The only thing worse than a broken heart

heart lock

Sometimes, the words don’t come. I will and I will and I will myself to sit down and write the words — any words — but even the sitting down is heavy and hard.

That ‘sometimes’ can last for months; it has for almost eight months now. I’ve felt almost afraid of this space, like it’s a fighting ring where I need to show my strongest, most indefatigable side; where I need to reflect some sort of beauty or magic, if at least to myself.

But every now and then, there are (still) those days where it feels enough for me to just breathe through the day.

Those days, especially, it is impossible to write — and I don’t mean the writing you do because you have a deadline or because someone needs it or it’s, plainly, just a job. I mean the writing that is healing, writing that is brave, writing that is the truest you.

I had thought for a long time that my heart had been broken broken broken, splintered into so many pieces that I’d never find all the bits needed to put it back together. I had thought that everything I knew and held to be true had dispersed into little boxes of tricks.

But I think now that that was an easy way out. It was easy to say that it was broken. It was convenient to think of my heart as a China plate, or a flower, or a biscuit because you can’t put any of that back together once it’s snapped.

My heart wasn’t broken. It was closed and doubly, triply locked down behind a wall I built myself out of really big bricks.

And that’s probably the only thing worse than heartbreak.

It is frightening and sad and uncomfortable to want to open it up again. More than that, it is frightening and sad and uncomfortable to realise that I am the only one who can open it up again.

So I’ve kept it on lock-down for a long while, only because to open it would feel like the emotional equivalent of being a burn victim — raw, blistering, scratched open.

Then, today, I went to the theatre to see a local production of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America — because if there’s ever such a thing as daring to open up hearts, theatre will do that. As you try to figure out the love, joy, anxiety, confusion of the people creating infinitesimally intricate heart-connections in front of you, you start to pry open a little of your own heart, to get in at your own love, joy, anxiety, confusion.

There in that small but magnificent space, the characters told us their stories and made ours feel all the more real — because who doesn’t know what it means to feel small? Or guilty? Or angry? Or so desperately in love that you have to leave? Or perhaps all of it, all at once.

In three hours, my heart clenched and soared, it hurt and love and feared and bubbled over in hope. I felt for those larger-than-life, not-real characters everything I hadn’t allowed myself to feel for myself in a long time.

Then I realised — for it to have felt so much, it had to have opened again. For a moment there, it felt like art was far more than just an imitation of life; it was the first thing in a long time that made life feel real again. It had given me permission to take down a few of those really big bricks around my heart, and let some air in.

So I’m back. Sort of. Let’s see how long I stay.

Deep breath, and go!

Photo via Beau Giles on Flickr Creative Commons

3 thoughts on “The only thing worse than a broken heart

  1. It is not a matter of how long it will last, or how long you will stay. We are constantly evolving. As you are dealing with a very difficult issue, it takes time. So, relax and don’t pressure yourself to be this or that. There is no urgency or deadline. Most importantly, you get the pieces of yourself back together. It may not be the same as before. That is because you have grown and evolved to a better version of you. Hugs and love, always. SMT

  2. Dearest Jamie – this is a most beautifully and heartfelt article. The problem with a broken heart is that when you open to heal it (and it wont heal till you do) so you feel the pain again. But once you allow it to receive love from yourself or from friends, new lover, life itself then it can start to heal. Then the pain gets less but until you decide absolutely to heal and move on so the cycle of closed heart goes on. The events that hurt you are not that far behind you and as Shirley says – it takes time. You will be surprised what can make your heart open to heal – art, music and drama as you have found but also a perfect flower, a smile from a child or the licks of a woofer – opening usually comes with a bucket load of tears of course, so keep some tissues with you at all times!!! Big hugs – you are doing brilliantly darling, xxx

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