BreaksUps and the Fertile Heart Void

Posted on February 19, 2013

So, Do you have a date for Valentine’s Day? Are you celebrating an enduring, stable, and deepening love over dinner and wine? Are you checking your cell phone periodically, waiting a new crush’s invitation to drinks? Or are you banishing the holiday, Hallmark, and the whole consumer based societal “should” to be in love in the first place. Quite a few people fall into that last category for plenty of valid reasons:

Chronically single, too individualistic to be told when to give roses and chocolates, morally opposed to the wasteful materialistic nature of the holiday, or in the throws of a break up. You remember your last break up right? I sure do. I remember plenty, well at least the last two. Waking up with that empty feeling in the gut, reminded of the impermanent nature of reality and the inevitability of loss, facing the task of weening off of someone else’s company and attention, and returning to yourself. It’s quite a project and understandable to not want to celebrate love if the diaper clad cupid just shot you in the heart with that devastating ache of loss rather than love. However, before you disregard the devastation of break up and jump on any anti Valentine’s day facebook fan page, let’s explore a bit of what’s possible through the fertile heart void that break ups can bring.

Think about your friends and loved ones. Don’t break ups look good on people? Not during the raw, can’t get out of bed or cannot sleep phase, where basic functioning such as eating and going to work are compromised. But afterward. When he finally gave himself permission to be angry rather than accommodating, and suddenly was in his power like no one had ever seen. When she finally realized that she did not need to lean on or plug into a man to feel secure or worthy in the world, thus discovering the freedom of not needing to trade truth for security. When they both rediscovered their right to pleasure and embodied aliveness. When they finally knew their worth and asked for it to be appreciated. Break ups are moments when people shift their threshold for what they are willing to endure and reconnect to the greater vision they hold for their lives.

What enables people to use a break up to catapult them into their next more empowered version of themselves is proportional to one’s willingness to feel the void or loss of the relationship and explore the parts that emerge in this void. Experience the sensations, the waves of grief. Listen to the stories that may be playing like records on repeat in your head, doubting your worth and simply, comfort these parts, care for them. Introduce these parts to the parts of you that love yourself and let them dialogue. These insecure parts were likely deriving a sense of well being through external validation received in relationship, so once there is no longer an other to plug into option to plug into, these parts whip around like loose electrical wires waving with great charge. There is a secret here: do not allow these parts to simply plug into the next relationship and thus bypass your opportunity for the healing transformation. YOU MUST LEARN TO PLUG THESE LOOSE ENDS INTO YOURSELF.

This doesn’t mean that we need to meet all of our needs after break ups alone. Quite the contrary, they are excellent life moments to remember that we cannot go it alone. Reach out to friends, let people hold you, ask for support. It also doesn’t mean that a small homeopathic dose of a crush is negative. That type of sweetness or hopeful potential can often propel one through the dark tunnel of loss through which movement is essential. Just make sure to not have the dose of any socializing or crush be so pervasive that the void in your heart is numbed. Rather, let your heart break open even more to the love that you want and deserve, and ultimately are. So if cupid brings you a break up for valentine’s day? Thank him and start feeling!

A few tips for how to thrive through and not just survive a Break up?

1. Acknowledge what you learned, gained, and discovered about yourself through this relationship. Celebrate growth and strides.
2. Balance self care, quite time, and “feeling time” with support, nourishing company, distraction.
3. Notice tendencies to get warped in future thinking and fears. Take it day by day, and keep asking yourself what you need.
4. Have faith. There is more love to be shared!
5. If you do not have ample support, call a therapist.

When people get engaged, everyone reacts as if they’ve won the lottery. Or at least like they’ve entered a secret universe guarded by white picket fences of happily ever after. We’ve all been brainwashed by scenes of the perfect wedding. It’s Hollywood’s bread and butter. I, myself, was not a girl who dreamt perpetually of a perfect wedding or husband. I therefore was not expecting that engagement would bring enlightenment or life-long bliss. Consistent with all my other human experiences to date, the path of engagement, the wedding and becoming a “wife” was as full spectrum, sometimes heaven and sometimes hell as any other life transformation. And the joy I could find came in equal measure to my willingness to feel and trust everything that emerged, remembering always, the only way out is through.

My first chance to practice feeling everything was moments after I accepted my boyfriend’s proposal overlooking the Pt. Reyes sunset on the fourth night of Chanukah, (Christmas Eve) and all my inner parts that questioned my lovability emerged, cocked their heads to the side and whispered (internally) in ghoul like choral unison, “you want to marry me?!?”

I had to trust when those parts tried to buck my resilient fiance from me like a lethal disease. I finally accepted he loved and wanted to spend his life with me, even as I tested him. Continually when complex and sensitive family dynamics emerged on both sides of our family as we prepared to create our own, the opportunity to remember the full spectrum was there.

Most drastically though, I remembered when on the big day, amidst all of our loved ones, my wedding dress nearly ruined the wedding. It was a gorgeous dress. A flattering, and unique strapless blush gown, with Ivory French lace, and tiny buttons cascading down the back; those buttons that would eventually become my captors.

After all of the alterations, the dress still wouldn’t lay correctly across my notably small chest. So, at the last fitting, they upped the cups one size, successfully eradicating that annoying pucker, though I did notice, “Wow. It’s tight.” I never thought it would be comfortable, which is why I had a funky, movable lycra outfit designed for the late night dance party. Pre wedding, I hadn’t worn the dress for more than 20 minute stretches.

However, after being in the dress for three hours, an intense painful ball of sharp contraction emerged in my diaphragm, the most physically uncomfortable sensation I had ever had. Still under the Chuppah, gazing into my beloved’s eyes, the only thought on repeat besides how much I loved him and therefore nothing else mattered was “I have to get this dress off!”

I couldn’t change immediately after the ceremony. We had over an hour of activities such as dancing the hora, and taking photos with our families. So, instead of connecting blissfully with Doug in the guarded 15 minutes of alone time (a Jewish custom that sanctifies the marriage) I went to the bathroom, had a friend guard the door, and vomited. Since the only way out is through, I emerged from the bathroom, somewhat relieved, had my make-up touched up and scampered up the hill with the photographers, chasing the last bits of sunlight for our couple shots. We then joined the masses and danced, which was quite painful. And as soon as we finished, I started salivating, and knew I needed to vomit again, so I ran to a nearby cabin, closed the non-locking doors and hugged the toilet, careful to preserve the pretty dress. Then, back to the party.

As soon as possible, my two close friends pried each button open, freeing me for what would become a unilaterally joyful remainder of the evening. Choosing the second outfit was undoubtably the best decision I made save choosing my husband.

While I certainly wouldn’t have planned it, the dress, my nemesis, brought the same wisdom as the breaking of the glass, that amidst great joy and bliss are often pain and loss. The only way out is through, and despite life’s hardships, even when the fairy tale tells us we won’t have any, we must keep dancing.

Spread the word: getting married is complex. An engagement is like a pregnancy, the wedding itself a birth. It’s a metaphoric death to the single self and we must give permission and awareness to future brides to not seek the prescribed perfect wedding, but learn to feel and accept what is.

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