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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Anxiety is a sign that the brain has registered threat and is mobilising the body to get to safety. One of the ways it does this is by organising the body for movement - to fight the danger or flee the danger. 

If there is no need or no opportunity for movement, that fight or flight fuel will still be looking for expression. This can come out as wriggly, fidgety, hyperactive behaviour. This is why any of us might pace or struggle to sit still when we’re anxious. 

If kids or teens are bouncing around, wriggling in their chairs, or having trouble sitting still, it could be anxiety. Remember with anxiety, it’s not about what is actually safe but about what the brain perceives. New or challenging work, doing something unfamiliar, too much going on, a tired or hungry body, anything that comes with any chance of judgement, failure, humiliation can all throw the brain into fight or flight.

When this happens, the body might feel busy, activated, restless. This in itself can drive even more anxiety in kids or teens. Any of us can struggle when we don’t feel comfortable in our own bodies. 

Anxiety is energy with nowhere to go. To move through anxiety, give the energy somewhere to go - a fast walk, a run, a whole-body shake, hula hooping, kicking a ball - any movement that spends the energy will help bring the brain and body back to calm.♥️
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#parenting #anxietyinkids #childanxiety #parenting #parent
This is not bad behaviour. It’s big behaviour a from a brain that has registered threat and is working hard to feel safe again. 

‘Threat’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, but about what the brain perceives. The brain can perceive threat when there is any chance missing out on or messing up something important, anything that feels unfamiliar, hard, or challenging, feeling misunderstood, thinking you might be angry or disappointed with them, being separated from you, being hungry or tired, anything that pushes against their sensory needs - so many things. 

During anxiety, the amygdala in the brain is switched to high volume, so other big feelings will be too. This might look like tears, sadness, or anger. 

Big feelings have a good reason for being there. The amygdala has the very important job of keeping us safe, and it does this beautifully, but not always with grace. One of the ways the amygdala keeps us safe is by calling on big feelings to recruit social support. When big feelings happen, people notice. They might not always notice the way we want to be noticed, but we are noticed. This increases our chances of safety. 

Of course, kids and teens still need our guidance and leadership and the conversations that grow them, but not during the emotional storm. They just won’t hear you anyway because their brain is too busy trying to get back to safety. In that moment, they don’t want to be fixed or ‘grown’. They want to feel seen, safe and heard. 

During the storm, preserve your connection with them as much as you can. You might not always be able to do this, and that’s okay. None of this is about perfection. If you have a rupture, repair it as soon as you can. Then, when their brains and bodies come back to calm, this is the time for the conversations that will grow them. 

Rather than, ‘What consequences do they need to do better?’, shift to, ‘What support do they need to do better?’ The greatest support will come from you in a way they can receive: ‘What happened?’ ‘What can you do differently next time?’ ‘You’re the most wonderful kid and I know you didn’t want this to happen. How can you put things right? Do you need my help with that?’♥️
Big behaviour is a sign of a nervous system in distress. Before anything, that vulnerable nervous system needs to be brought back home to felt safety. 

This will happen most powerfully with relationship and connection. Breathe and be with. Let them know you get it. This can happen with words or nonverbals. It’s about feeling what they feel, but staying regulated.

If they want space, give them space but stay in emotional proximity, ‘Ok I’m just going to stay over here. I’m right here if you need.’

If they’re using spicy words to make sure there is no confusion about how they feel about you right now, flag the behaviour, then make your intent clear, ‘I know how upset you are and I want to understand more about what’s happening for you. I’m not going to do this while you’re speaking to me like this. You can still be mad, but you need to be respectful. I’m here for you.’

Think of how you would respond if a friend was telling you about something that upset her. You wouldn’t tell her to calm down, or try to fix her (she’s not broken), or talk to her about her behaviour. You would just be there. You would ‘drop an anchor’ and steady those rough seas around her until she feels okay enough again. Along the way you would be doing things that let her know your intent to support her. You’d do this with you facial expressions, your voice, your body, your posture. You’d feel her feels, and she’d feel you ‘getting her’. It’s about letting her know that you understand what she’s feeling, even if you don’t understand why (or agree with why). 

It’s the same for our children. As their important big people, they also need leadership. The time for this is after the storm has passed, when their brains and bodies feel safe and calm. Because of your relationship, connection and their felt sense of safety, you will have access to their ‘thinking brain’. This is the time for those meaningful conversations: 
- ‘What happened?’
- ‘What did I do that helped/ didn’t help?’
- ‘What can you do differently next time?’
- ‘You’re a great kid and I know you didn’t want this to happen, but here we are. What can you do to put things right? Do you need my help with that?’♥️
As children grow, and especially by adolescence, we have the illusion of control but whether or not we have any real influence will be up to them. The temptation to control our children will always come from a place of love. Fear will likely have a heavy hand in there too. When they fall, we’ll feel it. Sometimes it will feel like an ache in our core. Sometimes it will feel like failure or guilt, or anger. We might wish we could have stopped them, pushed a little harder, warned a little bigger, stood a little closer. We’re parents and we’re human and it’s what this parenting thing does. It makes fear and anxiety billow around us like lost smoke, too easily.

Remember, they want you to be proud of them, and they want to do the right thing. When they feel your curiosity over judgement, and the safety of you over shame, it will be easier for them to open up to you. Nobody will guide them better than you because nobody will care more about where they land. They know this, but the magic happens when they also know that you are safe and that you will hold them, their needs, their opinions and feelings with strong, gentle, loving hands, no matter what.♥️
Anger is the ‘fight’ part of the fight or flight response. It has important work to do. Anger never exists on its own. It exists to hold other more vulnerable emotions in a way that feels safer. It’s sometimes feels easier, safer, more acceptable, stronger to feel the ‘big’ that comes with anger, than the vulnerability that comes with anxiety, sadness, loneliness. This isn’t deliberate. It’s just another way our bodies and brains try to keep us safe. 

The problem isn’t the anger. The problem is the behaviour that can come with the anger. Let there be no limits on thoughts and feelings, only behaviour. When children are angry, as long as they are safe and others are safe, we don’t need to fix their anger. They aren’t broken. Instead, drop the anchor: as much as you can - and this won’t always be easy - be a calm, steadying, loving presence to help bring their nervous systems back home to calm. 

Then, when they are truly calm, and with love and leadership, have the conversations that will grow them - 
- What happened? 
- What can you do differently next time?
- You’re a really great kid. I know you didn’t want this to happen but here we are. How can you make things right. Would you like some ideas? Do you need some help with that?
- What did I do that helped? What did I do that didn’t help? Is there something that might feel more helpful next time?

When their behaviour falls short of ‘adorable’, rather than asking ‘What consequences they need to do better?’ let the question be, ‘What support do they need to do better.’ Often, the biggest support will be a conversation with you, and that will be enough.♥️
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#parenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparenting #anxietyinkids

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