Five years ago I went through terrible heartbreak. Heartbreak so deep I crawled to the kitchen because I couldn’t lift myself up to stand. The pain was physical and intense. Just walking down the street took huge effort because I’d burst into tears any minute. I remember feeling so raw and vulnerable, like people could see through to my pain.
When you’re going through acute pain, sometimes you just have to do something. Anything. I felt like I was going crazy unless I eased my pain somehow, however I do it. Heartbreak made me understand why people numb out, get addicted, and unravel their lives. Pain and grief do that to you.
So when I journaled, wrote, took walks, prayed, cried and still felt pain, I knew I had to do something different.
Five months before I went through it all, I interviewed a woman named Susan Piver who’d written a book beautifully titled, “The Wisdom of a Broken Heart.” It was a brilliant book and the truth was, my heart had been breaking for a while. Maybe my intuition knew it was time for the real dark night of my soul. I interviewed Susan on love and pain and fear, and when we spoke, I felt even more connected to her, strongly so. I couldn’t explain why.
I didn’t wait for an explanation. Forty-five minutes on Skype was enough and even though she didn’t know me at all, though we’d only spoken once, that heartbreaky day the ONLY thing I could think to do was hop the Chinatown bus to see Susan in Boston (I had a vague idea she lived on the East Coast.)
I gathered up every ounce of energy and strength and wept the entire four hour trip to Boston from NYC.
It didn’t even matter that we didn’t know each other. All reasonable thought went out the door and all I wanted to do was to stop feeling pain. I somehow made it to her door and rang the bell. She opened it stunned. I don’t even remember if she really understood what was going on or who I was, but I introduced myself again and she let me in.
As crazy as I looked, somehow deep inside my heart knew what I needed. Susan provided a certain kind of out of this world kindness and soothing for my soul. For the next two hours she graciously listened to me pour my heart out, made me soup and sat there and listened. She hugged me and let me cry and witnessed my pain as I said “I can’t believe it’s over. I feel so alone” over and over again. I wept. She listened. I calmed down. She listened. I felt relief like I hadn’t felt in weeks. The pain wasn’t gone, but it was encased by love. I felt heard and understood. Everything, even the pain, felt workable.
After two hours, I gathered myself up and she gave me a hug. “Stay in touch” she said. I left and wept the four hours back to NYC. But my tears felt softer. Somehow my strength and ability to move ahead, even if just until tomorrow was restored. Could I make it till tomorrow? Yes. That was all that mattered.
If you are going through heartbreak or loss right now, any loss, my whole heart is with you. I can totally relate and know all too well the feeling of the rug being pulled out from under you suddenly. Nothing looks the same.
And it’s okay to not know why you need to do something or why you want to be with a certain person or why you want to take action. It is MORE than okay. It is normal and natural and DO NOT be ashamed. That’s what this time is for – when everything else is uncertain, sometimes you need to do things that give you some certainty, even if your brain doesn’t understand it. Try as you might, you’ll find it hard to make “proper” decisions during devastation zone – best to stay away from important personal and professional decisions.
Deep pain is not the place for common sense or “rationality.”
If you feel you want to do something or feel called to a particular person or place, go, do that. You need it. Don’t feel afraid.
Your heart is leading the way and none of it will make sense.
Since that day, Susan and I are dear friends. She’s on my core team of go-to people and we support each other in our lives. Through business challenges, personal stuff, health stuff, etc., we are primary supports and feel safe enough to let it all out. It is a divine, deeply connected, inexplicable friendship that I can’t imagine not having in my life. She’s one of my closest friends and my heart feels supported through and through.
Her witnessing that day, hearing me and loving me through it, not trying to fix me or remove my pain, was the key. She let me cry, let me feel all of it – this is the most healing thing to do for someone in pain or grief. Witness them and feel it with them, not outside of them. Acknowledge the pain that’s there, that it might be there for some time, but that love is also present.
If you’re going through heartbreak or loss right now, or know someone who is, my total love and heart are with you. As my friend Nitika says, this is a “code red situation” so please do whatever you need to get relief (but don’t show up on Susan’s doorstep!) :)
Healing comes from witnessing.
Listen, be present, don’t fix or solve. Just make soup.
Your presence is enough.
Are you going through a tough time right now? Are you feeling urgent, like you have to do something? Please share with me and I’ll send you some love and courage. You are never alone. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve been there more than once and I’m here for you.
Also, if this helped you and you know someone who’s going through loss and heartbreak and needs to hear this today, please share this with them and show them they are not alone too. We ALL need help sometimes.
PS: If you are going through heartbreak and feel comfortable enough to work through it with books and tools, I HIGHLY recommend Susan’s book above. Was one of the few books I read that really helped me get through.