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How to Deal with a Broken Heart

Photo by Hannes Caspar
Editor’s Note

This article was written in partnership with eHarmony.com

I grab at my chest afraid that my heart might somehow explode out of my chest. I feel like I’m dying. I close my eyes and prepare for death. It’s got to be less painful than this.

Even lying on the bed requires too much energy. Somehow I manage to roll onto the floor. I am now literally laying flat on my back. My breath comes in short spurts. I try not to inhale too deeply because if I allow myself to breathe, I know that I will feel the searing pain in my heart.

So I hold my breath, anticipating the next wave of pain.

Inhale…inhale…exhale…sob…hold breath…repeat.

In a way it’s almost like giving birth.

I think about who I can call. Who will understand?

I texted my friend.

Me: I think I’m having a panic attack.

Her: What’s wrong?

Me: My heart is breaking.

As soon as I send these words my emotional water breaks and the tears came pouring out. I know that I will to have to deal with this. There is nowhere left for me to hide, nothing to distract me. No retail therapy or other men will fill the void and assuage the pain.  I brace myself and let it wash over me.

I’m semi functional during the day but only because I don’t allow myself to feel anything. I walk around dead on the inside, almost zombie like. At night, the silence and nothingness of my dark room beckons to all of my repressed emotion. I completely fell apart but am careful enough to sob silently so as not to alert my roommates. I spend the next couple of weeks like this.

I don’t know exactly when the pain begins to subside but gradually I realized my heart isn’t as tender. The healing process has begun.

Though my heart had been broken many times before, this experience was different for several reasons:

1. I consciously altered an entrenched pattern

The morning I woke up and realized that I had deeper feelings for this man was anything but romantic, I decided to do things differently. It was downright terrifying. In the past, whenever I “liked” someone, it had always led to pain. To protect my heart, I stopped allowing myself to fall for anyone too deeply.  When someone got too close and my fears and insecurities were triggered, I came up with creative ways to run away from the feelings.

This time, I made the conscious decision to do things differently. Instead of running away from the fear I felt, I found a way to express it; to myself through writing and to him in a way that he could hear.

In my conversation with him, I realized how much I had grown in my ability to communicate the emotions I was experiencing maturely and without judgment. Though he responded by telling me that he was “not ready for a relationship,” I was proud of myself for speaking my truth.

2. I let go of the relationship

The conversation revealed that what I wanted and what this man wanted were not the same. In the past, I would have stuck around, trying to convince him that he should want what I wanted; that he should want me.

Instead, I let him go.

I had the courage to say “no” to an experience that was not in alignment with what I wanted. Though it was emotionally painful, the truth of what I had given myself permission to do was a very powerful feeling.

3. I surrendered to the feelings

Over the next several months, I experienced so many different emotions; rejection, fear, pain and sadness. Instead of resisting or avoiding, I chose to give each of these feelings their space to rise and fall naturally.

I didn’t judge myself for being so “upset over a guy.” I was kind and loving and treated myself like I would a friend going through the same experience.

The feelings didn’t magically disappear. In fact, at times they were so strong it seemed I really would die from my broken heart.  I was able to move through the pain and heal by facing my fears, opening my heart and surrendering.

Feelings are meant to be felt.

It’s OK to speak your truth.

Have the courage to let go of someone or something that is not aligned with who you are.

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About the author

Alana Mbanza is a personal development blogger and freelance writer. But, really? She’s just a hopeful romantic trying to figure it all out. Connect with her on Twitter @AlanaMbanza or visit her website AlanaMbanza.com for more information about her writing services.

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23 thoughts on How to Deal with a Broken Heart

  1. Thank you for sharing such a painful experience, Alana! I think the best thing we can do for ourselves when we’re experiencing grief is to let ourselves feel it fully and not try to ignore it, however long it takes. I love what you said there, that “feelings are meant to be felt”.

  2. Linh

    Thank you for sharing your feelings so raw and touched. I can feel your feelings and relate so much. I think, these kind of “big” feelings is also the treasure of our soul.
    I do love and affirm the big reminder from your post “I didn’t judge myself for being so “upset over a guy.” I was kind and loving and treated myself like I would a friend going through the same experience”… – Be a ultimately nice friend with ourselves without judgement.
    Thank you.

  3. How about… Become ridiculously amazing and extraordinary so the person that broke your heart regrets himself/herself because he/she will never be on your league anymore?

    I couldn’t help it. I had to write that :P

  4. Thanks for your comment, Meg!

  5. Dealing with a broken heart is tough, that’s why some people even commit suicide so they could no longer feel the pain. May your broken-hearted readers find strength from reading this article of yours. We must bear in mind that we must first love ourselves before we love others, in that way, we won’t feel totally shattered when someone we love rejected us.

  6. “I was kind and loving and treated myself like I would a friend going through the same experience.”
    That was amazing. I too am trying to learn this awesome art. Treating, consoling and encouraging oneself brings a kind of satisfaction known only to those who have the power to do it. That’s the lesson for today, Alana.
    Stay blessed! :)

  7. Like Meg, I love the line “feelings are meant to be felt”. Listening and learning from the painful emotions can help us feel better faster. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  8. we can close off pieces of our heart so that one day no one will be able to get inside. Or we can love again. Deeply, just as intensely as we did before.

  9. I wish I could give you a hug. I know firsthand what you went through and think it so admirable that you had the courage to walk away. Although I’ve learned tremendously from my own experience, in my case I stayed in the relationship much too long, in an attempt to change the situation. Ultimately you saved yourself a lot of time and even more heartache by showing up authentically and listening to the truth.

  10. I have recently been healing from a broken heart and your piece really touched me. It had been a long time since my heart had been so shattered and I was so caught off guard that I barely knew what to do with myself. I cried…a lot. I sobbed even more. I thought I was dying a few times because I literally could not breathe. But then it got better. Slowly but surely I felt the pain, I moved through it and while I still miss what once was, I can look at it without feeling like I am dying inside. It’s a process.

  11. I’m glad you were able to follow your feelings and move on, and grow and share from the experience.

    “Love is like heaven, but it can hurt like hell.” – Unknown

  12. This is amazingly well written and down to earth.
    I think that one of the worst problems with (not all, but still many) breakups is that oftentimes one of the two people doesn’t realize what is going on in the relationship and where it’s really headed. After the breakup and after the period of accustomization, people often realize that it’s been obvious what is going to happen and why.
    That’s why it’s really important to give ourselves time to heal, no matter how long it takes.
    Thanks for writing and sharing this article.

  13. In a difficult time like the end of a relationship is very important to be aware of our thoughts. Also to be busy with activities that allowed us to be thinking in positive thoughts.

  14. Certainly agree with letting go.

    Many people have many things that they want. If you refuse to let go, not only are you hurting yourself you are trying to force him to do something he does not want to do which will result in an unhappy pretentious relationship and will eventually fail.

  15. Lacey

    This was great. Thank you for sharing. I am relating to it right now.

  16. Having your heart broken happens to all of us. Some people experience it more often, some people once in their life but it has such a huge impact on their lives that they cannot easily fall in love again. The worst things is that sometimes even the person with a broken heart, is breaking someone’s else. I guess is just a circle of life and we cannot fight against it.

  17. Sarah

    Heartbreak is such a confusing mix of emotions. It’s a rollercoaster that you have almost no control of, you’re just hanging on for the ride. With time we start to take more control. Thanks for sharing.

  18. rudolf

    the greatest thing to do if you truly love somebody is to let the other one go if he/she so wishes…

  19. This was a short post, but well written. It is tough to deal with when someone you care about and want to be with is on a different level of the relationship. It can be hard to let go and to feel those raw emotions. I am glad that you were able to.

  20. Hi, thanks for sharing your experiences with us. One way or another, most of us had gone through the same process of being heart broken. It is how we manage our painful emotions that will either lead us to a positive or a negative result. But, learning to deal with it, will help us move forward to see a better world. I’ll be sharing your post with my colleagues. Thanks. Great article.

  21. Nice wording ” Feelings are meant to be felt” .
    Thanks for this amazing article.

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