Since first reading this article about the best heartbreak-advice you´ll ever get I´ve kept coming back to it so many times and I´ve send it to countless friends. I guess if there really was a universal truth about heartbreak that I could find, I would be luckiest girl on earth. While its rare that someone manages to get under your skin so deeply that they can really break you heart, life can manage to do that on a daily basis.
Because it`s my job to write about feelings and also because life is unpredictable as fuck, I´ve done some more real life research into the value of heartbreak and genuine advice from grown ups who must know a thing or two about it. Over the summer, I was home in Germany for a couple of weeks and slowed my workload down to a normal standard (weird) which left space to read six awesome books on life, being in love and having a broken heart. I am not sure I am much wiser because it takes so bloody long for these things to travel the ocean that exists between the mind and the heart, but I thought it would be a good idea to round up what I loved the most about them.
When we´re heartbroken we soften up to a lot if things we kind of always knew to be true, only that it was easier to ignore them while we could still focus on work and drinking and stumbling around the beach. When the ice under your feet breaks you end up with a choice to either swim or drown and suddenly what matters in life seems crystal clear because you realize that the laundry or the way your housemate leaves the dirty plates in the sink really isn`t what its all about. In a way its such a beautiful time because you can drop the shit and stop sweating the small stuff now. Who cares if you wash your hair when there is much greater work to be done?
Being crushed makes you nice and squishy like cotton candy
“Sometimes someone can crack something open that felt safe and make you unreasonably vulnerable: you will live to tell the story of that shock”. After careful consideration I think that there is a tender difference between deep sadness and depression and its important to be aware of it. When we´re really shaken and sad to our core, so much that even vegan raspberry chocolate wont cheer us up anymore, we are also deeply connected to the suffering of other beings. We recognize something of ourself in them and very often in those times people come into our life as invaluable companions. We pick up new hobbies, we get back to drawing, we finally start sewing because we simply have to do something that isn`t crying in bed. We start going to art school again and we realize that all these wise books we always thought we were to busy to read are actually life lines we should have slept in bed with for ages. It´s a precious time because its raw, true and untainted by fake romance. We can regroup, check our priorities and see if we have the right intention. I would go as far as saying that if you have never been heartbroken about anything, even if it was just the news, then you´re missing out.
“A Dark Night of the Soul is not the universe`s attempt to rob you of your happiness or beat you into submission – on the contrary. It is a natural cycle of life that teaches you the meaning of happiness beyond pleasure. It offers the opportunity for liberation from inauthenticity.” – Susan Piver
What can I get or what can I give?
A broken heart is often fast to look for blame because it didn’t get what it wanted. I´ve been told a million times that expectations are the root of all evil, but I am a hopeless daydreamer – I can happily spend 5 days a week lying in bed thinking about all the kisses I still wanted from someone. But Susan is right – if we ask what we can give in any given situation rather than what we can get from it, we lower our chances of suffering (read “The wisdom of a broken heart”, its awesome). I would love to be someone who makes people happy all the time, but maybe that isn`t even always what they need. Some people need to be left alone with their growing pain and others need you to be there quietly, with a free hand ready to catch them if they fall. I love this article about trauma – it illustrates what it means to live with an open heart aware of the possibility for catastrophes while still acknowledging all the beautiful possibilities that are always there.
Faith isn`t blind, it`s visionary
In my experience, leaning into the love we feel for someone is more effective than running away from it. If someone bothers you, you have to admit that you care. It´s easy to pretend that our feelings for someone aren’t actually that significant, but it`s not really sustainable. These things always catch up with you the next time your tipsy on red wine and you meet your ex with someone new (trust me, I´ve learned the hard way). A central practice in buddhism is loving kindness meditation. Try it for yourself – sending someone you´re really struggling with love on a daily basis will make you feel better, I promise. It´s a long way to go when you´ve just been left, but the more we get our ass on the cushion, the more we can learn to love someone so much that we want what`s best for them, even if it doesn’t include us. And there does’t even have to be any drunken shouting, late night sexting or Cadbury`s binges. The saddest moments in my life where made of a strong wish for something very specific to happen because I couldn’t trust that the universe will sort it out – that it will either be joy or learning and that it is up to my choice of how I will handle it. In theory (!) I do know that the more we wish for the best, most loving, beautiful and growth-triggering thing to happen for everyone involved, the more we could relax about it because things will be fine either way and no one will stop breathing just yet. It`s about faith and also about admitting that we don`t always know what the best thing to happen would be but most of all it is easier said than done.
“The ego prefers that a mild river of misery run through the background of our lives, never bad enough to make us question whether our choices are creating the pain.” – Marianne Williamson
I refuse to believe that the heady, crazy state of falling in love is something to be ashamed of. We´re taught that it fades anyway, that it`s reckless to fall in love and that there is such a thing as caring too much. That maybe it isn`t safe to risk your heart. But I think we should actually love like our life depends on it, because it does. When someone rejects us, often our first reaction is to push them away too because we actually didn’t like them that much anyway, right? So maybe it really wasn’t meant to be, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t real. Maybe the ecstasy of having the biggest crush you can imagine is our natural state of being which lasts till our cynicism and the real world manages to get back in again. Admitting that we´ve cared is not really a cool thing when you´re young and queer, but if nothing else it must be the key to setting us free.
Our relationships never really end
The present moment is the only touching point between time and eternity, but our relationships are still eternal, even if we break up and they change in form. We are always connected and always part of each other`s history. The things we´ve experienced together can`t be erased ever, no matter what we do or how we move on. Even if they are just tiny specks in the universe, in our lives and in our cities, they will always be there.
Love may evolve over time the same way we do, but it is possible, even after years of sleeping in the same bed with someone, to still feel butterflies when they turn the keys in the lock and come home. There is nothing wrong with looking for that feeling, even if the search breaks your heart.
I wish I wouldn`t just write all this, but really feel it too.
If everything else fails, I recommend adopting a dog from the shelter.