apology

These 6 Things Can Help Heal A Broken Heart

Broken-Heart-Backgrounds-Wallpaper

It’s been a while since my last post, and though I could cite all sorts of truthy reasons for that extended silence, the reality is that I went and got my heart broken. And, you know, it was just kinda hard to write about romance, what with the blood and tears spewing all over the screen and gumming up the keyboard.

  • Wait, I take that back. I didn’t “get my heart broken.” I broke my heart.

To be more precise, I smashed my heart repeatedly against someone else’s, someone who was never gonna open that thing up to me no matter how hard I knocked, no matter how patiently I waited, no matter how many brilliantly creative tactics I used to sneak past his defenses. I did this until it was mangled to the point that I could no longer find enjoyment in the attempt, and so I left the arena.

Here’s the truth of the matter:

  • There is only one person who has the power to break your heart. I’ll give you one guess as to who that is.

That is not to say that there aren’t people in the world who will be happy to use, abuse, and betray you, who will fail to return the love you offer them, or who will up and stop loving you for no good reason. There are, and they will. But no one can take, break, or so much as breathe on your heart without your consent, and in most cases, with your full participation.

But here’s another, equally important truth to wrap your brain around:

  • There is no shame in a broken heart.

Quite the contrary. A broken heart is a badge of honor, a battlescar that bespeaks remarkable courage. Because opening your heart to another person is always a risk, and it takes true bravery to keep taking that leap of faith anydamnway.

The true shame is in keeping your heart locked up tight and never letting it play the bloodsports it was designed to play, dangerous and insane though they are.

Claim the honor that is rightfully yours. Stop giving your power away by claiming that someone else broke your heart. YOU did that. And not because you’re weak or foolish. Because you’re smart enough to know that opening your heart is the only way to win the game of love, and you’re strong enough to lose an alarming number of rounds and keep coming back for more.

Which brings me to my third and final truth about heartbreak:

  • Win or lose, the game of love is still fun to play.

Be honest with yourself: you got something out of it. Even if it was simply the exhilaration of attempting to surmount an insurmountable barrier, or the smug righteousness of being the lesser asshole, or a masochistic enjoyment of martyrdom. You must have gotten *something* out of it, or you wouldn’t have bothered in the first place. The more you focus on what you got out of the deal, the less you will feel like a victim. And only by letting go of your victimhood and seeing yourself as the active participant you were/are can you finally let go of your heartbreak and heal.

But what if there’s someone out there who’s convinced that you broke their heart?

As we’ve already covered, that’s not really possible. They are fully responsible for their own condition, and you are fully responsible for yours. But let’s say you did some things that, in retrospect, were kinda shitty. And let’s face it, it’s pretty damn near impossible to get through an intimate relationship without doing something, at some point, that qualifies as some degree of shitty. What’s the best way to go about attempting to repair that damage?

Step One: Check your intentions.

Really scrutinize ’em. Interrogate yourself to make sure that this is not simply a veiled attempt to win one last round, get the last word, relieve your guilt, or obtain forgiveness.

THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. AT ALL.

This is about offering the other person a no-strings-attached apology because it’s the right thing to do.

If you:

  • Are still feeling victimized by the situation yourself…
  • Can’t stop yourself from including an explanation (read: justification) of why you did what you did…
  • Will be devastated if you do not receive a positive response…
  • Need reassurance/recognition that you are a good person (or even worse, the “bigger” or “better” person in this situation)…

… ABORT MISSION!!

It is kinder, and just all-around better, to leave that person in peace than to make contact before you’ve fully worked through your own emotional baggage and made peace with the situation.

If, however, you are genuinely seeking nothing in return, proceed:

Step two: Write a letter of apology.

Make it clear that no response is necessary. As we’ve established, this is a no-strings-attached apology, so make sure the recipient feels zero pressure to offer forgiveness, acceptance, or anything else.

Step three: Explain your wrongdoing in your own words.

This is not what they or anyone else believes you did wrong, this is what you know in your heart was the wrong thing to do.

Step four:

Express empathy/compassion for any consequences that befell them on account of that behavior.

Step five: Wish them well.

Step six: Fully accept that you may get a strongly negative response, or no response at all.

Know that you did the right thing anyway.

I’ll give you a true-life example, which I sent out to an estranged ex just last week:

Dear ________,

This is a long overdue apology. No response necessary or expected.

When you set a totally legit boundary with me, I got irrationally angry and lashed out at you. I was a jerk, and you deserved better. I can only imagine how awful it must have felt to make yourself vulnerable like that, only to get a verbal smack-down from the person you most needed to be on your side. Thank you for bringing so much joy to my life, and for caring enough about our relationship to communicate your needs. I wish you peace, and so much love.

– A

Happily, I did get a positive response, but I wasn’t expecting one, and that’s not why I did it. God knows I’ve gotten plenty of nasty responses, too.

If you *do* get a negative response: remember that you are not obligated to respond either. Just listen. When it comes to their feelings, do your best to empathize. But when it comes to accusations or evaluations about your behavior or character more generally, take it with healthy lump of salt. If something strikes you as true, feel free to fix it. As to the rest? Just let it go. Arguing about it isn’t going to change their mind or make you either of you better people. It’s just going to degrade any hope of either reconciliation or peaceful parting of the ways.

Whatever you do, don’t take pity on the heartbroken party. They don’t need your pity, because as we’ve established, heartbreak is a mark of bravery and will only make them stronger in the end.

Instead, honor them both inwardly and outwardly. Honor the risk they took in opening their heart to you. Honor their hurt feelings without taking on any blame. Bow to them as you would a worthy, now injured adversary at the end of a particularly rough karate match. And then leave them alone to heal as they damn well see fit.

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