For The Broken Hearted: A Post-Holiday Advisory
I was coming off a rather difficult fall. By fall I mean the season of autumn, not physically falling, though in someways it felt physical.
That autumn had been particularly difficult as I was feeling depressed. It wasn’t that I felt sad. It was that I felt nothing. The absence of emotion. I had become a flatline rather than an oscillating sine wave like everybody else. It’s a scary, painful experience and sometimes you don’t think you’ll ever feel anything again. I suppose that's what makes you seem sad because we all want to feel.
I had worked my way back to holding a regular job in my recovery, the same job I had held prior to having been hospitalized during a manic episode. But it brought me no joy, nor did other things in my life that usually did. I couldn’t write a fucking song. I couldn't write a fucking poem. It was terrifying to feel that there was nothing in there anymore.
But then something happened. An old friend from England wanted to come and visit me. But this wasn’t just any old friend. This is someone who had held my heart for a very long time, someone I loved unrequited. Someone who in some ways at that point, had never stopped loving so the thought of her coming to visit me motivated me. It gave me something.
Propelled by foolish optimism and the yearning I'd experienced for a happy ending with this woman for many years over, I cleaned my ass up. I tried to be who I used to be. The guy that she had last seen when I was on her home turf several years before. The guy that not only felt shit, but felt it extremely intensely.
She came the week leading up to Halloween and stayed the week that followed. We never skipped a beat when we met up. We had an amazing time going out, showing her places in Chicago just as she had when I had visited London. It got to the point where I didn’t need to pretend that I was my old self anymore. And just as I realized that, we silmultaneously confronted the elephant in the room that never had really left since first we met. Was she ever going to love me back, the way that I loved her?
You could see this lovely woman battle within herself because somewhere inside it seemed she wanted to be able to reciprocate. She just couldn’t and that’s OK. We weren't really meant to be, after all. It was just something that had grown in my head over the years to fairytale proportion. So we simply enjoyed the last few days we had together before she returned home to England. And as she left, I felt sadness but I also felt relief.
A significant chunk of my emotional power, my passionate heart had been all tied up with these feelings for this woman for close to a decade. Finding some sort of closure helped me to finally release her. This opened a tremendous amount of room in my heart for new love to be born.
I found it easier to feel things slowly but surely and even began to write again. My listlessness, my flatline feelings, or lack thereof, started to fade. And oh how grateful I was.
It was sometime around then I started noticing the small things again and acknowledging them, however benign they seemed. A worn sticker on a post, barely hanging on. A man in a green coat with his hood up. Trash riding the breeze.
With my eyes open, I was paying attention to the world again, having escaped my head to look around. I started seeing a girl that I would cross paths with every day leaving work as she arrived. And my heart stirred. That huge part of it had been given back to me. And it healed a bit. It healed to the point that it was ready to open again in a real way at least.
So if your heart feels broken and you were really bummed out this Valentine’s Day, remember that this is temporary. Your heart is hurt like your leg gets broken. Give it some time and know that if you allow it to heal properly, it can heal much stronger than it was before.
And you don’t hold onto shit. If you are, figure out how to let go of it. Think about it, if you hold onto shit, it blocks you up, and think of what you might be missing out on. Put yourself back together and take those pieces of your heart back if they have not already been given. See what happens when you’re able to love again at full strength.