My heart was crushed. It’s been broken before, but never crushed. This was a breakup that knocked me off my feet, and it took me through a hell of pain before I landed.
The process of healing from a breakup is different for each of us, but facing the pain is always challenging. No, challenging is not quite the word, is it? It’s more like excruciating. The pain from heartbreak leaves most of us feeling like nothing matters and could ever matter again. We become consumed by our pain.
But that's just in the beginning. Over the first few days (ok, maybe weeks) I could do little else aside from cry in my bed, cry in my car, cry in yoga class, cry walking my dog...you get the picture. I was crying a lot, feeling the pain, and processing it all. After a few weeks I finally started to feel lighter. And then one day I felt pretty good. I thought to myself, "Wow, this is it. I'm moving on. Life gets better from here."
And then the next morning I woke up with a heaviness in my body. I was depressed again, and the fact that I was depressed made me even more depressed because I was tired of being heartbroken.
My mind kept spitting out memories of beautiful moments spent with the man who left me. They were the last thoughts I wanted to be sitting with while I was trying to heal. I just wanted to be done with it all — the hurt, the betrayal, the missing him, the deep sadness, all of the pain. I just wanted it all to be over and done with.
But it wasn’t.
And this is where we wake up. It wasn’t done. Even if I wanted it to be over, it wasn’t. So if I wanted to be healed from this pain, then I had to face into everything that was coming up over and over again. Until it was done.
I turned to my favorite healing tool: my own breath. I did a short Breathwork session, and with each breath I felt the sadness welling up in my body and bringing with it thoughts of another life, our life.
I cried it all out. Again. For the millionth time. I let it out until it felt like there was nothing else to let out. And guess how I felt afterward?
I felt great. I felt light. The sad memories stopped surfacing. I could bring up the memories on my own and look at them without feeling so sad. The heaviness faded.
We're often afraid to face the pain because we don’t know what to do with it once it surfaces. These feelings are so overwhelming and all-encompassing that we're afraid they'll consume and define us. We're afraid the pain will never stop, and that we'll become a weak person, an angry tyrant, a blabbering idiot indefinitely.
I can say from experience that the alternatives to facing pain are not any more pleasant than the pain itself. Anxiety and depression are often the result of living a life in default.
In other words, we have to consciously choose to heal. We have to acknowledge that we're avoiding our own pain and, in turn, manifesting a different kind of pain.
What actually happens when we face into our feelings and accept them for what they are is that we release the pain. We don’t stay trapped in these emotional states, we move through them.
Here are four steps to healing your pain:
- Begin to pay attention to how your body is feeling throughout the day. We first need to become conscious of our state in order to know when we need to heal ourselves. Breathwork, slow yoga, and mindfulness practices are great tools for developing a connection with your body.
- When you find yourself feeling anxious or depressed take note and focus on your breathing until you can take a moment to be alone with yourself. Often times we’re not even aware of the symptoms. When I feel anxious it feels like my nerves are shot, I have a short temper, things agitate me easily that normally wouldn’t when I’m balanced, and I am very airy (up in my head). Depression symptoms feel more like a heaviness weighing my body down, I feel lethargic, I lack motivation or care. Take note of how symptoms show up in your body. Write them down.
- Find a quiet place where you feel safe and can be alone. Sit silently and focus on your breath. Allow it to regulate naturally. Begin to ask yourself how you’re feeling and simply listen for the response. Be willing to be honest with yourself. Acknowledge the feelings that come up. You can even repeat back to yourself, "I hear that you're feeling..."
- Be very present with your emotions as they arise. Continue to embrace them and release any judgement that comes up from the mind. Allow your body to express the emotion as necessary, but do so in a safe way (i.e. punch a pillow instead of a wall).
When you’re done you’ll know it. Allow yourself to be still for a few moments afterward and give yourself love. Don’t engage with any judgmental thoughts that may come up about how you just acted. Let it be ok that you released pain that you were holding on to. Take note of how you feel afterward.
Healing is a process. It requires you to face difficult feelings over and over again. Most importantly it requires your own commitment to self love. You have to know that you deserve to heal. You have to give yourself compassion through it. You have to keep facing it all until it's done.