I need a friend. You’re the only person I can tell; whom I can trust; who will understand.
The marriage and love I thought I had are no longer. The sadness is overwhelming. He says he needs to find and figure himself out, and that he cannot do this with me by his side. He says he needs to do it alone.
I feel so lost. I cannot stop crying. I am completely shocked. I feel blindsided by him, by everything. The world I knew as mine has just been shattered. I’m trying to think of what I’m supposed to do now, but simply the act of thinking hurts and causes more pain. Past, present, future — it is all painful.
I don’t even know if I’m making sense. It is so difficult to put into words the deep emptiness, heaviness, and hurt I am feeling. I don’t know if I can survive this. I don’t even know how to get to tomorrow. Somehow, I trust you’ll know what I’m trying to say. I know I don’t have to find the perfect words for you to understand me, and understand what I need.
Please. Give me that. I don’t know what to do or how to show up for anything. Work, my family, myself. I can’t even get up off the floor — I just sit here. Hour after hour. I haven’t eaten or slept for days now. I should know better. I feel pathetic. But I don’t know how to get back up and start healing. I don’t know how to do this. I don’t even know what this is.
Tell me what this is. Tell me how. Thank you for being that person.
My darling M,
You stand now alone in a vast landscape. It feels endless. Desolate. Terrifying. Barren. The sun scorches your eyes, blisters your skin, a singe and sear that feel all too like the pain you carry.
That is how it feels, today. Tomorrow, the land will feel less hostile. The day after, less. And so on.
Breathe. Release. Do not confuse his need to be alone with him not wanting or loving you. Please know those two things are very different. He is acting off his need to be alone.
Breathe. Release. Don’t plan for the entire painting just yet. You needn’t strategize your whole route to survival and the future. Take it one piece at a time.
Right now, you have complete permission to not process or analyze your emotions. That doesn’t mean you are repressing or evading — you are in fact, only being wise and attentive with your heart’s timeline, needs, and present capabilities. You can, and should, lean into your feelings, later. There will be a time and place to truly feel your feelings. But not yet. Your flesh is freshly burned. New skin has yet to grow — you are still bone and meat. Don’t touch and tackle the pain too prematurely. Your one task today is to simply move through, to make it to the next, and then the next.
Lean into the little, known things that make you who you are. You will need a ladder to move through each day. Your personal rituals are this ladder. Streamline your decisions, and the number and complexity of those choices. Focus on the small, intimate, ritualized habits and comforts. Eat. Drink. Sleep. Wake up. Brush teeth. Wash face. Drink. Eat. Go to the gym, take a walk, run errands. Watch movies. Read books. Eat. Drink. Brush teeth. Wash face. Sleep. Wake up. Repeat.
Through it all, above all, esteem your health. You need your mind and body now more than ever. Without your body, your heart will not, cannot, heal. Without your mind, you cannot and will not survive this. Therefore, treat yourself with great tenderness and protectiveness right now, as you always should. Eat wholesome food. Drink more water than ever before — you’re sobbing and need to compensate. Make sure you sleep enough hours. If you’re hounded by insomnia, take something that makes you drowsy that isn’t addictive or detrimental. Meaning no sleeping pills and absolutely no alcohol. Alcohol and any other unhealthy foods and substances will only weaken your system, and you need your energy. Do not binge on anything, be it a substance or a behavior. Steering clear of detrimental substances and behaviors includes staying away from negative friends or family members.
Treat and speak to yourself lovingly and patiently. During heartbreak, many feel that mistreating themselves is a romantic expression of how hard they are hurting and how deeply they loved. Perhaps they also wish to bring back their former beloved through sympathy and guilt. Ultimately, such love will not last or be healthy. Furthermore, mistreating yourself isn’t practical, noble, or useful — it is purely harming. It will elongate rather than soothe your pain. Pain is not a reason to treat yourself poorly. Be kind to yourself, dear heart. Now and evermore.
Pain feels scary. Lonely. Daunting. Overwhelming. Almighty. My love, pain is a staple of being human. Pain is a result of living and loving boldly; the only way to avoid pain is to avoid life. As long as there is love, there will be pain, for you cannot have your heart broken, be it by a man, a parent, a sibling, a friend, or a situation, unless you are emotionally attached and invested. Meaning, you are living thoroughly and bravely. And this boldness and subsequent love and pain are what you hold in common with the rest of humanity who too have chosen to live fully. In its moment of contact, pain feels alienating. However, it is actually one of our deepest commonalities and a paramount reason to never feel truly alone. Especially in your moment of grief.
Know as well that today’s pain is tomorrow’s pearls. When it is time to process and unpack, you will do so and deepen. It may sound improbable but one day, this experience will reward you, immensely. You are already expanding from this hue of emotion that is new for you. Any earthshaking experience is perfect opportunity for self-exploration and reflection. You will grow to know yourself in ways and depths only pain can inspire. Furthermore, with every enormous loss, we grow in capability. Our acumen for understanding, self-awareness, perspective, support, compassion, listening, guidance, advice, and wherewithal improve every time we are hurt and choose to grow and learn from the hurt. You will become all the more astute and sophisticated as a friend, sister, daughter, business owner, future partner and mother from having experienced this profound, unique fire. Maturation and art are two ways we can gain from pain. They are the light we mine from the dark.
My love, this is your new lease on life. Understand that the tectonic plates of your self-concept, identity, and what you perceived as being your future, are shifting. I know you’re feeling immense fear, discomfort, and sadness toward all this uncertainty and change.
Uncertainty is a form of limitlessness. Your identity is shifting — thus who would you like to be? Who will you choose to be? Once the initial, fiery pain has abated, ponder this. You can be anyone you want now. Who will you choose to become as your next and better self? What will you do with your life, now so open to newfound potential? You have only you to plan and decide for. That is freedom. That is possibility, incarnate.
And, from a woman who has had a first, first husbands (like first wives and first loves) are meant to come and pass. Hence “first”. You may not be open to that thought just yet; right now I’m offering seeds. You will find future love. Again, another sentiment that may seem improbable at the moment. But it isn’t an impossibility. Nothing is, as you tiptoe this audacious expanse of potential. I don’t write the following casually: you have such a vital, unique destination. One day you will see this loss is actually a clearing. He is moving aside so that you may walk your path.
You stand now alone in a vast landscape. Perhaps it feels endless. Desolate. Terrifying. Barren. Look within. You are the future fruit this land will birth. Look up. That is your open sky. Soon you will surf its wonder. The sun’s might is this bright for she is wooing you. She will wrap you in her warmth. Life can and will feel good again.
I love you so much and then some.