The first time I got my heart broken, it was fifth grade, Valentine’s Day.
I’ve had this terribly huge crush on a schoolmate for a while now. He knew I liked him, because I told him, and ever since then I’ve been acting all weird around him so we weren’t really “friends.” Valentine’s day was fast approaching, and I wanted to give him something. I saw this pair of heart-shaped pins in our school’s bookstore, and being a romantic sap, I bought them. I put his heart (haha) in a little box that I decorated myself and asked a friend to give it to him. I didn’t see him accept it, but my friend told me he did, and I was elated.
Hours later, as I was waiting for my service to fetch me from school, my crush’s classmate came knocking at the classroom door. She handed me the box with the pin, and told me that she heard that my crush was planning to give it to the girl he liked. She told him off, took the gift, and brought it back to me. I thanked her and waited for my ride home quietly. As soon as I got home, a friend came over to ask what happened, and I burst into tears.
It was the first time I ever cried over a boy.
* * *
The last time I got my heart broken, I was a mess.
As in, a total, absolute mess. I cried all day. I cried all week. There was a moment when I was curled up in bed and crying when a part of me wanted to laugh, because I realized that all those rom-com movie/romance novel cliches where the main character talks about how she can’t eat and can’t sleep, and all she wanted to do was curl into herself, cry and wish for the pain to disappear was actually real. I wanted to laugh because I didn’t think it would ever happen to me, but I was there and it damn it, it all hurt. I wanted to laugh, but the urge to cry was stronger, and the pain just kept on banging in my heart.
I didn’t stay in bed the whole week, but I could cry at the snap of a finger. At work? Oh, of course. I had a pack of tissues beside me for the week, and I could easily finish the entire thing in a day. My teammates were sympathetic, and tried to make me laugh several times. A text message comes, and my eyes start brimming with tears. Crying in the shower? Oh, I’ve done that, several times. Complete with background music, because sometimes you needed effects to accompany you as you wonder when your tears will ever, ever run out.
And it’s true, too, how you just lose the zest to fix yourself after the shock of the heartbreak has worn off. I didn’t want to wear contact lenses or put on make-up because I’m going to cry later anyway, and it’s just futile effort. My eyes were constantly swollen, and because my defense mechanism was so awesome, I got allergy attacks when I cry too much. So I drink knock-out allergy meds at night to get rid of the sneezes and to help me get to sleep.
Funny thing is, I wasn’t even crying about lost love – only the possibility of it. See, nothing was ever official, and it would have gone on longer if I hadn’t decided to speak up and finally ask The Question I was scared of asking. I didn’t really lose him at that time, because we were still friends (sort of). I was crying because the thing that fueled me – the possibility of something wonderful – became an impossibility, and I didn’t know how to deal.
But like I learned sometime ago, you don’t cry forever. You really don’t. When the tears finally subsided, and I stopped randomly crying at every moment, I had to face an even tougher question: what now?
* * *
It’s been a year.
I was supposed to have plans today, because I didn’t want to be home. I didn’t want to be here when I should be out, when I should be doing something like…oh, I don’t know, write a letter and leave it somewhere, because I’m such a romantic sap and I like subscribing to those kinds of things. I wanted to be out because that last heartbreak I mentioned up there happened this day last year, and I wanted to do something about it.
I ended up staying at home, though, and the only time I went out was when I went to the grocery after mass. I walked all the way there, while being serenaded by Jars of Clay’s Tea and Sympathy followed by Dave Barnes’ When a Heart Breaks and Sara Bareilles’ Breathe Again, smiling slightly at how the songs seemed to support what I wanted to do – try to summon the feelings that I had last year. I thought I had kept it inside somewhere, and maybe today, I could bring it out again, feel it, and then let it go again, for the nth time.
I tried. But I found that I don’t really know how it feels anymore.
I don’t have a concrete answer to how to heal from a broken heart. I don’t even have answers to some of the questions that rise up from my own experience every now and then. Perhaps I’ll find the answers sometime later, or perhaps I won’t.
What I know is that when a heart breaks, it is devastating, but it doesn’t last forever. It takes time. Hearts really do heal on a gradual slope. And there will still be little cracks, but it wouldn’t matter so much, not as much anymore.
Because, as I learned also in the course of this past year: the heart, even when it breaks, keeps on beating.
Can you hear it? :)