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7 steps to healing your shattered heart (from someone who knows)

Posted April 24

Heartbreak can be devastating and disastrous — or so I’ve heard. I’m one of the few who have never personally experienced it, but I have watched my dear sister go through the pains and struggles of heartbreak. During her struggles, she wrote this touching letter.

“Dear Heartbreak,” my sister wrote.

“You weren’t supposed to happen. When I said yes to the man I loved as he slid a ring on my left finger, that was supposed to be the ultimate safeguard against you....And then, when that love wasn’t enough, and he and I parted ways, you came and tore at my heart.”

That’s exactly what heartbreak does. It tears you apart when you are the most vulnerable, when you are in need of the most support and love.

“I was nothing. My world had been ripped to shreds and there was nothing left to hope for. I was lost. I was completely broken.”

My sister lost the light in her eyes, and it tore at me every time I saw her. I knew this was a demon I couldn’t help her battle.

“They say time will heal all wounds, but I don’t believe it. The wounds you have inflicted are only getting worse. It’s like an infection festering, blistering, and spreading ... People tell me I was brave and so courageous for allowing you to come into my life, [but] bravery and courage are the last things I feel right now.”

“There is no light for the lost, no peace for the disheartened, no refuge from the storm; just the pain and torment you unceasingly impose on me day in and day out…. You, Heartbreak, define me, and there is nothing powerful enough to overcome your grasp on me.”

Everyone who goes through heartbreak travels a similar journey, though the extent of the pain differs for each person. When you are at the point that my sister was, when you feel like nothing can help you overcome the pain, here is what you need to do:

1. Accept there IS a way out

“My counselor says there’s a way out, but that it’s a process.”

The pain you are feeling doesn’t have to consume your world; You can work through it. Get the help of a good friend or a professional counselor. During this process you will feel pain, but in the end you can be filled with hope and joy.

2. Allow yourself to release the pain

“I’ve been fighting you since you first entered my heart. I’d have to surrender myself to you and I don’t know that I can take that….Maybe I will give it a try.”

Stop fighting the tears, the anger, the disappointment and the pain. Accept it. Release the pain through exercising, writing or talking. Don’t hide behind work or a busy schedule. Set aside time each day to face your pain.

3. Work through your negative thoughts

You might be blaming yourself. You might blame the person who broke your heart. Realize that you’ll never love again unless you back up on your feet. So, work through these negative thoughts. Look for the positives that counter-balance them. Forgive yourself and your partner for the mistakes, accept the facts and move on.

4. Write down the lessons you learned

Each relationship teaches you about yourself and what you should look for in a life partner. Write down what you learned and what you want to do differently next time. Then be willing to make the necessary changes.

5. Accept that there will be good and bad days

“We’ve had ups and downs together. Sometimes I win; sometimes you win. But we’re here and I’m doing better than I ever have before.”

Everything isn’t going to be fixed in a day, it will take time and energy. There will be days you feel strong and hopeful and days that you feel the opposite. Even if the good days are few and far between, it means heartbreak isn't controlling your life.

6. Trust yourself

Slowly, very slowly, I’m beginning to trust myself again.”

Trusting other people tends to be easier than trusting yourself...But a huge part of this healing process is learning to trust your instincts. As the mind numbing pain of heartbreak fades, you will begin to do exactly that.

7. Open your heart again

“I’m learning to slowly open my heart to others around me. The few people I’ve entrusted my heart with have cared for me in ways I’ve never felt before.”

It’s natural to want to protect your heart, but it’s important to give it to others. Though you might be hurt again, the joy of being loved is far more amazing.

My sister recently started dating an amazing man. I have never seen her so confident in herself and so happy with who she is. Heartbreak truly helped her grow...and helped to add a postscript to her letter:

“Dear Heartbreak,

Thank you. Thank you for coming into my life when you did. You certainly did quite a bit of damage in those first few months, but looking back, I wouldn’t change anything for the world. Because of you, I became stronger and better. Because of you, I can relate to other people in ways most will never be able to. Because of you, I am whole again. I am better than I ever have been before, because of you. So despite the nearly two years of hell you put me through, thank you for what you did. I wouldn’t be nearly as happy and hopeful about my life journey if it weren’t in part for you. Thank you.”

Stacie Simpson is a journalism student. She loves listening to, gathering and sharing stories and advice to help others improve their quality of life. She spends most of her free time with her husband, ballroom dancing, reading and writing.

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