When Heartbreak is Present
“When we are no longer able to change a situation — we are challenged to change ourselves.”
~ Viktor E. Frankl
This morning I awoke to the sweet smell of wet California grasses after an uncommon late spring rain last night. I love the smell and the deep golden color of the hills both of which are specifically reserved for these rare mornings.
Being full-on in a drought here brings an appreciation for the rain and all of its tones. I even imagine the plants clapping with joy. I marvel at the feeling that is evoked by a simple reality like rain., life is good!!
As I sit to write, I am a bit surprised by my tranquility (thank you nature) because I know what I plan to write, and what I committed to my mentor I would put in my newsletter is a bit terrifying. It is time to share the deep deep hurt I am experiencing.
Today I am going to share what is present for me. I will not go into great detail or storytelling, as the experience continues to be relevant and ripe, deserving a level of gentleness.
I write this with the hope that in doing so you will perhaps feel inspired to share, with the world, the parts of you that desire light and expression. I’m sharing this in trust that if you’ve ever had your heart broken or felt betrayed by one you love, what I do share will connect. This is an exercise in truth and in claiming the life we choose to live.
For the past 22 months, I have experienced the deepest and darkest heartbreak of my life. Even though I have had other great losses in my life, including the deaths of two beautiful siblings, and my parents, nothing has compared to this level of breaking open, that is my present experience.
I have moments when the sadness is heavy and permeating and surely feels like too much to bear. I have moments when the feelings of being unlovable grip me so tight I don’t dare try to breathe, for fear my heart will break beyond repair. I have moments, mostly in the middle of the night, when the intense dread of not belonging creeps in and takes a hold of me like a rag doll in the jaws of a mighty wolf.
In these moments, I want to lash out in anger, I want to hurt “them” as much as I THINK they are hurting me. I want to scream (sometimes I do) and I want to get as far away from my experience (and the pain) as I possibly can. Sometimes I even want to die.
In these moments there is nothing I want more than the anguish to cease, yet life is relentless in it’s grip on me.
In these moments, action, movement, thoughts, and rumination can become a safe haven. I may find myself making mental lists of every mistake the other or I have made, placing a mask on the hurt, and somehow mentally trying to prove or disprove my worthiness to exist.
In these moments, desperate to find relief, I may plan to take action of some sort in an attempt to“fix” the “problem” thus abating any more grief. I mean isn’t there always something we can do to better a situation, to convince another of our views, or to control what is happening? Doesn’t every problem have a solution, if we think and work hard enough?
In these moments, it is the problem-solving part of me that I can become enamored with. The voices that say “do something!!” or “fix it!!
“Life is not a problem to solve, life is an experience to have”
If I listen, to the fix-it voice, with an intention to assuage the pain, I am sure to find myself employing any one of many strategies to feel I am in control. I may distract myself with endless ruminating, and ironically in an attempt to feel less pain, I could even find myself taking action in an effort to force my desired outcome onto the landscape, causing more grief, hurt pain, and unmanageability.
When we are striving to control the uncontrollable, ignoring that which is truly guiding us, we diminish and maybe altogether lose the ability to feel life. Along with losing touch (on a conscious level) with the heartbreak and grief, we also lose touch with the ability to feel joy and happiness. The longing for control of the pain can also lead us into addiction and other destructive behaviors. Our life becomes like hiding in a minefield.
Bottom line, forcing our will (no matter how “right” it seems) onto our relationship with life, leaves us in the midst of chaos, profoundly depleted, woefully disengaged and, poignantly vacant.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
~ Saint Francis
LOOSENING THE GRIP
As I allow myself to be in these moments, sometimes sooner sometimes a little later, I remember or I am reminded through some sort of grace, that Life is not a problem to solve, life is an experience to have. and life is something to cherish. I remember that what I am experiencing is simply a moment in time, and is not my pre-ordained destiny or my long-term fate.
Through the grace of my experiences and what I practice daily, I have discovered that I possess the ability, even in the darkest of moments, to find, not a solution but a faith in myself and the universal energy of source. When this faith washes over me, I experience trust and I feel complete surrender. Through loosening the grip on the story, I am gently, magically, and graciously guided through the dark and sometimes scary tunnel of grief, anguish, and hopelessness.
On the other side of this tunnel, I recognize my ability to be present with sadness, grief, and anguish. I realize I am breathing again and I acknowledge that I am not irrevocably broken. It may not be perfect and wrapped in a pretty bow, but this spaciousness holds profound beauty for me.
You see, we have each trained our WHOLE life for the experience that is right in front of us. The invitation is to stay present, if we do so, we are sure to be deposited on the other side with a renewed confidence in ourselves, and with a deeper compassion for ourselves and others (even those we may have seen as WRONG).
And what I cherish most, is the reclamation of the ability to feel true joy. Relieved of the compulsion to fix or change something beyond our scope, we can choose to expend our energy on what brings joy, even in the presence of heartbreak.
I will not pretend that I have achieved complete stasis of acceptance here. I continue to move in and out of all I described above, yet I do so with a level of peace and tranquility and best of all when I hear the shriek of a joy-filled grandchild I am able to be there with them, fully present, in the pureness of life.
I thank you for listening and I trust more will be revealed. I know I am simply in the midst of my beautiful life, and hope springs eternal for an outcome, to this experience, better than my limited mind can imagine.
Lastly, if you have been or are suffering from a broken heart, please comment and share what you would like. I support you in all you have to experience through this difficult time. We are not designed to grieve alone.