Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about heartbreak.
The concept seems to keep creeping up in my life. I’ve been seeing quotes and hearing songs about it lately, and I have been getting weirdly emotional. Especially considering I haven’t dealt with heartbreak in the typical sense for over 2 years when my last relationship ended.
Regardless, lately I’ve been feeling heartbroken. But not in the way you might expect.
I think lately it’s hit me that heartbreak isn’t reserved for romantic relationships. Heartbreak isn’t the opposite of romance. Heartbreak is the residual effects of loving something or someone so much that when it changes or goes away, you feel deeply sad.
Heartbreak is loss. And loss can be felt in a whole lot of ways.
Recently I went through a situation where I really trusted someone and was vulnerable and open with that person only to have that trust betrayed in a pretty public way. I now look at this person who I was once close with, and I’m left with feelings of anger. I’ve had to cut someone out of my life who I said I would always be there for. And yea, that situation really sucked. It was kinda heartbreaking.
People don’t really talk about heartbreaks that aren’t with a romantic partner. But I’m realizing that those can hurt and sting just as bad. A friendship breakup can derail you the same way a romantic one can. Losing your dream job or missing out on an opportunity can be heartbreaking. All my friends in the theatre community feel the collective heartbreak of stages being empty for over a year now. Goodness knows the Asian America and Pacific Islander community has been feeling a deep heartbreak lately. Suffering a loss of literally any kind can make your heart break into a million pieces. That’s a part of life.
A few weeks ago, to lift my spirits I decided to re-watch Brené Brown’s Netflix special. And if you don’t know her work, it’s all about embracing vulnerability. And let me tell you, the special doesn’t disappoint.
She talks about how in life, you have to open yourself up and be vulnerable. She says that sometimes you share your truth with someone to see if you can trust them only to be let down. She says that vulnerability will hurt and completely tear you down. But without it, we wouldn’t really be living the fullest life possible.
Vulnerability is bravery. You have to be willing to risk things. To know it might not work out, but do it anyway. To say “this could be great, but it also could be horrible” and simply be okay with the outcome. You have to jump and sometimes you land hard and without a net.
Sometimes you get hurt. Other times, you thrive. And there’s really no way to know which one you’re gunna get.
See, without heartbreak, we wouldn’t know joy. And if you keep your heart locked up in a tight little box, it’ll never truly be able to love to its full potential.
You experience the pain of heartbreak because you chose to love in a big way. Maybe even in a dangerous way. If you’re feeling heartbroken, that means you cared so much about something that when you lost it, a piece of you isn’t the same anymore.
I’m going to quote something else I love. It’s a poem by Sarah Kay called “If I Should Have a Daughter.” She says “this life will hit you, hard, in the face. Wait for you to get back up just so it can kick you in the stomach. But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air.”
I got the wind knocked out of me a while ago. And while I usually try to live my life without regrets, I do regret some of my choices. But I keep reminding myself that taking those risks, letting someone into your life, taking a chance on someone and loving them hard is never a mistake.
It may come with heartbreak. Don’t shoot the messenger, I didn’t make the rules. If you’re a living, breathing human being, you’re gunna feel heartbroken a few times before the end.
Romantic endings, friend breakups, general losses. They all hurt like hell.
But no matter what. No matter how hard any of this stings, I can’t help but feel a little grateful for it all. Because having your heart broken means you were brave enough to be vulnerable. It means you were strong enough to try. It means you were selfless enough to love.
Sometimes you need to then be a little selfish after and let your heart rest. Let your tired and wounded warrior take a break while you heal. Cause a heartbreak is an injury, and it shouldn’t be ignored. So set some boundaries, go to therapy, and do what you need to do. Then, when you’re ready, you can open yourself back up again.
If any of this resonates with you, if you’ve been feeling heartbroken over something lately, I’m right there with you. And I’m not gunna stand here and dictate how you should be healing, but I’ll say this from my experience. Gratitude and perspective help. This feeling won’t last forever. And sometimes putting the broken pieces of your heart back together again make a prettier picture where more light can shine through. Take time to appreciate that you showed up for yourself. You tried something. You were brave enough to take a risk. You were courageous enough to love hard and to love fully.
That’s the greatest strength you have. You’re willing to try, to love, to be vulnerable. You’re willing to be heartbroken.
And if that isn’t the most impressive thing in the world, I really don’t know what is.
All my love,