Learning, Life

When Heartbreak Sneaks Up On You…

Heartbreak is something that everyone experiences in their life, whether it be the loss of a family member, a friendship, a love. For most of us, that heartbreak lasts a little while (or a long while), but eventually dissipates. For others, that loss can create a little hole that may never fully heal. The problem with holes is that while sometimes they can close up, sometimes they can get bigger.

So what do we do when those heartbreaks come back and re-break your heart again? How do you try to repair those little holes? Is it even possible?

I always believed that I am a rational person, even if I can be a little emotional sometimes (who isn’t). I can make logical and clear arguments, I can plan life 3, 6, 9, 12 months out, I can find a work, life, grad school balance, I have healthy relationships with my friends and family. But like so many others, I have that little hole. And this week, that little hole caused me to shift from my normal, rational self, to a self-conscious, heartbroken, irrational woman. And after my heart stopped racing, and I stopped feeling like I either wanted to burst into tears or punch someone in the face, I started thinking– How do I rationalize this irrational reaction? And how can I use it to learn and have a (hopefully) less irrational reaction if it ever happens again? So here’s what happened, and how I’m dealing with it.

I wanted to be in love or feel like I truly trusted someone before I had sex with them.  Unfortunately, no one really tells you that once you pass like 21, it’s hard to tell people you’re with that you’re a virgin. And its even harder to meet someone when you’re 22 and working at a dance studio 6 days a week with the average age of the people you’re interacting with consistently is 6 years old. So when I got my first “big kid job” in downtown Boston, I was psyched. Fast forward about 2 months, a guy that I worked with had just broken up with his girlfriend. Red Flag- Yes, I know. Someone I work with, Red Flag #2- I double know. But we figured out a way to make it work (kinda). I think it’s a real thing when people say you never forget your first. Not the first time, but the first person you share that moment with. They occupy a special place in your heart, even if it is to look back at with a half smile. However, messy breakups also occupy your mind. We ended badly, but with the added pressure of being mutual friends with people we worked with. In the end, he got the friends, and I got the feeling of being all alone. Months later I found out one of our mutual work friends said “he’d still be with her if we hadn’t kept telling him not to answer her texts.” That kind of pain hurts on so many levels. That realization that people had potentially stopped you from getting a second chance. But I moved on, or at least I thought I had.

Flash forward to this week:
That guy been with his girlfriend for a while – we’re talking years. I know – you’re supposed to move on. But being around the first person you ever loved 5 days a week is still somewhat painful (no,  I didn’t leave my company after the horrible breakup and aftermath. I had worked hard for what I had, and I was building my career). For YEARS I had to mentally prepare myself for conversations with him. Act happy and bubbly around him, check. Give off the appearance things were fine, check. And after a while I believed it. I believed, though he had a part of my heart, that I could move on. That I could be fine, that I WAS FINE.
That illusion shattered when he went to Hawaii for a week. I said to coworkers ‘I bet they’ll get engaged. It’s been 4 years, it’s time.’ I was prepared for engagement. I was prepared to see the man who had a part of my heart pledge forever to someone with a pretty ring. What I wasn’t prepared for was ‘We eloped.’ All those emotions came flooding back. I was hurt – why wasn’t I good enough to get a ring, why did he pick her? I was angry, why did people feel like they had a right to interfere and stop me from getting a second chance? I had a minor panic attack. I couldn’t cope. That little hole in my heart was bigger than it’s ever been. And I didn’t know what to do. A full day of work and my second week of the semester were in front of me, and I was a puddle of emotion. And the sad fact… most people knew… And no one wanted to tell me, no one wanted to be the reason I could fall apart. Did they know I was this weak? Did they know I was still holding on to that sliver of hope? Who knows. But in that moment, I lost all confidence in myself.

So I did what anyone other self respecting 28 year old would do… I told a coworker I needed a drink at lunch. And we half talked about it, as I sipped my vodka tonic, hoping that would help me make it through the day. And I texted a friend from school saying I needed a drink after class to take the edge off. And I left work early and went to school and sat in the library and said ‘what now?’. I gave myself until I walked into our building the next day to let it all out. Be irrational, be sad, be heartbroken, cry.  Mourn that part of my life that officially would never happen again. Mourn all those ‘what ifs’ that I had been holding onto.

And then I said ‘How do I deal with this?”. So I decided to write this post. For no other reason than to help put all these feelings in one place. To help understand how I can be so emotional. And that’s when I realized that hole… that little feeling deep inside me that always thought there was a chance, that side look at him with that longing, was there. I thought it was gone, but it wasn’t.

So how do we deal with this? That little hole inside of us. I won’t lie, 3 vodka soda’s after class helped. The Lyft driver on my way home from school who talked me through it helped. The cupcake that my best friend/roommate left for me in the fridge (the same thing she did when he and I broke up all those years ago) helped. The tears that fell when I realized I could finally cry about it helped.

I guess the answer is, who knows what will finally close up the hole. And that’s ok. Heartbreak comes in all shapes on forms. It can cripple you, or it can make you stronger. Right now, cripple feels right, but I know, I can use this as fire to be stronger. To be a better me.

But that won’t make these kinds of days easier. That foresight isn’t here yet. For now, I accept the sadness and how it affects me, and know in my heart (the part that’s not consumed with that hole) that I will be better. That I will survive. And that I’m better off feeling this hurt. Because as Alfred Lord Tennyson says, ’tis better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all.



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