There’s No Such Thing as Heartbreak
After my first breakup, I thought I’d never date again. Then it happened again. And again. And again, more times than I can count now.
I should note that most of these people were not full-on committed romantic partners but people with whom I had some kind of connection that abruptly ended or gradually dissipated. It’s just easier to call all these situation-ships “breakups” with “exes.”
With each breakup, the pain got easier and I eventually concluded that my heart was never broken; rather, it ached. Each time, I endured a sting of varying intensity and with each name written into my book (…I like to keep track), I learned something new.
The most profound lesson I learned was the issue of semantics, or what we call something. Of course, some may balk at my seemingly uncritical decision to call everyone an ex regardless of the fact that I’ve had only two official boyfriends in my life thus far. I’m sure many would bat an eye at my assertion that my heart was never broken. Some may wonder whether I am callous and emotionless but let me assure you that I experienced deep pain. I just don’t call it “heartbreak.”
For me, a heart that is broken is a heart that cannot be mended after a staggering blow. Heartbreak is when someone had such a negative impact on you that your ability to love was infected. You close yourself off. You trust people less. Your heart is never the same.
This can be quite a dangerous thing, allowing one person, out of the billions who live and love every day, to leave you broken. Think about that phrasing for a moment: someone left you broken and you wondered whether you could love so fiercely again. Your light has been dimmed and it will take another person’s incredible, unfathomable love to lift you on your feet again.
I am wary of this idea because I believe your heart is your own responsibility. The heart is a muscle, something that beats continuously, even if it skips on occasion. The heart must be flexed, exercised on an ongoing basis, especially when in new territory as the person whose heart is beating must be alert. That person is undeniably aware that danger may be imminent but with a strong heart, they are courageous and forthright in their pursuits — of love, sex, romance, commitment, provision, normalcy or mere appreciation.
A strong heart builds character and cannot be broken. It can be thrown into fire and emerge violent yet unscathed. It can be pounded on, the love sucked out of it, but the love is infinite and can never be completely drained. It is powerful and knows its value and, at some point, prompted by this sense self-worth, will stop putting up with peasants.
I have experienced much heartache. I have tossed and turned, wondering whether I am loved by some silly boy. I have felt unflinching rage at the hands of betrayal. I have been impossibly sad and even momentarily lost a piece of my identity.
I have been stood up. I have been a backup plan. I have tried my hardest and failed miserably.
But I’m still alive and kickin’.
A broken limb can be reset and fixed but something about the operational chemistry of that limb is not quite the same as it was before, and that change shows with increased age. I can’t say my heart has ever been broken because I’ve recently found that I have a capacity to love so deep, deeper than I’ve ever imagined is possible.
Maybe part of it is my realization that 23 is old enough to stop taking crap from people who don’t deserve me. I respect my heart and though I cannot predict every scenario, my B.S.-radar is stronger than ever and I don’t allow certain behaviors anymore. My heart is too strong and too full of love to waste energy on ungrateful people who are not fully invested in our mutual joy.
And maybe you’ve felt this way too, this seemingly unspeakable, unnamable power. I assure you that the feeling is right. Lean into it and listen, knowing that you are way too fly for 100% of the clowns who try to drain you of the very source of your power. If ever you lose your capacity to love, you are in deep trouble. Maybe you think my particularity on verbiage is overwrought but what you speak into the universe, when you say “my heart is broken,” you are sending out signals of defeat that surely reverberate and reciprocate.
And there is sometimes nothing wrong with defeat. Plenty of people actually die soon after a lifelong loved one dies, so intertwined in their souls that it breaks their hearts. That’s true, incomparable love, a symptom of the human condition. Not one person handles heartache the same.
But until then — preferably far beyond that moment — my heart is mighty and clever and I hope you feel the same about yours, too.
Now, here’s some inspiration for you: