On Love and Heartbreak
It’s been a tough year for my heart. Maybe a tough two years, if I’m honest with myself. If you read my last post about the protective tools I created as a little girl that I carried long into adulthood, you know that I have taken some risks and leaps for love after saying goodbye to those old tools that were holding me back.
I flew to Austria for a week-long ski trip with a guy I met for one night in London. I went away for a weekend with my ex (we broke up 7 years ago) to see if the connection was still there. I met the kids of a man I realllllly liked on our 4th date. He broke up with me on our 7th. I went to Austin for a week with a guy I’d known for 3 weeks. All. In. I WENT FOR IT. And I’m so proud of myself. Taking risks on the journey to find my person is hard. It’s risky and it’s uncomfortable and I’ve never felt more rejection than I have in the past two years. Side note: I’m writing this at my local coffee shop while I wait for a date to come meet me. It’s a first date and I don’t think anyone falls in love over a latte at 11 am on a Sunday, but I’m game.
I’ve had hope and I’ve felt the loss of hope. I’ve been rejected in similar fashion over and over. “We seem to have lost our way.” “I think we’d be better off as friends.” “I just can’t seem to get past where we are and move to the next step.” All some version of “I can’t explain it, but I just don’t want to keep doing this.”
Sometimes I wish the rejection would be more specific. “I’m not into brunettes.” “You don’t want kids and I do.” “You watch too much trashy reality TV.” To which I would answer, “is there such a thing as too much trashy reality TV…?” But heartbreak isn’t always specific. It’s vague and messy and somehow it’s simultaneously personally impersonal. It’s like the person is saying, “this is 100% about you and also you’re not involved in this in any way. You’re everything and nothing at the same time.”
One of my best friends is in the middle of her own heartbreak. Hers isn’t my story to tell, but I love her so much and have so much compassion and empathy for her in this moment. When it feels like everyone else in the world can just meet someone and it sticks, why does it feel so unattainable at times?
It’s easy in times of heartbreak to armor up. It’s easy for decades of “stuff” to bubble to the surface and for us to climb back under the covers with our dog and our reality TV and our snacks. But it’s also in these times of heartbreak that we are broken open and I really do believe that each time we open up to someone or something, we are one step closer to a level of openness that can’t be closed back up. It’s kind of like when a car is involved in an accident. You hear this all the time: “you can fix it, but it will never be the same.” Every time you open yourself up, in any way, you never can fully close off again. So every heartbreak opens you up more and more. And then before you know it you’re just this open, vulnerable, less guarded person living your fabulous life when someone comes along and changes everything…in a great way.
Queen Brene Brown has this really fantastic article about the Midlife Unraveling. The entire article is so good and worth reading, but this is the part that stuck for me:
Midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:
I’m not screwing around. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go. Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy and lovable, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever. Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through your veins. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.
For my friends reading this, I’m with you in these times of heartbreak. But please promise me that you won’t stop trying and you won't stop caring and you won’t stop opening yourself up. Because I really do believe it’s worth it and I agree with Brene that you were made to live and love with your whole heart. I’m not in love. But I’m closer than I’ve been in a really, really long time. And I believe you are, too.