Your Body During a Breakup: The Science of a Broken Heart

Breakups are emotional roller coasters. Actually that’s not true. If a breakup was anything like a roller coaster the end would be visible from the start, you could say ‘no thanks’ to the ride and at the end of it, for a hefty sum the memory could be savoured forever with a flimsy cardboard-framed photo.

Breakups are are more like being under a roller coaster. 

Before we knew the science we knew the feeling, and used words associated with physical pain – hurt, pain, ache – are used describe the pain of a relationship breakup. Now we know why. The emotional pain of a breakup and physical pain have something in common – they both activate the same part of the brain

Brain scans of people recently out of a relationship have revealed that social pain (the emotional pain from a breakup or rejection) and physical pain share the same neural pathways.

In one study, 40 people who had recently been through an unwanted breakup had their brains scanned while they looked at pictures of their exes and thought about the breakup. As they stared at the photos, the part of the brain associated with physical pain lit up.

[irp posts=”1144″ name=”Dear Broken Hearted One … When You’re In The Thick of a Break-Up.”]

As explained by researcher Ethan Kross, ‘We found that powerfully inducing feelings of social rejection activate regions of the brain that are involved in physical pain sensation, which are rarely activated in neuroimaging studies of emotion.’

He continues, ‘These findings are consistent with the idea that the experience of social rejection, or social loss more generally, may represent a distinct emotional experience that is uniquely associated with physical pain.’

In further support of the overlap between physical and social pain, Tylenol (an over the counter medication for physical pain) has been shown to reduce emotional hurt.

Research has found that people who took Tylenol (an over-the-counter medication for physical pain) for three weeks reported less hurt feelings and social pain on a daily basis than those who took a placebo.

The effect was also evident in brain scans. When feelings of rejection were induced, the part of the brain associated with physical pain lit up in participants who didn’t take Tylenol. Those who took Tylenol showed significantly less activity in that part of the brain.

Nobody is suggesting that the broken hearted turn to pain medication to reduce their lean towards Kleenex, Baskin-Robbins and repeated viewings of Love Actually. Long term use will cane the liver. Somebody else is waiting to fall in love with you, but you and your liver have to stay friends forever.

The Physical Side of a Broken Heart

The human brain loves love. Being in love takes the lid off the happy hormones, dopamine and oxytocin, and the brain bathes in the bliss. But when the one you love leaves, the supply of feel good hormones takes a dive and the brain releases stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine.

[irp posts=”1042″ name=”Letting Go: How to Master the Art”]

In small doses, stress hormones are heroic, ensuring we respond quickly and effectively to threat. However in times of long-term distress such as a broken heart, the stress hormones accumulate and cause trouble. Here’s what’s behind the physical symptoms of a breakup:

  • Too much cortisol in the brain sends blood to the major muscle groups. They tense up ready to respond to the threat (fight or flight). However, without real need for a physical response the muscles have no opportunity to expend the energy.

    Muscles swell, giving rise to headaches, a stiff neck and that awful feeling of your chest being squeezed.

  • To ensure the muscles have an adequate blood supply, cortisol diverts blood away from the digestive system.

    This can cause tummy trouble such as cramps, diarrhea or appetite loss. 

  • When stress hormones run rampant, the immune system can struggle, increasing vulnerability to bugs and illnesses.

    Hence the common ‘break-up cold’.

  • There is a steady release of cortisol.

    This might cause sleep problems and interfere with the capacity to make sound judgements 

  • Breakups activate the area of your brain that processes craving and addiction.

    Losing a relationship can throw you into a type of withdrawal, which is why it’s hard to function – you ache for your ex, sometimes literally, and can’t get him/her out of your head. Like any addiction, this will pass.

In a relationship, your mind, your body and the core of you adjust to being intimately connected someone. When that someone leaves, the brain has to readjust. The pain can be relentless but eventually the body chemistry will change back to normal and the hurt will diminish.

Getting through a breakup is as much a physical process as an emotional one. Remember that, and know that it will get easier. Keep going. You’ll get there.

440 Comments

Andrew

Hi Karen,

What a great article you have written and wow does it resonate with me as like the other comments on this site, it hurts so much.
This is the first time I have ever written on a comment board about such an issue. So for me to comment here, it really has to mean a lot, which it really does.
I know it sounds teenager…ish as I am 50 and I was separated 15 months ago after a being together for 28 years. Yes that is a long time.
I will try and keep the story fairly short. My former wife decided to leave the marriage as we grew apart the last 7 years or so.
I still care for her as she is a good person.
My girlfriend (46 yrs) ended our relationship last weekend and it has been a very difficult experience.
We dated for 7 months. I started seeing her 7 1/2 months after my former wife and I were separated.
I was not interested in even looking for a relationship at the time as I felt it was too early.
But I was introduced to this wonderful woman and it was amazing chemistry from the get go.
She has similar interests to me like biking, running etc and a very intelligent, strong, independent and lovely woman.
She had been through the divorce process before as she had been single for about 4 years and had gone through her “grieving” process and all that “baggage” was behind her.

The first couple of months were amazing. I kept the relationship fairly low key for the first month as I was separated for not that long of period.
When my former wife found about about the relationship she was shattered! I know that sounds strange as she ended the marriage.
The texts and emails were relentless over the months and not always pleasant. Obviously she was hurt seeing me date another woman after 28 years. Hence the reason I kept it low key for a while.
I still cared about her as we she is still the mother of my 16 year old daughter.
Odd as it sounds I tried to ease her pain by replying to her to make her not hurt as much.

Fast forward a few months and the constant messages from her and showing up at my house wanting back in the marriage, eventually filtered into my new relationship.
It started to grind me down with huge guilt. I felt as I was having an affair even through we were legally separated.
The last few months was a roller coaster ride for my former girlfriend, as this ridiculous guilt I had affected our relationship/
I had never looked at the 7 stages of grief after a divorce until about 5 months ago. And I then realized I had hit 6 of the 7 stages hence the roller coaster ride, except the last stage which is acceptance.

The roller coaster ride eventually was too much for my girlfriend, understandably and she said she can’t go on with the relationship as she felt I had not gone through my “journey” after my separation.
My question to you Karen is, do you agree that 7 1/2 months was too soon to get into a serious relationship after 25 years?
I will tell you the pain of this separation is indescribable!
Yes we left the relationship still loving each other and it was a very intimate ending.
I agree, as this type of ending is extremely difficult, way more difficult than an ugly ending.
Since the breakup I have not slept in days and lost a bunch of weight as this was a woman who ticked all the boxes for being THE woman.
I really sympathize with so many of the comments as I can relate.
I really think the pain is so deep as after 15 months I have only now realized I have lost , a family, dealing with a very strained relationship with my 16 year old daughter and now this current relationship breakup.
I will say this current breakup is way more painful that my marriage separation. I realise it’s not a great comparison as one relationship was 8 months and the other 25 years.
I have read many websites about when the pain should start to ease from 30 to 60 days or more.
Phew I will say as unmanly as it sounds a broken heart is so painful.
I have read that the pain from a broken heart is very similar from the withdrawal pain of cocaine.
There is no medication for a painful heart.

I gather the pain is so deep because I really hadn’t gone through my so called grieving process of my former marriage and we both fell in love very quickly and it was amazing and it was so real and felt incredible for all these few months.
I have read NC (no contact at all) rule is the only way to get through this.
Unfortunately these days we are all on social media and former girlfriends and their friends are on sites like Facebook, so indirectly you still get the odd photo and comment about your former girlfriend that comes through on these sites.
De-friending people I find very immature.

Regards

Andrew

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Hey Sigmund

First of all Andrew – there is nothing ‘teenag-ish’ or unmanly about your story. Quite the opposite. It takes guts to admit that you’re hurting and you sound as though you are someone with a strong, beautifully open heart.

In relation to your question about whether you moved in to the second relationship too quickly, again it depends and it is not for anyone to say what is best for you. You sound wise and insightful, and I expect you have the answer inside you somewhere. I think it depends on so many things. Many relationships end long before they officially end. Though you were only separated for 7 and a half months, it sounds as though the disconnect in your relationship had been going on for a long while before then. People are wired to connect, and it is understandable that if your marriage had drifted apart some time ago, you might be more ready to fall for somebody who seems to be able to give you what you need. There is no formula for this.

Many would say that the pain should ease after 30-60 days, but again, there are so many factors. We all let go differently and we all grieve differently and there is no set time for this. I wish there was, but there isn’t.

One of the reasons the no-contact rule is a good one is because every time you have contact, it’s likely that you’ll be activating the dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is the ‘I gotta have it’ chemical and it surges when we get something we want. The problem is that the more we get, the more we want. Every time you have contact, it will be harder to let go. Putting space between you can let things settle down and help your brain to readjust to a new reality. Anything you can do to protect yourself from setting yourself up to crave contact will be a good thing for you. It doesn’t have to be permanent, just until you have learned to be without her.

What you are feeling makes a lot of sense. It might be helpful to give yourself the break you need to readjust and move in whichever direction feels right for you. Breakups are awful aren’t they, but you will be okay. There is somebody waiting to meet exactly you – give yourself the chance to heal, strengthen and open up to what comes next.

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Ranee C

Hi I am currently suffering a heartache still in the relationship so it’s hard to just forget. I love your insight on all this and I could use some more inspirational words! Thank you so much!

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Sue F

Go to your new job Nick, it will be something new to focus on. I put away every photo and gift that was ever given to me. I deleted social media sites and phone numbers. I had to do this to move on. I did not want to see constant reminders every day. When I look back with a clear mind I can now see why it happened: it needed to happen. I takes time but it does get better.

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Gabriela

I had a 1 year long distance relationship with a man I thought was the love of my life. We had everything in common & it was the best year of my whole life, even we just were together two times during the year (10 days each time), we were so close and loved each other totally. He lost his job two months ago and everything changed. I was supporting & loving him more than ever. He started saying he needed space. Then broke up with me, a week ago. I am devastated. He became the most important in my life and now, I am totally hopeless. I feel so sad and like I will not survive. Please help!

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Hey Sigmund

Gabriela you will survive and you will flourish, but this will take time. You are dealing with withdrawal that is mental, physical and emotional. What you are feeling is very real and understandable, but it will pass. Give yourself time to adjust, which you will. The pain you are feeling feels so intense right now, I understand that, but in time it will ease. There are thing you can do to help this process along and to help your heart and your mind to heal. Spend time with people you care about – connection is critical for you right now. Each day, try to be active for at least 30 minutes, even if it is just a brisk walk. You probably won’t feel like it but it will help to release the feel-good chemicals that will help your recovery. Take away the things in your bedroom or your home that remind you of him. What you focus on is what becomes powerful, so it is important to remove as many physical reminders of him as you can so you don’t get stuck ruminating about what could have been. There will be somebody else for you and though it feels impossible to think of this at the moment, you will get to a point where you will be able to open up to the many wonderful things that will be coming to you.

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anna

hi i had a break up months ago and i still cant get over it. he said it was caused by the distance because he moved to another town. it happened so suddenly and im so sad. and i really wanna text him, should i? after the break up happened, i feel like i messed up with everything and i think i couldnt make it through. 🙁

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Hey Sigmund

Anna I understand how heartbroken you are feeling – I can hear it in your words. Breakups tend to send all of us a bit mad for a while so you’re not alone there. What’s important is where you go from here. What you focus on is what will become powerful. If you keep focusing on the mistakes you might have made and the possibility of a future with him, this will shape your mood, your actions and the way you feel. If your reason for texting him has even a shred of hope that it might lead to getting back together, or even a brief reunion, then don’t text him. It will only reopen the heartache. There is nothing in it for you. Every time you contact him, it will set you back. There is a happy, whole version of you and your life but for the moment at least and most likely for a long time, it doesn’t include him in it. If he wants to text you, he would know how to do that, but he has chosen not to. Listen to that. You will be okay. You’ll be better so much better than okay. First though, you have to get through the awful time you’re having of things right now. Keep moving forward. Every day it will get easier. Sometimes you might have a backward step but that’s all part of the healing. Keep your heart open for the people who want to love you the way you deserve to be loved. Those people are out there, but as long as that precious space in your heart and your mind is taken up be somebody who isn’t wanting to be there, those people won’t be able to find their way to you. Be patient and be kind to yourself. Things will get better.

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anna

but i really dont know what should i do right now. i keep telling myself that everythings gonna be okay but ive waited and no its not happened, its like im lying to myself. im trying to keep moving forward but i cant get this thing out of my mind and messed up everything..

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Hey Sigmund

It sounds as though the ‘messed up everything’ happened after the breakup. The end of the relationship had already happened and the guilt you feel is misplaced and useless and it will only keep draining you. Everything will be okay, but at the moments it’s not and it’s okay to fall into that for a while. The only way through pain is straight through the middle. Let yourself grieve for the relationship but at the same time work on your healing. Try to do something active every day, spend time with the people who care about you, get plenty of sleep and eat well. Your brain needs this to help you recover. Wear a rubber band or a ponytail holder around your wrist. Every time you start getting pulled into thinking that you messed things up, give it a flick. Then, have a positive reframe ready – a thought that feels strong and healing. Spend some time working on it and have it ready when you need it. Getting stuck thinking negative thoughts over and over can lead to depression. There is nothing in those thoughts for you – you can’t change what has happened however much you think about it. A certain amount of reflection is healthy and there will be things you can learn from what has happened, but too much can be damaging. There is no quick fix for a broken heart and it will take time. It’s not at all unusual for there to be a period of time where it feels as though you’re treading water. Breakups are always awful, but be patient and actively work towards moving forward. You will get there.

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ann

hi, i had a break upmonths ago and i still cant make it through. he said this was caused by distance because he is moving to another country. im feeling so sad because it was happened so suddenly. he said we could be just friends. but i cant take him out of my mind for months and im dying to text him. should i? im feeling really sad, what we’ve been through were just too good and cant be forgotten. i dont think i would find someone like him again…

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Jamie

I am currently going thru a breakup or separation. We had been together for two years n been engaged 6 months I know to some it may seem like it’s just a short time but it all started to crash when her 16 yr daughter started running with a bad crowd n progressively got worse which lead into some hard drugs. She says she could deal with the kid n me and I feel like if she would of been more strict with her instead of allowing the opportunities for her kid to continue to do whatever and whenever things could of changed a lot of fights had started and now we’re living separate after living with each other for 2 years she is hurt and I am too. She wants me there but at the same time she’s distancing herself and it’s been hard I can look at her picture or talk to her on the phone n my heart melts I’d do anything for them. Inside of me I tell myself I will wait but at the same time it’s breaking me down and I’ve told her I’d be here waiting. Family vacation all our plans n everything that we had coming in a matter of months now is canceled it’s been very depressing. Life isn’t the same anymore. She wants to go see the therapist where I go and cannot afford it now she has all the bills to pay at the house n I said I’d pay I’d pay for whatever needed. It’s been very stressful n heartwrenching. Memories keep coming back to us during this Christmas she went to her family n I sat alone for I don’t have none here. I said I’d pay for the therapist n for her daughter cd assessment n treatment but why should I if it doesn’t help us get back to where we were but if I donto then I give up on everything. I don’t know what to do or say she says she still loves me n wants us but she’s keep her distance. I miss them both.

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Hey Sigmund

Jamie this sounds like an awful time for all of you. It sounds as though you are doing everything you can, and that your partner is incredibly stressed at the moment with the situation around her daughter. Having said that though, a relationship is about going through the tough times together. There is likely nothing else you can do right now but to give her the space she needs to sort things out. If she loves you and genuinely wants to be with you, she will find her way back but the truth is that you can’t force this. It’s heartbreaking and frustrating, I know but be patient and see what happens. Put a time limit on it so that you don’t continue to get barrelled along indefinitely. Have you discussed with her whether she wants you to wait or not? If not, this might be an important conversation to have so that you know what you are dealing with, whether it is worth waiting for, how long (about) the wait will be, or whether you need to let go. I wish you all the very best.

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Julie

I wanted to tell those following this thread that I did the unthinkable yesterday and contacted my ex fiancé after a month . I tried to stay strong . I took a day for myself yesterday to just pamper me and be good to me . With all the Christmas hustle bustle around me , music , couples I became nostalgic , I cried , and I thought he must be feeling like me and I had to know . Well my friends it is true , contacting your ex is like picking off a scab that is healing and watching it bleed . I cried for hours after . Although he was kind , and he said he thought of me too and he is struggling , he has no desire to reconnect at this point . Almost 4 years and nothing . I feel just as empty today as I did that first week . I thought I was stronger and could handle it but I wasn’t . For any of you out there who are considering reAching out … Don’t . I don’t care if you have to call your friends , family, or write on here don’t . It’s not worth the setback and pain . There was no closure just rejection of the softest kindest kind . He wouldn’t tell me to go but his short responses and distance spoke everything .

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Sue F

Julie, I’m sure a lot of us can relate to what you did. I remember years ago when I left my husband and after about a month agreed to have lunch with him. He had taken off his wedding ring. It was like a slap in the face. But I knew then at that moment that it was the end of the relationship. It was very painful and I couldn’t continue at work for the afternoon and so I came home and cried for hours. It was a bit cathartic and I knew that I had to move forward. It wasn’t easy but it became easier. I had good days and I had crappy days. I’d say it took me a couple of years to actually find my way again. In those days we didn’t have blogs or internet or anything like this to share with others so communities like this are wonderful. Good luck.

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Heartbroken

Julie…I am crying with u…I know how it feels contacting them & they let u down with words like ” its hard for me too, but its the right thing to do” it has now been 3 weeks without seeing him & 2 month no talk…Dunno if I mentioned but we work together so I went on leave earlier with the hopes it will help, I have started going for councing as my heartbreak has turned into severe depression, where there has even been ugly thoughts of just stopping the pain by not wanting to live anymore…but I have 2 daughters & even though it kills me every morning to wake up, I cannot allow Him to cause anymore destruction…he has already destroyed me with false hope & love and talk of future…I cannot make my kids suffer anymore by me not wanting to live, its already hard for them after my divorce & also seeing me sad most of the time after this relationship…it is so scary to thing of one person that can cause so much destruction…leave so much heartache in his wake, but he is havig an awesome time over the festive season…he does not cry for me or miss me or have dead butterflies in his stomach 24/7…he does not wake up crying &’pray to God every 5 min to please just make the pain stop…no I have to say…I am a strong person, always have been, but this man, whom I loved more than any other man has crippled me…so Julie…I am thinking about u & will also say a prayer…

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Julie

Thank you all for your kind words . I can tell you I feel lost tonight . This afternoon his words brought me to my knees , he was so unaffected by my love for him or anything for that matter he just kept sing politely, ” thank you for your sincerity and kind words Julie, I too miss things” then he added ” well enjoy your holidays and new year ” I was baffled . I asked point blank should I move on and interestingly he wouldn’t answer . Very cowardly if you ask me . I knew today this is over . I too thought I can’t bear anymore of this soul wrenching pain and questioned my will to live . But it was at that time my teenage son walked in and said Mom things are going to be ok please don’t do this to yourself . I picked myself up and with help of friends around me tonight I dried my tears , tomorrow may be different . I fear the holidays and New Years . Thank you again for everyone’s support this has been wonderful to not feel alone .

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Heartbroken

I have been thrown away after a 2 uear love affair with the love of my life, I am 36, divorced and have 2 kids…I met my soulmate & we were perfect in every way, compatable…my first true love, how u ask, I was married for 13 years but there was always something missing, untill I met him…he filled every void…its been 6 weeks now and its not getting better, he cut all ties and communication…so I am in deep delression and constant pain…I wake up with the dead butterflies and tears in my eyes and so I go threw my day till sleep claims me again…

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Hey Sigmund

The pain of a breakup is so real because you are adjusting to a new normal – physically, emotionally, mentally. Even one of these would be difficult enough but you are adjusting to all three at once. Healing takes time, but you will find a version of your life that feels okay even without him in it. Be patient, and give the time some time. When you are ready, be open to good things finding you, because they will want to.

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Julie

I have commented on this thread earlier and reading your post brought back what I was feeling almost 4 weeks ago after my fiancé of 4 years ended our relationship . I remember the overwhelming anxiety and ache I felt every morning as soon my eyes opened . I just wanted night to come and fall back to sleep . It’s like I was frozen in time . My thoughts constant . The ache in my chest unbearable , couldn’t eat . But I will tell you that it gets better . I quit waiting in the phone call or text from him because it’s not coming . I would call friends and family when the urge came to call him or the anxiety became to great . I still cry but not everyday . I still think of him but I don’t obsess and I’m taking this time to journal and get to know me and enjoy my own company . I will pray you start to feel better soon . Your not alone . And this site has been a god send for people who have been hurt. Stay positive , things will get better

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Brokenhearted

Julie

I am very sorry for your pain, I can truly say, that I dont wish emotional/broken hearted/brokeness on anyone…it s exhausting, & too much to bear most days…everyone says time heals…does it? Or does our pain level just get stronger, do we just adjust to the pain & learn to live with it…I feel as if I will never get over this loss…to wait so many years to find someone I truly connect with, To truly experience love for the first time in my life…I mean romantic love…& have that taken away…its like my soul is crying…its hard to explain…my heart hurts but also my whole being actually hurts, I can feel it in my whole body, its the kind of suffering that slowly kills u…like the phrase … Dying of a broken heart…but u not really dying…but ur spirit/ur passions/who u r…thats dying…to suffer my first heartbreak at age 36…this is the only way I can explain heartbreak for me…its a deep intense pain that u feel all the way in ur soul…And I will now always understand & sympathize with anyone going trough a broken heart…cause I can honestly say I really understand now…In the past I thought I understood when my friends would tell my about their pain of brokeness…but I now know, I did not understand…but I do now…& when I say…that I pray and relate to anyone who has suffered from this…I really do…my heart goes out to all with brokeness…

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Julie

Yes and I can tell you when my marriage ended 8 years ago I felt my soul was ripped from me but it was different then , my marriage was empty , but I had 2 children a home and the so called American Dream . I didn’t date for a long time , here and there but nothing but a dinner or a drink then I met my fiance. It was so romantic and loving . He was the perfect man , there was some flaws but overall the romance was nothing short of what I have been wanting my whole life . After a couple months my children met him and he has been a wonderful role model and man in my kids lives. This kills me . I got over my ex husband , but this I don’t think I will get over . I will live and go on but I will carry what we had in my heart forever . There will always be those memories . I still have the ring and I locked it away . His absence is deafening to me . I feel alive but my heart feels empty . I want you to write everyday in a journal how your feeling . You may wrote once a day or several but when you feel overwhelmed please write . It helps . You will feel better . You don’t ever have to forget him or your memories but you take time to see where things might have gone wrong. When you wrote you will will have aha moments . This will prepare you for love again and we have to believe there will be love again and we will feel the same feelings someday and maybe after time it will be with these exact same men who left us . But the reality is now its over and space is best , work on you get stronger so when and if that time ever comes we are ready .

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Brokenhearted

I am going to try the writingg…when did u start feeling better?, its been 7 weeks for me now, & I still feel the same…I am utterly exhausted…really emotionally, physically mentally exhausted…

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Julie

I woke up this morning thinking of him and I had to turn the radio off yesterday because the music reminded me of him . I still cry every now and then . I know it’s not over I know there will be triggers and setbacks and the upcoming holiday is not at all joyful . But I can tell you that I used family , friends to rely on . Most heavily the first two weeks . It got better with support . I downloaded an app to my phone , which was great by the way , called breakup RX and it reminded me daily to seek some hard truths about myself my ex and our relationship . I started changing my thinking by using it . I also got out , made myself . It was hard because I went shopping and the Christmas music , the couples eating or holding hands and just the joy in general made me uncomfortable and anxious . So I skipped shopping and did most online . But I made sure that the minute I opened my eyes in morning I got busy I got a shower even if I cried while doing it , I got dressed I went to work . I bought new lipstick and I did my hair . When I looked good I felt better . Be kind to yourself , take time to pamper you . Write. Download the app . If you still aren’t making progress see a therapist . I was against it but my employer offers through HR 3 free sessions . You need to look objectively at why it ended , you may face some hard truths . You will feel better though . I am here to help . No one should go at this alone .

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Rae

Over a year ago I met a Finnish guy on my travels around South-east Asia, what started out as a bit of fun led to a whirlwind romance that brought me to Finland. I was there for almost a year (managed to get myself a job within a week of arriving) we set up home, and I even got a promotion. We were planning on leaving in a couple of months for some new adventures, which had started concerning him, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to do these adventures alone to ‘grow up a bit’ and to ‘be free from responsibility’ after weeks of talking through options and constantly agreeing that breaking up would not be one of them, he came home and broke up with me on the spot, left to his parents’ for a few days. I was alone in a foreign country, passportless and unable to even come back to the UK. It was rock bottom for me.
When I finally received my passport back and with all my bags packed, he told of how one day he will marry me, just right now he’s not ready etc. We both cried a lot at the airport and went our seperate ways. Its been a few days and i’ve expressed I needed to refrain from any contact for a little while, to get my head straight… It’s still very raw, very new and i’m okay. I’m 25, I lost my home, my man, my job and quite frankly my best friend. But the world is at my feet (as is it at anyones)
I also feel like i’m on a good wave right now, but long may it stay!

Thanks for the article.

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Hey Sigmund

Your strength will make sure you get through this. You have an amazing attitude and taking some space from contact is a good idea. You have been through a difficult time but your insight and courage will make sure your wave keeps rolling along in exactly the right direction.

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Alexa

Writing out “our story” has been SO beneficial for me, it’s helped put things into perspective. I ended up composing over 6,000 words… I feel like I could have doubled that.

“you never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.”
-Bob Marley

As my head was spinning and the shock set in that he was considering breaking up with me. I didn’t even think or pause I just reacted and took that satisfaction away from him. I ended it. I wish I could remember what I said, but my heart was beating so loudly I couldn’t hear the words that came out of my mouth. I didn’t want or expect that to happen, my hurt heart felt it was backed into a corner and forced to make that painful decision. I wonder now, if he planted that “no kids” talk to force me into making that decision so he didn’t have to make it again.

For the next 24 hours I was in shock – good shock, what I had done hadn’t really settled on me yet. I was functioning! I went out in public and put makeup on. But… this was a false sense of peace.

The next month my heart would twist and moan in endless agony. I would cry myself to sleep countless nights, wake up early to dreams of him, lie awake thinking about good memories, and what I could have done differently. I had been through this before… but previously I had a lifeline of peace that surged through me, however small it was. I couldn’t find that. I wished with all my might that it was all a bad dream, that I’d wake up and be able to run into his arms again. But the waves that forced me to remember, crashed with such force, and at such inopportune times that the first week felt like the ghost of Alexa inhabited my body… I still feel that sometimes. I felt like all the good parts of my heart were miles away and I was just left with the parts that were sick or dying. There were times when my discouragement was so thick I couldn’t even think about tomorrow. Isn’t it strange after an incredible hurt, you feel invincible… or maybe invincible is the wrong word. Maybe its more fearless. After loosing something priceless, you would think that the first instinct would be to batten down the hatches and be fearful of everything, but I felt more like I have nothing to loose. I truly didn’t know this kind of heartache exists, or naively think it would ever happened to me. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

I couldn’t help but feel it was all a terrible mistake. That somehow, there has been some error. But I woke up each day, and each sunrise pulled me farther and farther away from him. I genuinely believed we could get through anything. We had survived a dramatic year of distance, trials and challenges that I believed we came out stronger for. I believed whole heartedly that we could weather anything. Perhaps what was missing was his ability to choose me whole heartedly. I don’t know what it was, when it was, but somewhere along the way he second guessed his initial certainty and allowed me to believe it was still there. Where I believe that struggle incepts strength, maybe he believed that struggle was a sign of weakness.

A breakup feels a lot like drowning. It’s gasping for air -the air the other person provided. It is struggling to force your body to move. It’s a sense of panic and fear that life is slipping away. But at the same time it is a slow realization that you are capable and able to force movement to your limbs. It is the realization that it is possible to push yourself up above the water and grab gasps of air. Each day that pulls you out into the water further is a day that you grow stronger and realize the hidden strength that you have.

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M

Like everyone else, I am going through an unbelievably hard break up and the pain seems unending. Today makes it 2 weeks we are broken up. I usually never comment on stuff like this but after reading through everyone’s posts, I felt I needed to share. We had known each other through a mutual friend for a couple of years, and had always been attracted to each other. At the time we were more like acquaintances. I was actually engaged during this period. After leaving my ex last January, I pursued him and we eventually started dating. I fell in love, hard. I was never in love with the man I had left. I certainly loved him, but was just not in love. My most recent ex (it still pains me to call him my ex) is in his early 30s, and I was his longest relationship. We were together 9 months. He has not had a serious girlfriend in 6 years. The girls he “dated” and his previous official relationships were done after 3 months, him always being the one to leave them. He has very immature friends who never took a liking to me (or any other girl he’s ever brought around) from the start. I thought we were really in love. He never had a girl sleep over before, I was the first. He never took them around to meet his mom, I was the first in all those years. He used to make comments about is getting married and having children together. He took me to the house he grew up in and around the town he grew up in after not being there for 15 years. We took a couple of trips together. One with friends, one just by ourselves (also something he had never done before with a girl) and we had a blast. He bought me flowers and sent them to my office after claiming he hated flowers and thought they were corny, that he would never buy them for any woman. We were best friends. Talked from morning until night. 2 weeks ago, he decided to first end it due to his own personal issues. He said it was him, not me, and that he hopes I could understand that. We were both sobbing hysterically. He said that I will find someone better than him. He said he did not know why he was never able to say the words “I love you,” to me. Though he had slipped a couple of times and had taken it back or made light of it. His childhood was not easy, but he claims that it does not effect him. We stopped speaking, but I would hear through the grapevine that he was a mess. I would hear he cried every single day, that he missed me, that the thought of me going on a date with someone else drove him insane and would hurt him, but he just didn’t think we were meant to be. Everyone was telling him it was a mistake, that he really better think about this. A couple of days ago, we were texting, he was saying he was going out to distract himself from thinking about me. He said he was not ready to even talk to another girl at this point, and that he was still not over me yet, in his words. Then fast forward to 3 AM and I get a text saying that he has felt deeper feelings and connections with girls he hasn’t been with nearly as long as me, that if he knows that chemistry and feelings exist but not with me, he doesn’t want to wake up one day knowing there is someone else out there that could make him feel all those things that I apparently couldn’t in the same capacity, and didn’t want to waste either of our time. I can’t tell you how much reading that destroyed me. He said it doesn’t mean he doesn’t like me or have feelings for me, and said it was hard to explain over text. Then when I said I hope he finds someone he can love, he said “well I never said I couldn’t love you.” Very confusing to me. Then he told me to enjoy me next boyfriend, and to use protection. I told him I was a fool for falling in love with him, and thanked him for saying all that and releasing me from my suffering. I lied though, the text has been playing back in my mind over and over and I can’t help but think our entire relationship was a lie. A lie that I fell for. His fb status the next day was something like “a man with nothing to love is free,” and I still don’t understand what that means. I am trying to forget him, but I have never felt pain like this before in my entire life. I hope it eventually gets better.

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Hey Sigmund

As much as you are hurting now, it sounds as though this man may have done you a favour. Let me explain why. At the beginning of a relationship, there is a ‘falling in love’ high. This is because powerful neurochemicals – dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin – surge through the body. These neurochemicals are responsible for the exhilaration that comes with falling in love and the drive to focus on that one special person. The part of the brain involved at this part of the process is the same as the part that lights up when a cocaine addict is injected with cocaine. This is why the beginning of a relationship feels euphoric. This doesn’t last forever though – it can’t. At some point, the body starts to develop a tolerance to the neurochemicals that drive the euphoria. When this happens, the love moves into an attachment phase in which endorphins (the feel-good hormones) and the hormones vasopressin and oxytocin bring about the feelings of security and attachment that come with an enduring relationship. The euphoric, exhilarating feelings lift, and attachment and security deepen. This is where the relationship becomes more committed and the love between two people moves to a deeper level.

This is an inevitable part of every relationship if it is going to endure, but some people would rather keep chasing the euphoria of new relationships than let the relationship they are in deepen into a more loving, secure attachment. This may be why you’re getting such confusing messages. You may continue to get mixed messages if he tries to recreate the euphoria.

It sounds as though you had a greater impact on this man than many, but it will always be difficult to go further with someone who is reluctant to let the euphoria deepen into something calmer, but more secure. I know that you are in so much pain at the moment, but you will get through this. You are obviously someone who is warm and generous and able commit to a deeper love. You deserve someone who is capable of giving you the same. You will find this, but first it will take time to adjust to being without him. Be kind to yourself in the meantime – you will find happiness again.

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Louise

I am married with a 3 year old. We met 4 years ago and within 6 months I had moved from my place of birth where my family live with him was married witnin 3 months and pregnant by month 6. Pretty much since I got pregnant we have been splitting at least several times a month. The communication has been a struggle since very early on and to be honest I had my doubts early on too but it all just happened and I let it in spite of my fears. We constantly feel this pain and resentment uncertainty insecurity but don’t know how to unravel the unkind and vicious ways we have been. It’s like we are both extremely sensitive and defensive but really can’t see each others point of view. Just now he has told me again it is over and he has had enough of me beating him with a stick using him as a punch bag. I think he wants me to beg forgiveness and say how wrong I am to him but mostly, cos it is frequent, I just freeze and think that’s what you do to me too. I feel in a corner and just say ok I will get out of your life then . When do you want me to go? That kind of thing. I have been destructive too throughout the time as I have missed my old life. All I wanted really from him was assurance that I would be able to visit with our daughter a few times a year. I guess I have struggled to let go. I missed my friends and didn’t feel like I would ever find that again in this new area because mainly the people we meet come to stay in our cabin and so although we get on we have to retain sone professionalism. Basically it took me a while to adjust and I found it difficult being just with my partner under his roof. Felt I lost a lot of personal freedom. I never had that much money but now I have zero personal money. Although he does support me we are pretty broke and I don’t feel I can do what I want. Do I sound spoilt? Anyway I have on many occasions packed my bags. Almost daily now..It is really weiRd. It is because he will say how disappointed he is in me and how I treat him so I just think ok what’s the point then. I did leave him a few times but went back thinking that things would be different. I have had many complaints, some have stayed with me and others have gone but the damage has been done really. I do love him but it is hard to love fully when it is so tense most of the time which he says has been created by me. He says I cannot go a few days without being upset with something my perspective is that I never really got the changes I wanted to make and if I had the reassurance that we could afford me to visit family then I would be happy. It has crept up on me consistently throughout our time together. He says that when I am happy it is great and obvious. He believes I am a depressive and should get anti depressants. Sometimes I trust our future together and believe i am in the best place but other times the fear creeps in and I miss my family. The other thing that goes on is that I don’t really feel he is interested in me. When I talk he shows little barely responds sometimes not at all. He says this is because he can’t trust me and describes my behaviour as throwing him a bone. He says I am a bitch. He has said a lot of things. As I have too. He says I have anger issues and can’t blame him for my temper but I feel he has always said really shocking things. Like today when i said my need is to have some money to visit family his response was it is because you are too lazy and frig yourself all the time. (He did apologise quite quickly) I have hardened to these remarks. In the past I was gravely offended . I have never been with someone who speaks like that before.my response to him has been like I hate you you are a c***. Then he would say sorry after it had gone too far but I was so freaked out by his tough northern ways. I’m a soft southerner. I found it hard to forgive him. And always said I wanted out. Anyway now he has labelled me as sone kind of hard bitch who will kick a man when they are down, walk away from communicating and sorting issues and should just gave a cup of tea. I find it hard to reason with him and now don’t bother. We don’t spend any quality time together. He freaked me so much I’m the beginning. Used to say a lot that he was just callin a spade a spade. Says now I’m immature like a teenager. I think now i am in defensive mode all the time. We have no trust. Have no idea how to repair. Anyway. I know technically I’m still here, we are in constant crisis of splitting up. Limbo would be a better place. Don’t know what to do. Know I will have a lot of regrets if and when we do actually make that move. Such a complicated existence we or I have creaTed. So much more to tell and try to make sense of. Thanks for reading.

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Hey Sigmund

Louise, this sounds like a relationship that is hurting both of you at the moment. Sometimes it’s not about people separately but about the combination. This combination sounds like a volatile one. It doesn’t mean that it can’t be fixed, but it will take an enormous commitment from both of you. The first thing to find out is how much you both want it. Do you each want it as much as the other?

It sounds as though this relationship never really been a safe, loving nurturing one. Sometimes it is lonelier being in a relationship that feels distant and volatile than it is being not in a relationship at all. Just because you love each other, doesn’t mean you are good for each other. Of course, nobody can tell you what is best for you or whether you should stay or leave, but perhaps the next thing for you to do is to seriously consider what you are getting from being in this relationship. What is the cost of staying and what is the cost of leaving? I know these are difficult questions. I wish you love, strength and the courage to do what is best for you.

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Julie

Louise, I was reading your post and could relate to so much you have said . I am going through a life changing breakup from a man who I was engaged to for 3 years . There were many fears, insecurities, and mistrust between the both of us as well and was toxic to our relationship . In the end he blames me for a lot if it , my fears , my anger, my resentment , my treatment of him poorly which he in the end has me feeling as though I ruined the best thing that ever happened to me . But what I want to tell you is this , I’ve done so much thinking and we can’t just blame ourselves . These men have a part in the ruination of our relationships too. He sounded very controlling . I too was being asked when we got married to leave my family , my kids to uproot from their school , leave my friends . He convinced me to take a work at home job which isolated me and left me more resentful. I found they make us believe what they are doing is somehow better for us or they are being nice but it’s control and when we realize it , it’s too late . Now he has taken my self esteem , because mine too didn’t pay attention to me , barely touched me , but blamed me when I became angry about it . He has me isolated in a career I hate and now he leaves and cites my childish behavior advice arguing all the time and just not being happy as an excuse . He can’t live like that . And I find myself saying ok well I just want your happiness so I’ll let you go . Then I think , what about my happiness , what about your childish behavior , what about your insecurities . To be honest it was toxic just like yours , but it’s not all your fault . I’m sorry if I rambled on but I related so much with your post and want you to see you deserve happiness and to be in control of you . I’m trying , very hard and it’s a painful process . Good luck to you , never forget your worth .

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Penny

Hey Sigmund,

Thank You for this article!

At the end of April, my husband and I got into a huge fight and he has been away from our home since then. I asked him if he wanted us to divorce but let us do it amicably and he stated no on several occasions. He also stated that he wants his marriage but he has put little to no effort to make it work. He also claimed on several occasions that he would return home but to no avail. He would drop by our home once or twice a month. I kept believing and hoping that my husband would return home and we would work on our marriage. Sleeping at nights are so difficult for me. My daily taughts are consumed with thoughts of my husband. I would also stalked his Facebook page. I have lost about 20 lbs and I donot even regonized me anymore. However, today I said to my self enough is enough. its time for me to move on and find me. He is living his life and it’s time that I do the same. I remove all of the pictures and items of him around the house. I am so looking forward to having a full night of sleep. Funny enough I donot feel anger or hatred towards him. I only want to feel like myself with out thinking or hurting emotionally.

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Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome Penny. It sounds as though you have fought hard to save this relationship, but you can’t do it all by yourself. It’s never easy deciding when to let go and move on, but you sound strong and clear and ready. You deserve better than to be left waiting around on somebody else’s terms. I wish all good things for you.

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G

These comments are so comforting to read, knowing that I’m not the only one to feel like this and that other people have got through it.

My boyfriend woke up one morning last week and told me he doesn’t love me and can’t do it any more. I can’t see a way through this, we’d talked about getting married and having children and I would’ve been happy to spend the rest of my life with him, he treated me like a princess. He’s my best friend and I can’t imagine my life without him. I miss every single little thing, his laugh and cooking together every evening and falling asleep in his arms and waking up together. It was so perfect. It’s so hard to understand that whilst you’re so happy, the other person isn’t, it doesn’t make sense.

I’ve been pinning my hopes on staying friends once this is out of the way. We spoke this morning because he called me- he said he needed to talk to me- he wanted to tell me what he’d bought at the weekend and something exciting about work… I asked him if we would ever talk to eachother or see eachother again after I’ve moved out and he said no, he didn’t want to, he doesn’t like spending time with me. I thought maybe that was because the time we were spending together he felt the pressure to act normally in our relationship, but he says not. I’m just confused, how can you want to talk to someone and share little things with them, but never want to see or talk to them again?

I can’t concentrate on anything, I can’t eat. The only thing I want to do is sleep because it doesn’t hurt when I sleep but I can’t switch off my head to do that. And when I do, I have dreams about us and that everything is back to normal. I wake up and the pain starts from the beginning again.

I’m now worried that because I got upset on the phone this morning that he won’t want to speak to me again. He says it’s not fair on me but the only thing I want to do is talk to him and see him and hug him and go back to normal but I know we can’t.

I keep thinking if I’d done something differently, what’s so wrong with me, was I so awful to be with? He can’t tell me, he says it’s nothing I did, there’s just not that spark there any more. Why can’t we work at it? I still get butterflies every time I think about him. I understand, I’ve been in his shoes where you just fall out of love.

It was so out of the blue, everything has been fine, he was kissing me and cuddling me the night before and we were ordering eachothers Christmas presents and looking at old photos and videos of us.

I just can’t understand and I don’t know what to do. I’ve never had my heart broken before. How do people do this? I don’t want a life without him in it. I want him to be happy but I don’t want him to be without me. It’s been a week and I still feel exactly the same. Every time I get in the car I just want someone to crash into me. I want to skip through the next 6 months and just be okay and not hurting like this. How can he be getting on with his daily life when I feel like this. I cry to the point I can’t breathe and it feels like I’m on the outside watching myself.

Please help me.

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Hey Sigmund

This sounds so confusing for you. It’s really normal to wonder what you could have done differently and to blame yourself, but it sounds as though he is on a different path to you. It’s so painful when the person you love starts heading in a different direction but when this happens, it’s really not about you. If he says it was nothing you did, believe him. He would have nothing to lose by telling you differently. The truth is that he probably doesn’t understand it himself. You will feel this way for a while because you are adjusting to a new normal. He’s in a different place to you and it’s so painful when that happens – I really get it, I’ve been through it myself – but in time you will be okay. Breakups are devastating and it can feel like you can’t ever imagine being happy again, but you will be. In the meantime, spend time with people who care about you, even if you don’t feel like it. Force yourself to do something for yourself every day. Go for a walk, connect with people who care about you, even if you don’t feel like it. Buy new pjs and give you room a big of a reno – get rid of the things that remind you of him. I think it’s always difficult being friends for a while after a breakup. The problem is that you will always want more, and it will be really hard to let go as long as you feel like that. It will just prolong the pain. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be friends one day, but you need to give yourself the time and space to adjust to things without him. It will be agonising for a few weeks, but you’ll slowly find a way to be okay without him. If it reaches a point where you feel as though you can see him or speak to him without wanting to be with him, then you will be in a position to be friends with him without him having so much potential to hurt you. As long as you stay friends with him, you’ll be checking your phone, your messages, your social media – it will send you crazy. Let him go for a little while – it doesn’t have to be forever – just until being with him doesn’t hurt so much and send you into ‘what if’. You’ll get through this – you sound warm and open and wonderful – you really will be okay.

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Sue F

That’s great advice Karen. Sometimes it just takes time and lots of self care to get through it. I agree with the no contact as you just re-live everything. But one day you wake up and it’s not as painful as it once was. One day you can look back and remember the good times. That’s when you’ve started to heal.

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Bailee

Thank you for this article.
I was engaged to be married in February. We have a son. We have been together for almost 3 years, known each other for 5, and have lived together for almost 2 years. One day, he decided having a “wife” and son was too much responsibility. He moved to his home state of Arizona (we are in Washington) and he said he’s not looking back. I thought I was going crazy with how much pain I was in. Glad to know there is an actual science behind it, as well as others going through it!

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Hey Sigmund

This sounds so painful and confusing and awful for you. I can’t imagine the pain you would be feeling, but even though the situation doesn’t make any sense at all, the pain you are feeling certainly does given what has happened. Your body, mind and spirit are trying to adjust to a new normal. This will take time but you will get through this. I wish much love and comfort to you and your son.

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Kristina

A little over year after my high school sweetheart died, I met this guy. We hit it off quite well. 6 months later we moved in together, maybe too soon but it was financially best for us both at the time. Downside: he was newly divorced with a 3 year old. We worked through that for the most part. His ex couldn’t stand me. We couldn’t get along or even be within 30 ft of each other for a while. Finally after 2 years we were civil since she had a new bf. At this point we had my sister and grandmother staying with us as well which put a strain on us. July.of this year the ex and bf had a huge blowout and he beat her for the 3rd time -_-. And my bf spent the whole day with her. I just got a “sorry ” when my dad had died. August he decided we had to part ways and we moved out as fast as we could. Since then he wants to go back to being friends first, of course with benefits. But his ex wife is over with their daughter every weekend and he says it’s good for the kid(7yrs old) and that they’re back to being best friends since I’m not around. But if it really was best for her, the ex would’ve gotten over hate for me and do what’s best for her kid. But no one sees that nothing she does is for her child. I feel like I’ve been replaced and just being used for his convenience. I love him to death even if he doesn’t return it to me and I’m at a loss. Idk if I’m coming or going. It’s been so long since I’ve had to start over. And it’s been forever since I’ve really let anyone in. I am very jealous and overbearing and he says that’s what pushed me away. I’ve always been like that. After 25 years I can’t change. And apparently men don’t like jealous women. So do I stick around and get attention from the one I love even if it is in vain? Or do I wander earth alone wishing for the impossible man that will accept my every flaw?

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Hey Sigmund

Blended families can be really difficult – there’s so much history and emotion involved. It sounds as though this relationships brings out your jealousy, which is really understandable given the circumstances. It sounds like a confusing relationship. Some relationships can bring jealousy out in the most secure people. It’s a bit about who you are to begin with and a bit about the combination of you and your partner.

As long as you are in a relationship that isn’t able to give you what you need, the relationship that can be good for you will struggle to find you.

It sounds as though you are scared of letting go of this relationship, even though it isn’t able to give you what you need. What is this relationship giving to you? If it happened quickly after your first relationship, it may be that it did something to fill the enormous gap that was left there when your high school sweetheart died. Staying with someone who doesn’t love you the way you deserve to be loved is a heavy price to pay to protect yourself from loneliness or unfinished grief, or whatever it is that it is protecting you from.

We all have our flaws, but in the right relationship, the flaws won’t matter. You can find this relationship – absolutely you can – but not while this man is taking up that precious space in your life. It sounds as though you are really aware of your flaws, and even though some of them you might not be able to get rid of completely, once you’re aware of them you can act more deliberately and stop them from getting in the way as much.

It sounds as though you know that you won’t get the love you want from this man. I know you say you love him, but do you love him or what he represents to you, such as relief from grief and loneliness? I don’t know. That’s something for you to think about but it’s an important question. You deserve to be loved and there will be someone who will accept you for who you are and who will bring out the very best in you. That person might not love your flaws, but he will love you enough for your flaws not to matter. He won’t find you though if this other man is in the way. Decide what you deserve – it’s important because nobody else will decide that for you. You sound strong and vibrant and wonderful. I understand you are hurting now, but don’t let that confuse you and make you think that this man is better than no man at all. Having no relationship may be deeply painful at first, especially if it takes you back into your grief, but at least you will be able to move forward – and you will move forward. Staying in a relationship that hurts you will always hurt you. I understand that it’s been forever since you let someone in, but you don’t have to let someone new in all at once. Just be open to something wonderful happening to you, then be brave enough to organise your life so that it can. I wish you courage, light and love.

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Sue F

One of the things that leapt out was that your boyfriend “beat” his ex. If he has done that to her perhaps you will be the next. It is truly awful being in a relationship where you are doing all the giving and getting nothing in return. You are not getting any emotional support when you need it. We all have needs in this life and perhaps this guy isn’t the one for you. I know it’s tough to start again but do you really want to spend the rest of your days filled with drama? You deserve better. Good luck!

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Jessica K

This article has come at the exact right time for me. My boyfriend of one year decided to just wake up one day and not love me anymore. After a little bit of a rocky few days together he decides to be the cruelest man by saying “my personality and the way I share my emotions disgusts him” and “he can only take me in small doses.” We spent the year so much in love and so intamately connected that I am worried I’ll never find someone I connect with like that again. We called each other our soulmates and planned on getting engaged within the next year. How can someone just decide to wake up and not love you anymore after so long and a planned future together? There were definitely red flags pointing to cheating but when I brought them up he assured me there was nothing to be worried about. I kept an eye out but I would never snoop or invade his privacy so I ignored them. No woman wants to look like a crazy jealous girlfriend. It sounds to me like he found someone new and wants to pursue that and was being a villain and using what he used to love about my personality against me. I honestly don’t know how to continue on living. My entire life has drastically changed and I have no control over it. It feels like someone ripped my heart and lungs out of my chest, ran them over and put them back in and expected me to go on living. I haven’t eaten or slept in three days and I am so lost. This article and these comments make me not feel so alone and that someone out there knows the pain and suffering I am going through now.

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Hey Sigmund

All breakups are awful, but this sounds like a really hurtful way for him to breakup with you. You deserve better than this. You can have more than one soulmate, and soulmates can change over time depending on where we are in our lives. This man may have been important and right to you at a particular period of your life, but that doesn’t mean he will be right forever. People change, we all do, and sometimes the relationships we’re in don’t change with us. It sounds as though this man has changed a lot but doesn’t have to change what you had. If you felt as though what you had was real and beautiful then it was. For whatever reason though, your paths are different now. His bends away from yours. It hurts, but it’s okay – you’ll be okay. Let him go and give yourself time to heal so that you can be open to whatever good things are coming to you – and they will come to you, often unexpectedly. Be patient and kind to yourself. I know it doesn’t feel like it now, but you will get through this and you’ll come through beautifully – stronger, wiser, braver.

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Payden

been trying really hard to let go of my ex girlfriend. We were together about 2 years. Then she kicked me out and was with someone else. I let her go the first time the beginning of the summer. I did stupid things but she was still there. Now she wants nothing to do with me and calls me annoying for trying to talk to her. I’m just so broken.

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Hey Sigmund

Two years is a long time so it will take time to feel as though the pain of not having her has passed – but it will. I really understand why you want to keep talking to her, but the best thing for you is to take some space and to give that to her. You need time to recover and heal. You have to know that nothing that is meant for you will pass by you. If you take the space and she is there, then great. If she is not, then that’s okay too. What that will mean is that this relationship will have done what it needed to do for both of you, and one of those things is to bring you the wisdom, growth and lessons that are readying you for an even more nurturing and enriching love. Give the time some time. Be patient and kind to yourself, and give you and your ex girlfriend the space to heal. Take the time to get heal, strengthen and grow, and know that the love you are looking for will find you when you’re ready.

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Courtney

There are so many highs and lows in my life right now, but him leaving me tops the list of lows. He said I didn’t have anything to worry about, that he wasn’t planning on breaking up with me. But this morning that’s exactly what he did.
I cried, and cried, and despite promising myself I’d never do it, I begged him to stay, and not to break up with me. I told him I couldn’t handle it, that I didn’t know if I could make it through. He said he would be there for me, and help me get through…how can I move on if he’s still my support? I have so many logistical things to take care of, like moving out of our apartment, quitting my job, and settling somewhere new. Problem is, I can’t even think straight to make these decisions.
I guess that’s the thing about heartbreak – the one you want to run to for help is the one carving holes in your heart.

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Hey Sigmund

Yes, not being able to run to the person you want to run to is one of the worst thing about having your heart broken. I understand how lonely this can feel and I’m sorry you’re feeling this pain. It sounds as though there are a lot of practicalities you have to work through. Be kind to yourself along the way. It’s okay to fall apart sometimes. Give yourself time to adjust to your new normal. I wish love and strength for you.

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Sonya

I’m currently going through a break up and trying to deny it doesn’t hurt so bad, I’ve done this before, and that I’m stronger than I think but it’s extremely tough. It was almost 7 months and to many chances giving yet there was no cheating but emotionally he wasn’t there. Other times he was he was perfect but somethings were missing. Was I expecting too much? Because with my other ex of 3 years that was torture I was crying in my moms bed for 4 nights in a row. This time is different I still ache though. And want to make it work but I expect him to be perfect. I don’t know what to do and how else can I heal this pain quicker, help.

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Hey Sigmund

Breakups are awful aren’t they. I’m sorry you’re going through this. It sounds as though you have a lot of insight and wisdom into things you can do differently in relationships you have in the future. Exploring what you can do differently takes an amazing amount of courage, especially when you’re still raw and heartbroken, but it’s important because when you do differently, different things will happen. You’re already closer to the person you need to be to invite the love into your life that you deserve. In the meantime, it will take time for your body to make the emotional and physical adjustment. I know it feels awful, but spend time with people who care about you, be kind to yourself and give the time some time. Wishing you love and comfort as you heal.

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Sue F

Hey Karen, I guess the key is learning from our experiences and having the courage to change. It is not always easy but definitely worth the work. Thanks for your words of encouragement <3

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Yuliana

As I read this article what the body and mind feels a logic reason behind the feeling and somehow helps aid the pain of a break up in my case I gave it all as usually I do in everything my first serious relationship my first love and the only man I would have two wonderful kids and gotten married with the same one that today broke my art and stabbed it with lies and words that took away the oxygen that kept me going the memories are there but the proof of a third person is even stronger, I don’t know what I did to deserve this all I know is that it feels as if someone just stabbed and rejected this heart that now it has to heal , I hope that it’s all physical and that none of the bad thin kings of my mind destroy my own self and trust in life !!

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Hey Sigmund

I’m sorry you are going through the pain you are going through. When the pain is this deep and this raw, it’s impossible to make sense of. You deserve to be loved completely, and you will heal. I know that at the moment it doesn’t feel like it – I really understand that, but it will take time for the physical withdrawal and the emotional pain to ease. Some days will feel better than others but every day you will be closer to healing, although it might not always feel that way. It’s up to you not to let the thoughts in your head destroy you. You’ll always be stronger than you think you are and you can do this. Give yourself love and time and be ready for the happier version of your life when it presents itself to you, which it will. I wish you love and strength.

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Stacy

I’m glad I found this article. I’ve been married for 37 years. I got pregnant and we married when we were both 17 years old. Fast forward after 2 kids and 3 grandkids, he had stomach surgery to lose weight and felt really good about himself for the first time in years. I was so happy for him. Then he started hanging with a lady that he worked with. I thought he was with the lady and her husband doing sports things. I don’t think his affair was physical but it didn’t matter to me. He gave her the one thing I most wanted from him. His time and attention. I was so hurt.
I understand he didn’t think he had done anything wrong. But the physical and emotional pain for me was almost unbearable. That was about 10 years ago. I have been told that “It’s all in your head” for years. I lost trust, respect and love.
I’m now in an apartment by myself trying to figure out the rest of my life at 55.
Thank you for your article. It helps to know that it is not just “all in my head”, there is a real pain also.
Stacy

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Hey Sigmund

Stacy, you’re very welcome. I’m so pleased this article found it’s way to you. It sounds as though you have acted with the greatest strength, self-love and self-respect. I completely understand why you would have felt so betrayed. For women emotional betrayal is often worse than a physical betrayal, so what you are saying makes complete sense and is certainly not in your head. The truth is that if it feels bad for you, then it’s bad for you. There is a happier version of your life waiting for you. The pain of a breakup feel crushing but as with any withdrawal from something that’s been important, it will pass. Give the time some time and feel strong about the decision you’ve made. I wish you all the best moving forward.

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Debbi

I am so sorry to hear that the pain is so raw after 10 years. I am in your same situation after 35 years except I am 63 which makes everything more hopeless! Every day is a challenge that I’m not sure I will survive. I hope you will find someone to share your life with and be happy again.

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Goodie

I am going through a breakup, too. I totally understand what you’re going through. And it is so hard, so unbelievably hard to accept that he’s not yours anymore. When I read that he was texting you, I absolutely hated him. By texting you, he is keeping himself alive in your thoughts, this is completely wrong. Stand up for yourself, reject his text messages. Do this and you will recognize a strength that you didn’t think you had before. Hopefully, this will help you gain more confidence to move on. Good luck, Sweetie! I am routing for you 🙂

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Christine

My partner has just finished with me after 2 yrs. He was so different from my ex husband and I thought I had found the one to spend the rest of my life with (I am 59). He was so affectionate, kind and caring. He still texts/skypes/ rings me and I was hoping that by giving him the ‘space’ he wanted we could work something out. He has now told me that he will not meet me again as it is too hard for me when he leaves. I feel so empty, can’t stop crying, can’t concentrate, get fluttery feelings inside, and don’t know how to go on. To make matters worse I have a new job to start Tues and don’t know how I will be able to concentrate as all my thoughts are of him and the time we spent together. I just don’t know where to go from here.

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Hey Sigmund

You go one hour, then one day at a time. At the moment your mind is so flooded with him that it is almost impossible to think of anything else and to even imagine letting go. Your new job will help to give your mind the space it needs to slowly heal. I know your heart is broken and I really understand the hollowness you feel, but I want you to know that what is happening to you is so normal and you will get through this. I wish you love and healing.

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Sue F

Christine I just read your post. I know you may not think this right away but your new job might just be what you need right now. It won’t take away the pain of your loss but it might help you focus on something new…like a fresh start. Good luck!

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Jockey

Hi,
Am a guy, and while surfing i found this website…
Well, am so sorry about the pain caused by your ex.
I used to think about such things and i ve been near many people who had suffred from same situation as yours.
What i want to tell you is:
This pain has many reasons, some of them is that you miss the good moments with him, you feel lonely now, you think may be it is your fault, you try to understand why he left you, you think that he may found you a little bit boring, so u start loosing confidence in yourself, what causes pain also is that u think that you’ll not find another guy who will love you, you feel so bad when u remember all that time passed with him and now everything has gone, u think u ve waist lot of time, it s like u feel destroyed and u don t know how to continue living with this fact…
My way to solve this situation Ms is:
I know how guys think, be sure! Sometimes a man doesn t know what he is doing, sometimes the man just do things because he thinks that he need to change, a man does not always fo the right things in relation ships, when he left you for sure he didn t think about the bad side of what he did, ij fact he had lost a lot of many beatifull things that he may not find in another girl. Your ex by time will suffer specially when he remember nice moments he spend with u. But Ms who cares since he left you, now you must start a new begining, please if you think that there is anything yoi can do to save your relationship with him, please do it don t let it inside you.. If not, and he just wanted to leave, he is either betraying you or he is so S t u p i d that now u are not to going to look back him. This is a new day, and what happenend to you was desteney, and u ll wncounter this situation many times, so remember ” every time is time to start a new page”.
About your pain, don t think that is you are not a nice woman, or you are not a one who may a man wants to stay with, No No No! Don t loose confidence because of something that may happend to anyone in life.
Try to not complicate things by make what happwend a biiig big problem, cause it doesn t help u in anything.
What happened is that your destney was to meet a type of guys that you don t want to fall in love with next time, u ve met someone who does not deserve you, and am saying this without any doubt.
The good thing in break up, is that it is the only way to know guys are thinking and wether this relationship will succeed.
I say, if you want to get rid of all the pain that is still in your heart and brain, ” feed your heart with love again,ur heart needs the amount of love he used to carry within, so try to feed him what it has lost.
” feed your heart by loving peope and things who u are sure are not going to leave u, they will stay for u, such as family, give them your time now, love them and spend time with them….. Love the job you do everyday, and the sun you see every morning, your heart will find itself better and cure fastly.
“Feed your brain with diffrent thing to help it to forget what happened, do not rush to find another guy believing that this may help u to correct things. No no by rushing ,u ll make a lot of mistakes, and u probably will choose the wrong guy, or u choosing the guy who by the time u ll hurt when leaving him.
” try tolearn a new thing, and love to do it, in this way your brain will find itself usefull, creativity make us feel exist, and your brain needs the feeling that u exist.
Finaly , my advice is that always think positive, and the next time you meet someone don t rush to fall in love with, No !!! Please look for the guy who wants to build a strong life with u, who wants to make a nice family with you, because if he is here now just to be here for couple of years, for sure this will end up by a new break up and so a new pain.
” the nam that a woman deserve is the man that he has idea to make family with her, to protect her and family is the only thing that a man and a woman may be together in the same aim for all their life.

I hope that what i ve said, make sens to you, don t forget that sometimes TIME is the best cure someone can find.

Best wishs

Jockey

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Linda

Wow jockeys response is amazing!! Every day I’m letting go more and more of the guy that left me but this response really opened up a lot of realities and truths that made so much sense. I’m so glad that I reached out to this website because It helps me mend my heart by people that care and make sense on so many levels!!!

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Jockey

Hey Linda,

Happy to hear that what i said help you to make things clear in your head.

It will be my pleasure to keep in touch with you, or anyone interested to exchange point of views.. Whatever°°
This is my email adress:
Feel free to share your story.

Cheers

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Jackie

Hi Jockey, this article has really blessed me, I have been going through endless circles of trying to work on a friendship that means so much to me, but I have constsntly been taken advantage of and I have tried to keep the peace , always looking for ways to improve things and support, to no avail. Just when I think all is well, another cold circle starts again. But now I have told myself that I need a way out of this snd to break this endless toxic circle. Focusing back on friends and family is a good place to begin.

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Colleen

Jockey!!! Honestly, your words are brilliant! I am a 42 yr old divorced single mom & cancer survivor~ your insight helps me in many ways. I needed this. Colleen McKinstrie

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Jockey

Happy for you all… At the same time don’t forget the good values you just learned, u may find them useful when making next decisions.
I left my email address last time, and i was shocked by people saying thanks. But this was Karen’s blog, she deserves the most.

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Hey Sigmund

Jockey you words are so wise and your warmth of heart is wonderful. I have loved watching the stream of people who have left their heartfelt gratitude for the difference you have made. When I started this blog, one of my hopes was to build a community where people could feel enriched and nurtured by like minds. I’m so grateful to you and to others who have connected with you for the parts you have played in that. I love this community and the people who comment so openly and honestly. Please, keep commenting! You make a beautiful difference.

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Jcoo

I’m in so much pain I don’t think I can survive this. He ended our rship of 4.5 yrs 2 weeks ago. I can’t stop thinking about him and whether it was me. He said it wasn’t, that he needed space. I found out yesterday that he has a gf and he loves her.

I’m obsessed and feel like i want to die

Help me

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Hey Sigmund

Yes. You can survive this and you will. It feels awful right now, I really get that, but you can do this. Keep fighting. Some days it will feel better and some days it will feel heartbreaking, but every day will get you closer to where you need to be. This man wasn’t the one, and that’s okay because he’s made way for the person who is out there – and he is to there – to find you. You are going through an emotional and physical withdrawal. It feels raw and unfamiliar – I know – I’ve been there myself. It’s all part of adjusting yourself to a different normal. I promise you that will happen. Keep going and give yourself time to adjust. Take reminders of him out of your space. Buy new bed linen, new pjs, and make your space yours again – one that will enrich you and restore you and help you to heal. Make sure that wherever you can, you take away the things that take you back there – you’re mind is doing enough of that by itself. Spend time with the people who love you, even though you probably won’t feel like it, it will help you recover. Be kind to yourself and give yourself the time you need to heal. It will take time and it will feel dreadful for a while but in time you will adjust. Your mind and your body are working towards that right now. I wish you love and strength as you move through this.

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Julie

My fiancé of almost 4 years broke up with me just last week. He was withdrawing gradually , I kept questioning if it waS someone and he said no and actually blamed my constant asking in the breakup . But this was axman who would text and communicate with me everyday morning til night for almost 4 years and suddenly silence . My gut tells me he found someone but I jus don’t know . How do you get over this pain?

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Hey Sigmund

One hour at a time. I’m sorry that you’re going through this pain. The confusion of what has happened sounds like it’s adding to that. Physically, mentally and emotionally you are adjusting to a different kind of normal. This will take time and there’s no easy way to get through it. Try not to keep going back into it to understand it, though I know how hard that is. There is a happier version of you and your life and you will find it in time. I wish you love and strength as you move through this.

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Rosa

This article couldn’t of come to me at a better time. Guy I’ve known for a year and have dated for over 2 months, this morning called to break up. I feel so physically broken and numb. Gave my heart to him and it feels like he ran over it with a semi, then ran over it again to make sure it no longer beats. My anxiety is over the top and my breath is short and labored. I will try the Tylenol suggestion. Anything at this point. Thank you so much for posting this.

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Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome. I completely understand how heartbreaking this must be for you. Be kind to yourself. I wish you much comfort and strength as you move forward.

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Kriste

I’m so glad I found this site. It’s been almost a year since my Narcissistic Ex tossed me aside & forgot about me. He was my fiancé of 4 yrs & when he left, I literally felt as if I would die from a broken heart. And almost a year later the pain is still there. What’s NOT there anymore is the 28 pounds that I’ve lost & my trust in men. Both of which I couldn’t afford too lose.

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Hey Sigmund

It sounds as though he has done you a favour by getting out of your way. Now you can find the love and relationship you deserve. Your time with this man wasn’t wasted though. Amongst other things it will help you know what is good for you and what isn’t, so the next relationship you have – and you will have it – will be nurturing, warm and loving. I understand that it’s easy to lose faith in love and men when you have been hurt, but there are so many wonderful men out there who will be looking for someone exactly like you to love and be close to. Don’t let your ex take away your capacity to open your heart to this, and don’t judge all men by the one who hurt you. You are wiser and stronger now, so use that wisdom and strength not to fall for the same type of person again. That knowledge makes you a powerful woman and really capable of finding a relationship that will be good for you. There is a warm, rich and wonderful relationship waiting for you, but you have to open yourself up to letting it find you. Keep moving forward. I wish you all the very best.

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Debbi

Dear Sigmund,

Where are all these wonderful men you speak of?
From where I’m sitting, I don’t believe they exist! I have been thrown away like the garbage after 35 years. I am 63 and don’t know how to start my life over at this late stage. Broke heart doesn’t begin to cover the pain and grief o I feel.

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Hey Sigmund

Debbi, I’m so sorry that you’re feeling so much pain. There are plenty of wonderful men and you deserve to be loved by one. It sounds as though there have been men who aren’t worthy of you who have been blocking their way. What is it about these men who are wrong for you that has drawn you to them? Is there something they all have in common? Is there someone they remind you of? It’s really normal for people to be drawn to the same types of people, even if they are the wrong types for them. That’s because if there unfinished business somewhere in our past – maybe with a parent or an ex perhaps who didn’t give the love or affection or attention we needed, we’ll keep looking for that in similar people. What we didn’t get in the past from a particular person, we will to similar people in the future to provide it. The key is to realise this and to resist being drawn to similar people. This can be really hard because you might not be initially attracted to the men who would turn out to be good for you, but try to be open to it and see what happens. Pour light on your broken heart – it deserves to heal and you deserve to feel love again, this time with someone who deserves you. Please don’t give up. There is someone who is waiting for someone like you.

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Wat

Hi Rosa..I am truly sorry fr your break up…but try being engaged for almost 4 years ready to be married and finding out that your fiance cheated on you. that is my story. besides the heartbreak symptoms, i suffered a heart attack, and lost over 20kgs due to not eating, the betrayal has been the worst ever. i gave her my all and she didnt even think twice about hurting me and cheating on me. i hope you recover from this and just remember that life is uncertain…tnx

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Sometimes we all just need space to talk to someone who will listen without giving advice, or problem solving, or lecturing. Someone who will let us talk, and who can handle our experiences and words and feelings without having to smooth out the wrinkles or tidy the frayed edges. 

Our kids need this too, but as their important adults, it can be hard to hush without needing to fix things, or gather up their experience and bundle it into a learning that will grow them. We do this because we love them, but it can also mean that they choose not to let us in for the wrong reasons. 

We can’t help them if we don’t know what’s happening in their world, and entry will be on their terms - even more as they get older. As they grow, they won’t trust us with the big things if we don’t give them the opportunity to learn that we can handle the little things (which might feel seismic to them). They won’t let us in to their world unless we make it safe for them to.

When my own kids were small, we had a rule that when I picked them up from school they could tell me anything, and when we drove into the driveway, the conversation would be finished if they wanted it to be. They only put this rule into play a few times, but it was enough for them to learn that it was safe to talk about anything, and for me to hear what was happening in that part of their world that happened without me. My gosh though, there were times that the end of the conversation would be jarring and breathtaking and so unfinished for me, but every time they would come back when they were ready and we would finish the chat. As it turned out, I had to trust them as much as I wanted them to trust me. But that’s how parenting is really isn’t it.

Of course there will always be lessons in their experiences we will want to hear straight up, but we also need them to learn that we are safe to come to.  We need them to know that there isn’t anything about them or their life we can’t handle, and when the world feels hard or uncertain, it’s safe here. By building safety, we build our connection and influence. It’s just how it seems to work.♥️
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#parenting #parenthood #mindfulparenting
Words can be hard sometimes. The right words can be orbital and unconquerable and hard to grab hold of. Feelings though - they’ll always make themselves known, with or without the ‘why’. 

Kids and teens are no different to the rest of us. Their feelings can feel bigger than words - unfathomable and messy and too much to be lassoed into language. If we tap into our own experience, we can sometimes (not all the time) get an idea of what they might need. 

It’s completely understandable that new things or hard things (such as going back to school) might drive thoughts of falls and fails and missteps. When this happens, it’s not so much the hard thing or the new thing that drives avoidance, but thoughts of failing or not being good enough. The more meaningful the ‘thing’ is, the more this is likely to happen. If you can look behind the words, and through to the intention - to avoid failure more than the new or difficult experience, it can be easier to give them what they need. 

Often, ‘I can’t’ means, ‘What if I can’t?’ or, ‘Do you think I can?’, or, ‘Will you still think I’m brave, strong, and capable of I fail?’ They need to know that the outcome won’t make any difference at all to how much you adore them, and how capable and exceptional you think they are. By focusing on process, (the courage to give it a go), we clear the runway so they can feel safer to crawl, then walk, then run, then fly. 

It takes time to reach full flight in anything, but in the meantime the stumbling can make even the strongest of hearts feel vulnerable. The more we focus on process over outcome (their courage to try over the result), and who they are over what they do (their courage, tenacity, curiosity over the outcome), the safer they will feel to try new things or hard things. We know they can do hard things, and the beauty and expansion comes first in the willingness to try. 
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#parenting #mindfulparenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparent
Never in the history of forever has there been such a  lavish opportunity for a year to be better than the last. Not to be grabby, but you know what I’d love this year? Less opportunities that come in the name of ‘resilience’. I’m ready for joy, or adventure, or connection, or gratitude, or courage - anything else but resilience really. Opportunities for resilience have a place, but 2020 has been relentless with its servings, and it’s time for an out breath. Here’s hoping 2021 will be a year that wraps its loving arms around us. I’m ready for that. x
The holidays are a wonderland of everything that can lead to hyped up, exhausted, cranky, excited, happy kids (and adults). Sometimes they’ll cycle through all of these within ten minutes. Sugar will constantly pry their little mouths wide open and jump inside, routines will laugh at you from a distance, there will be gatherings and parties, and everything will feel a little bit different to usual. And a bit like magic. 

Know that whatever happens, it’s all part of what the holidays are meant to look like. They aren’t meant to be pristine and orderly and exactly as planned. They were never meant to be that. Christmas is about people, your favourite ones, not tasks. If focusing on the people means some of the tasks fall down, let that be okay, because that’s what Christmas is. It’s about you and your people. It’s not about proving your parenting stamina, or that you’ve raised perfectly well-behaved humans, or that your family can polish up like the catalog ones any day of the week, or that you can create restaurant quality meals and decorate the table like you were born doing it. Christmas is messy and ridiculous and exhausting and there will be plenty of frayed edges. And plenty of magic. The magic will happen the way it always happens. Not with the decorations or the trimmings or the food or the polish, but by being with the ones you love, and the ones who love you right back.

When it all starts to feel too important, too necessary and too ‘un-let-go-able’, be guided by the bigger truth, which is that more than anything, you will all remember how you all felt – as in how happy they felt, how loved they felt were, how noticed they felt. They won’t care about the instagram-worthy meals on the table, the cleanliness of the floors, how many relatives they visited, or how impressed other grown-ups were with their clean faces and darling smiles. It’s easy to forget sometimes, that what matters most at Christmas isn’t the tasks, but the people – the ones who would give up pretty much anything just to have the day with you.
Some days are great days. We want to squeeze every delicious moment out of them and keep them forever somewhere safe and reachable where our loved days and precious things are kept. Then there are days that are truly awful - the days we want to fold in half, and then in half again and again and again until those days are too small to hurt us any more. But days are like that aren’t they. For better or worse they will come and they will go. Sometimes the effects of them will stay – the glow, the growth, the joy, the bruises – long after those days have gone. And despite what I know to be true - that these are the days that will make us braver, stronger, kinder and wiser, sometimes I don’t feel any of that for a while. I just see the stretch marks. But that’s the way life is, isn’t it. It can be hard and beautiful all in sequence and all at once.
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One of the tough things about being human is that to live wholeheartedly means to open ourselves to both - the parts that are plump with happiness, and the parts that hurt. We don’t have to choose which one can stay. They can exist together. Not always in equal measure, and not always enough of the beautiful to make the awful feel tolerable, or to give it permission to be, but they can exist together - love through loss, hope through heartache. The big memory-making times that fatten life to full enough, and the ones that come with breakage or loss. The loss matters and the joy matters. The existence of either doesn't make the other matter any less. 
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What I also know to be true is that eventually, the space taken up by loss or heartache changes space for enough of the beautiful to exist with it. This is when we can start to move with. Sadness still, perhaps, but with hope, with courage, with strength and softness, with openness to what comes next. Because living bravely and wholeheartedly doesn't mean getting over loss or denying the feelings that take our breath away sometimes. It means honouring both, and in time, moving with.♥️

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