Lessons from Splitsville
A Double Divorcée Dishes Up Heart-Mending Remedies
BY BENÉE MICKLES
There’s nothing worse than a broken heart.
A humungous wave of emotions overtakes you–grief, anger, confusion, rejection, low self-esteem, jealousy, devastation. And don’t forget the physical symptoms: lack of appetite, chest pains, upset stomach, anxiety, sleeplessness. Your heartache can take over your whole being. How do I know? Sucks to say this but I’ve been divorced.
That wasn’t supposed to be my story. Who gets married to get divorced? My first marriage lasted a decade. He was my high school sweetheart, the father of my beautiful children. When you’re young, forever seems like such an easy thing to do. But in reality, even happily married couples know marriage can be one of the hardest things a person will ever encounter.
Marriage number two? Surely this was my soul mate. I now “got” what marriage takes. After ten years with the first guy, I learned plenty of lessons. Of course I could make this work, especially since this time around I married the man who I was supposed to spend forever with.
Forever ended after two years.
Refer back to the first paragraph and you’ll know exactly where I was and how I felt. So, with all of this wonderful “experience” I have, why not write about how to move on after heartbreak? Yep, I think I can put together a paragraph or twenty about the subject, and maybe help some folks along the way.
Now, if you’re expecting some magical cure, if you’re expecting that by the last period of this article you’ll have a healed and whole-again heart, you can stop reading right here. At the end of the day, what it takes is you. I repeat, YOU. You’re the key. And I’ll be honest–it ain’t easy. In fact, I’m still in the process. I’m still on the path to a happy, healthy, whole me. What keeps me going is I know this won’t last forever. It’ll last for as long as I let it, for as long as YOU let it. Here’s how I’m working to cross the finish line:
© Feel and deal with the pain.
Yes, feel the pain of your broken heart. Cry. Yell. Scream. Eat the entire carton of Ben & Jerry’s. Listen to the love songs. Watch the stupid sappy love story movies on Lifetime. Get the anger and the unease of the heartbreak out of your system. If you don’t allow yourself to feel the pain, you’ll suppress it, and it just gets worse mentally and physically.
There’s no medical proof but I have a theory about the underlying cause of heart disease in women. I think it’s due to heartache. As women, we internalize our stress, hurt, and anger and I believe that years and years of unresolved hurt over our lifetimes literally breaks our hearts. So feel it, and deal with it. And no matter how impossible it may seem, you can and WILL heal. Life WILL go on and not only be meaningful, but it’ll also be better and brighter than ever before.
© Get some business.
My friends and I say this to each other, usually during the moments when we’re completely over-thinking something, or really concerned about things that we really should care less about. An idle mind allows for a playground of thoughts that generally don’t play well together.
And where do those thoughts usually leave you? Either crying, stalking, snooping, wondering, driving by, imagining, or all of the above. To avoid these emotions and the eventual fall-out that comes with them…GET SOME BUSINESS!
Now by “business” I mean this could be the perfect time for you to take up that old hobby that you haven’t done in years. Spend time with your girls, volunteer at your kids’ school, join an organization, volunteer somewhere that suits your interests. Whatever it is, stay busy doing it. The less time you have idle, the sooner you’ll get to the day where you realize you went the whole day without shedding tears because you were just too busy.
“Business” can also mean dating again, and yes, sex. Plain and simple. While this doesn’t work for everyone, it’s working for me. I don’t recommend sleeping around–just pick one person (a sexy one–a very sexy SAFE one). And to be clear, dating and sex don’t mean jumping into a new relationship. But I do recommend getting dressed up and spending your time with someone who looks good, smells good, and makes you feel good. When you’ve felt the level of rejection that comes with heartbreak, dating can provide the right kind of self-esteem boost to remind you of what IS true: the one that broke your heart may not want you, but you’re still a BAD MAMA JAMA and there IS someone who will absolutely love and appreciate who you are.
© Take care of yourself.
I’ve seen it happen. Not to me personally, but I’ve seen it. The old sweatpants (the oldest ones with the holes in the crotch), no make-up, no shaving, hair a plum mess. STOP IT. You may feel like crap on the inside but don’t let it show on the outside. As a matter of fact, when you take the time to take care of yourself, it does something–it makes you feel better! Work out, get your mani/pedi, keep your hair up, and go buy that outfit you’ve been eyeing–whatever it takes. Not to toot my own horn but I’ll admit I get better looking after each divorce! Toot, toot!
The older I get, the more I’m aware that I’m in complete control over how I feel. And guess what makes me feel good? Looking hot. Now I may not be the prettiest flower in the garden, but I definitely get picked a time or two and it’s because no matter what, I’m not going to look like what I’ve been through…and neither should you!
© Lean on your faith.
You may not be a spiritual person, but I AM. And to be honest, it’s what has gotten me through the most difficult times in my life. When things can’t seem to make sense, when you can’t figure out why you feel what you feel, why your ex does what he does–when you wonder why it still hurts so bad — this is when your faith steps in to provide you with peace in the midst of the storm. It’s your faith that allows you to make it through each day with strength you didn’t even realize you had. It’s your faith that allows you to move forward without having all the answers.
Go to church, mass, synagogue, Bible Study, support meetings, prayer breakfasts–whatever your faith provides. LEAN ON YOUR FAITH.
This may be the hardest thing on this list for you to do. I know it is for me. Your heart is torn to pieces. You’re blindsided by the level of hurt you’re feeling. You blame your ex for bailing, for hurting you, for leaving you devastated and heartbroken.
Guess what? The quickest way to a mended heart is to let go. Yep, you have to let it go. All of it. The hurt, pain, what your ex did, what you did.
You start that by dealing with the reality of your situation. Accept the fact that the relationship has ended. Discard the last shred of hope that you may get back together. The longer you hold on, the more you hurt yourself and halt your healing process. Stop waiting for something to change that ‘s not going to change.
Once you’re rooted in reality, it’s time to move past the hurt by forgiving. I’ve read and heard it in so many places (Go, Oprah!) that the true meaning of forgiveness is letting go of the hope that your situation will turn out a different way than it did. As hard as it is to accept, the past won’t change and the decisions have been made. It is what it is, so let it go and let it be.
Forgiveness is for you, not your ex. Is it easy? Absolutely not! But it gets easier each day.
It’s absolutely vital to put the pain behind you and move forward with your life and love. Otherwise, you’re giving away your power to the person who hurt you, and trust me, you need it more than they do! So that means no late night phone calls to or from the ex, and DEFINITELY no late night (or early morning, or daytime, or weekend) booty calls! It all halts the process! I mean it.
Finally, don’t ever tell yourself that love sucks because of the heartbreak you’re dealing with. Love isn’t what hurts. It’s losing love that’s excruciating. But the best part of all of this: once the healing is complete, and your heart–and my heart–are completely mended, there’ll be room in there again for another love-go-around.
In my case, I just know the third time’s a charm.
Benèe Mickles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Reporters Inc. is a proud member of the Institute for Nonprofit News, a consortium of more than 90 nonprofit newsrooms dedicated to serving the public interest. Our articles are syndicated and shared with hundreds of other media organizations, online magazines, top blogs, etc. Please send news, feature and investigative story tips and ideas to email@example.com.
Looking for one of our previous articles, investigations, commentaries, essays or book excerpts? Search our archives by typing key words into our SEARCH bar at the top left hand corner of our site!