I thought I’d had my heart broken before but, I clearly hadn’t. This was it.
I’m 26, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, and I would say I’ve just experienced, not only my first broken heart but also my first real experience of loss. Part of me feels like my loss was small in the grand scheme of things, but a loss is a loss. Grief is relative and every experience of it is so valid. What I’ve been feeling has been one of the hardest emotional experiences and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
So if you’re reading this and currently experiencing a broken heart, loss, grief or similar, I hope that this blog post and my thoughts can shed even a little light for you. When you’re in the depths of grief, loss and heartbreak, emotions can feel incredibly overwhelming and they aren’t always the easiest to navigate. But you can navigate them (I 100% know you can), if not by yourself then with the help and support of family, friends and professionals. Read my 11 benefits of counselling and reasons to be proud of going here.
One thing I’ve been determined not to do this whole time is to avoid the pain I’ve faced from my broken heart. Pushing down emotions and covering up pain doesn’t dissolve it. Fact. That pain will still live in your body and will inevitably show its face again be it emotionally, physically or mentally. When you’re faced with pain, you’re faced with a challenge. The challenge is to sit with it, no matter how much it hurts. The challenge is to listen to what it’s trying to teach you until you heal it.
I’ve certainly turned around this painful experience and have found many silver linings which are shaping me into a woman I’m proud to be every day.
My experience with heartbreak…
You guessed it! I fell in love and it didn’t work out. There was an incredible amount of love between us, but things weren’t right. We were triggering each other like crazy and we sadly had to let go of our relationship for the sake of our health and personal growth. One of the hardest realities I’ve ever had to accept.
Though our collective ego will usually take to hate, to blaming and to pointing fingers at the end of a relationship, I’m not here for any sort of blame game. I hold nothing against him or what happened. I don’t want to be bitter or to hold bad feelings where there was love. There’s no right and wrong in my eyes; we were just on two individual journeys and we weren’t quite ready for each other.
My responsibility now, and always, is myself. I am allowing my experiences to always encourage healing, growth and learning and so here are a few things I’ve learnt about love from having a broken heart.
12 things I learnt above love from a broken heart
1. Ultimately no amount of love can put two people on the same journey
We’ve heard it said before and I can stand testament to honest feelings and bad timing making for a painful combination. Sometimes you’re just not ready for each other. From the moment we are born and our souls take form in the human body, they are on a journey of growth and evolution. The rate at which we learn, expand and evolve though, I believe, depends on our outer circumstances and the environments we are exposed to. Every single person’s journey is different.
Ultimately the love we all deserve is a love that encourages us to grow, explore and make mistakes. The love we deserve doesn’t judge us, it accepts us for where we are and it nourishes our human experience. It encourages us to be better, to feel all the colours of being human. The love we deserve hold boundaries but stands by our side for the ride.
Meeting someone you love and meeting someone that’s compatible with where you are on your journey are two different things. It doesn’t make any journey more right or wrong than the other, but it’s very hard to have a relationship with someone that has contrasting ideas, dreams and beliefs to you. No matter how much you love them. I deeply care and love my ex but our relationship didn’t bring out the best in each other no matter how much we tried.
2. Romantic love often exposes unhealed childhood wounds
Have you ever felt like you continually choose the same kinda guy? Do you find yourself going round in circles and connecting the dots in your romantic encounters and thinking… surely this can’t be a coincidence? Often it’s actually not!
I’ve been doing so much reading recently into why, even though you know a relationship isn’t right for you and it’s not bringing out the best in you, you still crave it and want it. I love my ex, I really do, but we got ourselves into some toxic cycles and I knew we were both bringing some unresolved wounds to the table. By diving into what I bought to the table, I have been on the most powerful healing journey and I thank the relationship endlessly for exposing these wounds.
Often we attract partners or friends based on our subconscious belief system, the system that we created in our childhood. The beliefs most of us don’t even know we have. Thing is, we were all raised with a certain kind of love from our primary caregivers and that love has shaped the love we accept. Though in our minds, often, we know our relationship isn’t healthy, on some level the love feels familiar and we still accept it. Even if it’s bad.
Through recreating these relationships we are subconsciously trying to resolve childhood trauma and give our inner child what they crave(d), though ultimately by going for these people similar to our primary caregivers, we are looking in the wrong place. It’s not your partner’s job to fix your wounds. If your partner is on a healing journey with you, you can figure it out together but it’s important to take responsibility for your wounds.
If you find yourself in a relationship dynamic you know isn’t right or healthy, it’s time to heal. You can find support from a therapist or trauma experienced counsellor to help dig into your inner child work. See my benefits of counselling blog post here.
3. You can love someone and still need to walk away
I found this part the absolute hardest. I had always thought that once you found love, love would overcome anything. I couldn’t quite understand why I had to give up such a feeling now that I’d finally found it.
But on the other hand I now know how huge my capacity to love is and that’s not going anywhere. It’s the most beautiful feeling to see into the eyes of another soul so clearly. But love and compatibility, as mentioned previously, are two different things. It doesn’t feel natural to walk away from something or someone you love but if the red flags are there, you might just need to. Walking away physically doesn’t mean you stop loving someone in your heart, you just have to learn to love them from a distance. For me, I had to walk away from love because unfortunately it came at the cost of my growth and well-being.
4. The parts that feel the most painful will direct you to your healing
I knew the break up was the right thing for us, but it didn’t make it any less painful. My challenge was to sit with the difficult feelings and let them uncover flaws and vulnerabilities in my own belief system. For example when I felt intense sadness, I’d ask myself questions like ‘what am I actually scared of here? What beliefs are lying underneath this feeling? I’ve walked away from something that wasn’t good for me so what’s getting in my way’
And my answers were my biggest indicators for work. These were the areas I needed to send love, breath and healing to…
‘What if I never love like this again?’ ‘Was I not worth it?’ ‘Am I unloveable?’ ‘Why wasn’t my love enough?’ ‘Am I too much?’
Next time you feel overwhelmed, pay attention to what thoughts are going through your mind. What’s going on beneath the surface? Be really honest with yourself, it’s the only way.
5. Allow yourself to be where you are, always.
The biggest barrier to healing is acceptance of exactly where you are. Often when we experience certain depths and feelings, we don’t fully allow ourselves to express them. We get frustrated that we are still feeling a certain way and many people will tell us to ‘get over it’ and ‘move on, he isn’t worth it’. All of these comments, though they come from a loving place I’m sure, are asking you to be somewhere you aren’t ready to be yet.
Telling someone you’re fine when you’re actually feeling like shit, does yourself a huge disservice. Do that and you must spend the day pretending to be somewhere you’re not which is incredibly exhausting. If you’re feeling sad, feel sad. If someone asks you if you’re okay, say you’re not. Give yourself a chance to express the pain you’re in and give the people around you a chance to be there for you and offer wisdom.
If you have a broken heart or any kind of emotional pain, let yourself feel it for as long as you need to feel it.
According to Harvard brain scientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, ninety seconds is all it takes to identify an emotion and allow it to dissipate while you simply notice it. Read more here.
6. There’s nothing anyone can say to speed up your healing
There’s no shortcut to pain relief, not even your over-the-counter drugs will help you with a broken heart. This shit needs to be felt out. You have to feel it, to heal it. It’s been about 6 weeks since my break up and I’ve honestly sat in all the pain. I’ve sat in it and sat in it until understood what the pain was telling me and why I didn’t need to feel that pain anymore. That’s not to say I don’t think about him every day, there are reminders everywhere, but it’s less painful now. Time and awareness are key here.
Allow yourself time to go through the motions of having a broken heart. Once I’d accepted that it may well be I love him for the rest of my life, I started looking at how exactly I’d live in peace, still holding that love in my heart. If you’re supporting a friend going through loss/heartbreak, just let you know that you are there, for however long the pain is still present.
7. Your mind isn’t always your best friend
Over the last year, since reading A New Earth, I’ve been on an incredible journey into awareness. It’s only by taking a step back from my thoughts that I’ve been able to take back control of my energy and life. Learning to separate from your mind during a broken heart is absolutely essential in my eyes to heal effectively.
Our thoughts are a constant ticker tape going on in the background. I think we have like 60-70,000 a day or something crazy. Thoughts, as we know, can be wonderful but they can also be very damaging. When a relationship ends the mind tends to reel off more of the latter, the negative. If you aren’t careful these thoughts catastrophise and before you know it? You’re on a downward spiral and you’re in a hole. We’ve all been there.
Remember, you are not your mind. Learn to quieten your mind and your life will change forever…
8. Presence is your best friend
If you’re unfamiliar with the terms ‘ego’ and ‘conscious awareness’, may this be the moment you open your heart to it. Don’t dismiss me already, I know it can seem a little ‘wavy’. Bear with me. Meditation, yoga and spiritual practice can indeed be overwhelming when you start becoming curious about it and looking online. You don’t need to be meditating every minute of the day to experience the benefits of meditation. You just need to take the first step.
Start with my FREE beginner’s guide to meditation here. If you’re curious (you’re in for an exciting journey) then get yourself a copy of Eckhart Tolle’s ‘A New Earth’. This was single-handedly the book that transformed my consciousness. I have so much to thank Eckhart for. He is an incredible leader.
9. You can only take responsibility for yourself
In life and in love, the only thing we can look after and initiate change in is ourselves. Fact. We cannot change other peoples minds and we cannot change other peoples journeys, no matter how hard we try. I’ve learnt the hard way on this one too.
I very easily fall into the caregiver role and I can end up taking responsibility for looking after other people a little too much. That’s not always a bad thing but if the person you’re caring for, isn’t caring for themselves, it can be exhausting. I took a lot of responsibility in my recent relationship and it drained every bit of energy in my body, to the point I got ill. Ultimately if the person doesn’t take action to change themselves, no amount of love or care from you will keep them on a sustainable healing journey.
As a partner in a relationship, you can only ever offer love and support. Wanting to change someone and not accepting them for who they are and where they are is extremely unhealthy dynamic and it’s not fair on either of you.
10. Love doesn’t end when the relationship does
Gosh, this scene from Eat Pray Love makes me cry every time. Every single time. Is it just me?
‘I miss you’
‘So miss me. Send me love and light every time you think of me, and then drop it.’
The bittersweet thing about loving someone, if it’s pure love and not just attachment, is that part of your heart will always carry that love for them. I know I will always love him, whether he is in my life or not because of how our love has shaped me. I actually don’t want to deny myself of that love or to try and push it away. It’s still painful at the moment but it’s already getting less and less so. To love is the most beautiful feeling in the world and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. So I guess I am learning to hold that love but to send love from a distance. I am learning to love but not let it consume me.
11. Healing is an everyday commitment
Healing requires commitment, it’s not a session you book with a counsellor and suddenly you’re fixed. In fact, there’s no end goal to healing, it’s a lifestyle choice. The journey of healing ourselves is a choice we must make every day. It is single-handedly the most rewarding and valuable journey I’ve ever been on and it’s an absolute dream to get to know myself and undo all the ideas I’d had about myself every day.
12. Words are just words without action to back them up
This is a hard lesson to learn. We’ve all been there with relationships, friendships, family and even in the workplace, haven’t we? People will make you all sorts of promises, people will sit with you to create all sorts of dreams and build so much hope (albeit with good intentions) but be careful that you aren’t mistaking what was potentially on the horizon for what was actually in front of you. Often our dreams/illusion of someone is whats keeping us there.
A really helpful exercise for me was to write down the love and relationship that I dreamt of having and then a list of the love and the relationship that I was actually experiencing.
The two can be very different and that’s not to say progress cannot be made and promises can’t be kept but I do know that next time I invest my love in someone, I will be sure to distinguish between their words and their actions.
Sometimes the person in front of you simply does not have the capacity to show up in the way you deserve, sometimes they convince you they will and sometimes they even convince themselves. Words are to be taken lightly and should always be backed up with action.
What have you learned from heartbreak?
I’ve love to hear your thoughts.
Love as always and happy adventuring,
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I can’t do this without you.
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