I was talking to a friend I haven’t seen in awhile, and we were catching up. Somewhere along our conversation, we started talking about how we both were experiencing some kind of let down in our life.
For her, it was about the sadness of having to move away from a city where she had made such good friends and so many beautiful memories. For me it was the heartbreak I recently experienced from a significant breakup.
Whenever life doesn't quite turn out the way you had imagined, when certain chapters of your life come to an end, when something you thought was going to happen didn't– these are all reasons to feel a lot of messy feelings: sadness, loss, confusion, anxiety, fear, restlessness, questioning, doubt, grief.
This is called heartbreak.
Heartbreak doesn't have to be big or life changing to be heartbreak.
Our hearts can break every day lol.
Your heart can break over the fact that all you get in the mail are love letters from the gas company and Bank of America.
Your heart can break because you are about to watch the last episode of the last season of that Netflix series you love (Gilmore Girls, I will never let this happen to us. I will take my sweet time. It's been years now, I know, but it's necessary...).
Your heart can break over the fact that there was that delicious thing in the fridge you were saving for later (and like, THAT was going to be the highlight of your day when you finally came around to it) and now it's suddenly gone. That one literally kills me every time, guys.
Yes, heartbreak is painful, and you can experience it over even the smallest things.
But sometimes your heart breaks over bigger things.
Sometimes it's things like feeling unappreciated or without purpose on a regular basis, finding out someone you love is sick, or life changing unexpectedly into something you were not ready for. I think the temptation is to want to rush through the pain and wish life would transform into something better already.
It's normal to want to feel happy and fulfilled. We were all made to be happy. God wants us to be happy.
But the truth is that sometimes heartbreaks are just the part of the reality of life.
And they don't go away that easily.
Healing takes time.
Whatever disappointment you're going through, your healing will take time.
Someone I know just started gardening. She asked me: why is it that when we garden, we know that the plant starts as a seed, and it needs the right fertilizer, and it needs watering and time to grow, and we are okay with giving it time to grow. But when it comes to humans, we just expect ourselves to grow overnight?
When it comes to us, we seem to just want to skip the grief and suddenly be at the growth.
I know I do this all the time, especially during this more difficult season of my life.
Sometimes I just want my heart to stop hurting and just be happy again. I want to forget what happened, I don't want to think about it anymore.
Sometimes I will think that everything is all better and am like, yes! I can finally move on.
But then something happens that reminds me my heart is still broken, there is still a wound, and it's still tender. And then I get frustrated why it's taking so long (when it really hasn't been that long anyway).
I don't know, maybe you can relate to this whole thing about wanting to speed things up to the good part, to the happy ending.
But the truth is that that's not the way it works. Even if we want it to.
The good thing is that whenever your heart is broken in any way, be it big or small, there are remedies for that.
These words suddenly came to me the other day like an inspiration: anatomy of a heartbreak. I was not sure what the phrase meant, but I felt an excitement and fascination about the idea.
As I was thinking about it more, I started to feel this inspiration stir inside of me to share about my heartbreak, like God was asking me to not let my heartbreak go to waste, to make something beautiful out of it. To write about it and help others face their own heartbreak.
So this is what I've been moved to share: that healing from heartbreak has its own kind of anatomy. Yes, it's a process, but every process has procedures, different parts. Here are the parts of healing a broken heart (inspired by St. Thomas Aquinas's Five Remedies for Sorrow):
A broken heart must cry in order to start healing.
There is something very healing about allowing your outer expression to match what's going on on the inside. A hurtful thing hurts more if you try to ignore or hide it. According to Aquinas, tears are the soul's way to exhale sorrow. I like that image.
Someone once told me that you can know when you've completely healed from a past wound when you no longer get teary eyed when you talk about that experience, when it's a much more objective memory. Tears can both heal and indicate progress in healing.
Sharing sorrow with friends
The danger of heartaches is the temptation to hide and turn inwards. Friends are so important because they can give you a new perspective on the situation. By allowing yourself to be seen and heard by friends you trust, you allow them to love you. And love always heals.
In times of sudden pain and mourning, it is hard to go out into the world and allow yourself to enjoy the better things in life: laughter, good friendships, entertainment, etc. But there comes a time when the best thing to do is to seek pleasure in the little things.
I have this book, The Tiny Book of Tiny Pleasures. It's filled with cute little pictures that depict various tiny pleasures in life. Whenever I feel like there is nothing to look forward to, it always helps to pull out my tiny book and remember that there are so many things to enjoy and savor.
Aquinas says that the greatest pleasure there is is actually the intellectual pleasure: contemplating the beauty of a sunset, reflecting on God's goodness, understanding the sacred meaning behind our suffering.
It's when we contemplate these deep and amazing truths that our world suddenly expands. It's like someone gave us a new pair eyes. The sorrow is still there, but we see it in a new and amazing way.
Being able to intentionally meet God in prayer and ask Him to open your mind and heart is always a good way to start being able to contemplate the truths He has for you.
Warm baths and naps
What is more healing than a hot shower or bath and sleep?
It's so necessary, and it allows our heart to find rest. Something I appreciate about this time sheltering at home is that it's given me that time to treat myself and rest as much as I need to.
I hope that this post gives you something new to think about when it comes to heartbreaks. I will be praying for each one of you who are going through sorrow at this time, in whatever form it is. Feel free to send me an email at happysolitudeblog@gmail if you have a specific prayer request would like me to pray about.
Lots of love,