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What can we say about heartbreak? For those of us who have experienced it, it can devastating and life-altering. Heartbreak can truly change a person.
According to Webster’s dictionary, Heartbreak is described as “overwhelming despair.” It can feel like the end of the world. In a sense, it is. You have spent days, months, years, creating this space where only you two reside. You’ve learned each other’s habits and moods. You’ve met each other’s friends and family. You’ve exchanged gifts and spent holidays together. They have seen you at your best and absolute worst, and perhaps know you better than anyone.
Except now that world has fallen apart, and you’re forced to start a new chapter without them.
Allison Abram wrote in Psychology Today that a “broken heart is the reopening of old attachment wounds, which our psychological defenses have worked so hard to help us forget. Unfortunately, the body does not forget. For those with a history of relational trauma, such as abandonment by a parent or caregiver, the emotional and psychological impact of a breakup can trigger post-traumatic symptoms.”
Often, the conversation around heartbreak centers from a woman’s perspective. I asked a young brother named Ahkiel to share his experience with heartbreak and what he learned about himself.
“My most recent relationship lasted 5 years and my ascension from heartbreak began with owning my bullsh*t. However, the following does not absolve them of wrong doing but this framework assisted in placing the healing within my hands. Recovery has so much more to do with yourself than the other party. It’s easy to blame others when you’re hurt. She did “X” and I merely responded or she’s “crazy” and overreacting. People don’t act irrationally without cause, so pointing the finger at myself was the true catalyst for change. “
One of the hardest parts of dealing with heartbreak is acknowledging how we as individuals contributed to the breakup of a union. Let’s be honest; self-work is difficult. Unlearning unhealthy habits and working on unpacking our emotional baggage is no easy take. However, it’s necessary for emotional growth.
“Looking in the mirror, I wasn’t as open and honest as I could have been. I didn’t listen to understand and often chose being right over peace. At times she handed me the axe but I willingly chopped my relationship down at the knees. Meaning at times, I made the choice to react in the moment rather than taking time to respond thoughtfully. “
Ahkiel shares what helped him the most after his breakup.
“I began writing poetry as a means to cope with the pain. I dove head first into the medium as a way to express my thoughts and explore my feelings even deeper. So id say the work never truly ended but more so the energy has been shifted in a new direction as I continue to write today. I still constantly audit my actions and carefully choose my words when communicating, as I truly believe words hold the power to build but also tear shit down. So for me heartbreak is a scale. You can find yourself sliding upon when triggered by an applicants actions/words. I experienced a few premature dates that ended in wasting time, just to realize I wasn’t ready and still may not be. “
Allison Abrams shares practical advice about healing from heartbreak.
Honor your pain. Don’t run from your feelings, or try to numb them with things like food, alcohol, or drugs.
Let go of false hope. Accept that this has happened, and that a breakup is something one has to work through. Do not hold to the delusion of what could be; instead, focus on what is.
Remove the drug. It’s important to go cold turkey while you’re processing. This means not trying to force a friendship immediately, not sleeping together or continuing to spend time together.
Beware of idealizing. Do not romanticize your relationship by only reflecting on the good times. The breakup happened for a reason, and an objective party, such as a therapist, can help you see the realities that existed in your relationship.
Be mindful of self-blame, self-doubts, self-criticism. Ahkiel talks briefly about this. “I naturally questioned every emotion felt but allowed them to run their course. I questioned my own sanity while replaying scenarios in my head. That “Am I bugging?” question always ready to leap off the tip on my tongue during these daily reviews. “
Mindfulness is critical here. Wherever you are in your healing journey, it is important to allow yourself as much time as you need to heal. Instead of asking why this happened, work through what the experience is trying to teach you.