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.

79 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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Big feelings, and the big behaviour that comes from big feelings, are a sign of a distressed nervous system. Think of this like a burning building. The behaviour is the smoke. The fire is a distressed nervous system. It’s so tempting to respond directly to the behaviour (the smoke), but by doing this, we ignore the fire. Their behaviour and feelings in that moment are a call for support - for us to help that distressed brain and body find the way home. 

The most powerful language for any nervous system is another nervous system. They will catch our distress (as we will catch theirs) but they will also catch our calm. It can be tempting to move them to independence on this too quickly, but it just doesn’t work this way. Children can only learn to self-regulate with lots (and lots and lots) of experience co-regulating. 

This isn’t something that can be taught. It’s something that has to be experienced over and over. It’s like so many things - driving a car, playing the piano - we can talk all we want about ‘how’ but it’s not until we ‘do’ over and over that we get better at it. 

Self-regulation works the same way. It’s not until children have repeated experiences with an adult bringing them back to calm, that they develop the neural pathways to come back to calm on their own. 

An important part of this is making sure we are guiding that nervous system with tender, gentle hands and a steady heart. This is where our own self-regulation becomes important. Our nervous systems speak to each other every moment of every day. When our children or teens are distressed, we will start to feel that distress. It becomes a loop. We feel what they feel, they feel what we feel. Our own capacity to self-regulate is the circuit breaker. 

This can be so tough, but it can happen in microbreaks. A few strong steady breaths can calm our own nervous system, which we can then use to calm theirs. Breathe, and be with. It’s that simple, but so tough to do some days. When they come back to calm, then have those transformational chats - What happened? What can make it easier next time?

Who you are in the moment will always be more important than what you do.
How we are with them, when they are their everyday selves and when they aren’t so adorable, will build their view of three things: the world, its people, and themselves. This will then inform how they respond to the world and how they build their very important space in it. 

Will it be a loving, warm, open-hearted space with lots of doors for them to throw open to the people and experiences that are right for them? Or will it be a space with solid, too high walls that close out too many of the people and experiences that would nourish them.

They will learn from what we do with them and to them, for better or worse. We don’t teach them that the world is safe for them to reach into - we show them. We don’t teach them to be kind, respectful, and compassionate. We show them. We don’t teach them that they matter, and that other people matter, and that their voices and their opinions matter. We show them. We don’t teach them that they are little joy mongers who light up the world. We show them. 

But we have to be radically kind with ourselves too. None of this is about perfection. Parenting is hard, and days will be hard, and on too many of those days we’ll be hard too. That’s okay. We’ll say things we shouldn’t say and do things we shouldn’t do. We’re human too. Let’s not put pressure on our kiddos to be perfect by pretending that we are. As long as we repair the ruptures as soon as we can, and bathe them in love and the warmth of us as much as we can, they will be okay.

This also isn’t about not having boundaries. We need to be the guardians of their world and show them where the edges are. But in the guarding of those boundaries we can be strong and loving, strong and gentle. We can love them, and redirect their behaviour.

It’s when we own our stuff(ups) and when we let them see us fall and rise with strength, integrity, and compassion, and when we hold them gently through the mess of it all, that they learn about humility, and vulnerability, and the importance of holding bruised hearts with tender hands. It’s not about perfection, it’s about consistency, and honesty, and the way we respond to them the most.♥️

#parenting #mindfulparenting
Anxiety and courage always exist together. It can be no other way. Anxiety is a call to courage. It means you're about to do something brave, so when there is one the other will be there too. Their courage might feel so small and be whisper quiet, but it will always be there and always ready to show up when they need it to.
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But courage doesn’t always feel like courage, and it won't always show itself as a readiness. Instead, it might show as a rising - from fear, from uncertainty, from anger. None of these mean an absence of courage. They are the making of space, and the opportunity for courage to rise.
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When the noise from anxiety is loud and obtuse, we’ll have to gently add our voices to usher their courage into the light. We can do this speaking of it and to it, and by shifting the focus from their anxiety to their brave. The one we focus on is ultimately what will become powerful. It will be the one we energise. Anxiety will already have their focus, so we’ll need to make sure their courage has ours.
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But we have to speak to their fear as well, in a way that makes space for it to be held and soothed, with strength. Their fear has an important job to do - to recruit the support of someone who can help them feel safe. Only when their fear has been heard will it rest and make way for their brave.
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What does this look like? Tell them their stories of brave, but acknowledge the fear that made it tough. Stories help them process their emotional experiences in a safe way. It brings word to the feelings and helps those big feelings make sense and find containment. ‘You were really worried about that exam weren’t you. You couldn’t get to sleep the night before. It was tough going to school but you got up, you got dressed, you ... and you did it. Then you ...’
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In the moment, speak to their brave by first acknowledging their need to flee (or fight), then tell them what you know to be true - ‘This feels scary for you doesn’t it. I know you want to run. It makes so much sense that you would want to do that. I also know you can do hard things. My darling, I know it with everything in me.’
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#positiveparenting #parenting #childanxiety #anxietyinchildren #mindfulpare
Separation anxiety has an important job to do - it’s designed to keep children safe by driving them to stay close to their important adults. Gosh it can feel brutal sometimes though.

Whenever there is separation from an attachment person there will be anxiety unless there are two things: attachment with another trusted, loving adult; and a felt sense of you holding on, even when you aren't beside them. Putting these in place will help soften anxiety.

As long as children are are in the loving care of a trusted adult, there's no need to avoid separation. We'll need to remind ourselves of this so we can hold on to ourselves when our own anxiety is rising in response to theirs. 

If separation is the problem, connection has to be the solution. The connection can be with any loving adult, but it's more than an adult being present. It needs an adult who, through their strong, warm, loving presence, shows the child their abundant intention to care for that child, and their joy in doing so. This can be helped along by showing that you trust the adult to love that child big in our absence. 'I know [important adult] loves you and is going to take such good care of you.'

To help your young one feel held on to by you, even in absence, let them know you'll be thinking of them and can't wait to see them. Bolster this by giving them something of yours to hold while you're gone - a scarf, a note - anything that will be felt as 'you'.

They know you are the one who makes sure their world is safe, so they’ll be looking to you for signs of safety: 'Do you think we'll be okay if we aren't together?' First, validate: 'You really want to stay with me, don't you. I wish I could stay with you too! It's hard being away from your special people isn't it.' Then, be their brave. Let it be big enough to wrap around them so they can rest in the safety and strength of it: 'I know you can do this, love. We can do hard things can't we.'

Part of growing up brave is learning that the presence of anxiety doesn't always mean something is wrong. Sometimes it means they are on the edge of brave - and being away from you for a while counts as brave.
Even the most loving, emotionally available adult might feel frustration, anger, helplessness or distress in response to a child’s big feelings. This is how it’s meant to work. 

Their distress (fight/flight) will raise distress in us. The purpose is to move us to protect or support or them, but of course it doesn’t always work this way. When their big feelings recruit ours it can drive us more to fight (anger, blame), or to flee (avoid, ignore, separate them from us) which can steal our capacity to support them. It will happen to all of us from time to time. 

Kids and teens can’t learn to manage big feelings on their own until they’ve done it plenty of times with a calm, loving adult. This is where co-regulation comes in. It helps build the vital neural pathways between big feelings and calm. They can’t build those pathways on their own. 

It’s like driving a car. We can tell them how to drive as much as we like, but ‘talking about’ won’t mean they’re ready to hit the road by themselves. Instead we sit with them in the front seat for hours, driving ‘with’ until they can do it on their own. Feelings are the same. We feel ‘with’, over and over, until they can do it on their own. 

What can help is pausing for a moment to see the behaviour for what it is - a call for support. It’s NOT bad behaviour or bad parenting. It’s not that.

Our own feelings can give us a clue to what our children are feeling. It’s a normal, healthy, adaptive way for them to share an emotional load they weren’t meant to carry on their own. Self-regulation makes space for us to hold those feelings with them until those big feelings ease. 

Self-regulation can happen in micro moments. First, see the feelings or behaviour for what it is - a call for support. Then breathe. This will calm your nervous system, so you can calm theirs. In the same way we will catch their distress, they will also catch ours - but they can also catch our calm. Breathe, validate, and be ‘with’. And you don’t need to do more than that.

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