8 Valuable Lessons You Learn from Heartbreak

This article has now been published on Elite Daily:

In December 2009, after years of strife, and months of struggling to adjust to the shock of my separation, my divorce was finalized. With a heavy heart, I tried to move on and accept that I was now a divorced, single mother at the mere age of 28. The Twilight Saga: New Moon was about to be released (I am not (am?) embarrassed to admit, I was a bit of a Twihard at that time), and I played the sh*t out of Lykke Li's song on the soundtrack, "Possibility" – I’m pretty sure even my cat learned how to hum the melody. The song appears in the scene in which Bella sits motionless in her chair after Edward leaves her, as months pass and life rushes on around her, but her heart remains broken, shattered into a million pieces. I related to that so strongly, and wondered, has there ever been such a depressing song (and scene) that sums up heartbreak so accurately?

Heartbreak: that horrific feeling that seemingly seeps into your very soul; it’s as though someone has punched you in the stomach, and you can't catch your breath – but that's because that heavy ache is creeping in and simultaneously filling the cavity of your chest. The worst part is that the person that caused that feeling is the only person you want, and you miss them terribly, adding to your misery. One day your life is as it should be, and you're happy, and then suddenly you're hit with the shock of realizing everything is not as you thought, and it never will be again - at least, not with your ex. The shockwaves of the hurt that ripple through your body, to your very core, change you forever as a person. The pain comes in stages, and lasts for months... sometimes even years. I have since experienced heartbreak again (and again), and am not thrilled to report that it hasn’t changed much - the devastation of losing someone you love never seems to get any easier. Emotional pain can be far worse than physical pain, and so difficult to deal with, but often, it ends up teaching us valuable life lessons.

So, what exactly HAVE I learned from getting my heart broken?

1. You learn that not all people are worthy of your time, love, or trust.
It doesn't matter how good of a person you are or try to be, and how much love you pour into others; if they aren't giving it back to you equally, they are not worth it. YOU are ALWAYS worth it, and the right person doesn't need to be convinced of that. You deserve the best - remember this. You wouldn't invest your hard-earned money into a bank that wasn't offering any return, so treat your heart accordingly. Invest time, attention, and love into people that invest in you.

2. It’s not about you, it’s about them - really.
That clichĂ© that people use in break-ups, “it’s not you, it’s me,” is actually true. Your ex may have a myriad of reasons on why they didn't want to be with you, but you cannot let their issues with you damage your self-esteem and cause you to doubt yourself (after all, they surely were not perfect, either). If some of their gripes resonate with you, then by all means, use it as room for personal improvement; we all can be better tomorrow than we are today, but never question if you are good enough. In the end, they are not with you because your relationship didn't jive with who they are, and it only opens you up to meet the person that is better suited to bring you happiness. Remember, you should never have to change who you are to make someone else happy.

3. Even the best people and situations are not perfect – they all have the capability to hurt you (even if they didn’t mean to).
I've been hurt by people that I once thought were some of the best people I'd ever had the privilege of knowing; I never thought we wouldn't be in each other's lives (at least in some capacity). Realistically, no one is perfect, and relationships are hard work, even for those that are highly compatible and love each other. Add in a dose of reality and obstacles of life, and voila - pain. Haven't you heard of that famous saying, "sometimes love just isn't enough?" We aren't always meant to stay in each other's lives in the way we originally envisioned, and that is okay - or, it will be eventually; I promise.

4. Heartbreak gives you better insight into the concepts of compassion and empathy, and helps you to be a kinder, gentler person.
Sometimes we break hearts, and sometimes our hearts get broken; the latter is what causes us to really stop and think about things. The majority of people don't learn much until they experience something firsthand; kind people are often not just born, they are created, based on situations that have brought upon their own heartaches. Once you know how it feels, you never wish to inflict pain on another person.

5. There is power in being told you are not loved, and not letting it destroy you.
The end of a relationship is a confusing, difficult time, because your ex (often unconsciously) became an ingrained part of you, of your world, and how you relate to others. Remembering who you were before them, and trying to define who you are now, after them...without them... can be scary - but it can also be extremely empowering. You essentially get a clean slate; you can rediscover all the things you loved that they didn't, or even the things they never wanted to try with you, and you get to define who you will be at the end of it all. Getting through a painful situation gives you a confidence boost, because you eventually realize that you were stronger than you ever gave yourself credit for. Once you get through it, you know you can handle almost anything that life throws your way.  

6. Utilize regret and adjust accordingly so as not to make the same mistakes twice.
Listen, it sucks that your relationship ended, that your ex didn't treat you like you deserved, and it f*cking sucks that it hurts so much. But use it all wisely - pay attention. The mistakes we make in early adulthood (and really, all throughout life) are the defining moments that will eventually bring us to the place we really want to be - when we finally find the happiness we seek. That is, if you're smart enough to reflect back, and ensure you learn from every situation. Everything - and I mean EVERYTHING - is an opportunity to learn and grow.

7.  Forgive them.
"But, he's an asshole," you say. "He treated me badly, and doesn't care about how much he hurt me. I thought he loved me; I can't forgive what he did." So after many tearful vent sessions with your friends, you're still a mess months later; how is this sensible? He's out living his life, NOT worrying about you or how you feel; he likely moved on already. Yet here you are, wasting time and tears on someone who obviously didn't deserve a place in your life. Forgiving someone who hurt you is an unfathomable concept for most, but it truly has nothing to do with them. It is simply about giving yourself that peace to leave them in the past, where they belong. You wouldn't let an asshole live in your house, so why let them live in your head? Time is f*cking precious - don't waste it. Forgive them for not being better, and forgive yourself for making the mistake of not knowing better.

8. Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness – it is a sign of strength.
The most important lesson I learned - and am still learning - is that to be vulnerable is to be brave, and it definitely is not easy. It takes courage to open yourself up to another person, because it puts you in exactly the same spot you were when you last had your heart broken. It is scary to know that someone can walk into your life and sneak into your heart without asking for your permission; you can meet someone and their importance to you can literally change in a day's time. That is also what makes love so incredibly exhilarating, and worth every scar. Experiencing the lows of heartbreak allow us to appreciate the highs of love that much more. I'm a passionate, emotional soul that wears her heart on her sleeve; there is no grey in my love. When I love, I love hard, so imagine my hesitation when I remember those feelings, those painful memories of love gone wrong. No one would willingly subject themselves to that, right? Wrong.

The truth is, life without love - without that possibility of connecting on the deepest level - is just not worth living. Love is worth every risk, and will teach you more about yourself than you ever thought - even if you do end up with a broken heart. Have no regrets, love deeply, and use each experience to grow. One day you will appreciate why events unfolded as they did - because everything happens for a reason.


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