Heartbreak sucks, obviously.
The name alone describes an injury to our most important organ.
And it doesn’t just describe pain from the end of a romantic relationship. It can mean the dissolution of a friendship, an estrangement from a relative, the loss of a job, the diagnosis of an illness…the list could go on forever.
Heartbreak is a feeling of suffering, one that overwhelms your mind and even your body. There’s no rule that it has to be about romance.
In fact, in my experience, the “other” types of heartbreak are often even worse.
Recently, I’ve been dealing with heartbreak over the loss of a friendship. One that, for a long time, has been such a huge part of my life. One that is suddenly just…gone.
It’s an indescribable feeling. It has sort of felt like an out-of-body experience. I’ve gone through all the stages of grief: denial that this is the end, anger that the other person wouldn’t help make this work, bargaining to try to find a fix, depression over the loss. While I can’t say I’ve reached the final stage—acceptance—just yet, I can say that I’ve come a long way.
I no longer have the constant urge to call or text my friend when something notable happens in my life—or even when I just want to share a meme they would appreciate. I no longer spend my days wondering if my phone will light up with their urge to call or text me. While I still care deeply for this person, my decisions no longer revolve around how they will feel.
I went to a spinning class recently in which the instructor spent the last few minutes of class talking about how heartbreak led him to the life he is currently living. How? Because it opened up his time.
I looked back at the last few months. I’ve become dedicated to fitness, working out almost daily. I’ve put more time into my blog, teaching myself how to redesign it without any help. I’ve been social, both with new friends and old. I’ve started working on a big creative project that brings me joy and fulfillment. I’ve put more time into therapy and journaling. I’ve spent time exploring my new city.
At one point recently, I had a moment where I questioned how I suddenly seemed to fit so much more into my schedule than I used to. It wasn’t my commute, because my crazy C.T. to N.Y.C. commute only lasted a short time. It wasn’t that I have more time outside of work, because my hours are actually longer now.
So when my spin instructor talked about heartbreak opening up his time, I realized it has done the same for me. It suddenly clicked: the void left by the friendship I’ve lost has given me the opportunity to fill it with new interests and goals.
At first I thought, “no way.” It wasn’t like I spent hours each day with this friend. But then it hit me: the energy I spent on the friendship, and constantly trying to repair it, was preventing me from exerting that energy elsewhere.
I am by no means “over” the loss. I’m not saying that these things are more important than that friendship, or that they take the place of it. I still feel sad and, well, heartbroken. I still hold out hope that someday my friend will return to my life.
But in the meantime, I think it’s kind of beautiful that without even noticing, I’ve turned heartbreak into something constructive.