Ohhhh Heartbreak. We’ve all been there. One minute you’re eating Cheerios in bed together on a Sunday morning and the next you might never see each other again. It can be excruciating, messy, painful, and often throws up a whole host of embarrassing emotions we'd rather just not have to deal with. As far as I know, there is no immunity from getting your heart stomped on and broken and it doesn’t matter how rich, beautiful, accomplished, interesting or even downright hilarious you are – if you're choosing to love, you're also risking the chance of heartache.
SO ON THAT CHEERY NOTE... I thought I'd draw on some of my own personal experiences and observations and give you some comforting reminders if you are currently sailing the high seas of a broken heart. I can't fix you're heart, but I may make you feel less alone (and hopefully laugh..ok a smirk will do)..
1) Its ok to be a complete mess.
Have you ever really felt anything but empathy for someone upon finding out they just battled through the end of an important relationship? Probably not. We all know it’s the emotional equivalent of repeatedly stepping on a lego, yet most of us still get pretty mortified at the prospect of getting emotional in public. It’s fine. The tears can well up at the most inconvenient of times; at work, in the barista queue, on a grey Tuesday morning in November when you’re trains’ suddenly delayed.. Again, its fine. Admitting you’re an irrational wreck because you just went through a break up really is ok. No one can deny that a broken heart messes with us in ways we would just rather it did not. (Seriously, why am I putting my socks in the fridge again?!.) Don’t let anyone shame you for this. If you need time off, take it, you’re not weak or crazy, you're just human. If you suddenly find your eyes misting over reading a spreadsheet or trying to focus in a meeting, there’s no need to be embarrassed. If this is you, breathe, and if it’s not you – for gods’ sake be kind and offer a cup of tea or a hug.
2) It hurts both ways.
Yes, I’ve had my heart broken - but I’ve also been the person doing the breaking too. Both were unmistakably painful. There is a common misconception that the ‘dumpee’ is the person who hurts the most yet this isn’t always the case. Loss is often felt both ways and breaking up with someone you shared a part of your life – and your heart with – will always hurt. Its’ akin to ripping up tree roots; the longer they’ve been growing, the more damage is going to be done. So even if it may sometimes look like they do, no one really ever skips merrily away from a relationship simply because it was their decision to end it. This is something I really wish I’d known younger; I would have felt much less pain had I understood how much I wasn’t the only one hurting (despite what Facebook seemed to tell me at the time!).
3) It doesn’t need to be dramatic to be painful.
Sometimes it can feel that if the break up was the right decision, then we shouldn't be upset right? Wrong. Some of the most upsetting break ups can be the ones where theres’ no big disaster or betrayal, and the relationship has simply just come to end. You can love someone to pieces and know how wonderful they are but if you don’t feel it, you don’t feel it - and there's nothing you can do about that other than be honest. Theres’ also a million other conflict-free reasons why things don’t work out and a relationship can no longer continue; distance, a clash in lifestyle, growing apart - or simply realizing this just isn't the person you see a future with. Letting a person go in those circumstances can be really really tough and both people are still losing someone they care about deeply. Drama-free endings can be just as painful as volatile ones, so even if it is the right thing to do, you’re still more than allowedto join in the fun and be a big irrational heartbroken mess too.
4) You will see happy couples EVERYWHERE.
I don’t know why this is a thing – whether its’ psychological, coincidental or just the universe playing some terrible joke… BUT... often the very second you become broken hearted, is the same second there are suddenly happy couples everywhere. There will be a flurry of engagements, wedding invitations and coupley photos on Facebook. People who have never behaved romantically before will suddenly be all loved up - and really keen to tell you about it. It will feel like you are the only single person left in the world and all the good ones are either married, batting for the other side, dating people far more attractive and accomplished than you – or are something weird like a fruitarian(and then you’d rather be single and heartbroken anyway.) Love will just be everywhere. This is normal, it’s a phase, no you will not be alone forever – just ride it out. I promise the pink clouds will clear and normal single people will start appearing again soon. (n.b. I know this scenario very well. I once worked in a restaurant and had a boyfriend break up with me a week before Valentine’s Day. I then had to work the Valentine’s Day pouring champagne, smiling through gritted teeth, and decorating tables with heart shaped chocolates. I challenge you to find a sourer waitress this side of February 2015.)
5) It’s a zig-zag back to normality.
Days 1-2; I’m just going to lie here after my shower in my towel. Forever.
Days 3-5. This is awful. Maybe I’ll move today.
Days 6-10. I should probably shower and eat some vegetables.
Day 10; Im ok. Im fine. This is fine.
Day 12: I am totally over that douche.
Day 13; (mascara everywhere) WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY??????????
Day 14; I’ll never love anyone like that ever again.
Day 15; My life is OVER.
Day 16; Ooo he was fit.
Day 17: I am sorry why would anyone ever dump me?! Urgh His loss.
Day 18; I can’t go on. I’ve lost my one true love in the whole entire world and they say you only find it once..
Day 19; Well Mark Darcy came back and got Bridget didn’t he?
Day 20; I’m fine, this is fine.
Day 21: I feel AMAZING being single is AMAZING.
Day 22: I'm doomed. My life is over. I’ll never love again.
And so on and so forth until you have a nice long stretch of feeling ok, (and actually getting out of bed), then on a random Tuesday in May, you’ll hear they’re now with someone new and you’ll feel like its Day 14 again - except it’s not - and Day 14 (v2.0) lasts a few hours before you realise you are actually ok.
Getting over heartbreak is the least logical experience in the whole human condition. You’re a total yoyo-ing fruitloop and it’s like an emotional Tough Mudder – only there’s a hurricane blowing, you’re blind folded, and the course keeps changing direction. But hang in there - its never a linear process and you'll be making far more progress than you think. I promise.