Heartbreak may not be recognized as heartbreak at first. The pain source may be obvious to you if you just experienced a recent break up or betrayal in a romantic relationship. The feelings are not always related to your physical heart but they can be. Sometimes you feel a sharp pain in the middle of your chest, a deep void, a tremendous and unbearable weight, a feeling of falling, a rush of sadness that drops you to your knees, moments of disbelief, and other metaphoric descriptions your mind conjures up to frighten you into despair.
The heartbreak feeling can come in subtly after the numbness and disbelief leave you. A denial that anything has happened as you go on with life as usual by distracting yourself with social activities or hitting the dating scene immediately. You tell yourself there is no time to deal with how you feel and besides, you don’t really care anyway, you’ll just move on.
Other common responses to such severe emotional pain are feeling as if you are not even in your body, becoming physically ill, nauseated, panicked, feeling like you are dying, or experiencing a sense of hopelessness. There are many ways to experience and describe your own unique and similar emotional response to heartbreak. Your mind will remind you of all the other times similar pain has struck, and the memories from those experiences can sometimes feel as if they were happening all over again.
Psychotherapists, psychologists and marriage and family therapists have diagnoses for some of the combinations of emotion responses that create physical symptoms resulting from a heartbreak. Medical doctors treat physical symptoms brought on by heartbreak.
The emotional pain is sometimes so devastating that you may spend the rest of your life thinking about it and feel wronged with little to no relief in sight. Depression sets in and you become extremely anxious at even the slightest hint of possible rejection (a second date or a hint that a relationship is moving toward commitment can set in motion your avoidance routine, “the great escape”).
You may fall into a lifestyle that proves life is just one Heartbreak after another. Your brother stole your tooth fairy money just after you placed it in a hiding place for safe keeping until your Mom could take you to the store to buy the candy you have been dreaming of. Your brother comes home from school a few days later with all the candy you told him you wanted to buy the next time you had money. That hurts! A betrayal by your close family member and the big “in your face” a couple days later. The story of injustice here may seem silly to most, but for you, in the moment, it may be one of the heartbreaking experiences that built your perception and understanding of what heartbreak is to you.
As life moves along you are challenged by relationship failures and rejections along with career disappointments. These experiences create a world of 'pain stories' which help you prove to yourself that you must avoid commitments, relationships, steady jobs and other areas where you might experience rejection. They also create a negative self talk which reminds you that you are helpless to do anything about it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Although a lifetime of beliefs and perceptions can lay a foundation of grief and loss, you are capable of moving through each and every situation and circumstance of heartbreak without resistance or denial. “That which you resist will persist.” You may find yourself avoiding the reminders of a heartbreak. This avoidance can create isolation, depression, severe anxiety, and other uncomfortable/harmful consequences: the results of your refusal to let yourself move the emotions that come up with a Heartbreak. When the emotion of heartbreak or emotional pain is not allowed, you are at risk of deeper emotional problems that surface in your behaviors or even in your physical body. You can become bitter and miserable.
It is possible for you to search for and find every opportunity to become more comfortable with your own emotional responses through facing your own Heartbreaks with curiosity and openness. Facing your emotional pain will release it and assist you in times of future challenges.
“Painful moments are opportunities for expansion and growth.”
~ LeAnn O’Neal 2007
Once a Heartbreak is recognized, what a great opportunity to change your life! What a perfect time for you to open to new possibilities with a fresh view of the situation when you realize you have been “stopped in your tracks” by this jolting experience called “Heartbreak”. An opportunity to look around you and search for a new reality, a new life, a new way of thinking, a new piece of life you had not noticed before. “When one door closes, another opens”.
If you are struggling with seeing the joy and love in your life or you are experiencing a combination of some of the symptoms describe here, please contact a professional to assist you in assessing your options to find the love and joy in the world.
Healing begins inside of YOU. Once you understand yourself from the inside out, you choose differently and create a life that changes on the outside.
You may contact me if what I have shared speaks to you and you would like to explore healing options.
~ LeAnn O'Neal Berger, M.A., LMFT
2007 - 2011 Copyright LeAnn O'Neal Berger, M.A., LMFT