Heartbreak is something that all of us will encounter at some time or another. Having encountered it in my own life through my own divorce, it sent me on a mission to really try and understand its lessons. I will say that understanding these lessons tested me on everything that I never knew up to that point. The sadness of divorce clung to me like a personal humidity for many months. One of the hardest things is probably the most simple, slowing down and listening to our yourself. The article below articulates these thoughts in a unique way which I found really helpful. I hope they may help you as well.
“Buddhism and Relationships: 3 Stages to Heal a Broken Heart” – Susan PivnerNothing feels worse than a broken heart, the kind you get when someone you love ends the relationship. Feelings of shame, remorse, grief, rage, and terror can overwhelm even the most heretofore stable human being. Heartbreak has the power to reframe a workable life as a disaster. Surprisingly, Buddhism has a tremendous amount of helpful advice for working with these terrible girl/boy-loses-boy/girl emotions. It takes an approach that is quite different than the usual advice books, which basically fall into one of two categories: The first category is called “You Go Girl!!” (Sorry guys, all the books are aimed at women.) This kind of book suggests that you need to up the cocktails:sobbing ratio, that if you go out with your friends who all tell you that you were just too awesome for him/her, get a cute outfit and a new ‘do, and cry on as many shoulders as possible, you can dance your troubles away. I don’t think this is bad advice. Hey! You are awesome! You can look super hot! You have great friends who remind you how to have fun! This is all cool. It won’t, however, do much to alleviate the pain, beyond stuffing it for a few hours. The second category is called “There is something very, very wrong with you and you made this happen.” This is the kind of book that says you brought this heartbreak on yourself by carrying forward unhealed wounds from childhood or, god forbid, by thinking the wrong thoughts. I kind of hate this. Of course it’s really, really important to heal your wounds and to examine your thoughts to see if they might be sabotaging you—but when the intention for doing so is to avoid pain rather than increase your capacity to love, it is unlikely to heal you. This kind of advice is often out to convince you that you can create a safe world for yourself and that you can make love safe. Love can never be made safe. It is the opposite of safe. The moment you try to make it safe, it ceases to be love. I realize this is a bummer, but think about it. Love is predicated on receptivity, on opening up again and again and again to your beloved, each time afresh. To do this, you have to let go of insisting that he or she conform to your standards for what a lover should look like, do, be, say, and instead allow him or her to simply be him or herself. Then you take it from there. To do otherwise, to continually choose who you wish this person was over who he or she actually is, is, well, it’s not love. I don’t know what it is. (Of course none of this stands to reason should any form of emotional or physical abuse be present. At this point you can forget everything I just said and protect yourself.) Most often, the efforts to heal a broken heart center around putting it behind you and recreating the illusion of safety. Buddhism counsels something else, something best said by the American Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron: “Feel the feelings. Drop the story.” That is the pith advice and it means turning toward what you feel, not away. It means letting the feelings be just what they are without trying to explain them, shore your self up, or excuse or blame anyone. This is called being a warrior. The more you allow feelings to burn clean in this way, the less confusion you create.
(Photo credit: Francine Lacerda)