the best possible version of ourselves. 

Every person will at some point feel the heartbreak you’re feeling now. Everyone will lose someone who was everything good about the world. Everyone will feel a loss that strips them back to bare. It’s awful. It’s intense. And it’s part of being human. 

The greatest thing to take from this is that everyone gets through it. Everyone gets up and moves forward and eventually finds themselves at a point where the heartbreak, the pain and the reasons it happened won’t matter. You don’t have to believe that. It will happen for you whether you believe it or not. For now, all you have to do is breathe, and get through today. Feel the love from the people around you and from those you’ve never met who have been broken hearted too, who would right now send you armfuls if they knew your story. 

[irp posts=”150″ name=”Your Body During a Breakup: The Science of a Broken Heart”]

We’re all in this human thing together. Perhaps we don’t go through the same thing at the same time and perhaps not in the same way, but there is something about pain and grief that connects us. We all get it – wherever we’ve come from and wherever we are, we’ve known it – love, loss, wanting and longing. We’ve all been there, and we all make it through.

There is a version of this life that has a happy, strong, powerful you in it. Give it time. It’s working on making it’s way to you. When you want to – and there’s plenty of time – open your wild, brave heart and let it know that you’re ready.

80 Comments

Paida

Thanks soo much for the advice ..I’m feeling so lonely but it’s good to know tha I’m not the only one going through this

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Gem

Thank you for this. It speaks to me so loudly. I just watched my boyfriend of 5 years walk out the door yesterday and I feel like I could die. I just hope I make it through this.

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Bishakha C

Oh ..my husband of ten years dumped me for another woman in Feb.all I remember is sweet memories and it is as If someone has cut off a part of my body …and all I see is cold indifference from other side when he messages me …it smtms feels m in a dark pot,tryng to claw my way up and I keep slipping ..but yes there are days when m fluttering about with hopes of better days .

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toohurt

We just missed 6 year mark. Not a day goes by I do not wake up feeling sick. empty, unfulfilled, sad, depressed, hurt, angry, jealous. She was my world and I failed to fully show it every year, week, day. I was inconsistent, too inconsistent she said. Positive it was also lack of a proposal. Its been 5 months and it still feels like week 1. Holidays are no longer what they once were and honestly I dont think they ever will be even if I do marry someday. It’ll always remind me of this heartache, my first one really. Mid 30s. Was quiet on Thanksgiving, skipping the tree, and I dont even want to be awake Dec 31st at midnight while she most likely kisses a new guy, and forget about Feb 14th. Theres no end in sight, healing hasnt begun.

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Christopher S

I am feeling the exact same way as you. I don’t know what to do either. I just want may feelings to go away.

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Dina Carmina Palm

I’ve been heart broken for 4 months, but it feels like it’s been a year already. don’t know what to do either 🙁

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Fer

I completely understand.. mine was the other way around he wasn’t happy.. almost 8 years no proposal.. I Know what everyone thinks what a fool… Hopping one day I can heal but for now man it hurts to breathe..

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Martin

Thank you for wonderful tips. It really talks to people with broken hearts and people who wants something to fall back on. I hope they access it at the right time.

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ann

I feel crushed, Lost,confused, dis-oriented. I was to be married in 3 months time and we broke up last week. I called it off- but the pain is in no way less. The lack of investment in this relation-ship, the negativity. He is a recovering addict. He told me countless times that he need to be with people like him. I will never understand him. I cannot eat. i cannot sleep. I cannot cry. I am so numb. It hurts so bad. I gave my all to this relationship. I just want the pain to stop.

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Millieandria

I was with an addict it was very intense . Its over now some 10 years . I was addicted to him wanting to save him . You can’t, just walk away because it will always be painful and you deserve to be happy and loved not just forever caring for someone else. Ive started taking care of me now after always putting others first it took a lot of heartache soul searching but im happier than ive ever been . I used want to save the world some of us are like that no doubt there’s a reason in our stars in our childhood in our destiny who knows but one day you’ll stop saving others and start loving yourself not in a selfish way but by simply not letting yourself take on too much of others pain suffering . .

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Lover

Thankyou for this. But All i want to do is go back to him. Take this pain away, will it ?
Have I made the right desicion? Is he hurting as much as me? I miss him dearly. All I can think about is all the goodtimes and no reasons why we decided to go separate ways.
This is hard, too hard. My whole being is in pain. I hope time heals and shows the right way. Fast forward 3 months from now please. Kia kaha.

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TheDoctorIsHeartbroken

The woman that I had envisioned growing old with and who literally lit up my life decided to walk away from our engagement to pursue the possibility of “greener grass”. While I may be intellectually advanced, I am but a simple man when it comes to emotions and do not always do a great job of expressing my feelings, wants, and needs. Unfortunately, I have unresolved bagged from severe emotional abuse when I was very young so go out of my way to avoid conflict and appease others. I loved and failed, so am lost. Maybe I just need to become a heartless user of others since the heartfelt giver is not working…people are basically selfish and not selfless. Takers rule this world and they always will.

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Annon

I know exactly how you are feeling,I gave 15 yrs of my time,heart,love,laughter,tears and so much more to a man that struck lightening in me from the get go.I am so torn down right now not knowing why I wasn’it enough.The lies,secrets,manipulations,that I overlooked bc I was truly love struck with this man.He isn’t talking to me at this time bc of a petty misunderstanding,over some fragmented bs that he sent me in a text.I called on him to explain further and his selfish butt cussed me out and flipped the script like its my fault he cussed me out.My heart is so bruised and crushed I don’t know what to do.Lashing isn’t smart,showing up to confront what’s up is out of the question.He would only blame me and accuse me of trippin- just so broken and don’t know what to do about putting myself back together- sadder than sad:(

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Keyblaze

Relationships don’t always work. Sometimes, a breakup is more or less amicable but most often than not, it hurts so much that you feel your heart will burst.

Dr. Sanjeev Trivedi talks about the ways to deal with heartbreak. Here are her ways to deal with it.

1. You are not the first person in the world to experience heartache. Millions have suffered and have come out of it. Pain is something that adds to your understanding, knowledge of people and your own maturity. Though it is not a pleasant feeling, it is quite normal.

2. Do things that help prevent memories of time spent together. Delete chats, emails, and photographs from handset, laptop and computer. If you cannot gather courage to do this, as least move them to a folder marked ‘hidden’ and saved in a remote corner not easily accessible. Do away with gifts and mementos so that you are not reminded of the person.

3. Stop all communication with the person and also those who may want to inquire or talk about her or him. People can suspend all communication when they want to, but in vulnerable moments there is a sudden urge to reconnect and therefore blocking communication channels helps.

4. Once you are in better control of yourself pat yourself on your back. But there will be times when you may need help. The urge, the confusion and the hope may make you take a wrong step and therefore in order to block this possibility, you can talk to a friend or a counselor about your feelings.`

5. When you cannot help remaining sane and normal there is no harm in becoming sad. You may cry loudly if you feel like. Crying makes one feel better, because with stress and anger getting washed out you are also relieved of the toxins. You feel light, relaxed and refreshed.

6. Please understand that the ability to guide, manage and control someone else does not lie in your hands. Put yourself in his or her place and imagine if you would like to be doing things that others want from you or you would like to be a person with free will and independence. Why should he or she behave the way you want? If you once loved someone, respect her or his decision.

7. Move away from ‘blame game’. Do not find faults with the individual, other people or circumstances. Instead, start accepting the current situation. Once you are closer to reality it would be easier for you to distance yourself from the pain.

8. Try to make new friends. Invest time in people who make you happier. The social support system in a collective society like ours is always readily available.

9. Plan a trip or a vacation with family or friends. Create new and happy memories which will be your new treasure to fall back upon, when you feel lonely and sad. Click new pictures. Get a pet if you feel it might help.

10. Try to help a person who is undergoing similar trauma. Be a guide or a counselor to him or her. With what you have learnt in life, you can surely share some valuable tips with the person who is suffering. Realize the change in you. See what is good in you and around you.

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Syed

Hey thank you so much for this,
I am in very much pain, from a long time I don’t understand what to do, feeling worst sad and so much????? praying to God to get me through this ASAP.

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Megan

I loved the line about bending and flexing. My fiance and his family needed me to bend and flex more then i was capable of. They needed me to be ok with things that i promised myself i would never be ok with again. But someday I will be enough and i will bend and flex and my person will bend and flex with me. In just the right way.

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CB

This truly spoke to me. I wept as I read it. I truly hope I get through this pain. It’s the most intense thing I’ve ever gone through. And it sucks.

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L

Broken heart really sucks. T_T We’ll get through this pain.
Sending warm hugs and pls don’t forget to take care of yourself.

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Audrey

Wow. Amazing. Thank you sooooo much, Karen, for this wonderful article. It’s very special. It really spoke to exactly what I needed to hear, especially about how our imperfect, messy parts won’t matter when we are with the right person.

Reply

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The temptation to fix their big feelings can be seismic. Often this is connected to needing to ease our own discomfort at their discomfort, which is so very normal.

Big feelings in them are meant to raise (sometimes big) feelings in us. This is all a healthy part of the attachment system. It happens to mobilise us to respond to their distress, or to protect them if their distress is in response to danger.

Emotion is energy in motion. We don’t want to bury it, stop it, smother it, and we don’t need to fix it. What we need to do is make a safe passage for it to move through them. 

Think of emotion like a river. Our job is to hold the ground strong and steady at the banks so the river can move safely, without bursting the banks.

However hard that river is racing, they need to know we can be with the river (the emotion), be with them, and handle it. This might feel or look like you aren’t doing anything, but actually it’s everything.

The safety that comes from you being the strong, steady presence that can lovingly contain their big feelings will let the emotional energy move through them and bring the brain back to calm.

Eventually, when they have lots of experience of us doing this with them, they will learn to do it for themselves, but that will take time and experience. The experience happens every time you hold them steady through their feelings. 

This doesn’t mean ignoring big behaviour. For them, this can feel too much like bursting through the banks, which won’t feel safe. Sometimes you might need to recall the boundary and let them know where the edges are, while at the same time letting them see that you can handle the big of the feeling. Its about loving and leading all at once. ‘It’s okay to be angry. It’s not okay to use those words at me.’

Ultimately, big feelings are a call for support. Sometimes support looks like breathing and being with. Sometimes it looks like showing them you can hold the boundary, even when they feel like they’re about to burst through it. And if they’re using spicy words to get us to back off, it might look like respecting their need for space but staying in reaching distance, ‘Ok, I’m right here whenever you need.’♥️
We all need certain things to feel safe enough to put ourselves into the world. Kids with anxiety have magic in them, every one of them, but until they have a felt sense of safety, it will often stay hidden.

‘Safety’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, but about what they feel. At school, they might have the safest, most loving teacher in the safest, most loving school. This doesn’t mean they will feel enough relational safety straight away that will make it easier for them to do hard things. They can still do those hard things, but those things are going to feel bigger for a while. This is where they’ll need us and their other anchor adult to be patient, gentle, and persistent.

Children aren’t meant to feel safe with and take the lead from every adult. It’s not the adult’s role that makes the difference, but their relationship with the child.

Children are no different to us. Just because an adult tells them they’ll be okay, it doesn’t mean they’ll feel it or believe it. What they need is to be given time to actually experience the person as being safe, supportive and ready to catch them.

Relationship is key. The need for safety through relationship isn’t an ‘anxiety thing’. It’s a ‘human thing’. When we feel closer to the people around us, we can rise above the mountains in our way. When we feel someone really caring about us, we’re more likely to open up to their influence
and learn from them.

But we have to be patient. Even for teachers with big hearts and who undertand the importance of attachment relationships, it can take time.

Any adult at school can play an important part in helping a child feel safe – as long as that adult is loving, warm, and willing to do the work to connect with that child. It might be the librarian, the counsellor, the office person, a teacher aide. It doesn’t matter who, as long as it is someone who can be available for that child at dropoff or when feelings get big during the day and do little check-ins along the way.

A teacher, or any important adult can make a lasting difference by asking, ‘How do I build my relationship with this child so s/he trusts me when I say, ‘I’ve got you, and I know you can do this.’♥️
There is a beautiful ‘everythingness’ in all of us. The key to living well is being able to live flexibly and more deliberately between our edges.

So often though, the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’ we inhale in childhood and as we grow, lead us to abandon some of those precious, needed parts of us. ‘Don’t be angry/ selfish/ shy/ rude. She’s not a maths person.’ ‘Don’t argue.’ Ugh.

Let’s make sure our children don’t cancel parts of themselves. They are everything, but not always all at once. They can be anxious and brave. Strong and soft. Angry and calm. Big and small. Generous and self-ish. Some things they will find hard, and they can do hard things. None of these are wrong ways to be. What trips us up is rigidity, and only ever responding from one side of who we can be.

We all have extremes or parts we favour. This is what makes up the beautiful, complex, individuality of us. We don’t need to change this, but the more we can open our children to the possibility in them, the more options they will have in responding to challenges, the everyday, people, and the world. 

We can do this by validating their ‘is’ without needing them to be different for a while in the moment, and also speaking to the other parts of them when we can. 

‘Yes maths is hard, and I know you can do hard things. How can I help?’

‘I can see how anxious you feel. That’s so okay. I also know you have brave in you.’

‘I love your ‘big’ and the way you make us laugh. You light up the room.’ And then at other times: ‘It can be hard being in a room with new people can’t it. It’s okay to be quiet. I could see you taking it all in.’

‘It’s okay to want space from people. Sometimes you just want your things and yourself for yourself, hey. I feel like that sometimes too. I love the way you know when you need this.’ And then at other times, ‘You looked like you loved being with your friends today. I loved watching you share.’

The are everything, but not all at once. Our job is to help them live flexibly and more deliberately between the full range of who they are and who they can be: anxious/brave; kind/self-ish; focussed inward/outward; angry/calm. This will take time, and there is no hurry.♥️
For our kids and teens, the new year will bring new adults into their orbit. With this, comes new opportunities to be brave and grow their courage - but it will also bring anxiety. For some kiddos, this anxiety will feel so big, but we can help them feel bigger.

The antidote to a felt sense of threat is a felt sense of safety. As long as they are actually safe, we can facilitate this by nurturing their relationship with the important adults who will be caring for them, whether that’s a co-parent, a stepparent, a teacher, a coach. 

There are a number of ways we can facilitate this:

- Use the name of their other adult (such as a teacher) regularly, and let it sound loving and playful on your voice.
- Let them see that you have an open, willing heart in relation to the other adult.
- Show them you trust the other adult to care for them (‘I know Mrs Smith is going to take such good care of you.’)
- Facilitate familiarity. As much as you can, hand your child to the same person when you drop them off.

It’s about helping expand their village of loving adults. The wider this village, the bigger their world in which they can feel brave enough. 

For centuries before us, it was the village that raised children. Parenting was never meant to be done by one or two adults on their own, yet our modern world means that this is how it is for so many of us. 

We can bring the village back though - and we must - by helping our kiddos feel safe, known, and held by the adults around them. We need this for each other too.

The need for safety through relationship isn’t an ‘anxiety thing’. It’s a ‘human thing’. When we feel closer to the people around us, we can rise above the mountains that block our way.♥️

That power of felt safety matters for all relationships - parent and child; other adult and child; parent and other adult. It all matters. 

A teacher, or any important adult in the life of a child, can make a lasting difference by asking, ‘How do I build my relationship with this child (and their parent) so s/he trusts me when I say, ‘I’ve got you, I care about you, and I know you can do this.’♥️
Approval, independence, autonomy, are valid needs for all of us. When a need is hungry enough we will be driven to meet it however we can. For our children, this might look like turning away from us and towards others who might be more ready to meet the need, or just taking.

If they don’t feel they can rest in our love, leadership, approval, they will seek this more from peers. There is no problem with this, but we don’t want them solely reliant on peers for these. It can make them vulnerable to making bad decisions, so as not to lose the approval or ‘everythingness’ of those peers.

If we don’t give enough freedom, they might take that freedom through defiance, secrecy, the forbidden. If we control them, they might seek more to control others, or to let others make the decisions that should be theirs.

All kids will mess up, take risks, keep secrets, and do things that baffle us sometimes. What’s important is, ‘Do they turn to us when they need to, enough?’ The ‘turning to’ starts with trusting that we are interested in supporting all their needs, not just the ones that suit us. Of course this doesn’t mean we will meet every need. It means we’ve shown them that their needs are important to us too, even though sometimes ours will be bigger (such as our need to keep them safe).

They will learn safe and healthy ways to meet their needs, by first having them met by us. This doesn’t mean granting full independence, full freedom, and full approval. What it means is holding them safely while also letting them feel enough of our approval, our willingness to support their independence, freedom, autonomy, and be heard on things that matter to them.

There’s no clear line with this. Some days they’ll want independence. Some days they won’t. Some days they’ll seek our approval. Some days they won’t care for it at all, especially if it means compromising the approval of peers. The challenge for us is knowing when to hold them closer and when to give space, when to hold the boundary and when to release it a little, when to collide and when to step out of the way. If we watch and listen, they will show us. And just like them, we won’t need to get it right all the time.♥️

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