The Most Painful Thing About Heartbreak Is Losing Yourself

The Most Painful Thing About Heartbreak Is Losing Yourself

Heartbreak, it turned out, was the only thing that was ever going to fix my broken heart.

I lost myself not that long ago. My marriage died; I couldn’t focus. It’s easy to feel bad for yourself when you have a broken heart, so there was a bit of that. But self-pity is worthless and it didn’t take me long to understand that.

“Then what though?” I asked myself. “What the hell do I do now?”

Much of what happens in the wake of any divorce or breakup is autopilot stuff. You end up going into survival mode; you end up just trying to get through every day the best you can. Even when you feel like laying down in the middle of some damn freeway and letting some semi pop your guts out through your eye sockets, you usually don’t.

There were a lot of times when I wanted to, but no. I have kids. I have bills I need to pay. I have things to live for and things I have to live for. At least that’s what I kept screaming at myself with ten thousand nasty glares in the bathroom mirror.

But it’s hard, especially after losing yourself in a relationship. It’s tough on a spirit when something that once seemed like real love morphs into something that’s anything but. No one can take away the hurt. Nothing you tell yourself or make yourself think or do ever sets you free from the crushing feelings that heartbreak dumps all over your word.


Regret, resentment, anger, blues — they can all add up to this paralyzing sense of inadequacy. And on the outside you might be holding it down, giving good face to your friends and at work, smiling for the kids because you need to be “strong.” I hate that word. Strong. It’s so ridiculous. This whole notion that you’re supposed to be strong when you’re devastated or in denial, it’s all BS.

About three months after we separated, I began to understand a thing or two about what was going down. It took awhile, but once the truth settled in — that we were done and there was nothing I could do to change that — I began to gradually recognize that I was going to have to release my grip. I needed to let my sad and sorry ass get washed downstream.


Heartbreak, it turned out, was the only thing that was ever going to fix my broken heart. Isn’t that some sh*t?

So I let go. I don’t know how it happened, whether it was across a span of time or if I simply managed to go minor league crazy overnight. I cut myself off from certain bright parts of being alive and I climbed inside some sort of substitute for myself.

Up until we broke things off I hadn’t realized it, but I had become kind of dead inside. And staring down the barrel of divorce only made me feel deader.

That’s not how it was supposed to feel. I mean, I kept thinking that I was supposed to at least glimpse at the sparkle of impending liberation as I settled into the new life groove that divorce was bringing down on my world. But that didn’t happen.

I felt alone as hell. I felt unable to comprehend the future I had to wrap my head around. At night, I’d get the kids to bed on the nights I had them and I’d exercise until my body wanted to break. Then I’d drink a glass or two of wine and stare at the TV, or scroll for miles down my Facebook feed until I was mining through posts so long gone and out of date that even the people who posted them had surely forgotten they had ever done so.

I started taking selfies of my face and putting them in my Instagram. I knew the few close friends and relatives I had were thinking that I was losing my grip. I could sense that thing any one of us feels when people who still love us begin to grow confused by us. Or even worse: made uncomfortable. But I didn’t give a damn. And I wasn’t wrong, either.

No one knows what it’s like to hurt like you do. Remember that.

No one anywhere on this planet has any clue what it feels like to feel as blue as you feel sometimes. Or as blue as I feel. And right there in the middle of this anti-Renaissance/Dark Ages that I was living through, I knew damn right that I had no idea what I was doing with myself anymore.

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