On Heartbreak

The average 25-year-old has experienced this heart disease more than once.

Symptoms include; loss of appetite, feelings of loneliness, emptiness, a general distaste of life, social reclusion, an unbearable urge to talk about the relationship, possible depression, and even physical pain in the chest. Oh, and let’s not forget playing incredibly sad music, very important. I was once the embodiment of this, diagnosed with high-stress levels and stomach ulcers, which meant that I lost so much blood to the extent of needing no less than four pints transfused to refill the life that had been sipped out.


Illustration: André da Loba

It is not unusual that the first heartbreak is the worst in our teenage and young adult lives, and may take maturity for us to be invested enough in a situation to relieve such horrors if things go awry. This is because while there is little discussion on the matter, heartbreak like all marked experiences is not without the possibility of life-long trauma that could affect our later relationships. Thus, we naively step into the dating world fuelled by expectations absorbed from childhood fantasies and television programmes. Unable to see an end different from the happily-ever-after classic, we invest our entirety into relationships and in the process, lose our own identity. Reality with its own plans come crashing down, we find ourselves painfully going through a breakup after dreaming wedding bells and picking child names. Readjusting our perceptions to the present fate can be very difficult.

A rollercoaster of negative emotions ensues. When we eventually emerge from it all, some of us, like Humpty Dumpty, cannot be put back together again. Depending on the circumstance, some decide to completely avoid situations that require high levels of commitment, while others try to initiate relationships but remain in a somewhat limbo state (that may include constant cheating for the fear of being completely committed to anyone).  Although emotionally cautious, some people manage to be committed and dedicated.

Source: rianne/Pinterest

Source: rianne/Pinterest

Besides the latent dread of never being able to have a happily-forever-after, there is also a possibly more dangerous feeling that has ruined so many potential relationships. This is the feeling that the extent of love shown to our current partners pales in comparison to the love expressed in previous relationships. 

The season of our life plays a great role in how we assimilate feelings. In university when of our deepest worries are grade-related, we are much more emotionally and mentally available to soak up a range of feelings. In adulthood, we are faced with nagging bosses and the ruthless realities of trying to earn a decent wage or run a successful business— It is no surprise that our mindset is different and we might not be able to romantically feel as strong as we used to. It is also impossible to reclaim the unfounded adolescent feeling of security in our older days and this is why so many people believe in the notion that the first love is the deepest. 

This mode of thinking is largely unhealthy and has a mostly negative impact on our emotions and actions. It is therefore important to understand that each relationship is distinct and should not be compared to future relationships. Regardless of how we feel, every commitment deserves nothing less than our very best to ensure it reaches its maximum potential.  

Source: alexquiste/ Pinterest

After heartbreak, the first step to recovery is an emotional resolution that allows us process the events and their significance in our lives, and that heartbreak is a phase most people go through. This will involve taking time to heal as opposed to jumping at a rebound without seeking emotional closure. This time also allows us to rediscover our identity. Unfortunately, the paradox of relationships still remains in the safety of retaining one’s identity against the ecstasy of losing it. This is this loss of self we find in couples going through a divorce after about 20+years. They tell you how their main worry is defining themselves again after so many years of being with someone. Where do you even start?   The more mature advice is from the beginning, to retain ourselves but not so much as to completely shut out the people who care about us.

Another great way to moving on is engaging in favourable activities that spike a different emotion than the brooding sadness of loss. Some of them might include a deliberate journey to finding a newness/ rediscovery of self. Lastly, time is a friend: all gets better with time; with every waking day, it hurts a little less.