Overcoming A Heartbreak: 10 steps back to sanity

It was an Easter Sunday, a beautiful sunny day in Los Angeles. The world was waking up excited to welcome the spring. It is my favorite time of the year, which in my mind is filled with anticipation of beautiful days of summer. This Sunday seemed to hold the promise of all the sweet things to come for everyone around me; however, my heart was heavy with premonition, an anxious anticipation of pain, slightly held back by a faint hope that not all is lost. The balance of fate changed with one single text and the bond of what I thought to be mutual love was severed. Michael was gone. We were no longer together. All of a sudden there was no “we.”

There are no elegant words for saying the blatant truth. I've felt such passion for him, I completely forgot about common sense, reason, and my own self. I have forsaken my own good for his. There was nothing I wouldn't have given up for him, there was almost nothing I wouldn't have done for him, and most of all - there was nobody but him. I thought this was how he loved me as well: fully, passionately, unapologetically, with courage and grace. Can there be a greater disappointment, a more bitter mistake, than believing someone we adore loves us back just the same, only to realize how foolish and gullible we were?

So here I was, looking at my crumbling world, feeling numb, straining my mind to understand how is it possible for someone to be your everything one moment, only to become a stranger the next. I knew I had to rebuild, take time out, and heal. Ironically, there was no drive within me to do any of the above. The emotional stupor had a powerful grip on my heart, which was perhaps the only thing that held it together and forced it to keep beating.

Heartbreak is the inevitable lot of anyone with a heart. Life is not worth living without loving, and within our love is the seed of eventual loss. Contemplating my past relationships, loves and losses there are a few things I wanted to share with you. These 10 steps helped me heal and grow stronger. My hope is that it will serve as a guide and comfort for you as well.

The 10 steps to heal a broken heart:

1. Eliminate the source of the heartache from your life

“And in the end, we were all just humans, drunk on the idea that love, only love, could heal our brokenness.”  -- Christopher Poindexter

One of the hardest truths to accept is that sometimes we can love and adore someone who is not good for us. If the amount of pain, suffering, heartache, and chaos caused by the beloved outweigh the amount of joy and happiness, this is not a relationship worth having. The first step would be to let go of the person who causes pain and destruction in your life. For me, this step seemed to take care of itself. Michael left, or to be more precise – we both let each other go. Michael chose not to fight for us, and I was tired of fighting for our love. And here it was.

2. Take time out

“If you carry the bricks from your past relationship, you will end up building the same house”  -- Anonymous

Although I was no longer in a destructive relationship, my mind was light-years away from the state of balance and inner peace. I had to take time out and make sense of what happened. Rebuilding our world following a storm may take a bit of time. I decided to allow myself the luxury of time.

3. Learn the lessons

“Nothing ever goes away, until it teaches us what we need to know.”  -- Anonymous

No single relationship we have is a waste of time. After all, the goal of each love relationship is co-creation and co-experiencing of life. For some it may last a week, and for some – a lifetime. However, in each experience, there is beauty to be remembered and lessons to be learned. Reflecting back on our past relationships and looking for missed pieces and misunderstood clues about ourselves and our ex-partner is a crucial part of learning and growing. Contemplating my relationship with Michael I realized I chose to ignore some parts of him, his life, and his choices. I chose to focus on aspects of him I saw as beautiful while discarding the rest. Seeing our beloved for who we want them to be, rather than for who they are, is partially inevitable, however, we can become more aware and more discerning, and to do so, we must own our part in the heartbreak.

4. Own your part

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”  -- Victor Frankl

The process and the outcome of each relationship lay on the shoulders of both partners. Each relationship is a mirror image of us. Our partner is a mirror image of our own self. He or she came into our life, not by chance. We drew them into our life for reasons that often escape our conscious awareness and reside deeper in our unconscious mind. Our partners have the uncanny ability to teach us about ourselves and we are obligated to learn. Contemplating what within us contributed to the development and the end of our past relationships can be enlightening and enriching, helping us create relationships that are closer to what we truly want in the future.

5. Forgive, forgive, forgive

“Often, when you think you are at the end of something, you are at the beginning of something else.”  -- Fred Rogers

It is easy to be angry with the person we loved and lost. It is easy to blame them for the pain we feel and the suffering we are left to endure. It is easy to be mad at ourselves for loving so foolishly, with abandon and passion. It is tempting to focus our mind’s eye on the negative aspects of the past relationship and look at the past love with cynicism. However, if we are truly to learn from this experience, we have to be able to contain it in full, and to do so we must forgive. Our ability to love and feel has such beauty and power in it, that life without it seems unimaginable. We must forgive ourselves for loving and losing since it is truly “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”  -- Alfred Lord Tennyson. We also must free ourselves from the burden of resentment toward our ex-beloved for they have done the best they could with the resources they had. It was not enough to make us happy, but it was the best they could muster.

6. Spend time with your people - family and friends

“Only the people we love can fill our hearts. Everything else is just a play of light and shadow that will vanish in the star-spangled night of death.” --  Anonymous

There is nothing more healing and comforting during times of heartache, than time spent with those who truly love us. Our close family and friends are crucial to help us restore balance and calm our minds.

7. Immerse yourself in what gives you a sense of meaning and purpose.

“Honor the space between no longer and not yet.”  -- Nancy Levin

As important as our beloved was for us, and as painful the void may be, they were not the ones to give our life meaning. Nobody but us ourselves can do that. Despite the loss of our beloved, our life goes on and the world keeps on spinning. The things that gave our life meaning before our past relationship still hold the power to give meaning to our life after the end of that relationship. Remind yourself of what these things are for you and immerse yourself in them. Our children, our work, our hobbies, philanthropy, volunteering, sports, literature, art, travel – whatever makes us feel alive and needed has to become the center of our life experience and help us heal and grow.

8. Spiritual practice - meditate, take walks, nature

“Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in the mirror. But you are the eternity, and you are the mirror.”  --Kahlil Gibran

Spirituality is our own innermost feeling of interconnectedness, of being a part of the greater whole and of knowing our role within the greater scheme of things. Spirituality, unlike religion, is a personal and private experience and although formalized religious practice can be one way of practicing spirituality, it does not have to be. One can introduce spiritual practice into their life through meditation, yoga, or other Eastern or Western practice of enlightenment.  An excellent book to consider is “The Art of True Healing: The Unlimited Power of Prayer and Visualization” by Israel Regardie.

9. Love yourself

“Don’t you know yet? It is your light that lights the worlds.”  -- Rumi

Mindfulness is the practice of awareness. Once we turn our inner gaze to observe the thoughts we are thinking and beliefs we are holding about ourselves, we have a chance to evaluate our relationship with ourselves. Healing from the loss of the relationship with our beloved depends on our ability to mend our relationship with ourselves. The attitude of compassion, kindness, appreciation, and patience toward ourselves has the power to mend and heal.

10. A broken heart grows back stronger

“Love is perhaps the only glimpse we are permitted of eternity.”  -- Helen Hayes

Finally, one thing to remember is that the heart that has weathered a storm grows stronger, and once we are fully healed our capacity to love grows greater.

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