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10 Ways to Recover from a Very Broken Heart

Lucky are the ones who’ve never had their hearts broken before; but happy and complete are those who have.

Looking back on my life at 37, I recall every single chapter of it that’s ended with a broken heart. Over failed relationships, painful arguments, death of loved ones, when pets die (and do cats not go to heaven, too?), and when disappointments are so big they crush your soul and take your breath.

For me, there will always be that one chapter that continues to shape me. The one that causes my world to turn inside-out when particular songs come on the radio. The one that—while not being the worst thing that ever happened in my life—will forever be remembered as that time that gave me a very broken heart. Even though it happened a lifetime ago.

I fought hard to survive when my heart was crushed. And I like to think this is a battle we must all fight valiantly for in our lives. Here were my weapons of choice:

 

1. Escape

Having lost a large part of my heart, I found I lived more daringly. So, I travelled. On my own—for the first time. It didn’t require much for me to try new things. Parasailing for the first time in Phuket. Jetskiing with abandonment. Backpacking in London. Eating out and watching plays by myself. I defeated my feelings of insecurity and self-consciousness and emerged braver.

Later, I travelled via 30 books, which I slowly collected, devoured, and savoured. I followed my favourite characters to different worlds and learnt to fall in love again. I laughed and cried with them. I experienced losses and victories with them. It was a safe place to begin healing, and healing did begin.

 

2. Succumb to the suffering 

Just when I started to believe that healing was possible and even surprised myself with genuine, heartfelt laughter because I actually found something funny again, I encountered those peculiar somethings that brought me right back to the core of my pain. Before I knew it, I was suffocating in choking sobs and wondering why I even thought the pain could ever be over. So I went with it. Cried it out. It was easy. And you know what? The tears stopped eventually.

 

3. Embrace the lies

“Tis better to have loved and lost than never to love before.”

“Time heals all wounds.”

Um, no. I’ve never resonated with Tennyson’s famous quote. I honestly don’t know if it’s better. And no, time doesn’t heal all wounds either. It just places enough distance between you and the pain that you’ve begun to accept it, move on, and try again.

I learnt not to wait for that one miraculous day when those words would become true. It was a lot more liberating not to have foolish hope.

 

4. Channel your energy elsewhere

I wrote. Letters, novellas, and then published a book. Today, I indulge in adult colouring books, build LEGO, and I still write. For some, it may be cooking. For others—shopping. Pick the things that bring you comfort and lets you get creative. It’s a miracle how pain can make you a better artist. This could explain the myth of the suffering artist.

 

5. Reminisce, remember and return

From time to time, I still unlock certain memories that I had carefully stowed away. I allow them to play over in my mind and often, they still reduce me to tears. But I honour these memories and I wander through them with equal measure of pain and acceptance… And then I return them to their locked space in my heart. There, they will remain. I will neither forget nor discard them, but they don’t rule my life anymore.

 

6. Drink, party and forget

No, drowning sorrows in alcohol never helped. We’re more than likely to wake up with a nasty hangover. But you know what? Even in the throes of despair, for that few hours, it was great fun to party and realise all over again that yes, I will dance again.

 

7. Battle with your demons

You know, those thoughts that make you lost and going in circles in your head? Those were my demons. Get rid of them and stay in the here-and-now. There’s a great difference between recollecting and cherishing memories, and reliving nightmares. I learnt to navigate my way between that difference and emerge victorious.

 

8. Number your goals

Long before we had phone applications that helped us track tasks and be accountable to the goals we want to achieve, I had my own method—with the help of one slender, empty ice-wine bottle. I counted the days I survived at night when I came undone by unwelcome visits in dreams.

I also had a physical calendar that I marked ‘X’s on the days I wallowed in despair. The goal was simple: to have fewer ‘X’s and more golden stars as the days, weeks, months passed.

 

9. Time travel

One day, I was walking home when suddenly, I had a vision of myself 10, 20 years later. Strangely, I wasn’t what I thought I would be—I was happy. In those few minutes, I recognized that the pain I was going through would pass and there will come a day—unimaginable as it was then—when I will be actually happy again.

 

10. Give yourself permission

It is okay to smile again. It’s okay to find something funny and have your curiosity evoked. It’s perfectly fine to dwell on other matters besides your old love. It’s acceptable to feel those first flutterings for someone else. It’s okay to have your heart beat for something, someone else again.

 

I'd like to think that it takes very little to survive after our heart’s been very broken—some gumption, a little bit of hope, the guts to dream again… And patience.

Nine years, one happy marriage (6 years) and two lovely children later… I still yearn for the bits of me that was lost and endure and suffer nightmares from the past that reverberate into the next few days.

Do we ever recover? Maybe. Maybe not.

But I know my heart's lighter because it's received new joy and also because I've left some parts of it behind. So yes, I'm more fragile as we all will be, but I'm also more complete, as we all can be. Me, the millions before, and after me, who has suffered heartbreak, and also you.

 

This article first appeared on Bow and Tiara

 


 

By Joyce Gan

Joyce is a regular contributor at Bow & Tiara - A relationship media platform, where a community of millennials readers and writers share their thoughts, feelings and beliefs about love & relationship.

 



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