What is it like Living with Heartbreak?
Twice my heart has broken. It never fully heals. Like a broken bone, the hairline fractures will always remain, imperceptibly weaker, slightly more vulnerable. Though the general discourse surrounding mental health is still clouded in awkward discourse, there is a growing acceptance of those suffering with the likes of depression or anxiety. There is a populist desire to appear inclusive and progressive in ones approach to afflictions of the mind. Safe spaces, life coaches and confidential support lines are now commonplace amongst the most forward thinking of institutions and employment sectors. There is a lot of work to be done and a long road ahead before mental health becomes as culturally accepted as other more prominently visible forms of illness, but the discourse is generally positive and ameliorative.
Few folk with any shred of common decency and modern day sensitivity would shun a fellow human admitting to a struggle with mental health. The discourse is difficult, What should we say? What is the correct arrangement of words, with the correctly pitched sympathetic tone we should be employing? Most of the time all someone struggling with depression wants from you is an ear to listen, a heart to feel and a shoulder to lean on. As a general species I believe we are getting better at lending these simple comforts to our struggling friends and associates. In short we try our best to be as open and accommodating as possible.
But what of afflictions of the heart? The discourse tends to be of a different nature. ‘There’s plenty more fish in the sea’ or its common variations is a commonly touted piece of misguided advice. As is ‘you just need to get over it’ or ‘its time to move on.’ Often we here such tips from those closest and dearest to us. Similarly the wider web of internet ‘gurus’ is awash with answers to the questions of ‘how long should I be hung up on my ex?’ Or ‘What should I do to help me move on?’
While mental health is generally understood as a long term battle with no immediate fixes, heart health is the opposite. A few meaningless dates, simple self care and a quick fuck are advertised by our friends and the wider world as immediate fixes to heartbreak.
A broken heart is something we are all likely to experience at one point or another. And only once we do will we see the superficiality of these skin deep remedies. When you are truly suffering from a broken heart, no how to guide, top tips or rational advice will seem remotely applicable. You can and will feel like the only man or woman in the world who has ever suffered such pain. How could the universe function if others felt this devastatingly broken?
A broken heart raises a lot of questions. What went wrong? Why wasn’t I good enough? Who are they with now? will I ever find love again? None of these questions have easy answers. Further more few people seem to recognise these questions as legitimate. Need to take some time off work for the flu? Fine. Need some me time to focus on your mental health? Understandable. Need to take a step back because of a breakup? Get a grip. Relationships are insanely complex. We commit years of our lives, share tears and smiles, give up entire parts of our souls to our partners, yet when we lose them we are expected to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off in a very finite amount of time.
A broken heart can take years to heal. Don’t listen to the cold generic advice that a relationship should take roughly 50% of its length to recover from. Don’t listen to your friends who tell you there are other partners out there and you need to move on. Listen to your heart. The heart takes the longest to heal, and you deserve the time and space to repair at your own speed.
We have all experienced heartbreak. You are the only one who has ever felt and will ever feel your own broken heart. Only you can find the path to healing and only you can learn to love again. Heartbreak is just as real as any other illness.