You have to be as blind as Cupid not to notice that it’s Valentine’s Day, but how do you celebrate a day of love when your heart is breaking? I don’t mean the Hallmark, boy-just-broke-up-with-you heartbreak of adolescence. (Painful, yes.)
I’m talking about the energy-draining way your heart breaks when you have to fold your business, when you sell your house, when your period stops for good, or yes, when your man walks out on you (or you leave him). A breaking heart carries with it the heavy sadness that makes you want to curl into a ball, close your heart off from any more potential for hurt, and hide under a blanket for the foreseeable future.
Yet, you’re expected to be happy about the changes in your life (sure some are indeed for the best), to let go and move on, to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I mean, aren’t we all about being healthy in our processes – doesn’t being healthy mean feeling good?
The decades of twists & turns, ups & downs of my life have taught me differently. Circumstances like divorce, loss, injustices, as well as triumphs, opened me to the rainbow of emotions I hadn’t always understood before. Mainly, I hadn’t understood how they were connected to my health.
I often talk about how I learned that emotions are felt in the body, from a book. These weren’t separate phenomena going on in my head that had no practical bearing on me. They were actual, physiological responses altering my moods, my eating habits and essential to my survival. (Read more about the impact of emotions on your eating habits here; read more about the necessity of the core emotions here)
I learned – through joy and sorrow, success and hardship – that allowing the flow of all my emotions is part of the quickest path to renewed health, inner strength, productivity, and to love…loving myself, that is.
All that to say that even if you’re not bursting with thoughts of romance and crepe-paper hearts this week, that’s ok.
You’re feeling what you’re feeling and that’s not only ok, it’s necessary.
When you give yourself the time and space to literally curl inward, sleep a few extra hours, watch too much TV and only talk to your journal, you are performing a beautiful act of self-love. If your daughter was heartbroken, you’d make her tea and let her cry on your shoulder – chances are that’s what you need as well.
It’s extremely difficult to allow yourself that kind of wallowing; trust me, I know. When you’re the one who keeps everyone going, when you’re the one in control of the situation, it can seem nigh on impossible to fall apart. Perhaps you even harbour a fear that if you let go, you’ll sink into a rabbit hole of sadness and self-pity, even debilitating depression, and never find your way out.
That won’t happen. Emotions are simply energy-in-motion. Given the freedom to move, they do what they have to do and subside, like a wave. The times I surrendered to the depths of how I was feeling, I’ve always bounced right back within a day or two, recharged and motivated to take whatever necessary steps were next.
Sometimes you need to get to the bottom of the well before you can turn around and see the light.
If your heart is breaking – scratch that, WHEN your heart is breaking, because it will break, there’s no getting around that in this life – be gentle with yourself.
Listen deeply to what your body and your heart truly need in the moment and give it. Treat yourself with the loving care you would offer your best friend in the same situation.
Make your favourite, creamy soup and eat it 3 meals a day.
Spend the hours you need curled in bed pouring your sorrows into your journal.
Call the one person who will listen without judgment or advice.
Put on some heart-wrenching music; sing at the top of your lungs, dance in whatever way you’re your body wants to move, and let the tears flow when they come.
If nothing else, breathe. Connect to the one certain thing in the moment and the rest will follow as it needs.
Need help opening the doors to your heart again? Here’s a little ray of light you can let seep into the cracks and get things started.
My morning routine has become the ritual that allows me time to reassess, to nourish my whole being, and to start each day with intention. Next time I’ll discuss how to stay focused even when things are falling apart. (Sign up in the box below if you want to hear more.)
What nourishes you the most when your heart is breaking? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.
Have a friend whose heart is breaking this Valentine’s Day? Pay the love forward by using any (or all!) of the pretty green buttons.
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I’ve been the shoulder and ear for there my entire life but I’ve never had the luxury to “let go” when my heart is breaking – I’m always the strong one. Now, at 54, I find myself falling apart and all those that needed me are no where to be found now that I need them so much. After losing my dad, brother, and mother within 4 years while being their care giver I ended up losing a career that I loved after 28 years due to health issues brought on by dress and depression, In which I lost my extended family as I’d spent so much time with these people. Not a one reached out to me. Some I thought were very close. My heart and confidence just crumbled and after 6 months I still can’t get past it. I cry alone. The only ones that really cared about me have passed away. I’m so alone. At 54 I’m unable to find another job paying anywhere close to what I was making. My life is over. I’ve tried reaching out to my old work friends but they are very cool if they reply at all. I just want my old job back where I felt useful. I just needed time to grieve – I had no time between each death because I was caring for the others and had to be strong for them. It was after mom passed that I was able to grieve for all 3 of them but my boss didn’t understand that I guess. So now I’m grieving for the loss of many things – myself included.
Renae, thank you for the courage act of owning and sharing your pain here. I pray that you’ve found the nourishment to now fill the container you’ve carved out through all your grief.
It is so important to let yourself really feel you emotions! I have to catch myself and not tell my daughter not to cry sometimes. I think we train our children to bury their emotions because crying makes us feel uncomfortable but really we should teach them to recognize them, feel them, honor them and then let them go, just like you said.
Exactly, Kia. The more you give yourself permission to recognize, feel, honour and express your own emotions, the more comfortable you’ll be holding space for the same in others.