Breakups can be like slamming your thumb with a hammer… You do it and feel no pain because you’re in shock. Then it’s sharp and you feel hot and your stomach turns. It bruises and slowly stops hurting all the time, but sometimes you go to use your hand and press down and that dull, thick pain comes back. It can take months for the bruise to grow out and you’re reminded of it every time you look at your hand which seems like 100 times a minute.
But eventually- at some point- your thumb heals. You remember it. The next time you use a hammer you’re more careful and maybe try a different project. But you will heal, a different you, but a healed you.
Breakups are hard. Whether you’re young or old middle-aged. all the dreams and the thoughts you had about a future with this person are banished and destroyed. It doesn’t matter is you were together for 30 years and built a life, whether you knew them for a week and you were sure you had clicked. Whether they were so good to you that you believed chivalry is not dead, or they abused you and you hid in a corner, but still somehow, you still love them. Breakups are hard.
In my thirties, I’ve been surrounded by women in both healthy and unhealthy relationships. Relationships that are growing, and in relationships that have remained stagnant and so they failed to work out as a couple, but done beautifully separating amicably.
As a woman familiar with heartbreak, from lovers, from siblings, from parents, from my children, from my health- I have learned that heartache can make us stronger in some ways, but it will also make us weaker. Most importantly, it will always teach a lesson whether we choose to learn from it or not, and it will always show us who deserves us at our best while they gently handle us at our worst.
We all know old attitude adages about those who deserve us at our best will take us at our worst, but that’s not my focus. My focus is how hard it is to get through the bad days. and so I wanted to share just one analogy, because we can all generally relate to physical pain and we all know that in many cases our physical pain will end. but when emotional pain is involved we don’t always believe it will end, and in some ways that lives in us forever. so here is how I think of breakups, how I’ve been sharing with women who have reached out to me in need of support, as they watched my journey I need support on their own. As we’ve lifted each other up through the weeks and months and years of relationships and parenting and health crisis after a health crisis.
Breakups are like hammering your thumb.
So do we heal? Yes.
Is it as we once were? Never.
We won’t always rise from the ashes like a beautiful Phoenix, but we must rise. And those who do not continue to support you are not your loss, are not your enemy, are not your focus. They are simply people that were not made for you right now. I read something the other day that just because you lose somebody as a friend does that mean you’ve made an enemy. That those people are still wished a full stomach, just not a seat at your own. In some ways I agree, if someone is not adding to your life and you cannot support them emotionally anymore, that you should let them go. In reverse, if someone needs to let you go you have to let that happen. But you both have to do so with strength and dignity, courage, pride and honor. To wish someone well means to truly be on their side, not to lift them up per-se, but certainly not to push them down.
I also believe that if you have room at your table someone else doesn’t have a seat anywhere else you open one for them. Life is sometimes messy and complicated- be the one person someone finds a light in when their whole world is dark. You are the difference. A life-saving difference. So if you have it in you, like that light. Shine it bright. Share it in the dark. And if you need that light, search it out because it is there. Don’t give up. Not ever.