Healing a Broken Heart

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[Image description: a pink card with red hearts reads, “you are amazing” in black cursive. The card is on a white background and is surrounded by several pink Hershey kisses]

One of the hardest parts of healing my broken heart was acknowledging the ways I hurt others and myself by creating the relationship that broke my heart. The healing process climaxed in the realization that all of this hurt was a turning point. I had the capability of changing…

When I think back to the moments that have made me who I am, I like to think that they’re all shining achievements. And I’d be big lying to you if I said that was true. In actuality, the things that have defined me the most are the mistakes I like to pretend I don’t make. As someone with a history of taking stock of my good parts and ignoring the rest, I have to remind myself that my ability to get through some shit is a strength and that some bad shit will happen sometimes. Sometimes, it’ll even be my fault. And those huge fumbles, those gross miscalculations, those moments I look back on now and think “oh my God, I was that bitch?” can in fact be shining achievements.

I say all of that to preface the content of this post. A few months ago, I would have been humiliated to say that one of the defining moments of 2017 wasn’t just graduating college or getting my job or getting my dream car that I put a lot of emphasis on. Nope. Of the incredible year I had, the most transformative thing that happened was a breakup. I tell myself, perhaps to feel like it was worth something, that I needed to get my heart broken like that for me to assess who I really was at the time. And most importantly, I needed that breakup to learn myself, and how I needed to change. So in the post that follows, I’ll outline for you how I discovered a superpower I didn’t know I had: how to heal a broken heart.

As a relatively small and entertaining amount of context, I started “dating” (if there is a verb version of “situationship,” that’s more appropriate. “Got dickmatized” also works) one of my best friends my last semester of college. One of those friends you look at and you’d be like “it’d be nice if…” One of those friends you look at and wonder, “Does this friendship have a foundation to stand on or am I just attracted to you?” But anyways, that relation(situation)ship lasted about six months and can be summarized nicely by two lovely Black phrases. Not everyone is for you, sis. And the age old, you lose them how you find them.I’d also like to toss in what my therapist had to say about the whole thing, as I started working with her the day after we broke up – “you can’t attract stray puppies and try to fix them.” The whole thing ended as badly and in the exact same way that it started. And even now, a year after it’s all said and done and none of this crosses my mind really…ever, it’s still hard to put all of those emotions and thoughts into words.

So, the first step of healing my broken heart was acknowledging that I was heartbroken.And surprisingly, it didn’t take much for me to do. It’s difficult to separate out the fact that I broke up with this person only weeks into moving to Asheville. There was so much going on in my life at the time that the breakup felt like the straw that broke the camel’s back – the perfect reason to start saying, “I’m not okay.” And yes, the breakup left me in pieces. But I wasn’t okay to start with (which is why that relationship even happened, but we’ll get there). I was able to start healing day one by at least being able to say, “This happened and I’m upset over it.” And I let myself be upset. In fact, everything I was upset over (moving so far away, being alone, being afraid, etc.) began to wash over me.

Unsuprisinglythis time, the next thing I did was write everything out.I’m talking waking up from nightmares about my ex at 5 AM and the first thing I did was grab my journal. I wrote on my good days, my bad days, my “I don’t even give a fuck even though I do because I’m thinking about this” days. I needed that processing and that time with myself. In the past, I’d tried to process my breakups with my exes or with people I had rebounded with. Instead, I was spending a lot of constructive, intentional time alone to again, feel that hurt, and teach myself that being hurt is inevitable and is not something to be scared of. It can feel productive. It got to a point where some days, I would journal multiple times a day. Eventually, I started writing posters for myself to look at everyday, like “What I’ve Learned Recently” and “What’s Triggering my Anxiety and Depression.” Around the same time, I started a personal challenge to post on my blog every week. While I was meticulous in not mentioning the breakup at the time, my writing was fueled by my anger, frustration, growth and confusion. I not only acknowledged those feelings but also let them out.

In time, after a few weeks of intensive self-reflection, therapy and discussion with friends, I was starting to settle into my decision of breaking up and my new life in Asheville. (This is optional and dependent on your situation but) I unfollowed my ex on all of my social media, blocking him and his new girlfriend [yes, I said a few weeks and this man already…anyways] and even unfollowing a few acquaintances whose accounts (I could do without, and) he occasionally appeared on, so that my day-to-day life was not filled with reminders that this person was thriving without me. I tried sending a few “how’s it going” texts, and most of them got a few stale replies and then nothing, or radio silence altogether, so I gave up on talking directly. While I was acknowledging my hurt, I wasn’t going to revel in it so that every time they went on a date and I saw or found out about it, I had an excuse to cancel my plans or make bad decisions. After all, I was 700 miles away. I wanted to feel secure in the idea “we are not getting bad together or even going to be friends” and to do so, I personally needed to only see him in past tense. Again, optional, although I’m high key suspicious of anyone who stays friends with all of their exes. That’s just not my style.

I was starting to get used to the idea of this person at least romantically being past tense in my life until maybe a month and a half after the breakup when he decided to text me after not answering me for weeks. (This is optional and dependent on your situation but) For my wellbeing, I felt the needto curse him out.Hard. I had done so much reflection and mulling over what I would say if given the opportunity that when the time came for a rap battle, my bars were ready. Again, optional in terms of delivery, but I do feel like it aided in my healing process to get a chance to say my take on the situationand also unfortunately learn that we had very different ideas of what had happened. To be completely frank (and I’m sorry if y’all don’t like cussing but also this has been the wrong place for you if that’s the case), I was so fed the fuck up that I needed to get all the toxic shit out my system to move on correctly. I felt like I couldn’t even breathe I was so angry sometimes. And speaking of toxic, I know some folks are anti-cursingpeopleout and letting someone even get under your skin enough to warrant it. But y’all, let me tell you without telling you. As much as I want to present this as if I was composed and intentional the entire time I was healing, that’s a lie. I was hot. I was heated on a regular basis, and if I knew enough kreyòl to cuss this man out after I ran out of English words, I would’ve done it. I texted him the next day and said, “Yesterday was a sign I shouldn’t talk to you” and deleted all of our texts.

In recounting all of this to my therapist and saying, “I can’t believe this is really happening to me,” we had a nice painful conversation about denial and how to accept things. After the initial shock and frustration of the breakup, I moved towards this feeling that in order for me to fully move on, I needed accept what had happened. I needed to forgive him. I needed to forgive myselfbecause as Cardi B tells it, I “poured out my whole heart to a piece of shit.” Like I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t okay before I got into that relationship and that’s why it even happened. There were so many indicators on my end of things that I wasn’t exhibiting healthy behavior (like sleeping in the same room every night even though I had my own twin-XL bed a seven minute walk away). That relationship started because I needed something to cling to and was so ready for a relationship with someone I had wanted so badly, or so I thought. When it started, I was a second-semester senior in college with no job in sight, a very recent broken relationship to process, and a father with cancer. Life was coming at me fast, y’all. And I wanted a distraction from it. I had to take stock of how the relationship started in order to work towards closure on it

One of the hardest parts of healing my broken heart was acknowledging the ways I hurt others and myself by creating the relationship that broke my heart.And that isn’t always the case in breakups. But in my case, I needed to recognize the fact that I thought I got my heart stomped on because I did that to someone else first. I had a lot of ideas about me somehow deserving all the hurt I felt. I had to talk frankly with…basically everyone I knew about how that relationship came into being and how hurt I was. And for me, that was the turning point. The healing process climaxed in the realization that all of this hurt was a turning point. I had the capability of changing. And in time, I forgave my ex (and told him so – and then said, “I’m good on us talking, tho”), I forgave myself, and I also apologized to the appropriate people who were affected by my decision-making.

Everything I just described took place over the span of around two months, which is no time at all. I would say that it did take around eight months for this to not be something that crossed my mind regularly. I remember a day in April when I did think about it and immediately followed up by saying “I haven’t talked to him in six months.” Not just the time since we broke up but simply had a conversation. And even now that it’s almost one year to the day of ending the relationship, I didn’t expect to get as anxious as I did just now writing about it. As I said before, I needed that breakup. I was stuck in a long cycle of dependence and insecurity that needed to be broken by forced solitude. I’ve mentioned before my own self-judgment about being such a romantic person and when we first broke up, I thought that this was a punishment for that. In time, I’ve come to see how this breakup gave me space to reflect and decide what the right partner would be like. I’ll also add that in healing my broken heart, I tested out a few partners and dating apps to see if I was as far along as I had hoped. I’m hoping that I’m done dating for the next few years…

Healing a broken heart is not an easy, fun, or self-gratifying process. It requires you to see all the voids left from another person’s absence in your life. It’s a lonely, seemingly hopeless endeavor. On the best of days, you think “maybe the next person won’t hurt me so bad,” and on the worst, “I’ll never get over this.” I’ve tried to be honest and say that this was horrible. I was angry and exhausted for months and the worst part was feeling like I was no one’s first choice. But in time, I got to examine why that was such a terrifying feeling and realize that a lot (not all or even most, but a lot) of the hurt I felt was in fact me acknowledging my faults and growing. And I’m still not there yet, but I’m infinitely better than I was. I’ll leave you with this thought: you have to heal completely in order to welcome something better.

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