On November 21, 2011 I was living happily with the Greatest Love of My Life in a house we’d chosen to be Our Home. After more than five years together, we still loved and laughed like we did in the beginning. I had embraced my role as a stepmother to his sons and enjoyed close, positive relationships with the boys. On November 21, 2011 I was part of a couple, a team and a family.
The following day I was homeless, and within a week another woman was sleeping in my bed.
In a million years I never could have imagined things would go down the way they did. I was shocked and confused. My partner and best friend morphed into a cold and cruel stranger in a matter of days. I was no longer welcome in my home. The family I knew and loved was gone.
I cried. I screamed. I writhed in pain. I stopped eating. I wished I was a drinker. I didn’t know it was possible to be so damn sad.
It was awful. And yet, it was awe-some. The stripping away of my primary attachments forced me to confront myself and aspects of my life that I’d neglected for a long time.
I learned to find peace and contentment in stillness. I delighted in gratitude for the smallest things, thus my world filled with wonder. I recharged, reconnected and found myself revived.
That heartbreak-to-healing process was (is) one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. By delving deep into the pain, I learned…
Heartbreak keeps you human. There’s nothing like a broken heart to rip you out of your bubble and remind you that you’re just like everyone else.
The pain you feel can be isolating, but it can also allow you to connect with others. You might find yourself swapping sad stories with strangers or volunteering at a soup kitchen. It’s good to connect and share those human experiences.
Heartbreak keeps you humble. When you lose everything, you’re forced to accept the fact that you didn’t need so much to begin with. You begin to feel grateful for the smallest things: a meal with a friend, a chair to sit on, a quiet restroom to cry in.
Heartbreak helps you heal. If you’re willing to dissect your situation, the experience can lead you to heal in a holistic sense. From a therapist’s couch, you can learn to recognize destructive patterns you’ve carried throughout your life. From there you can harness the tools to make healthier decisions and participate in more productive relationships.
Heartbreak makes you hardy. Think of the mums; these well-known flowers are known to grow strong roots, providing a foundation which allows them to bloom in the fall and survive the winter. Go deep and nourish yourself, then you too can thrive and survive when others wither and hide.
When the fog of destruction lifted and exposed a new life for me, I was overcome with gratitude. Enough gratitude, in fact, to finance a bouquet of organic roses which I sent to the woman who claimed my bed. Seriously. I didn’t do it out of bitterness. I wasn’t trying to be snarky.
You see, breakups can be like hurricanes. There’s a lot of devastation. Homes are demolished. Well-known landscapes become unrecognizable. It’s terrifying and terrible. But hurricanes also persuade the ocean to churn up some of her deepest treasures and place them at our feet.
In my case, I discovered a different perspective, some wonderful new friends and a few old dreams I forgot I had. It was enough to reclaim my identity and build a new and more satisfying life for myself.
Never in a million years could I have imagined I’d be reflecting on such a heartwrenching experience with so much gratitude. Yet, here I am, eternally grateful for my broken heart.