I recently broke up with my boyfriend of 3.5 years and it’s been haaarrrrd.
In many ways it was completely unexpected and I’m still reeling from the shock. And in other ways, it makes all the sense in the world.
And it doesn’t matter that I teach a mindfulness course called, When Relationships End: Honoring the Process.
Breaking up sucks and there’s no getting around it, no matter how much you know or how many times you’ve been through it before.
Because every breakup is different. And heartbreak is undiscriminating.
This particular parting, and the pain that has come with it, has been unlike any other heartbreak, and in many ways it’s exactly the same.
It’s unlike any other because my sweetheart was unlike any other, and it’s exactly the same because heartache is heartache is heartache.
At the beginning of our breakup I experienced one of the biggest anxiety episodes of my life. As someone prone to anxiety, that’s saying a lot.
It was four days (during Christmas no less) of torturous thoughts, mind-numbing fears and body-shaking stress.
But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I was given a chance during those four days to practice, really practice, BEing with myself… feeling all my feelings, honoring my basic needs, treating myself with care and gentleness, reaching out to friends and loved ones for support, talking to myself with tenderness and compassion, keeping busy with chores around the house, and finding joy in the simplest things.
My mantra throughout those days was the following quote by Rainer Maria Rilke:
“Let everything happen to you
beauty and terror
just keep going
no feeling is final.”
I created several pieces of art (very cathartic) with these words and placed them all over my house. I wrote them on my bathroom mirror and whispered them to myself when I felt overwhelmed with fear and uncertainty.
And eventually I began to feel better. Not totally better, but better.
There was lots of crying and conversations between me and my soon-to-be-ex-sweetheart after that.
We would find clarity through talking and crying, only to be left with more questions after the conversation was over.
The hardest part was not talking to him everyday or knowing what he was thinking, wanting, or doing in my absence.
And again, I was offered another chance to practice what I preach by not becoming attached to my thoughts.
Because honestly, it’s my thoughts that were torturing me and causing me the most pain and anxiety.
But I was reminded by a wise woman that,
“Our hearts are whole and always remain whole. It’s not our hearts that break, it’s our stories that break.”
The story I was telling myself about my sweetheart (and our relationship) was broken, and my emotional attachment to that story then became my primary source of pain.
Of course it makes sense that if the story I’ve been telling myself is being broken, it would create space for my mind to make up new stories, and not very nice ones.
All my abandonment issues came rising to the surface with a vengeance. All my childhood fears of not being valuable and worthy of love no longer had anywhere to hide.
As has happened many times in my life, I was brought to the heart of myself, and my primal wound.
What a tremendous gift, and again, another chance to practice, practice, practice…
To practice loving my young self and being there for her in her pain.
To practice talking to myself with love, tenderness, understanding and compassion.
To practice directing my thoughts towards self-love instead of ruminating on coulda woulda shoulda’s and wild guesses about things I have no control over.
But really, the best part in all of this has been realizing how much love and deep heart-centered connection I have in my life with a great number of gorgeous humans…
Humans who I have been showing up for in life, and who have been showing up for me, anywhere from the past five to 15+ years.
Humans who have reached out to me, fed me, hugged me, cried with me, raged with me, bought me drinks, offered me exactly the right drugs, bolstered me with humor, and have offered an ocean of empathy, compassion, understanding and Love.
It turns out I have more life partners than I realized. I’ve been cultivating relationships for years with other gorgeous souls who are just as committed to me as I am to them.
This is another tremendous gift that I haven’t fully seen or received until now.
And I’m reminded of a quote by Oprah:
“I don’t want anyone who doesn’t want me.”
So, for anyone reading this who has experienced heartbreak or is in the midst of heartbreak or who fears heartbreak, I want you to know you are not alone. I am here with you, and so are 7 billion other humans who know what it’s like to feel alone, scared, abandoned, heartbroken and uncertain.
It will take time for my heart and stories to heal. Right now it’s a day-to-day sorta thing that requires me to have grace and gentleness because who knows when the grief will hit and I’ll need a good sob before I can get back to what I was doing.
But as I’ve been remined on several occasions, “The only way out is through.” I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Remember, You are Your Greatest Friend and Ally. YOU are the love of your life. YOU are magnificent and glorious. YOU are valuable and worthy of love, always.
Until next time, you will find me living this poem by Lord Byron…
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.”
Sending you so much love today, and always.
xo – Jessica