Sunday, January 9, 2011

My thoughts

We all think we are the only ones. Surely, not the only one to be heartbroken. Movies, television, magazines, books targeted towards women make it clear that yes, heartbreak is a common theme. But in those depictions, the heroine picks herself up, dusts herself off, gets a new hobby, a new boyfriend, a new outlook, a new home, a year of traveling… something serves as the turning point after which she no longer feels sad, misses him, needs a man at all! Because she is powerful and wonderful all on her own. Well… I’d like to posit that these movies are poison to the female brain. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll be the first to admit that I love them. I absolutely love chick flicks. Growing up, I watched Father of the Bride every night before bed. To this day, I can recite the film from start to finish by heart. Annie Banks lives happily ever after the perfect ‘90s wedding, complete with pink bridesmaid dresses, bows and all. But alas, real life and love and heartbreak are no romantic comedy. Quite the contrary, heartbreak is ugly and painful and deep. And perhaps most importantly, heartbreak lasts a very long time.

“Supposedly” friends of ours have gone through it too. But each of us thinks, “no, I am taking this too hard, I am not handling this well, there is something wrong with my reaction”. If we only knew that this wasn’t true, it would save a lot of the hurt that comes with self-judgment and lack of acceptance. Sure, my therapist encouraged me to let go of my own self-judgment. He tried to get me to accept myself and where I was in the feeling and healing process. And I tried. I really tried. I am used to getting A’s, gaining the praise of my teachers, hell I was trying to be a therapist myself! So failing at my own therapy was not in the cards. I took it seriously. When my therapist made a suggestion or a comment, I took it to heart. I tried oh so hard to rid myself of the self-judgment, self-loathing at times. I tried to stop judging myself and to accept. But deep down at my core, there I was continuing to judge my experience. Get over this already, I would tell myself over and over. I hate that we are even still talking about this I would agitatedly say to my therapist when here we were months later still talking about him and my reaction. Well what was that? That was judgment. Judgment of myself for how long it was taking to get over this. Well I’d venture to say that perhaps if I had been able to stop the judgment, recovery may have been different. Self-judgment hurts deeply on top of that already existing hurt of heartbreak and rejection. And there we are rejecting our own selves, our own reactions. When it comes down to it, I simply could not accept myself. I could not recognize the true experience happening within myself. On top of feeling sad, I felt horrible, repulsive, annoying, and needy… and there it went again. Around and around I circled further and further down the shame spiral until I was down, even deeper in my own hole of despair.

So now I am telling my story. As I began to talk to more and more women professionally and personally, I finally began to realize that my story was absolutely not unique. In fact, the idea to write these thoughts only came to me after a series of clients surreptitiously talked to me about relationships, love, broken hearts. And what was so remarkable to me was that these women and I, all so seemingly different in so many aspects of our lives were exactly the same when it came to this area. Sitting in the therapist’s seat, clients spoke the same words to me that I had spoken to my own therapist months ago. Client after client talked to me about these topics, which took on the most importance to them above and beyond all else that was going on in their lives. If a matter of love or heartbreak was on the table, it trumped all else. I realized finally, that it was not a coincidence that we all spoke the same words. It was much more powerful than that. We spoke the same words, all placed such importance and centrality on this theme, sometimes in spite of ourselves, because of the universality of this experience. At the moment I realized this, I began to write. And this moment of realization of the universality of this experience brought me comfort and closure I was unable to reach on my own, with the help of my friends, the advice of my therapist, or the comforting ear of my mom. Only this realization was powerful enough to finally make me get it. I finally stopped judging myself. But it wasn’t until I realized this that I was able to get there.

That’s what this blog is intended to do. To tell the universal story of heartbreak and where that long journey takes us. So that finally we can all understand that we are not the only ones. That really and truly, this experience is normal and we can finally stop judging ourselves for it. I am telling my story but really it is so many women's story. It is my hope that as you read this you will have that “yes!” “aha!” moment that will finally bring you too some comfort and realization that your experience is normal and fine.