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Self-Care Sunday: Healing after Heartbreak

From the outside, heartbreak looks almost poetic. The tears shed; the words spoken out of hurt, anger, but most of all out of truth; and the longing for that person’s kiss and touch even when you know their hands have broken your heart over and over and over—it seems like the perfect story to tell until you’re standing in the midst of it all. And that’s where I am now—standing surrounded by the burning remains of my own fiery passion. I have cried a thousand tears into my mother’s shoulders. I’ve written notes, letters, poems, songs, and essays about my pain, and still I can’t seem to let go of it.

He stains my skin like an intricate, colorful tattoo. And for those of us who have none, a new tattoo is nothing more than a strategic wound. After the artist has finished brandishing you with the needle, your skin is left raw and tender. The tattoo itches. It hurts. It screams and bites at you like some kind of crazed animal trapped beneath your skin. And the worst thing you can do for a new tattoo is pick at it. The healed scars break open and blood pours out. Sometimes if you dig deep enough, the ink starts to fade. New blisters grow on top of old ones, and eventually you’ve fucked up what was once such a pretty picture painted on your skin. The best thing to do for a new tattoo is to leave it alone.

The best thing to do when your heart is broken beyond measurable belief is to leave it alone. Picking at it, wondering what you could have done differently, and how you could have loved that person a little better—you never give yourself time to accept the heartbreak.

Because it’s a not a poem. It’s not a couple of stanzas and well-executed metaphors. It’s not a pained voice over a sorrowful melody. It’s sloppy. It’s so painful, you almost wonder if someone didn’t reach inside your chest, wrap an ironclad fist around your heart, and rip it out.

Take the time to cry the tears; to cut up the t-shirts; to burn the notes, letters, poems, songs, and essays. Feel every bit of pain as it surges through your body like an electrical current. Forgive yourself for playing yourself. Pray. Go jogging. Fuck somebody new. Smoke a blunt. Take so many shots of Vodka that it starts to taste like water. Sit in front of the TV for hours without break. Stand in the mirror and tell yourself you love yourself—say it until your throat is sore. Speak. Shout. Don’t say anything at all. Treat yourself to a nice meal and a day in the sun with nothing but your music and a journal. Wash and deep condition your hair. Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers. Write a letter to yourself and remind yourself of all the things about you that make you wonderful. Study yourself. Talk to other women. Talk to your mother. When your body is so weak from agony that you can barely stand up, let her hold you.

Heal.

Heartbreak is not the end-all-be-all of our love. It’s a stepping-stone to selfactualization and self-love. We push through the pain and we find ourselves come out on the other side—triumphant and stronger than we ever could have thought. As I finish writing this, I dry my eyes and take several deep breaths. The sun is out and I love myself.

The only thing left to do now is keep it pushing.

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