Finding Yourself Through Heartbreak


The term “heartbreak” is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “overwhelming distress.” Considering that almost everyone has been through some form of heartbreak, it’s important to know that heartbreak shouldn’t be treated as a wave of “overwhelming distress” and then just moved past, we should instead be learning and improving ourselves because of it.

Bearing in mind that the definition of heartbreak is quite broad, I want to focus specifically on one aspect of it: a breakup, even more specifically, my breakup, and how I created a better version of myself through it, and how you can, too.

I broke up with my boyfriend about a month ago, and for the first two weeks, when someone would ask why we broke up, I’d just give them the simple answer of, “We just weren’t right for each other” or “After a while, it wasn’t making either of us happy.” Although both of those are partial reasons, there was so much more. Rarely am I ever an overly emotional human being, and I try to avoid showing weakness at all costs, but this past August I cried so many tears. Tears that I felt were caused by me, not him. Tears that made me feel drained and exhausted. It got to a point where my eyes looked swollen as if the water pouring from them had caused an allergic reaction, the headaches I got from crying so much just added on to the pain I already felt, and overall, I felt alone.

    One Saturday night, I remember lying in bed, sobbing. That Wednesday, my aunt passed away. Anyone who knows me well knows that my aunt was one of the most important people in my life. She was someone who I admired and received strength from, a big part of who I am was because of her. She battled several illnesses and was told by several doctors she wasn’t supposed to live. Despite all of her diseases, having to be attached to an oxygen tank, and not being able to talk for more than ten minutes at a time, she still gave me advice and leadership, and was someone I considered my best friend. My then boyfriend knew how much she meant to me, yet he still wouldn’t talk to me, or even listen to me cry about her passing.

Why? Because I told him, after months of denying I was one, that I was as a socialist. Out of all the things he hated, this had to have been number one. I understand that being part of such a seemingly radical political ideology in a state like Texas can be unsettling or uncomforting, but I thought he’d be understanding. Yes, we’d disagree and yes, it would cause more friction, but what came next I was not expecting.     

After telling him of my political views, I asked if he was still in love with me. His answer was surprising (not so much now, but it was then), it was a simple no. I was convinced that my presence to him was a general nuisance and my feelings weren’t valid. The weeks and days leading up to the end of my relationship, including this particular Saturday, were a blur because they went by so fast, yet simultaneously, they were crystal clear. I gave everything in me to make our relationship work after my sobbing episode. In relationships, you almost inevitably give a blind eye to situations that are seemingly unhealthy.  

I pictured in my mind that maybe, just maybe, if I could get him to not view me as an evil socialist, he would fall back in love with me. However, that didn’t even come close to working. The fights got longer, meaner and harder to bear. He told me many times through the ending weeks of our relationship that he still loved me, but how could I believe that when his actions proved otherwise?

Through this process, I had a lot of time to think. About myself, about my worth. Soon, I came to the conclusion that we had to break up. I didn’t realize how emotionally freeing this decision was when I first made it. I did realize however, that I had no more tears to cry, and I had no other option. There was no way I was moving into a college three hours away from him, in a loveless, non-motivational and unsupportive relationship hanging on my back.

    I remember driving to go break up with him so very vividly. The leaves on the trees looked healthier, the street lights seemed brighter and brand new. I was so confused as to why I wasn’t sad that my relationship was ending. I tried to force myself to cry, to change my mind about breaking up with him. But my heart, though it was in my stomach, told me I needed to do this to be happy again, to be an individual.

We had a long discussion that went from pleasant to unpleasant in only a matter of minutes. I finished my argument with saying, “I am breaking up with you because you weren’t there for me when I needed you most. You didn’t ask me how I was when my aunt died. Actually, you did, and that was it. You didn’t ask me how I was doing when I was lying in bed crying. Instead, you were too mad to talk to me because of my political ideology. I am breaking up with you, because I can’t be with someone who doesn’t support me or my beliefs. You became heartless and selfish. I can’t be hundreds of miles away in a relationship that only holds me back.”

On the drive back to my house, everything was even more vivid. Almost as if I had a new set of senses. The air felt new, music gave me goosebumps, I couldn’t stop smiling, and I knew in that moment, I was myself again. That night, I laid in my bed, the same bed where I was sobbing just weeks before, happy. I was focused on the positive aspects of my life, compared to the negative. I stood up for myself and my beliefs, and I took a stand that felt unpopular at first. I thought about my future, my career and college. How I didn’t feel crazy about wanting to change the world, or run for office. I felt new.

After I broke up with him, I couldn’t stay mad at him for anything. I was so bitter toward the end, and whether it was justified or not, it was unhealthy. There’s nothing positive about a relationship when things take a turn for the worst. This past month, I’ve been happier than I have been in a long time. Though losing my aunt and boyfriend in the same time period was rough, a brighter day came, and they keep coming. As soon as I got to school, I was appointed as an Associate Supreme Court Justice in the Student Government Association, I became the chair of SFA’s first Progressive Student Coalition, the Vice President of the Black Student Union, a Project Leader in the Freshman Leadership Academy, and one of the editors of Her Campus SFA. I’ve made great connections and true friendships. I laugh more, I smile more and I love being myself. Not only am I surrounded by positive influences, but I became one myself. Though an “overwhelming distress” is as rough as it sounds, it taught me my worth and what it felt like to be happy again. If you’re going through it, I hope it can teach you that too.