If your heart is hurting in this moment, I wish you could come over to my house. I want to wrap you up in a blanket, and brush your hair back like my mom always would to me. I want to make hot cocoa and bake chocolate chip cookies—just to let the warm scent wrap you in familiarity and comfort.
Having your heart broken is the worst feeling in the entire world—I’m convinced. And it’s something I would not wish on my worst enemy.
The toughest part about heartbreak is the faith that it takes to survive.
There’s a quote in Under the Tuscan Sun where she marvels that divorce doesn’t actually kill you.
I have had my heart shattered into so many pieces that I marveled that it was still capable of moving blood around my body.
You have to put one foot in front of the other, still bring food to your mouth even after it’s lost its taste, and keep moving even when you’re not sure you’ll ever feel anything, ever again.
And when you’re in the throes of a breakup, it is almost impossible to see the bigger picture.
People tell you there are other fish in the sea, and that it’s all going to work out the way it should.
Well when you’ve had your heart freshly broken and you feel like your insides are being stretched over your outsides, you can’t really see straight. No amount of advice or reassurance really makes you feel better.
I have a special and well-worn empathy for what it feels like to have your heart yanked out.
But I also have an appreciation and respect for what these excruciating moments in our lives are capable of.
My life has been irreversibly changed by the breaking of my heart, and while I was in the midst of it, I didn’t think I’d ever heal.
But today I’m so deeply grateful for the breakups I’ve survived, because of what they were able to change and grow in me.
I am a Christian because I got my heart broken. I left the country and learned Spanish and took the time to understand who I am and what I’m about, all because of a broken heart. (Here’s the full story!)
One of the central themes of the Bible is death and rebirth. You can see it all over scripture and all over nature. Winter comes, everything dies, but then spring peeks through again, brighter and more beautiful than ever.
And this is what I believe breakups are able to do in us.
Going through a breakup is the literal death of a relationship. But in the process, other things die too.
My security, my confidence, and my understanding that I’m worthy of love died along with my relationship in college.
But in the aftermath—the winter, and then the spring—something new and better and stronger grew in their place.
It really is going to be ok and I want you to know that—if you’re able to hear a whisper of hope among your hurting thoughts right now.
But I also want to give you a few tools that helped me along the way.
I learned the hard way, not how to get over a breakup, but how to survive one and how to turn it into something positive.
1. Be kind
I don’t offer myself a lot of grace when it comes to the healing process. I expect to feel better instantly, and chide myself for being weak when it takes longer than anticipated. But when we’re going through a breakup, the last thing we need is criticism.
We need to be spoken to in soothing tones, and offered tea in the middle of the day, and to be comforted and loved. And that’s something that we, often our own biggest critics, need to offer to ourselves.
2. Write letters—send none of them
In the aftermath of a breakup, there are a thousand things we want to say to the person who broke our heart. But in those first weeks and months, we’re not in any state to be able to really talk things out. Often our attempts just make things worse. So if there is something you need to say, write it in a letter. Be brutally honest. Say what you’ve been wanting to say for so long. And then rip up the letter. It’s the same catharsis without the damage.
Exercise has this wonderful way of making us feel like we’re moving in a positive direction. It also provides a much-needed outlet for our frustration and our hurt. The best part is that the treadmill wont be offended if you pound on it for a while. It also provides the opportunity to create a new routine when your life may feel at loose ends.
4. Stay away from alcohol
In moments of intense sadness, it’s tempting to reach for the comfort of a cocktail. But I can tell you (from experience) there’s no quicker way to make you cry in public. It doesn’t offer you the escape you’re looking for, instead it functions a bit like a magnifying glass, and simultaneously removes your filter. Which tends to be a recipe for post-breakup disaster.
5. Pray—a lot
God is able to do miraculous, stunning things with even the messiest of situations. I promise you that if you stick close to him, you’ll come out of this better than you went in, and you’ll be grateful for what this breakup was able to create in you.
You may not believe me today, and that’s perfectly ok. But you will survive this. You WILL survive this. I know because I’ve done it.
All my love and prayers to you, my sweet friends.