When a heart breaks

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.

(image source)
(image source)

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? :)

16 thoughts on “When a heart breaks

  1. Dr. Cuanang, a heart surgeon and the owner of the Pinto Art Museum, has a gallery of Rizal and Leonor known as the Taimis Project. A section beckons those lost hearts to write all those sentiments and leave it there, never to return again. The doctor, whom I asked if he has read any one of the letters, said that the release should be tangible, yet something not to be looked back at.

    You may not forget the moments and the stigmas it may have brought you, but I guess you put them all in a tangible thing and leave it there. And don’t look back. I hope that helps.

    1. I don’t think we’re really meant to forget. I deleted one paragraph here while writing this – our hearts are elastic, because whenever we allow ourselves to love and be loved, we forget how the hurt feels. So I guess we forget the feelings, but we shouldn’t forget the lessons.

      Thanks for your comment, Ella. :)

  2. Ahh lost (possible) love. Been there, done that (especially the crying and laughing at self moment), and yes, the heart heals indeed.But heartbreak won’t stop us from loving and living, yes? <3

    1. Haha, sometimes I think the lost possible love sucks more than losing one. BUT then again, I don’t know how an actual break-up feels. But let’s not get there, yes? :D

      And yep, one of the lessons I learned last year is to really heal, you have to let yourself love, because it’s the only thing that can truly piece us back together. :D

  3. I am in this process of heart break because the guy I liked was really good to me and we were comfortable with each other that I entertained the possibility of something more happening for a few months. I was in serious like mode when I found out recently from another friend that he… had a boyfriend. Usually things like that don’t hit me so hard – I just laugh it off and keep having a crush anyway, only I’m much more comfortable around the person – but not this time. How could I be more comfortable when I already really was with him? So I went the other way – and it sucks because the more I slip into myself, the more I want to reach out and just say something to him. I am still crushed about it. I really thought he was the perfect person for me and I thought I had found the one. I still stalk him, which is really not very healthy since I see him all the time anyway, but that thing you said about what could have been – it’s painful to think about. I hope this passes, but it still hurts, and the fact that I have to see him every day doesn’t help either. I hope this could be something I could laugh about in the future, because now I’m still in denial about everything.

    1. What I know is all the heartbreaks are just building up for you to be awesomesauce you’re supposed to be. You go, Tina girl! Grabe, I’m so inggit you still get to write despite your job. sana ako din!

      1. Nirvaaaa. Thank you! ♥ Yay to being awesomesauce. ;) I wrote this over the weekend, that is why I have time. Weekdays are another story. See you soon, lovely! :)

    2. Hey, Anon. I’m really sorry to read about what you’re going through. If it helps, coming from the other side of it all, it WILL pass. It’s painful and sad and all that — especially the what-if’s and what-could-have-been’s, hay – but trust me, it will pass. Like what my friend Nirva wrote, heartbreaks are building up to make you a better person, and I believe you will be better after this, too.

      And you know what, this blog entry really helped me move on, especially with how you said that you see him a lot.

      I’m rooting for you! You’ll be okay. It might take a while, but you will be okay. :) (And feel free to email me if you need someone to talk to. :D)

  4. You are very brave, Tina. I don’t post things like this because I want to maintain a carefully devised no-nonsense image – that is I’m invincible and I don’t get hurt. Maybe – just maybe – because I don’t want to admit that I’ve also been in the losing end of a unrequited love affair. So, I just keep quiet, hold my head high and curse under my breath. But here you are and you are very brave.

    Actually, if it’s any consolation I’ve once said this to someone:

    It hurts falling for you but I took the risk.

    And risked everything when I said I love you.

    I love you even if you don’t. I love you even if it leaves me broken. I love you for a reason I myself cannot fathom.

    — And it still stings even up to now. I’m clued up that we won’t EVER forget. We just have to forgive and in the process forgive ourselves as well. To let them go and to free ourselves as well.

    1. Hi, Biena! Thank you for your comment, and what you said. I consider writing this as a way of coming to terms to it, of acceptance and yes, letting it go. I’ve had several drafts of this before but I never posted it because they all sound too angry and sad and that were some clues telling me how it’s not really okay just yet.

      I remember a conversation with a friend last year, about how love is a gift, and gifts are given without the expectation of the other person accepting it or being given the same thing in return. I am happy that I let myself feel things, that I let myself love, but taking a risk in this doesn’t always mean it will be returned. But I still believe that love will come, and when it comes, it will be beautiful. (Not necessarily uncomplicated, but beautiful. :D)

      I really like what you said: We just have to forgive and in the process forgive ourselves as well. To let them go and to free ourselves as well. Sometimes, the hardest people to forgive is ourselves, but forgiveness is love, and we also deserve love as much as the other person. :)

      Long comment is long. But thanks again, Biena. :)

  5. I also felt this way when a similar situation happened with me. People kept on pushing us together but I never really wanted to cave because I felt like I’d be the one left behind in the end. Turns out I was right.

    And I honestly can relate to the line in one movie “There was never an us.”

    Like you I was frustrated, sad, disappointed even because I really thought he’d persevere. But he didn’t.

    It took me two years to totally be able to let go of the disappointment and the what-ifs but it was worth it. And yet, ironically, I still don’t know how to react around him after all this time.

    The heart and mind never forgets. It is through these experiences that you get to learn.

    1. Hi, Aneca! Thank you for your comment. I’m glad that you were able to let go – it’s such a huge and freeing thing to do, right? But I totally understand if you don’t know how to react around him — to be honest, I still don’t know (or want, actually) how to be around that guy I talked about there. But I figure I don’t want to stress over it anymore, because…it is what it is. And the more I fight or wish that it wasn’t so, I will just get bothered, and frankly, I don’t think it’s worth the bother, anymore.

      One day, if it’s meant to be, then maybe we’ll know how to act around that person. My friend and I call it a “post-it moment” – like how you stick a post-it on your board or your mirror to remind you of something, then it falls one day and you pick it up, realizing that the reminder didn’t mean too much anymore. :)

  6. Hearts really do heal on a gradual slope. The heart, even when it breaks, keeps on beating.

    I don’t know what made me read this again. Or maybe I just don’t want to admit it. Thanks for the words.

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