Getting your heart broken really hurts.
It’s one of those experiences in life that has a bizarre way of making you feel human and fragile.
While there is no way to avoid a heartbreak, I’ve come to believe that there are ways to make it less painful. After years of dealing with it, I’ve developed a theory:
We all have the ability to feel it coming and meet it head-on.
Death by a Thousand Cuts
In my experience, heartbreak happens incrementally. It’s like splintering glass or a beloved sitcom becoming gradually lame. When I had my heart destroyed, it happened over the course of months.
At first, it was just about little things. She was less enthusiastic to see me. “Hi!” became “Hi.” The pressure of her lips when we’d kiss felt… different. I felt a tremor of suspicion.
Soon enough, it was no longer a tremor.
Although she had yet to broach the subject with me, I felt a chasm growing between us. And it only made me more desperate to see her and to try to be more expressive of my feelings. That meant more hanging out, more sex.
Nothing had changed yet, but everything felt different.
The End Is Rarely Surprising
By the time she ended it, I acted as if she had become a “Mortal Kombat” character and ripped my heart out through my throat. It was a lie.
What I really felt was this melancholy déjà vu.
My heart was re-broken, having already sustained irrevocable damages over those long weeks and months that preceded our melodramatic finale. It seemed like an already broken plate that’s stomped on by a jackboot.
There, now that’s broken.
I begged her to tell me why it was over. She obliged.
I am not in love with you.
Her words were as heavy and irrefutable as poured concrete. I couldn’t escape them any longer. But really, I’d known all along.
Listening to Yourself
It didn’t have to be this way.
The heartbreak was inevitable but the way in which I experienced it could have been different.
First, I could have listened to my gut and spoken to her about it. I could have given her the opportunity to let me down gently.
We often want what we want despite knowing we either can’t or shouldn’t have it. We have as much trouble delaying gratification as we do in facing pain that can be delayed.
I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that something was wrong but I chose to ignore it. It was in the futile hope that if I just turned up the volume of my feelings for her, I could drown out the sound of intuition telling me to face this.
So, I waited until she couldn’t hide it anymore.
I’d leave her pathetic 4 a.m. voicemails, begging her to see me.
Being Sad Without Being an Over-Actor
The problem with not listening to your instincts and going the easy route is that when the ground finally does open up beneath your feet, you say and do a bunch of regrettable stuff as you fall.
At least I did.
Despite her brutally honest admission of not loving me, I considered buying a ring. A goddamn diamond ring!
Despite having felt the chords of my heart snapping for months, I chose to lie to myself, and then the finality of our breakup destroyed me. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, couldn’t talk about anything but her.
I basically became a bad actor in a worse movie.
Imagine Shia Lebouf remaking “Ishtar.” Or imagine me remaking Ishtar.
Yeah, I was that bad.
Had I chosen to face the signals, had I given myself (and her) the time to process it all and deal with it, I would have still been heartbroken and sad, but I would have been more reasonable.
Once the initial fever breaks after those first few weeks when you’re basically just a lunatic, you do become a sad but more emotionally intelligent human being. I could have started from that point.
If You’re Feeling Like Something’s Wrong
For those of you out there who might be feeling that something’s not quite right with the one you love, that something is off, something is breaking, I encourage you to talk about it. It need not be dramatic and it certainly shouldn’t be accusatory.
Often times, we know all that we need to know. We just choose not to listen.
And the result becomes more painful than it needs to be.
See Also: Written By Him: How To Handle A Break Up