Nobody likes the squeamish feeling of things not going our way; or the bitter-sweet taste of letting go of something (or someone) that once gave us butterflies in our stomachs and fuzziness in our heads. Nobody anticipates feeling downcast or sad; or enjoy the pain of separation. It absolutely sucks, for want of a better word. It sucks the energy, life and drive from you, and replaces it with a sense of forlornness and purposelessness, at least for the time being.
Breaking up with someone is not the only form of heartbreak, although it’s the experience most commonly associated with the term. Heartbreak, in my opinion, stems from any forced detachment from something or someone we may have latched ourselves onto, whether consciously or unconsciously. And every time we need to pry ourselves from the thing, person, or memory we have attached ourself to, it’s the most painful experience ever. Heartbreak happens in degrees, but all of humanity share in the common experience of having our hearts broken during our life time. It could have come from a friend, a job, a bad experience, or a spouse. Anything from that list, or everything, or none at all. It doesn’t matter that my heartbreak wasn’t as big as yours, or vice versa. The very fact that we have all experienced shattered dreams and fallen expectations is enough to break down the walls of defences and judgement between us. Your heartbreak may have been a little one, which a quick run in the fresh air or a tub of chocolate ice-cream can comfort; or it may have been the most devastating experience of your life, where not even the comfort and support of those dearest to you may suffice.
As I was thinking about why this world is the way it is, why we need to suffer all of these emotional hurt and prickling, and why we seem to be expected to carry these burdens and know what to do with them, I have come to the conclusion that we were not meant to do it alone. We are a humanity because we are expected to function like one, to carry each other’s burdens and to mend each other’s hearts. And even in doing those things we are not alone. We are supposed to draw our strength from the One who exemplifies love, selflessness and generosity. It is through that that we are able to make our own pain and losses count. When we give our hearts away, in all of our vulnerability and brokenness, and trust other people not to trod on it, we build each other up as much as is possible in this fallen world.
I still think heartbreak sucks, though. And I think it’s okay to think so. It’s all right to need comfort and strength (because we weren’t meant to do it on our own). Some of the experiences I’ve had this year have sucked the life out of me, and have brought me to tears and sorrows. Some nights I cry myself to sleep, wondering why the world feels like its spinning out of its axil. Some days I wake up in the morning unable to appreciate the beauty of the day, counting down hours and days before I can crawl back into bed or go home, imagining scenarios of what-ifs and could-have-beens, and always regretting, wondering, and hesitating. Some days I’m just left thinking what the heck is going on, and I momentarily drown in my own emotions and feelings.
But it was in those times that I learnt to be patient, to seek earnestly, to open His Word, to write down His promises, to pray for those who’ve hurt me, and to let my heart break so that the sorrows on the inside can flow out freely and be released. It was when I allowed my heart to break that I allowed peace and joy to enter, for hope to fill it up again. When my heart broke, it didn’t just break for myself, it broke for the things and people in this world, too. It allowed me to see that everyone else is also hurting and wounded, and no one needs another slap in the cheek or stab in the back.
So, I’m still unsure how to feel about heartbreak. It’s something so fragile, delicate and abstract. You can’t count it or measure it. You can’t quantify it or put a value to it. I’m not even too sure if you can ever get rid of it, or smother it into oblivion. I think there will always be a small part of us that remains fractured even after we’ve supposedly moved on or let go. But with that said, when we go through our own processes of healing and rebuilding, I think our heartbreak allows us to empathize more with the other broken people around us. When we cry, we prove that we need comfort, and we let others know that we need them in our lives, too. And I guess to draw humanity closer to each other, building it up into something closer to what its intended purpose was, is enough to give us hope despite our heartbreak, and purpose despite our brokenness.
“Two ways in which our hearts can be broken: the first imagining the heart as shattered and scattered; the second imagining the heart broken open into new capacity, holding more of both our own and the world’s suffering, joy, despair and hope.”- Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness