Sunday, April 14, 2013

Getting Over It: How Do We Recover?

Mid-heartbreak, you wonder if you will ever get over it.  You don't even know what "over it" looks like.  Your grief is twice the size of your life.  You stumble through your day.  Contact with people seems to be through thick bullet-proof glass.  You hear someone say, "How's it going?" and you can barely find enough breath to say, "fine" or "ok" before the tears start.

"The person who falls in love is not the person who remembers falling in love."  - Junot Diaz

In the same way, the person in the midst of heartbreak is not the person remembering heartbreak.  Love, said Diaz, "has the power to transform what we otherwise take for granted."  Everything we take for granted about ourselves and our world changes when the hurricane of love tears through us.  Even our body chemistry changes.  In the aftermath of love, everything changes again.  When we are ready, when we are able, we start to put our lives back together again.

If you were dumped, you have to rebuild your confidence so you can feel as amazing and worthy as you did when you were adored.  Even when you're the one to break off, you might have to keep reminding yourself why you bailed out of that love boat.

Back in the 1990s, freedom rose above my horizon like a new dawn.  In the aftermath of love, I was responsible for my own life and had to learn to live with myself.  I lived in a small house with my six-year-old daughter.  Collages of pictures and poems covered every wall.  On the side of a kitchen cupboard, I posted pictures of previous romantic partners under the words, “Boyfriend Graveyard.”  This was one of my techniques for recovery from heartbreak, a reminder of what "over" meant to me, a reminder of why I left, a reminder of what I didn’t want.  I would not go back to unhappiness.  It was better to be alone than to live in a bad relationship, and single mothering was easier than parenting in a war zone.

My friend Doug Moore used to say that relationships are like car accidents:  There would be a collision.  Some time after, the bodies are pulled from the wreckage.  The vehicles are towed away and the debris is cleaned up.  In the end, all that's left are the skid marks.

In 1995, I left the house where the “graveyard” was, and by 1996 my exes started dying off for real.  I remember them more for the amazing things about them, for the things they taught me, and for saving my life as best they could, before I learned to save my own life.  Those are the skid marks:  the deep impressions they made on me.
"Maybe you never get over anything. You just find a way of carrying it as gently as possible."   Bronwen Wallace
How did you get over heartbreak?  Did you take action or just wait it out?

1 comment:

  1. I have found that the pain of parting has been dramatically tempered by age and by the knowledge that I am capable of having a good relationship. I can continue to love the one that has asked me to hit the road for her good traits. I will neither hate her nor hate myself. I sure couldn't have done that when I was eighteen.