This time last year, my heart was crushed.
One moment I was planning my life with someone, and the next I was alone. He’d decided that he was losing himself. There were no conversations about our problems or working things out. He was here, and then he was gone.
The past year was the most difficult of my life. I experienced a deep depression. My heart literally felt like it was dying, and according to science it kind of was. My zest for life diminished, and my desire to create something amazing in this world felt incomprehensible.
We all experience heartbreak in some form or another. Most of us have had relationships that aren’t working; they flip and flop. We try and try; they are doomed. And breaking up still hurts like hell. Or we experience a traumatic breakup, one in which something big is hidden, and we are left blindsided.
Both kinds of breakups hurt. I would even go as far to say that the amount of love we are capable of giving and receiving in the relationship is directly proportional to the amount of pain we feel in the absence of the relationship.
But there is a bright side.
Whether we are grieving the loss of a relationship we saw dying months ago, or if our partner just left us out of the blue, there is a bright side to our pain.
The bright side to breaking up:
We have the opportunity to get to know ourselves, more than ever before.
Breaking up happens for a reason, and it often doesn’t happen for the reason we think.
It happens because there’s something more that needs to be explored. We come together for a period of time, and during that time we have an immense opportunity to learn from one another. When we part ways, we feel pain, and this pain is incredibly informative.
When we’re willing to sit with our pain, we begin to learn about ourselves. Our pain teaches us about our beliefs. It teaches us where we’re still holding on. It shows us more about ourselves than we could have ever realized while we were in our relationship.
Most of us have a habit of avoiding our pain. We dive into our work so we don’t have to feel. Instead of numbing out by looking for a new relationship, eating, drinking, smoking, talking, or obsessively watching TV, I decided to heal.
When I allowed myself to feel my pain, I gave myself permission to be whole. I allowed myself to be human. In this space, I was able to learn about myself and grow tremendously as a person. Sitting with this pain has become a part of the work I share with the world.
If we choose to take advantage of our pain, we’ll find this experience to be the best thing that has ever happened to us. Without it, we wouldn’t have the chance to see the parts of ourselves we’ve been hiding from.
One of the best practices for connecting to ourselves is connecting with the breath.
It’s the tool I use to slow down and reconnect with my soul. I touch in with my breath when I feel overwhelmed and need deeper personal guidance. I feel my breath when my heart is shattered, and I need to release the pain.
A simple breathing exercise for when we’re feeling heartbroken:
Roll a towel lengthwise and place it on the floor. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and lay down on your back with the towel directly under your shoulder blades. The towel helps lift and open the heart, but if this is uncomfortable you can remove the towel.
Close your eyes and begin to breathe deeply and slowly into your high chest and through your nose. Exhale slowly, through your nose. Each inhale should get a little deeper than the last. As you breathe, focus your awareness at your heart center. Continue to breathe slowly and deeply into your heart. Emotions will likely surface that need to be expressed and witnessed. Allow yourself to be with the pain as it surfaces, and continue to breathe through it.
We can use our breath to face our pain and discover who we truly are.
We have two choices. The first is avoidance. If we choose to avoid the pain, our old habits will continue to drive us, and we’ll wind up in relationships where we repeat the same patterns.
The second choice is my favorite. It’s choosing to face the pain. We have an opportunity to come out of this pain with clarity around who we are and who is a right match for us. After making this choice, likely far down the line, we will wake up one day and feel grateful for what has happened because we wouldn’t be who we are without having survived this pain.
Author: Michelle D’Avella
Image: Flickr/andrea floris
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock