What I Learned from Heartbreak

Written by mindbodygreen

I came across a wonderful Rumi quote the other day. You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens. This really resonated with me. After the unexpected deaths of my brother and father, I fell into a deep depression.

My heart was heavy and I felt empty. I was lost, and while I tried so hard to make sense of what had happened, I was often overwhelmed and devastated that they were no longer here, on this earth, and that in an instant, my entire world was turned upside down. I couldn’t imagine overcoming or knowing anything beyond the grief that had overshadowed my life during that time.

In the years following their deaths, I slowly began to take steps toward healing and began to welcome the change that had both shattered and empowered my life--yoga being an important part of my recovery and my ongoing journey towards self-discovery.

I’ve learned to trust the process, to go with it, and follow my heart, instead of resisting changes that I cannot explain. I feel it in my bones, knowing that love, the foundation of life, has always existed within my heart, waiting to be accessed, appreciated, acknowledged, and shared.

I cannot fully explain the shift that took place within me, but I know that I have found the strength to carry on, and I've cultivated awareness.

There are times when I lose touch with that space, and I’ve learned not to beat myself up for it. I’m working now on catching myself before spiraling down into a dark place, a tendency that was largely fueled by fear and shame from past wounds that I neglected.

But, again, I’ve learned that’s also part of being alive--to experience, fully, the vast scope of feelings, both dark and light, that all human beings, in one way or another, experience and know.

Suffering is universal, and inevitable, but harboring old fears and shame does not serve me. I release them, let them go, forgive myself and others, and remember to be patient if I slip up.

It is a journey after all. 

Things on my path, I’ve noticed, come in waves, like the ocean. They arrive in currents and in swells, in low and high tide. Sometimes they arrive in stillness, and in these moments I can seek clarity.

The things I’ve experienced that shook me to the core allowed me to see the dark side of my thoughts, feelings and self-limiting beliefs, to which I attached a deep, personal shame.

For a while, I didn’t think I deserved to be happy, that I would never love or be loved, that I was not enough. The trauma and heartbreak I faced, however, taught me something I’m just beginning to fully recognize, accept and feel in my heart, even though I'd always understood this intellectually.

Without having experienced grief, I wouldn’t know and fully appreciate joy, unconditional love, and calm, things I now feel are making themselves known within me, unmasking the dark faces I used to wear unknowingly. 

The process of overcoming life-altering hardships has shown me a strength within myself I hadn’t previously known. And it has given me hope for creating a more heartfelt and meaningful life.

Now, when I feel pain or notice I’m slipping back into self-limiting tendencies, I see it as my heart letting me know there is something in the ethers of my soul that needs to be worked out.

And that with enough persistence, compassion, support, love, and hard work, internal wounds will heal.

This isn’t to negate the legitimate practices and fields of study in modern psychology and medicine, which I respect. It's simply a personal resonance that has helped me come to terms with the great mysteries in human nature, and the importance of patience, surrender, and care for oneself and others.

I am not a unique case. I remind myself, everyday, that there are countless others who experience pain, unspeakable pain, that I will never know.  But they continue to wake up everyday and do their best.

Courage, to me, is the ability to carry on, to be open to change, and to grow, in spite of pain or difficulty, to be willing to share our pain and our stories for the purpose of healing, and to connect with and learn from each other.

With every heartbreak, there is an opportunity to gain wisdom, to expand limits and pre-conceived notions of myself and others. There is a chance to be vulnerable, and by being vulnerable we breed honesty, and unconditional love, even if that risks another heartbreak.

I am only as strong, capable, worthy, and lovable as I know myself to be. And that is something I fight for everyday, knowing that I am enough, right now, just the way I am, without judgment, and with an open heart.

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