Life breaks your heart.
Things are harder than they should be because people are messy and this is all complicated. We walk around, doing the best that we can, making the decisions we know how to make and hoping that it’s all enough. We crash into each other and there is conflict or synergy and it’s impossible to know which you’ll find until you’ve already collided. Sometimes everything is fine, and then it isn’t. Maybe it was something in your control; a mistake that you made or a decision you made that resulted in something unexpectedly painful. Or maybe it was something entirely beyond your control.
At the end of the day—how much does it matter?
When your heart is broken, you want to search for whys. It is in our nature to want to figure out what happened so we can place blame appropriately. Nothing can be fixed until you figure out why it’s broken in the first place, and you want to be fixed. The problem, though, is that sometimes things are just painful. Sometimes there’s nobody to blame. The diagnosis. The job loss. A pandemic that derails all of your plans. A death that came too soon. A relationship that is fraying around the edges, no matter how hard you try to weave everything back together.
Right now, my heart is broken. And while I wait for it to heal, it is tempting to lash out. I want to be angry or frustrated. To self-medicate and self-indulge, because I am hurting and I want it to stop right now. Self-care is important, but so much of what we call self-care is not self-care at all. It is not bubble baths and wine and trash television. It isn’t junk food or isolation. Sometimes, those things can help, for a minute. None of them heal.
So, when my heart is broken, I try to wait. I have to feel the pain first; I have to locate it in order to treat it. Wrapping it up in bandages without caring for it first is going to lead to festering and death. You cannot simply cover a wound and wait for it to go away.
It was only recently that I understood what people meant when they said they felt “gutted.” That consuming physical manifestation of emotional hurt that starts in the abdomen and shoots violently up into your chest, tearing through you with surprising speed. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to scream or cry or throw up, and I found myself wondering if it’s even possible to do all of those things at the same time. There is nothing pretty about this.
But I felt it. And now I know where my hurt is. I can name it and look it in the face. Maybe this is a fight I’ll lose. And that’s okay. I’m more than this moment. My story is bigger than this chapter. And nobody stays broken forever if they don’t want to. Clean the wounds and let them mend. Get uncomfortable.
Life breaks your heart. But it will also heal it.