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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Follow Hey Sigmund on Instagram

Whenever the brain registers threat, it organises the body to fight the danger, flee from it, or hide from it. 

Here’s the rub. ‘Threat’ isn’t about what is actually dangerous, but about what the brain perceives. It also isn’t always obvious. For a strong, powerful, magnificent, protective brain, ‘threat’ might count as anything that comes with even the teeniest potential of making a mistake, failure, humiliation, judgement, shame, separation from important adults, exclusion, unfamiliarity, unpredictability. They’re the things that can make any of us feel vulnerable.

Once the brain registers threat the body will respond. This can drive all sorts of behaviour. Some will be obvious and some won’t be. The responses can be ones that make them bigger (aggression, tantrums) or ones that make them smaller (going quiet or still, shrinking, withdrawing). All are attempts to get the body to safety. None are about misbehaviour, misintent, or disrespect. 

One of the ways bodies stay safe is by hiding, or by getting small. When children are in distress, they might look calm, but unless there is a felt sense of safety, the body will be surging with neurochemicals that make it impossible for that young brain to learn or connect. 

We all have our things that can send us there. These things are different for all of us, and often below our awareness. The responses to these ‘things’ are automatic and instinctive, and we won’t always know what has sent us there. 

We just need to be mindful that sometimes it’s when children seem like no trouble at all that they need our help the most. The signs can include a wilted body, sad or distant eyes, making the body smaller, wriggly bodies, a heavy head. 

It can also look as though they are ignoring you or being quietly defiant. They aren’t - their bodies are trying to keep them safe. A  body in flight or flight can’t hear words as well as it can when it’s calm.

What they need (what all kids need) are big signs of safety from the adult in the room - loving, warm, voices and faces that are communicating clear intent: ‘I’m here, I see you and I’ve got you. You are safe, and you can do this. I’m with you.’♥️
I’d love to invite you to an online webinar:
‘Thriving in a Stressful World: Practical Ways to Help Ourselves and Our Children Feel Secure And Calm’

As we emerge from the pandemic, stressors are heightened, and anxiety is an ever more common experience. We know from research that the important adults in the life of a child or teen have enormous capacity to help their world feel again, and to bring a felt sense of calm and safety to those young ones. This felt sense of security is essential for learning, regulation, and general well-being. 

I’m thrilled to be joining @marc.brackett and Dr Farah Schroder to explore the role of emotion regulation and the function of anxiety in our lives. Participants will learn ways to help express and regulate their own, and their children’s, emotions, even when our world may feel a little scary and stressful. We will also share practical and holistic strategies that can be most effective in fostering well-being for both ourselves and children. 

In this webinar, hosted by @dalailamacenter you will have the opportunity to learn creative, evidence-informed takeaways to help you and the children in your care build resilience and foster a sense of security and calmness. Join us for this 1 ½ hour session, including a dynamic Q&A period.
 
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Registrants will receive a Zoom link to attend the webinar live, as well as a private link to a recording of the webinar to watch if they cannot join in at the scheduled time.

Register here:
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/thriving-in-a-stressful-world-a-heart-mind-live-webinar-tickets-170348045590

The link to register is in my story.♥️
So much of what our kids and teens are going through isn’t normal - online school, extended separation from their loved people, lockdowns, masks. Even if what they are going through isn’t ‘normal’, their response will be completely understandable. Not all children will respond the same way if course, but whatever they feel will be understandable, relatable, and ‘normal’. 

Whether they feel anxious, confused, frustrated, angry, or nothing at all, it’s important that their response is normalised. Research has found that children are more likely to struggle with traumatic events if they believe their response isn’t normal. This is because they tend to be more likely to interpret their response as a sign of breakage. 

Try, ‘What’s happening is scary. There’s no ‘right’ way to feel and different people will feel different things. It’s okay to feel whatever you feel.’

Any message you can give them that you can handle all their feelings and all their words will help them feel safer, and their world feel steadier.♥️
We need to change the way we think about discipline. It’s true that traditional ‘discipline’ (separation, shame, consequences/punishment that don’t make sense) might bring compliant children, but what happens when the fear of punishment or separation isn’t there? Or when they learn that the best way to avoid punishment is to keep you out of the loop?

Our greatest parenting ‘tool’ is our use of self - our wisdom, modelling, conversations, but for any of this to have influence we need access to their ‘thinking’ brain - the prefrontal cortex - the part that can learn, think through consequences, plan, make deliberate decisions. During stress this part switches off. It is this way for all of us. None of us are up for lectures or learning (or adorable behaviour) when we’re stressed.

The greatest stress for young brains is a felt sense of separation from their important people. It’s why time-outs, shame, calm down corners/chairs/spaces which insist on separation just don’t work. They create compliance, but a compliant child doesn’t mean a calm child. As long as a child doesn’t feel calm and safe, we have no access to the part of the brain that can learn and be influenced by us.

Behind all behaviour is a need - power,  influence, independence, attention (connection), to belong, sleep - to name a few). The need will be valid. Children are still figuring out the world (aren’t we all) and their way of meeting a need won’t always make sense. Sometimes it will make us furious. (And sometimes because of that we’ll also lose our thinking brains and say or do things that aren’t great.)

So what do we do when they get it wrong? The same thing we hope our people will do when we get things wrong. First, we recognise that the behaviour is not a sign of a bad child or a bad parent, but their best attempt to meet a need with limited available resources. Then we collect them - we calm ourselves so we can bring calm to them. Breathe, be with. Then we connect through validation. Finally, when their bodies are calm and their thinking brain is back, talk about what’s happened, what they can do differently next time, and how they can put things right. Collect, connect, redirect.
Our nervous systems are talking to each other every minute of every day. We will catch what our children are feeling and they will catch ours. We feel their distress, and this can feed their distress. Our capacity to self-regulate is the circuit breaker. 

Children create their distress in us as a way to recruit support to help them carry the emotional load. It’s how it’s meant to be. Whatever you are feeling is likely to be a reflection what your children are feeling. If you are frustrated, angry, helpless, scared, it’s likely that they are feeling that way too. Every response in you and in them is relevant. 

You don’t need to fix their feelings. Let their feelings come, so they can go. The healing is in the happening. 

In that moment of big feelings it’s more about who you are than what you do. Feel what they feel with a strong, steady heart. They will feel you there with them. They will feel it in you that you get them, that you can handle whatever they are feeling, and that you are there. This will help calm them more than anything. We feel safest when we are ‘with’. Feel the feeling, breathe, and be with - and you don’t need to do more than that. 
There will be a time for teaching, learning, redirecting, but the middle of a storm is not that time.♥️

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