What does a broken heart look like? It is an affliction that takes many forms. When I think about all the possibilities, I realize that I have had my heart broken countless times. Even more chilling, I realize that I have broken hearts–possibly–countless times.
Perhaps the most basic explanation of my train of thought on this, is that a broken heart is the result of an unrealized dream, whether that dream is one that is only temporarily set aside, or its contents have been scattered like stardust. Think of something as simple as a dog who thinks that he is going for a walk because you picked up his leash. He doesn’t know that you were just moving it to put it away. For him, in that moment, you are the greatest person in the world! Then, you turn around, not even knowing that he had gotten all excited, ignoring him without even meaning to.
There are other, more subtle ways as well. Imagine a child getting a gift for his father. He is the most amazing person in his son’s world! Not having much money, if any, the little boy cannot figure out what to get his father. What can he afford? He finally settles on a trinket that he finds, he wraps it, and gives the gift to his father. The father loves his son, and desperately wants to show him that he appreciates the gesture, even if the trinket itself is of little importance. His reaction, however, is not as real or overt as his son expected. In a case like this, the boy may feel his dream of giving dad the perfect gift slip away. The father may feel his inadequacy in relating to his son, and so a little part of his heart is chunked away as well.
I have known similar situations to the above, many times. It is not always with the same characters. Sometimes it isn’t even a gift. There are times when my wife will change something, or do something, and expect a particular response. Not being a mind reader, it is impossible for me to know what the response is that she expects, and usually, whatever response I give just isn’t good enough. It isn’t enough, period, in whatever way she would prefer. This in itself would be bad enough, but then she gives me a hard time about it. Minor heartbreak. Of course I’m interested. Of course I’m appreciative. For whatever reason though, I am unable to live up to her expectations.
Perhaps these kind of little heartbreaks seem trite. Perhaps it seems as if I am making a mountain out of a molehill. There are many times in life, in emotional settings, when molehills can become mountains without ever even knowing it. When this happens, it often results in further strain, pain, and suffering, and a very difficult road to repair such degradation.
It may be the case, that broken hearts are such a part of life that we just don’t even realize 99% of the times that it happens. I think its possible that one of the tricks to life, and to relationships, is a healthy mix of hypersensitivity and quantification. If heartbreak is necessary in life, then it would stand to reason that there must be an ultimate need for growth in every circumstance in which it rears its ugly head. We could all learn to be more aware of the pain that we are causing others, as well as the pain that we are going through, no matter how big. In order to survive though, we must be aware of the scale of the heartbreak, or we will drive ourselves mad with vengeance, anger, hate, fear, jealousy, resentment, sadness, and malice.
We must also be aware, even through the most painful and seemingly insurmountable heartbreak, that it is a necessary phase of life that cannot be avoided. In our awareness, we can also grow to have empathy for others, once we realize that they are experiencing heartbreak as well. Sometimes this can lessen our hurt even, to know that we are not alone. To realize that the one who you see as causing your heartbreak could quite possibly be heartbroken as well is the most justifying (I’m not sure if that is actually the word I want) step in recovery from a broken heart. It is not “revenge” as much as its a form of qualification for your own pain, if that makes any sense.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about experiencing or causing heartbreak, is that we are all human. We all do it, and we have all experienced it. That does not mean that you are an evil person if you break somebody’s heart, nor does it mean that you are a weak person if your heart gets broken. When we miss the mark in this world, it is our duty to retrieve the arrow and fire again. As Thoreau said, “Man by his very nature will eventually hit that which he aims at. So, though at first he shall surely miss, better he aim high.” Strive to be a better person. Desire to hurt less, and be hurt less. The only way that the world will change–however large or small that change may be–is if we consciously work to make it a better place, a truer place.
Just remember, you’re not alone.