Love in Limestone: Only love can break your heart

Photo by Mike Kutz.

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Dirty Deeds Entry

The roof isn’t the only thing that’s down.

The sun glares; the highway speckled with beach goers, and cars, and trucks and minivans of happy tourists.

Whatever song might have been playing is a shimmery glance in the rearview of my memories.

Because what seared the mundane were his fingers, my shorts, and the thrill of not being caught by the passerby’s.

“What becomes of the broken hearted?” sang Jimmy Ruffin. “Happiness is just an illusion, filled with sadness and confusion.”

Before you can ask someone new to the dance, you’ve had to let someone else go. And time holds no merit when it comes to matters of the heart. Whether you loved for years, or moments, or pockets of time, inevitably you’ve had to mourn what was, or what could have been, and stepped into a new chapter of your life.

For some of us, the emotional purgatory brought on by a broken heart can last days, weeks, or even years. Some of us take what was simply casual dating and chock up the sadness to a glass of wine and chatter with our friends. Others mourn indefinitely, struggling to come to terms with the inevitable – it’s over.

But before we delve into when it’s time to start dating again, or when it’s appropriate to jump back into the deep end of suitor-searching, perhaps we should discuss what does become of the broken hearted. The emotional manifestation of physical symptoms that sucks the air out your lungs as you grasp to find sanity in a tumultuous vortex of sadness.

There’s a constant state of fluctuating memories, mutual desires, pent-up frustration for a future no longer salvageable. Because, if we’re being honest, a break up does follow the seven stages of grief, and each one will take its own time to dissect, discover and ultimately determine how you’ll make it out on the other side.

The first stage is shock and denial. Did this break up happen? How did this happen? Could I have seen it coming? How is that one minute we were talking about where to pick up a pizza, and now we’re separating our memories? No, this can’t be happening.

Pain and guilt set in. Did I try hard enough? Scanning through their statuses, and social feeds. Are they okay? Do they feel like I do? Did I make the right call? Did I do what actually had to be done? Did I give up too soon?

Enter anger. Why did they give up on me? This was our life, and now they’re going out for dinner with their friends without me. Spending our vacation money on concert tickets. What the hell makes them so happy to be without me? What the hell did I do wrong?

And as the anger slowly fades from a boil to a simmer, depression takes hold. A couple walking down the street forces you to dissolve into tears. You identify with characters on TV. Forget taking a shower. Shit – you forgot to eat breakfast. Your body on autopilot. Working through the motions of your everyday, while battling the sadness that threatens to eat you alive.

Until finally – reconstruction. Even if it’s dry shampoo and a messy bun, you get out of bed. You change your eating habits until they suit your new mood. It’s time to rebuild. The relationship is over, and it’s time to find the ways to move on in your newly-found singlehood.

And that’s when you accept. This is your life. These are your rules. This is your home, and your job, and your kids, and your way of doing things. And maybe one day, someone will pluck you out of a crowd and want to ask you to dance. This is hope.

Seven stages. Seven steps to work towards healing. Seven psychology-driven rungs of the ladder until you can see over the peak of a former relationship and start forging a life without it.

It is so easy to get your shoe caught on one of the cracks in the steps. To feel like you’re not moving towards the next. And it’s okay to teeter between them. It’s okay to be pissed off, then accept. To be excited, and hopeful, and feel like you’re ready to date again, then to suddenly want to curl up in a onesie, eating a second helping of popcorn in front an old 80s rom-com.

I get it. I understand heart break. The clock seems to move forward faster and slower at the same time. The bed feels emptier. Suddenly, a burst of adrenaline sets in and you’ve washed the dishes, and done the laundry, when the hormone fades and your back on the couch watching an array of short video snippets on YouTube.

You shower, and put on your snappiest outfit, pack your things for work, head to your car, when a tidal wave of hurt washes over you. You take a second to breathe. You audibly let it out. You push away a tear stain of mascara in the rearview mirror. Your soul is on fire, your heart rapidly beating, and the thoughts in your head are trying to drown out the white noise that’s consumed these few precious moments you thought you had a handle on.

What does become of the broken hearted?

In the first few stages of grief, you bargain for release. Asking the gods, or the Matrix, or the universe for a few unadulterated seconds of peace. So you can sleep. So you can work. So you can get dressed, or go shopping, or call a friend, or make dinner without being reminded that it hurts so bad.

Little victories. That’s what we’ve got. Little, insignificant moments with huge impact is all we can ask for ourselves. Take the photo off the bedside table. Put the necklace back in the jewelry box. Remove the little shrines we’ve created the house over.

The snap of a broken heart can ring like church bells in our ears – we can feel our pace race, our stomachs growl. Feel the saltiness of our tears dripping down our chins. We can mourn inwardly, and outwardly, and into pillows, into our hands. We can lay down or stand up, or wonder ourselves into migraines of what-ifs.

Hold tight, friends. What becomes of the broken hearted? A lesson in stages, in steps. In sevens. In comfort that pain is temporal.

“I know I’ve got to find some kind of peace of mind, maybe.”

Thank you, Jimmy.

~ Lilly ~

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