the necessity of heartache


lessons on love

Two years ago I was in London for the summer. I was staying at a friend’s house after a recent and tumultuous breakup. My friend took me in, thinking it would be better if I didn’t dwell on the situation on my own, as I didn’t sound well on the phone. I remember that summer vividly. I would stay up all night, sitting on the warm porcelain tiles in the kitchen, gazing into the distance through the back door until nightfall. Nothing else happened that summer. I cried a lot. My friend grew impatient with me, as he watched me spiraling down despite his good efforts to bring some sense to me. Truth be told, I was terrified. Nothing could have prepared me for this or for what was coming and nothing that my friend could have said at the time would have made me realize the obvious  Ì¶  you really don’t die from heartache. You only die from resisting the lessons that come from heartache. Lessons about love.

When we love someone and this person suddenly denies us their affection, we suffer something similar to a loss of identity. We think that the person we were before, when we were the other person’s object of attention, is no more. This is not love. This is transference of the sense of self. When somebody does not live up to our expectations of how we think they should have treated us, we are thrown into a downward spiral. We think we have forever lost that which makes us lovable, consequently we are no longer worthy of love. We must be a bad person. Then, because perception is subjective, it quickly becomes the reality we accept for ourselves and the reality we act upon. Then we come to reject all other forms of affection that people may show us. It becomes a circle. In our haste to prove ourselves right, we tend to forget that people only know how to give what they have. You cannot expect a bowl of water to have the same capacity as a jar. Life is about expansion. Everything that doesn’t grow, dies. Eventually we must become a jar. Eventually we must become a bigger and bigger container for more love. And yes, for that exact reason, our hearts must be broken.

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When our heart breaks, it naturally hurts and we are quick to kill the messenger and discard the entire message. We reach for painkillers instead of engaging in healthy discussions with our inner most self. When our heart breaks, what really breaks are the inner barriers that guard our heart of hearts, this space that contains love which is ever so expanding. It is the birthplace of compassion, hope, selfless dedication, creativity and forgiveness. When we resist the pain that comes with heartache, we redirect our energy towards the person, who seemingly wronged us and we miss the point. Every person enters our space for a reason. Each person awakens a dormant aspect of our personality, and it is that aspect that we come face to face with, when the relationship is suddenly shattered. That encounter can be brutal and can cause us to harbor many negative feelings, like self-rejection. Everyone we cross on our path is a teacher, and no we don’t die from heartbreak, we transcend it.

Conscious living is about dying and being reborn everyday. Life is a sine wave. We don’t reinvent the wheel, we merely join the dance of possibilities. The head that leaves in the morning is not the same that comes back at night. Love is not an external factor. No one can give us love. People merely mirror and enhance our sense of self-love. Love, or how we love, is the manifestation of our nature. Some people are so deeply hurt and deeply scared, they can only give so much. Some people simply never learned how to give or receive, they can only take. Whatever the dynamic is, it is never completely about us. it is what we trigger in them and what they trigger in us. Heartache is then like this little voice that says:

“No, you are not really expressing your true nature here. Cross it out. Try again.”

Heartache is a challenge and a redirection. It teaches us to appreciate what we have first, it teaches us to appreciate ourselves. As a single person, we are the foundation of all our relationships. We can choose to listen to heartache and let the walls fall down. Heartache teaches us to be brave. Heartache teaches us self-affirmation and self-love. Heartache questions our motives and our blueprint. We don’t die from heartache, we move on wiser. In retrospect, what matters is not the other person, but how far we have come.

Then when we meet a person who is ready to receive our love completely and unconditionally, a person who is ready to embrace us and a person we are ready for, we know that we couldn’t have cherished this gift, had we never gone through a powerful heartache. Heartaches are here to remind us of what we don’t want but more importantly, they are road signs guiding us towards what we truly desire. Heartache is what happens before we rebuild a solid foundation. To love is to express our nature. Heartache tears down the barriers and allows us, if we are willing to listen to it, to hear and see who we are at this point of our life. Heartache is all about tough love, it is the friend we don’t want to listen to when we mostly need it. Heartache paves the way for a greater sense of fulfillment. It forces us to confront the question: Who are we when our heart is in the open? Unprotected? Vulnerable?

Because love requires us to unveil our persona, some people will naturally build higher walls until the next heartache comes along and washes them off like a wave. Other people will make heartache their friend. They will sit with it and meditate until one day they realize that heartache was really nothing but a misconception. Heartache is the total sum of every conflicting message we have ever received about love. It is a blinding clash of definitions that results in us finding our personal definition of what it feels like to love. We often make heartache more than what it is, because we are frail and subject to the winds of passion, but if we really pay attention to it, heartache is really a mere readjustment.

Heartache will lead us on the road of how to love again. Possibly how to experience love in its purest form.

A friend of mine once said: “you are not being yourself when you hurt. Hurt is not our natural state.” When we resist heartache, we remain in the negative zone that causes us pain. We fail to be patient with ourselves and listen to the voice that ushers us to slow down and be gentle. Instead, some of us build defense mechanisms out of fear, preventing them from opening their hearts in the future. This is not the purpose of heartbreak. My greatest lessons on love have been taught to me through the power of heartbreak.

Truth is, if you pay close attention, you will inevitably see that everything you thought you knew about the complexity of human relationships and what love is has just been crushed. You are now again a beginner. You have the chance to experience the emptiness of every great beginning and fill it with potential. You have the chance to learn how to learn again. You have the chance to appreciate what it takes to hope and to trust. It’s like being cut wide open and catching a glimpse of the incredible beauty and strength you are made from.

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