This blog entry partners the article ‘The Gifts of a Heart-Broken-Open’ that appears in the September issue of Julia Armstrong’s newsletter
The article in the newsletter touches on what I see as the core gifts of a broken open heart: becoming more available to the world and to yourself. I mention that the heart has its own rhythm – this is what I focus on here.
We tend to think that its best to mend a broken heart as quickly as possible and move on. While I certainly don’t see any sense in becoming stuck in pain, there is a danger of simply ignoring or disconnecting from the hurt. Sometimes the rawness of the experience is such that its easier to disconnect. One of the symptoms of this disconnect is that people distract themselves with other things – such as burying themselves in work. I have had clients come to me who have successfully distracted themselves from their broken open heart for years – nearly two decades in some instances. Thats a lot of distracting. And all those years later the broken-open-heart is still there – waiting for the attention it needs.
Giving one’s heart attention in its raw moments is very different to wallowing or becoming stuck in pain. The two things feel, sound and look completely different. The latter is characterised by blame, bitterness and a lack of taking responsibility for the situation. The former is characterised by tenderness, acceptance, acknowledgement and taking responsibility for oneself – without blame. This includes allowing a space for anger and the emotions we tend to categorise as ‘negative’.
The immediate aftermath of feeling your heart break open in romance is a uniquely devastating space. Acknowledging that – whether to oneself or to others – is a vital part giving attention to the heart. Secondly – and this is my top recommendation – pamper your body. Eat well, sleep cosily and get lots of hugs from your friends. Gentlemen that includes you. Your hearts are just as important as women’s hearts and no, you are not better equipped to deal with this stuff on your own. Spend time with people in whose presence you feel at ease.
Pampering your body has a direct benefit for your heart, because the heart is both an emotional and physical organ. Our emotions are pumped around our body as hormones and other chemical substances. Psychopharmachologist Dr. Candace Pert has discussed this at length – hence her famous phrase ‘molecules of emotion.’ When the heart experiences a significant trauma it is carried around the rest of the body. By attending to the body, you attend to the heart.
Unfolding, contracting, opening, re-folding, withdrawing, reaching out – the heart has its own rhythm, its own timing and its own dance. And that rhythm is rarely linear. The heart doesn’t so much move on as unfold. This means that waves of different emotions might come at the most unexpected times. You might think that you had ‘dealt with’ something to find that it revisits you. Allowing it to have its rhythm is the most efficient and elegant way of you being able to ‘move on’. You don’t need to wait for your heart to ‘get over’ someone before you move on with your life. If you waited for that, you’d possibly never move on. The power of some romantic encounters is such that they mark our being indelibly. The trick is to allow your heart to have its mark and to move forward simultaneously. Ironically, by allowing the heart its own rhythm that will not necessarily match your linear ‘moving on’ you are able to truly move your life on.