Last week I shared an article to answer the question “Does a broken heart ever heal or are we just left with the scars”, and I was very touched by the reaction the piece received.
A lot of people shared how the article had come at the perfect time for them, because they were dealing with heartbreak themselves, and it gave them another perspective to look at it from.
When I started hearing this, it took me back to some of my own personal experiences of heartbreak.
If a relationship has ended, at some level it wasn’t working. If you’re truly honest with yourself, I’m sure you don’t want to be in a relationship where you’re unhappy and unfulfilled or in a relationship where the other person is unhappy or unfulfilled, for whatever reason, because we know deep in our hearts that neither of those scenarios make for a good relationship in the long term. But that doesn’t stop it from hurting….and hurting deeply.
I know. I’ve experienced it first-hand many times.
…and I can vividly recall the times where I’ve felt like the bottom had fallen out of my world.
My experience with heartbreak…
Those moments in time where it felt like an effort just to keep breathing in and out.
The pain, the sadness, the numbness, the confusion, the fear…the complete and total overwhelm of experiencing so many emotions and thoughts at the same time, and not being able to make sense of any of them.
Mind and heart reeling, with no way out, only through.
When I brought these moments of my life to mind, I started to think about heartbreak, and why it hurts so much. As soon as I asked this question, two answers came to me.
The first you’ll no doubt have heard before. The second may be a bit of a surprise…
So why does heartbreak hurt so much?
So the first answer that came to me is that we’re experiencing a loss, which brings with it a sense of grief.
Whether a relationship has come to an end because we’ve chosen to end it, because someone else has chosen to end it, or because it’s been mutually decided that it’s for the best, we are still losing something.
We may not be grieving for the relationship as it was, but instead for the relationship that we thought it was going to be, the relationship it had the potential to be, or the relationship we wanted it to be.
It might seem strange to be grieving for something that you’ve never actually had…but losing the POSSIBILITY of something, is still a loss, and we still experience a sense of grief when the possibility appears to be no more.
We miss the other person…or maybe we don’t, maybe we miss who they used to be, who we thought they were, or who we thought they would become.
Whatever it is that we’re losing, whether it’s was something we had, something we thought we had, or something we thought we were going to have, it’s important to honour the fact that we will experience a sense of grief when the loss becomes a reality.
Most people have heard of the 5 stages of grief (or the Kübler-Ross model) where you go through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance…but what most people don’t know is that the best way through all the stages, is to fully experience each stage, feel complete with it and then transition through to the next stage…in the timeframe that is right for you.
Do you allow yourself to ‘go through’ heartbreak?
When it comes to heartbreak though, a lot of people don’t allow themselves to go through this grieving process fully…they expect to just ‘feel better’ at some point, get told to snap out of it by someone trying to ‘help’, or distract themselves from really experiencing the feeling because it’s uncomfortable (whether that’s through alcohol, TV, another relationship or any other way to avoid the feelings)…and therefore get ‘stuck’ in one stage.
As I’ve said before, when you’re in this kind of emotional experience, the best way out of it really is through it…allowing yourself to fully feel each aspect of what you’re experiencing in order that you can then release it.
So if you’re in it right now, start to notice where you might be wanting to avoid or distract yourself from how you’re really feeling…because that in itself can be keeping you ‘in it’ and preventing you from moving through it to the other side.
The second answer that came to me when I asked the question “Why does heartbreak hurt so much?” hit me hard.
Because it was probably one of the hardest things for me to understand and begin to accept about my own experiences with heartbreak…and it was also the single, most powerful realisation that transformed my experience with heartbreak forever.
So join me again next week where I will be sharing the insight that changed how I experience heartbreak…and which helped me reach the point where, as I shared last week, I began to eventually be able to see each one as a gift.