When we talk or write about heartbreak, it oftentimes comes with another person’s name carved into the flesh of our cracked chest—a wound from another who took the love we so gently handed them to hold forever and threw it aside. We usually follow talk of that nature with ways to heal. The prescription is usually a shit ton of self-love. Blocking their number. Tossing out photos. Maybe you pick up a hobby. Hell, maybe you even cut your hair into bangs.
But the kind of heartbreak I want to talk about, the kind of universal pain I’ve felt as of late, isn’t that. It’s the kind of inevitable pain that one must face because one is living. It’s paired with the kind of healing that doesn’t necessarily stitch up with time and self-love alone.
This past year has caused so many of us to halt the healing of current trauma and suffering unrelated to this virus and focus on all the things we need to do and prepare and refrain from in order to help the collective at large heal. We forgot that life, no matter what, has and will always happen—and with that life comes loss.
Loss of life, loss of ability, loss of pieces of our being that we thought would grow and become extensions of ourselves out into the world. These past six months have been the most challenging and profoundly painful of my 27 years in this human experience.
I was first faced with a situation that left me to make a choice I wasn’t ready to make. I wanted to prepare, I wanted to be accountable, I wanted to be ready to do what I knew deep down was right for myself. But the universe or God or those big, beautiful monarchs you see in the park—they made the choice for me.
When that happens, when life decides for you, all that you’re left with is an uncomfortable grief and the “what if?” All you can really do is control what you can control—which is how you react and choose to live your life thereafter. How you choose to let it change you. How you let it inform your decisions moving forward.
The beautifully tragic and painful thing, however, is that you never really had a choice at all. Life was going to do what it wanted with you whether you were accountable or not. Whether you were ready or not.
Whether you wanted it to happen or not.
Almost immediately after that, I got very ill and found myself in and out of the hospital. But I did everything I was supposed to do. I was so healthy. I ran 10K every single day, I drank water, I ate well. I studied and practiced yoga.
But life happened.
I didn’t move for 21 days. I spent one evening vomiting into my hands, writhing in so much abdominal pain in the E.R. that it took two shots of Fentanyl, Morphine, drinking a cup of Lidocaine, and a giant needle slammed into my thigh before my body finally gave up and put me to sleep. I had never been in so much physical pain before.
This is to tell you that it fucking sucked. And if it happened to you, and you feel like it fucking sucked, that’s okay. You are allowed to feel that way, and you are not alone. The other wonderfully horrible thing about life is that she creates shared experiences for us so that we never have to trudge through the deep, murky trenches alone.
Though our experiences may be unique to us, the feeling, the pain, and the mental toll is universal.
As I write this to you, I am currently experiencing grief like never before. I am losing someone that has loved me from the moment I entered this world, probably even before that, and has helped mold me into who I am today. It’s an inevitable loss, one that comes with age and time and at the end of an extraordinary life. None of that makes it easier. Nothing ever will. It’s a heartbreak that I don’t believe ever gets easier—you just get better at dealing with it. At living with and through it, using it to make you a better daughter, sister, friend, aunt, or partner.
If you have lost someone you love unconditionally, if you feel like you won’t ever get out of the overwhelming pain that encompasses you, I’m here to tell you that one day you’ll wake up and it won’t be so heavy to hold. You’ll realize that now all of that wisdom, guidance, and love that person has bestowed on you, it is with you forever. It’s like this magic little glowing light that lives in your chest and in the crown of your head forever. It unfolds in the work you make or life you create. It’s there when you’re happy and sad. It’s in every breath and every move.
And that is the most incredible and devastating thing that life does—it gives while it takes away.
There is so much suffering in the world. There will always be pain. I am here to tell you that it’s okay to still work through the grief and the pain of real life. It is more than okay to feel joy—to laugh and love and play. Those things heal. Those things take the present pain and wrap it up in love. We have to stop fighting the hurt, and we have to just feel it. You have to move through it to get out of it.
Life will continue to happen for you. It’s your job to continue to let it.