When everything is over, you end up as wounded as if you’d been in a war zone. Except that no one can see it and only you know how much it all hurts.
Countless cuts. Unbearable pain.
And yet, a lot of people close their eyes and wait for the pain to vanish. How come?
What do we do with our broken hearts?
There’s a wound in your heart. It’s bleeding and hurts like hell. And what do we usually do? We try to function more or less normally. We cry a bit, put an ‘I’ll be fine’ face on and we go to work the next day.
But the wound is not healing right. It festers. It swells. It fills with pus and blood. It hurts, it hurts every day. Over time, it turns black or green and you can feel the rancid smell.
The smell of bitterness, fear, and cynicism.
What do you do when you cut your finger? You clean the wound, get a first aid kit, disinfect the cut and put a clean dressing on. Isn’t that right? If the cut is really deep, you might want to see a doctor. Pretty much common sense. Why don’t we do the same thing with our broken hearts?
Where’s our common sense when it comes to breakups?
What if we followed first-aid rules for all our post-divorce wounds? Let’s have a look at the ‘procedure’:
- Assess the wound
- Clean it and disinfect it
- Put a clean dressing on
- Repeat steps 1-3 until it heals nicely
Stage 1: have a look at your broken heart
At the beginning, pain overwhelms you and it cuts off your ability to think clearly. You’re all about emotions. But still, you need to have a look at your wound.
The cut is deep, all swollen and purple and red. It’s filled with blood and pus. It’s dirty and disgusting. Yikes!
What is your wound when it comes to your breakup? It’s all the emotions that whirl around inside you. Have a look inside. What emotions are there? Rage, misery, grief? Unspoken hurt? Feelings of hopelessness?
It’s not a pleasant view, but do not close your eyes. It’s alright, it’s not going to kill you to look and assess, even if you think it might.
In order to cope with all that, consider writing a diary. For one, the act of writing helps you confront difficult feelings and get them out. When we keep the thoughts only in our heads, they swirl around and mix together in new ways that end up confusing us. Writing allows you to hear yourself and see your point.
Secondly, putting the insufferable feelings on paper will bring you relief. When the pressure goes up, writing lets out some steam.
And the last thing–the paper is patient so you can do it literally everywhere, always. Even if it’s so often no human being, including the best friend ever, would have had the patience to listen to.
Stage 2: clean the wound and disinfect it
Oh yes, It’s gonna hurt like hell!
To clean the wound means to meet your pain and hurt head-on; admit that life feels unfair and sometimes we can’t help it. It makes you want to howl.
So howl. Seriously.
‘Disinfection’ stands for a specific activity. It means to face the difficult emotions and to express them. Sometimes it’s going to be a long cry for hours on end. Other times – a fearful scream over everything that was done to you. On other occasion, you might want to close this stage of your life with a goodbye ritual inspired by old rites of passage.
Everything you do in order to deal with your pain, counts. Don’t put it off for some other day. The sooner you disinfect your wound, the sooner it will start to heal.
Stage 3: a clean dressing
The dressing you apply to the wound is your own self-care. It’s time for yourself. Slow down right now. Give up things that are not essential for your life. Consider this time a recovery, just as if you were recovering after a car accident, all bruised with both your legs broken.
Inevitably, some things need to wait. It’s about YOU right now.
So take care of yourself. What do you like? What do you like EXCEPT being in a relationship? It’s a good time to ask this question. Let yourself take everything in that you need right now.
Everyone knows time heals wounds. But time also lets the distance grow. And the distance, in turn, lets us approach things without excessive emotions. Sometimes things that seemed to be the worst ever turn into our favor. That’s actually quite common, but in most cases this can only be noticed from a certain perspective.
So embrace time. Accept that the process will last a while, and right now – it’s hard. It will be better one day, but simply not today, not yet. And while you’re recovering, use that time for your benefit.
Stage 4: Rinse and repeat
So what’s next?
The wound will start to heal, but you’ll need to change the dressing every now and then.
Let the steam out as it builds up.
Express difficult emotions on an ongoing basis.
Blow your anger off, cry out your grief, write misery out.
Do not let it settle in, as it will make you rot inside.
Slowly, the hurt will scab over and eventually a scar will start to form. It’s never going to be as it used to be; you will carry the scar all your life. It’s called experience. But you can live with it, we all have scars. That’s how we grow wiser.
Seeking professional help
Perhaps your wound needs to be seen by a specialist. Therapy with a wise, warm therapist is always a good idea. But the process of healing depends on you, always on you. On your willingness to face what’s difficult, painful and hidden deep inside. No matter how good the therapist is, or how much you pay for the service, the job is yours to do. Don’t be afraid, you have the strength to take it all.
Oh yes, you do.
Even if you don’t know it yet.
What’s the one thing you can do today?
For one – embrace the fact you’re recovering, just as if you had a car accident. This approach helps us accept that sh*t happened to us this time. Car accidents happen, breakups happen.
Broken legs will grow back.
Broken hearts will love again.
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