I wasn’t going to write about affairs of the heart in this post but the recurring theme in many of my messages this week concerns broken hearts. Anyone who has gone through or is going through the trauma of a broken heart knows that the pain can be unlike any other. It can feel like the agony is never going to end. So how do you heal a broken heart?
We will all experience the end of a special relationship at some point in our lives, whether it’s by death, divorce or other break-up. But you can also have your heart broken by someone who you are currently connected to or want to be with. Whatever the circumstances, the fact that the love you need is missing from your life can keep you trapped in anguish. No matter how you try to hide your hurt from the outside world, you carry your broken heart within you, where ever you go.
“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” Hippocrates
Whether it’s emotional or physical injury, time can be a great healer. However when it comes to a broken heart, the passing of days can dull the ache a little, but time itself cannot restore you to happiness.
In fact no-one and nothing can mend the wound for you, it is something you have to do for yourself. Good friends can listen and comfort, family can empathise and nurture you. But no-one can heal your heart. How could they? How can they ever reach the depths of your frustration, your fears, your loneliness, your despair?
“All healing is first a healing of the heart.” – Carl Townsend
Belief in the healing process
It’s only when you believe you can heal and you want to move on that the true recovery can begin. Initially you may try to manage the damage with things that gratify you. Food, alcohol, drugs, sex, work all can help fill the void, numb the pain, and distract you. Yet temporary respite fades and the reality of your raw and vulnerable soul reappears.
When my mother abandoned me as a child it felt like she had taken a piece of my heart with her. Then my father ripped the rest to shreds through his abuse. By the time I reached adulthood I all had were fragments that I sought to protect in the hope that one day someone would love me enough to help me rebuild my brokenness. And along came my first love.
Who doesn’t remember their first love? The passion, intensity and promise of that relationship is what made it so special. But for me it was the fact that someone actually loved me that made me want to hold on to it forever. Of course, it didn’t and when the painful ending arrived it was excruciating.
The loss of my first love reinforced the rejection and worthlessness that I had experienced all my life. It reminded me of the words that had been spoken over me as a child that I was unwanted and unlovable. It made me believe that I would always be discarded and alone. So I put a barrier around the fractured remains of my heart and vowed never to let anyone hurt me ever again.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
When you reach those dark depths of despair that a broken heart brings, it can feel safer to barricade yourself against the world and hide your true feelings, rather than allow yourself to heal. But heal you must because the alternative is to spend the rest of your life trapped in a mental cocoon of distrust and anger, loneliness and grief.
Emotional restoration takes time and courage. And it demands that you use the very entity that wounded you to heal you – love. It starts with giving yourself permission to love yourself unconditionally and in doing so finding forgiveness for yourself and others.
In the beginning I found this almost impossible to even contemplate. The fear of being hurt again was almost overwhelming, but I took my fragile heart and trusted in a faith that healed through unconditional love. It was a process of tears and time, but eventually the wounds were less tender and the sorrow less severe.
Once the scars formed I was able to move onto what was for me the hardest part – letting go. You have to be able to release yourself from whoever caused you so much suffering. Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting the love you had or dishonouring the memory of a special individual. It does mean accepting that the past is over and can’t be changed.
Through faith I was able trust in the knowledge that season of my life had come to an end and a new beginning awaited. Through love I was able to celebrate my self-worth and reach out to others.
All this and more came from a courage to heal. The courage to heal a broken-heart.