On Monday I had a conversation that made really angry with myself. My friend was in a horrible state of despair, hurt and frustration, one I know only too well. In a plead for the direction, support and strength she needed to finish the grossly poisonous relationship eating away at her vital organs, she asked me questions typical of a freshly broken heart. The only answer I could provide, that didn’t delude the reality or increase the hurt was time.
I really hate clocks, I always have. Just ask my sister, who screamed at me every single school morning for making her late for the all-important pre- bell chats. Time is so limiting, and while a timer may be needed to ensure my gluten free muffins are cooked until perfectly fluffy and moist, living our lives by deadlines imposes unnecessary expectations and pressure to have achieved certain life events by certain points.
All sorts of goals regarding our financial independence, relationships, marriage and babies swim around in our subconscious, only to show their ugly heads when we experience set backs that suggest our lives may not be panning out as promised (thanks Hollywood!).
Buddhists believe that the root of all suffering is attachment. In a way I see their point, the search for love is a rough one for most us, and breakups can be fucking brutal. As the success of Adele’s album 21 proves, loving and being loved is messy, because we drag all the stuff we have endured, good and bad, into a new dynamic, in an effort to love a flawed person, and receive love for our flawed selves. Incase that isn’t enough pressure, we then try and remain in a relationship for as long as possible, putting up with shit we wouldn’t allow our friends to, so we can achieve the happily ever after fantasy.
As Adele said at her concert, we have all experienced hurt and rejection in different forms. We don’t have to have been dumped by a lover to experience heartbreak, and sometimes the smallest events have the biggest effects. While the deeper questions may be why we feel what we do, and what on earth we did wrong in our past lives to deserve an emotional trip to the rubbish dump, the answers may take months or years to surface, when our hearts have stopped trying to escape through our belly buttons. The question that needs to be answered, particularly for my friend, is how to lift ourselves out of the dump.
The first thing I wish someone had told me was to give myself full permission. Permission to roll around in the shit for as long as possible, riding the full rollercoaster of emotions because, no matter how long we squish them up, our feelings will not escape until we feel and release them (sorry).
Unfortunately big girls and boys DO need to CRY to rid ourselves of the shit eating away at our minds and hearts, and I wish I had given myself more permission to do so. Being STRONG actually requires us to be VULNERABLE, to accept that we are hurting. Remembering that there is no time limit for heart break is also crucial.
Joining the gym was the best decision I ever made, it gave me a focus and a healthy outlet for my anger frustration. Taking classes that encouraged kicking and shouting was therapeutic in itself, while the salty sweat and pumping of endorphins worked wonders, being proven to be more effective than anti depressants.
Of course, different forms of exercise suit different people, but I think having a healthy outlet is crucial, particularly in combating the alcohol and comfort food consumption. Exercise gets us out of our head and into our body, and also encourages us to focus on ourselves, putting our needs and wellbeing first, not to mention the positive effect on our hormones and weight.
Talking about our shit, either with others or by writing a journal is also crucial to the releasing process, relying on our mates in hard times is what friendships are for. Travel also works as a wonderful ‘escape’ even from ourselves. Experiencing life in a new environment distant to our own provides us with clarity and a chance for re-evaluation and reflection.
While these things helped my healing process, they didn’t sew up the wounds. While a fresh perspective came in time, it was the acceptance of the past actions of others and myself that really helped me. In time, you will be able to appreciate the relationship for what it was, the good and bad part parts, and most importantly, the lessons you learnt about yourself and life.
Till then, stay strong, and take it a day at a time.