How do you heal a broken heart, a friend ponders painfully. First, one must let go of the beloved one. Sounds simple, but what does that mean really? Well, the obvious things are you stop seeing the person. You stop talking to the person. You stop being one another’s beloveds. You stop sharing parts of your day, your self, your dreams, your thoughts, your heart.
It used to be more clear-cut back in the day–before this newfangled technology of the interwebs, but some time after fire was discovered. You’d break up, lament to your friends, drown in your tears listening to sappy music, freak out if you saw the person at the mall or movies or happy hour, and that would be the end of it. You would likely think about the person a lot, maybe hear about the person through mutual friends. But that would be that.
These days it’s harder. Do you stay Facebook friends? LinkedIn contacts? Twitter is public. You can see the history of your text exchanges. You can see all the old emails. It’s so easy to stalk or otherwise stay connected through tenuous threads. They’re not real, active, authentic connections. But they’re ethereal enough to hold out for some hope, to hold on to some illusion of connection. We share so many parts of ourselves and our thoughts and our dreams so publicly, that it’s easy for anyone to catch the pieces that we throw out there. Our beloveds can just reach out, and they have a piece of you.
There are no good answers to how we navigate letting go these days where social media is part of our lives. But really there are also no good answers when we really look at our lives and our selves. I mean really, every person, and every experience, is a stitch in the fabric of our beings. Do we ever really let go?
We don’t really. We bring parts of everyone with us. One Great Love left a love of red wines, an eggplant parmigiana recipe, and the most beautiful memory in upstate New York of seeing the night sky lit up in more stars than I had ever seen, and have yet to see again. One Nice Guy left experiences of holding the Stanley Cup and Detroit and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and his grandfather who always called me the China Girl, and the realization that nice isn’t enough for a relationship. One Great Love left an intimate knowledge and comfort with sexuality, and the now deep-seated knowledge that self-respect is vital in well, everything. One Husband left two small children and a belief in me that made all the difference. One Great Crush left the reminders that we are all broken, that we all have struggles and are worthy of love, that timing matters, and coping skills other than smoking pot are desirable. One Fond Like introduced me to sushi and Thai food and great white wine, but would not introduce me to his father because I was not Jewish. One Good Love left a new way to embody kindness and mercy, knowledge about scotch and motorcycles, and a box of channa masala mix.
So really, we don’t ever let anyone go. We bring parts of people with us every day, in the stories we recollect and share, in our preferences for food and drink and music, in our belief and sense of self, in the way we view ourselves that may have originated in how our beloved viewed us. All of our beloveds become part of us; each is a golden thread in the tapestry of Self, woven in and out of experiences and joys and sadness and memories and stories we tell about them in the future to our therapist, to our friends, to our children, to our next beloved.
So I say to my friend, don’t hold on so tight. That is how we heal a broken heart. When you hold on so tight, you don’t realize that the connection your white knuckles have wrapped tightly around is only an illusion. Exhale, don’t hold on so tight. Exhale, and you can feel your beloved settle into your soul. Into the proper place of your being. You hold on so tight because you’re afraid of losing your beloved forever. This tightness, it’s suffocating, it’s painful. My friend, our beloveds are right there with you, always.