When Your Heart is Broken, It’s OK to Not Be OK

Start with the understanding that no one thing or person can take away from how you are feeling. We all grieve and grow differently, and despite others’ best intentions, forcing a perfect end date on the ways in which we process the world helps no one.

One of my friends only went on a series of dates with a young man, but she mourned the end of “what could have been” for months later. At the time, I could not understand her thinking. “You barely knew him!” I once shouted. Later, she accused me of “not feeling.” I knew that was not the case, that I felt just as deeply as those around me. But I didn’t know how she felt, because this was not my own relationship, I couldn’t fathom the ways in which the situation affected her. This was not just about a lost love. It was about ideas she had for herself and her existence as a young 20-something woman. I could not understand until I was in the same place.

I broke up with one boyfriend I dated for nearly a year and grieved for a couple of days. But my last boyfriend, who I knew for only a handful of months, made me hurt for months later.

The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized that life is sticky and messy. We can’t predict the ways in which things will change us until they are gone.

And this same process can be applied to any number of personal changes. Who says a move across the country must be easy? Losing friends through the course of adulthood can be difficult for anyone. The loss of a loved one is something that can’t ever be replaced. So why do we expect others to recover and move on to our liking?

Witnessing grief—in any form—can be traumatic and make us uncomfortable. For many people, it brings up our own issues. Negativity can breed negativity and positivity does not always act the same. It is easy to dwell on the worst in our life, but it is difficult to always turn toward and seek out the positive. We just want the person to move on so we don’t have to be reminded of the things from our past. But if we take the time to consider others as we would want others to consider ourselves, we will all learn how to be kinder and better friends.

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