Diving headfirst into sadness may help ease a broken heart

StaceyNHerrera

**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events that I have experienced firsthand; used with permission.

The first time my heart was broken, I was 17 years old. I had been in a romantic relationship for four months when my boyfriend suddenly broke up with me. It felt like someone had stuck their hand in my chest and ripped my heart out. I was devastated.

It took me a long time to recover from that broken heart. I secretly cried for weeks because I didn’t want anyone to know how much it hurt. I was convinced that I was unattractive, unlovable, and destined to be alone.

But eventually, I realized that getting my heart broken wasn’t the end of the world. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Without that broken heart and the dozens of heartbreaks that followed, I may not have figured out the key ingredients for a healthy relationship. I learned that love is not always enough. Trust, communication, and respect are also essential.

But even more than that, having my heart smashed into a gazillion pieces taught me how to love myself. And that is the most important love of all.

Of course, this is easy to say in hindsight. But how do you deal with heartbreak while you’re in the thick of it?

Here are five hopeful reasons to dive headfirst into your sadness when you have a broken heart:

1. The space beyond sadness is vast.

Whenever I’m nursing a broken heart, I let the sadness take up space. I mean, I let myself ugly cry and wallow. I give myself permission to listen to my super sad song playlist on repeat. And I don’t try to stuff my feelings down with food or alcohol. I let myself feel the pain, fully and completely.

Why would I torment myself this way, you ask?

Because when I let it out, I feel lighter, and I bounce back quicker. And because the only way out is through.

Besides, sadness is not eternal. Nothing lasts forever, and once you get beyond the hurt, there is nothing but space and opportunity.

2. Grief is normal.

When my grandfather died, one of the things that helped me through the grieving process was knowing that it was normal.

Grieving is not limited to losing a loved one or a breakup. We grieve ALL changes. Every time we hit a milestone or achieve a modicum of success (or failure), we mourn the person we used to be.

So, if you’re feeling sad after a breakup, it’s normal. Grief is a natural, healthy reaction to change.

“Grief is the price we pay for love.” — Queen Elizabeth II

3. It’s a sign that you’re alive and passionate.

“When you’re deep in the mire of heartbreak, chances are that you feel pain somewhere in your body — probably in your chest or stomach. Some people describe it as a dull ache, others as piercing, while still others experience it as a crushing sensation. The pain can last for a few seconds and then subside, or it can be chronic, hanging over your days and depleting you like just like the pain, say, of a back injury or a migraine.” — Meghan Laslocky, author of The Little Book of Heartbreak: Love Gone Wrong Through the Ages

When I was younger, I thought that being brokenhearted meant that I was weak. My stomach would be in a tangle, and I couldn’t eat or sleep. I would have random crying fits, and my whole body felt like one giant bruise.

Now, I see brokenheartedness as a sign that I’m alive and passionate. When you love deeply, you also grieve deeply. Like all things, love is an energetic exchange. That means that when you love big, you also have the capacity to feel immense sadness.

And that’s a good thing! It means you’re capable of great love.

But here is the thing, love requires you to feel it all — love, sadness, happiness, anger, joy. This means you have to be open to feeling pain.

In other words, there is no joy without sorrow. And sometimes, you have to wade through despair to experience the rapture of being in love.

4. Logic and clarity come soon after the pain.

“Part of heartbreak is the inevitable ‘rehashing’ about the relationship to anyone who will listen. Not only does it cause us to re-experience the pain of the breakup, it can become a ‘story’ we are addicted to telling, and one that is scientifically unlikely to even be true. When you hear yourself going through the details of the relationship again in a negative way, try to remember one postive for every negative.” — Sheri Jacobson,PhD, MA, MSc, PG Dip, (Harley Therapy)

The first few weeks (or months) after a breakup are usually the hardest. You’re in pain, and you can’t think straight. All you can see is what you’ve lost.

But eventually, the pain starts to subside, and you can think more clearly. This is when you start to see the situation for what it was. And you can begin to make peace with what happened.

More often than not, you will be able to see where things went left and how you could have handled things differently. You may also see where you diminished your value or ignored the other person’s needs, among other things. This is valuable information that you can use in future relationships.

Note: It might be helpful to list the great things and the not-so-great things. But only do this after you’ve had time to be sad because you don’t want rose-colored glasses to taint the truth. Making a list will provide evidence of what worked and what didn’t. Which, again, will be helpful in your future.

5. The pain of heartbreak is evidence of the power of love.

“Love is most likely influenced by both biological drives and cultural influences. While hormones and biology are important, the way we express and experience love is also influenced by our personal conceptions of love.” — Kendra Cherry, MS (VeryWell Mind)

Love is arguably the most powerful emotion we’ll ever experience. The fact that you’re feeling so much pain is a testament to the power of love. And when love ends, it can feel like the world is ending.

But even though it hurts like hell, love will come again!

Love is limitless, so don’t think for a moment that the person who broke your heart was the only one for you. There are billions of people on this planet. And even if you never find “the one,” know that love will continue to enter and exit your life in myriad ways.

Besides, the grief you’re feeling is more about the future you imagined, that happened to include that once-special someone, than it is about the person who is no longer in your life. But your future still includes you. Your future still exists. And it’s waiting for you to create it.

If you’re feeling brokenhearted, know that you’re not alone. And know that it’s okay to feel sad. It’s more than okay.

I know from personal experience that heartbreak hurts, but there is a limitless supply of love available, and you will love again (if you allow it). So, keep your head up and keep moving forward. The best is yet to come!

Have you ever been brokenhearted? What helped you through it? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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Intimacy & Relationship coach, writer, and creator of The Sensuality Project. I specialize in Relationship-ing (it's a verb).

Los Angeles County, CA
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