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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Behaviour is never from ‘bad’. It’s from ‘big’. Big hungry, big tired, big disconnection, big missing, big ‘too much right now’. The reason our responses might not work can often be because we’ve misread the story, or we’ve missed an important piece of it. Their story might be about now, today, yesterday, or any of the yesterdays before now. 

Our job isn’t to fix them. They aren’t broken. Our job is to understand them. Only then can we steer our response in the right direction. Otherwise we’re throwing darts at the wrong target - behaviour, instead of the need behind the behaviour. 

Watch, listen, breathe and be with. Feel what they feel. This will help them feel you with them. We all feel safer and calmer when we feel our people beside us - not judging or hurrying or questioning. What don’t you know, that they need you to know?♥️
We all have first up needs. The difference between adults and children is that we can delay the meeting of these needs for a bit longer than children - but we still need them met. 

The first most important question the brain needs answered is, ‘Is my body safe?’ - Am I free from threat, hunger, exhaustion, pain? This is usually an easier one to take care of or to recognise when it might need some attention. 

The next most important question is, ‘Is my heart safe?’ - Am I loved, noticed, valued, claimed, wanted, welcome? This can be an easy one to overlook, especially in the chaos of the morning. Of course we love them and want them - and sometimes we’ll get distracted, annoyed, frustrated, irritated. None of this changes how much we love and want them - not even for a second. We can feel two things at once - madly in love with them and annoyed/ distracted/ frustrated. Sometimes though, this can leave their ‘Is my heart safe?’ needs a little hungry. They have less capacity than us to delay the meeting of these needs. When these needs are hungry, we’ll be more likely to see big feelings or big behaviour. 

The more you can fill their love tanks at the start of the day, the more they’ll be able to handle the bumps. This doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be enough. It might look like having a cuddle, reading a story, having a chat, sitting with them while they have breakfast or while they pat the dog, touching their back when they walk past, telling them you love them.

All brains need to feel loved and wanted, and as though they aren’t a nuisance, but sometimes they’ll need to feel it more. The more their felt sense of relational safety is met, the more they’ll be able to then focus on ‘thinking brain’ things, such as planning, making good decisions, co-operating, behaving. 

(And if this today was a bumpy one, that’s okay. Those days are going to happen. If most of the time their love tanks are full, they’ll handle when it drops a little. Just top it up when you can. And don’t forget to top yours up too. Be kind to yourself. You deserve it as much as they do.)♥️
Things will always go wrong - a bad decision, a good decision with a bad outcome, a dilemma, wanting something that comes with risk. 

Often, the ‘right thing’ lives somewhere in the very blurry bounds of the grey. Sometimes it will be about what’s right for them. Sometimes what’s right for others. Sometimes it will be about taking a risk, and sometimes the ‘right’ thing just feels wrong right now, or wrong for them. Even as adults, we will often get things wrong. This isn’t because we’re bad, or because we don’t know the right thing from the wrong thing, but because few things are black and white. 

The problem with punishment and harsh consequences is that we remove ourselves as an option for them to turn to next time things end messy, or as a guide before the mess happens. 

Feeling safe in our important relationships is a primary need for all of us humans. That means making sure our relationships are free from judgement, humiliation, shame, separation. If our response to their ‘wrong things’ is to bring all of these things to the table we share with them with them, of course they’ll do anything to avoid it. This isn’t about lying or secrecy. It’s about maintaining relational ‘safety’, or closeness.

Kids want to do the right thing. They want us to love and accept them. But they’re going to get things wrong sometimes. When they do, our response will teach them either that we are safe for them to come to no matter what, or that we aren’t. 

So what do we do when things go wrong? Embrace them, reject the behaviour:

‘I love that you’ve been honest with me. That means everything to me. I know you didn’t expect things to end up like this, but here we are. Let’s talk about what’s happened and what can be different next time.’

Or, ‘Something must have made this (wrong thing) feel like the right thing to do, otherwise you wouldn’t have done it. We all do that sometimes. What do you think it was that was for you?’

Or, ‘I know you know lying isn’t okay. What made you feel like you couldn’t tell me the truth? How can we build the trust again. Let’s talk about how to do that.’

You will always be their greatest guide, but you can only be that if they let you.♥️
Whenever there is a call to courage, there will be anxiety - every time. That’s what makes it brave. This is why challenging things, brave things, important things will often drive anxiety. 

At these times - when they are safe, but doing something hard - the feelings that come with anxiety will be enough to drive avoidance. When it is avoidance of a threat, that’s important. That’s anxiety doing it’s job. But when the avoidance is in response to things that are important, brave, meaningful, that avoidance only serves to confirm the deficiency story. This is when we want to support them to take tiny steps towards that brave thing. It doesn’t have to happen all at once.l and it doesn’t matter how long it takes. Brave is about being able to handle the discomfort of anxiety enough to do the important, challenging thing. It’s built in tiny steps, one after the other. 

We don’t have to get rid of their anxiety and neither do they. They can feel anxious, and do brave. At these times (safe, but scary) they need us to take a posture of validation and confidence. ‘I believe you, and I believe in you.’ ‘I know this feels big, and I know you can handle it.’ 

What we’re saying is we know they can handle the discomfort of anxiety. They don’t have to handle it well, and they don’t have to handle it for too long. Handling it is handling it, and that’s the substance of ‘brave’. 

Being brave isn’t about doing the brave thing, but about being able to handle the discomfort of the anxiety that comes with that. And if they’ve done that today, at all, or for a moment longer than yesterday, then they’ve been brave today. It doesn’t matter how messy it was or how small it was. Let them see their brave through your eyes.‘That was big for you wasn’t it. And you did it. You felt anxious, and you stayed with it. That’s what being brave is all about.’♥️
A relationally unsafe (emotionally unsafe) environment can cause as much breakage as as a physically unsafe one. 

The brain’s priority will always be safety, so if a person or environment doesn’t feel emotionally safe, we might see big behaviour, avoidance, or reduced learning. In this case, it isn’t the child that’s broken. It’s the environment.

But here’s the thing, just because a child doesn’t feel safe, doesn’t mean the person or environment isn’t safe. What it means is that there aren’t enough signals of safety - yet, and there’s a little more work to do to build this. ‘Safety’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, it’s about what the brain perceives. Children might have the safest, warmest, most loving adult in front of them, but that doesn’t mean they’ll feel safe. This is when we have to look at how we might extend bigger cues of warmth, welcome, inclusiveness, and what we can do (or what roles or responsibilities can we give them) to help them feel valued and needed. This might take time, and that’s okay. Children aren’t meant to feel safe with every adult in front of them, so sometimes what they need most is our patience and understanding as we continue to build this. 

This is the way it works for all of us, everywhere. None of us will be able to give our best or do our best if we don’t feel welcome, liked, valued, and free from hostility, humiliation or judgement. 

This is especially important for our schools. A brain that doesn’t feel safe can’t learn. For schools to be places of learning, they first have to be places of relationship. Before we focus too sharply on learning support and behaviour management, we first have to focus on felt sense of safety support. The most powerful way to do this is through relationship. Teachers who do this are magic-makers. They show a phenomenal capacity to expand a child’s capacity to learn, calm big behaviour, and open up a child’s world. But relationships take time, and felt safety takes time. The time it takes for this to happen is all part of the process. It’s not a waste of time, it’s the most important use of it.♥️

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