Life can change in an instant. And sometimes when it does, it’s harsh.
Boy-oh-boy, there are some life events that reach deep and cut through us, ripping our souls apart — Heartbreak is one of them.
A sweet friend of mine, who I’ll call Anna for the sake of anonymity, had been dating a man for several months and found herself falling in love with him. From the moment they met, there was an extra jump in her step and a sparkle in her eye. They spent all their time together and when she wasn’t with him, she’d talk about him constantly, her fairytale romance was alive and well… until he ended things unexpectedly a few weeks ago on a Saturday night.
Sick with grief, Monday was a no-show (called in sick) and then she went MIA for the entire week! Bailing on social obligations and letting household chores fall to the wayside (she’s neat freak at heart) were her new defaults. Half the time she wouldn’t answer my calls and she replied to every text with different sad-faced emojis.
Anna was a mess. Her heart had been broken, and it caused her life to fall apart.
Expect the Unexpected
We’ve all been there, right? Maybe it wasn’t a romantic heartbreak, but it was bad news that rocked your world in an awful way.
It doesn’t matter who you are – life is full of moments where bad things happen. They show up as break-ups, life-threatening diseases, divorces, job termination, and other sorts of unexpected and crushing news we don’t want to hear. We usually don’t want to accept it either.
Because the truth is: crises in life suck.
A broken heart, having to say one last goodbye to the people we love, or a horrific accident are all upsetting events that are difficult to manage. Realizing and accepting that life is going to change significantly in ways that we have little to no control over has a serious impact on our emotions; off-putting information takes a toll on our mental and physical strength.
For some of us, bad things happen and it’s near impossible to focus on anything else but the emotions we’re feeling and fighting with. For others (like myself), we can abandon our deepest connections to the matter and head full steam into efficiency mode while life goes on.
Because bad news or not, life does go on. So… what are we supposed to do with ourselves in the meantime?
Rely on your support system
You can try all you want, but it’s pretty hard to hide the fact that something’s all messed up in your corner of the world; the people who know you well will be able to tell. You might act differently, you might dress differently, your routines and your work habits might change.
Heck, you might even just disappear!
Actually, taking a timeout to absorb your new reality and get a handle on things is perfectly okay – I encourage it!
And while people will eventually catch on that something’s up, it’s important that you take the lead and let them know, don’t leave it to assumptions or gossip. Say whatever you want to – just make sure they know that you’re stuck in a sucky, shitty, unfortunate situation that requires your full attention. They may not feel the same way you do or completely understand how certain events personally affect you, but I’ve found that most people find a way to relate and will offer some support when you’re overwhelmed with life’s less-than-ideal experiences.
Realistically, not everyone you know or tell will display sympathy. And, I may not know you personally, but I still know this about you for sure: there are people at your office, in your circle of friends, and your family who truly care about your well-being! Ultimately, you get to choose how much to share with them, the more you share, the better they will be able to provide some relief to you. You deserve that kind of T-L-C (especially when life is hard and cruel) and there are people out there who can offer it to you.
It’s your life and, unfortunately, you were on the receiving end of some bad news. BUT you don’t have to live through it alone.
Absorb what feels awful
Just because times are tough, it doesn’t mean that you have to be.
There’s no need to pretend that you’re not in pain, and that you’re not emotional when relationships end, when you’ve lost someone you love, or when disaster strikes somewhere else in your life. Damn-it. Give yourself permission to be messy, to show your sensitivity or stress about the sudden life changes that you can’t control. It’s part of being human!
Masking, numbing, eating, drinking, running, ignoring the emotional pain is just a lie to yourself and at some point, it will come out — with or without your permission. An invisible band-aid on your broken heart might help, but it’s a temporary fix that’s going to prevent you from healing and moving forward. Choosing to let yourself be present with the pain (privately or publicly — it’s your choice), giving yourself permission to be raw, real, messy and in the moment is the most profound gift you can give yourself.
You. Are. Human.
It is perfectly normal to feel pain and let your emotions be free and how you choose express yourself is as unique as you are. You need to do whatever it is that you feel compelled to do to release everything – every little bit of tension, heaviness, ache and pain that life is causing you to feel. Be like me, crying into a glass of wine and a bucket of [insert flavour here] ice cream. (Get your own though, I’m not sharing). Call a good friend or talk it out with a therapist. Go for walk, stomp around in the woods, or stay in and sob along with a sad movie (and yes, I’ve done all of these). The list goes on and there’s a million different vices and tricks that we can use. Pick something that works for you and allow yourself a decent amount of quality time to fret, worry, grieve your loss and soak in bad news or your bad experience.
Shitty things happen. Take it all in, and let it all out as you need to.
Find your way back to you
After spending days hiding beneath the covers, surrounded by empty Kleenex boxes and candy bar wrappers, Anna climbed out of bed. How did I know this? Well, she finally picked up the phone and gave me a call back.
She sounded exhausted, which was different than the sobbing-and-devastated Anna who had called me a few days earlier fresh off her break-up. I could tell she was still sad, but she was also tired. Tired of being sad, tired of crying, and tired of doing nothing with her life inside her apartment.
Admittedly, she still couldn’t wrap her head around his reason for breaking up with her, but Anna was ready to get back to being Anna.
Everything in her house was out of order. At the time of her call, she hadn’t showered in a week. She had clients to catch up with and stacks of papers to look through. There was a whole lot of life to catch up, but she felt like she was ready to begin again.
Heartbreak happens and it hurts, but eventually – if we give ourselves time and T-L-C, we start to heal.
And so, life continues…
I’m Janice Otremba, a professional speaker, facilitator and coach who specializes in Beating Burnout, Lowering Stress and Powering Up Your Happy! Let’s kick your butt into gear with simple, sound advice for beating burnout and powering up your happy. Book a free 15-minute consultation call with me to get started!
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net