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Heartbreak Garden: How Heartbreak Cultivates Growth

"Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow, you gave it a back rub and then you covered it with a blanket and after it had slept a while it woke to the wings of the roses and was transformed." -Anne Sexton, “Courage”

It is my firm belief that with sorrow and heartbreak also comes great beauty and growth. How else can you explain the love songs and the poetry and the paintings, the ones that make your heart swell and crack and shatter? Even as spectators of the art, you feel the pain as if it is yours, yet simultaneously, you know the raw beauty of it in the marrow of your bones. My point is that without pain, over half of the art that exists on this earth wouldn't exist today. And pain, no matter how gut-wrenching or heart shattering, can bloom into splendor (but let's not romanticize it because that's a whole other story).

Sad heartbreak robot


Ask anyone about their first heartbreak, and I bet you they'll have no trouble recalling it. An agony like heartbreak gets etched into your soul and stays with you, shapes you, changes you. Upon first heartbreak, it feels like a sprout breaking through the seed wall of your heart. And your heart, which has never felt such puncturing of its walls, writhes. It is utter discomfort and you wonder, for those first few days, maybe weeks, whether you'll be able to survive. The baby sprout of sadness, however, begins to grow. You water it day by day with the tears you shed and the sprout's roots take hold in your lungs. At that point, you don't know that this plant is not a weed, as you think it to be, but rather your favorite flower. A month will go by, and the punctured walls of your heart begin to heal around the plant. You become accustomed. In your chest, the blood normally pumping through your veins once again begins to nourish the sadness plant. You go on with your life and work to become who you were before the heartbreak, but you will never be the same—you will become better. Because the flower now blooms and you are colorful and vibrant and full of life. Because you did not break or wither upon the first piercing of your pericardium. Because you are human, and you feel the pain, but you bounce back and become a blooming garden.

roses on black background

You see, pain and sadness do not have to be all grey storms and rainy nights. Sorrow can be green; sorrow can bloom. As humans, we are resilient, and this is how we create lives worth celebrating. Now, I'm not saying to go chasing after heartbreak. I'm just saying, why resist it?

Heartbreak doesn’t always result from romance, nor are children immune to it just because they’re young. Heartstrings can pull apart at the hands of parents, friends, pets, lovers—whatever and whoever you give your heart to. It’s this possibility with vulnerability that we as a society have formed an aversion to. We would rather self-medicate, evade, run away than face the pain of the break, than allow the seed to puncture our pericardiums and stay. If by fluke, a seed finds its way past the pericardium and into myocardium, where muscle pumps blood and damage can mean bodily anguish, our culture has advised us to water the sadness with alcohol and deny it the time of day. We’ve developed this innate trepidation of emotional devastation and I guess it’s for good reason because I won’t lie, it hurts—​but without anguish, what will you be able to compare your happiness to?

Molly Peach-Laughing In Field

Without challenge, we do not grow. Without vulnerability, we do not subscribe to the full human experience—of love, of hope, of excitement, of joy, and of promise. If you relax your defenses, you will be okay. If you get hurt, you will find strength to watch your despondence become daisies and your misery become marigold. So, as cliche as it may sound, let love in. Allow yourself to grow, be it through sadness or through the pleasant surprises of new relationships, opportunities, of everything life has to offer. This life is far too precious for us to hide from heartbreak.