It doesn’t take much. A hint of a song, a commercial, or even just a smile on someone else’s face.
And then, from within some infinite space inside your body, heat explodes with a roar. It rushes with terrifying speed to your face, your arms, your chest. Your skin feels fuzzy, tingling and sparking with an electric pulse of memories. The black hole below your chest begins to compress and that unmovable weight is compounded by a feeling – more than that – a surety – of failure and loneliness. Every breath is a laborious process, perforated by sobs and guttural moans that can’t possibly be coming from you. The mantra can be different for each of us, from why me to I’ll be okay to how can they do this to me to what am I going to do. When it’s over, the shadow you’ve become clamors for the chance to do nothing more than fade to black.
Welcome to heartbreak.
Over time, that gaping wound of a heart becomes healthier. The scar tissue knots around it. The pain lessens, but it never disappears. It’s always going to be a keepsake filed away in a box in the top of your closet. You’ll take it out when it’s needed, and it will be needed. Pain is necessary. We must remind ourselves of the pain so that we can fully appreciate the love.
There’s no salve or ointment to help the healing process. The support from friends who will never get sick of hearing you talk about how much you hurt – sometimes the pain isn’t survivable without those people. Cherish those people forever, but they can’t solve anything. The only solution is time. The months pass and one day you’ll realize that you went a whole day without thinking of her or him. That day will become a week, and that week will become a month.
And maybe another trigger will show up. A line in a movie, or a typo on a menu. A commuter with a funny hat, or just a ghost in the mirror one morning. That heat will resurface, looking for fuel, finding none. There will be a moment, nothing more, for you to mourn what was, and then you will move forward confidently into what will be.
(I was inspired to write this post after reading about a friend who is going through a heartbreak of her own. I’m feeling very healthy right now when it comes to love, so don’t worry about me!)