How to Recover from a Broken Heart

Let me begin by saying I am so sorry.

You clicked this link because someone left you, someone you gave yourself to abandoned you in some way. Heartbreak, despite what some might think, is not the loss of love. Heartbreak is being left with love that no one wants to receive, love that has no home. Love isn't a quiet, solitary creature. It throws itself against the inside of your rib cage, rabid for company, for release. Love demands to be spread, to be given away.

The first time you told the person that broke your heart that you loved them, do you remember the relief? Oftentimes, the relief in a moment of declared love is overshadowed by the nerves and happiness that is an undoubted part of that milestone. But, to finally let out the feeling that has been pounding on the walls of your heart and trying to pry your teeth apart was an enormous relief, wasn't it?

When you were in love, you burst with it, you wanted to be in your lover's presence constantly; you wanted to kiss them, hold them, love them. You still do. This is all to relieve the pressure of the ever swelling love in your heart.

But one day, that person wasn't there anymore. They told you their feelings had changed when you told them you loved them. So that pressure in your heart built, and it built until your heart burst like an overfilled gas tank, and that toxic gasoline seeped into the rest of your body, poisoning you instead of moving you forward. You know all this already though, don't you? You know the tears and the ache and the loss.

You sent them spiteful text messages that you typed out with vision blurred by tears, and you shoved their old sweatpants in a box under your bed, and you posted pictures online hoping they'd see them and want you back. But don't let yourself feel ashamed for these things. You were left with all of this love that has nowhere to go, so it turns sour and ugly, like something sweet left uneaten for too long. That's not your fault. Forgive yourself, and then stop sending those texts.

You have an apartment building heart, we all do. Some people rent out small flats, move in nothing but a fold-out couch and a thrift shop lamp. When these people move out, these friends and acquaintances, you don't grieve; a new boarder will come soon enough, maybe stay longer this time. But others (like the one who broke your heart and who made you click on this link) buy out 3 floors, knock out all the walls to create a breakfast nook and extra closet space. They hang up the paintings of trees their grandma made at the community center, they bring their fat golden retriever, they paint the walls the green of their eyes, and sing, "The Way You Look Tonight" as they wash the dishes in the carefully tiled kitchen, and they always spit exactly four times in the bathroom sink after brushing their teeth. You never meant to let them, but this person takes up more and more space in your apartment building heart. Without a thought, you kick out other residents to make more space for your prized boarder. Maybe you even let them buy part of your building; maybe you even give it away. But soon, they stop cleaning dishes, they attract bugs with their mess, so you call an exterminator and figure it'll be fine, it's only a temporary problem.

They fall asleep without turning the bath tub off and the floor leaks.

They crack the carefully laid tiles in the kitchen.

A week later they punch a hole in the wall in a drunken rage, and no matter how many times they apologize and how flawlessly they patch the hole, you still feel it throb.

You yell, and you scold, and you ask how they could do this to your apartment? You even threaten to kick them out. But you didn't mean it, you never meant it.

But one day, they do move out. The happy dog, the paintings, the old high school football t-shirts: gone. All gone. You walk through the dark apartment and run your fingers along the cracking green paint.

You wish for the throb of the broken wall and the ruined floor. This emptiness is so, so much worse.

You don't speak to the other renters anymore. You're consumed by the empty apartment, by the things that had been there. It seems to grow larger in your mind.

But one day, you'll grow tired of the dark, dusty apartment that's taking up so much space. So you'll throw open the curtains, you'll paint the walls the blue of your own eyes and realize you never liked green much at all. Eventually, you'll let other boarders move in, tentatively at first, warning them about the cracks in the walls and the leftover smell of dog. You'll make it clear there is damage here. But soon enough, you'll welcome them in, telling them how lovely the space is. Telling them how happy you are for them to be there.

It hurts right now. It hurts like you never imagined you could hurt. In this world of drifters and takers you never thought they would be the one to make you wonder if you're worth it, did you? You never thought they would give up. But listen to me: You are worthy of a love that is deep, real and steadfast.

Is it possible you never made enough room in your apartment building heart for yourself? When your favorite boarder moved in you took a smaller and smaller room, didn't you? But you told yourself it didn't matter, that you wanted them to have the space. But you deserve space in your own heart, a large space full of sunshine. And then, one day, maybe you'll invite someone in, and you won't be giving them the space but instead allowing them to share your space. You must love yourself first.

Sometimes, when hearts collide, instead of fireworks, you just get fire. But fire is cleansing, purifying. Let it burn for now and when it's through, you'll let the fertile, ash-infused, soil of your heart run through your fingers. You'll take a deep breath and know that you survived. There is room now to grow.

You are vast and complicated and they didn't understand, were too small to understand. But that's okay. They'll find an apartment with beige carpets and walls with plenty of shelves for all of their trophies and awards, and they'll be happy.

But you'll build your own home in that apartment building heart of yours. It'll have a reading nook and space to dance, and you'll hang colorful paintings they would have hated, and your friends will spill cheap wine on your carpet, and the stains will make you smile. You won't just be happy... You will be so divinely happy that you won't even be able to remember what shade of green lies below the sky blue of your walls.

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