Heartbreak Academy: How to Make it Through

In her illuminating writing manual, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott recounts the story of a woman who goes to the zoo and sees a male gorilla sleeping against the bars of his cage. The woman is so entranced by this magnificent beast that she reaches out to touch him, whereupon the gorilla wakes up, grabs her arm, and mauls her half to death before zookeepers can intervene. Days later the woman is still in the intensive care unit when a friend comes to visit. “God, you look like you’re in a lot of pain,” says the friend sympathetically. “Pain,” says the injured woman, “you don’t know pain. He doesn’t call, he doesn’t write….”

Ah, yes, the exquisite agony of heartbreak. We who have experienced it know that romantic love is a fall-in, crawl-out proposition: When you’re bonding with that special someone, everything is wondrously effortless; when the relationship hits the skids, getting through an ordinary day feels like climbing Everest without supplemental oxygen. But every instance of heartbreak can teach us powerful lessons about creating the kind of love we really want. 

Mind you, just having your heart broken won’t get you a degree in love-ology. If you learn nothing from heartbreak, you’ll keep repeating the same old painful subject matter in one bad relationship after another. If you refuse to love at all, you will guarantee isolation and pain, rather than preventing them. The only way to graduate from Heartbreak Academy is to really master the material, and that means absorbing crucial lessons about your true self, your true needs, and the nature of true love. 

Course offerings from the Heartbreak Academy of Emotional Pain

There are many ways to get your heart broken, all of them highly educational. Breakup 101 will teach you all about the discouragement and guilt that set in when you end a relationship that just isn’t working. In Situational Heartbreak 165, you’ll learn about the pain that occurs when you and your loved one are separated by circumstances such as geographic distance or (God forbid) death. Then there’s Advanced Conflict 206, a combat-training course you enter when you and your significant other become locked in a war of wills. Most unpleasant of all, in my opinion, is Unilateral Torture 262. This class starts when you’re deeply in love, investing full trust and openness in a relationship, and suddenly your partner calls the whole thing off or simply stops calling at all. It’s like getting hit by a truck, only way slower and more humiliating. 

Study Guide: How to Make It Through Heartbreak Academy

I was in my first semester of Unilateral Torture 262, a class I’d taken three or four times already, when I stumbled across a concept in a psychology textbook that finally allowed me to learn my lesson and move on. I don’t remember anything else about that book, but I recall one crucial sentence perfectly. “Some patients,” it said, “mistakenly believe that their loneliness is a product of another person’s absence.” I stopped and reread this maybe ten times, but it still baffled me. I could have sworn that my loneliness was a product of my ex–significant other’s absence. If not, then what on earth was it? 

Finally, slowly, over the next several days, weeks, years, the light dawned: My loneliness, and the antidote to it, did not come from the significant others I’d loved and lost. I’d been emotionally isolated before I ever fell in love. Something about certain people helped me lower the drawbridge over the moat that separated me from the world, but in the final analysis I was the one who’d actually done the trick. The power to bring me out of solitude—or to push me back into it—had never belonged to any other person. It was mine and only mine.

This realization is the most important thing you need to get through Heartbreak Academy with minimum effort and maximum positive effect. Realizing that your heartbreak is not a product of the other person’s absence brings the pain into an arena where you can work with it, instead of riveting your attention on some missing lover you may never see again and could never really control. Each time you find yourself longing for the love that was, asking yourself the following study-guide questions will help you learn the lessons of heartbreak and move on to a relationship that works. 

Study Question #1: How Old Do I Feel? 

Most often, heartbroken people are unknowingly grieving a loss or trauma rooted in childhood or adolescence. That’s because we tend to fall in love with people who remind us of those who cared for us—even badly—when we were young and totally vulnerable. We become childlike when we feel securely adored, letting go of all inhibition. The failure of adult relationships is often caused by the dysfunctions we internalized as children, and the devastation we endure when we’re rejected almost always opens ancient wounds, making us feel as bereft as an abandoned little kid.

If you ask yourself how old you feel when you’re in the worst throes of heartbreak, you’ll probably find that a surprisingly low number pops into your head. Whatever the age of your grieving inner child, it’s your job to comfort her, as you would help a toddler or a teen who had lost a parent. Do small, practical, caring things for yourself: Listen to a song that helps you grieve, schedule a play date with your best friend, wrap a soft blanket around yourself and let the tears come. Most important of all, give your childish self the chance to talk. Open your journal or visit your therapist, and let yourself express your anger and anguish in all its irrational, immature glory. 

As you do this, you will almost certainly find yourself grieving losses you suffered way back when, as well as the one you’ve just endured. This is good: It means that you are finally progressing beyond ways of thinking and acting that didn’t work for you early in your life and still aren’t working today. Acknowledging and comforting that younger self is absolutely essential to easing your pain, recovering from your wounds, and finding new sources of healthy love. 

Study Question #2: What Did My Lost Love Help Me Believe About Myself? 

Look back on the time when you were falling in love, and you’ll realize that though much (or some) of your time with your lover was fabulous, the relationship made you happy even when the two of you were physically apart. The really potent part of love is that it allows you to carry around beliefs about yourself that make you feel special, desirable, precious, innately good. To graduate from Heartbreak Academy, you have to learn that neither your ex-beloved nor the fact of being in love invested you with these qualities. Your lover couldn’t have seen them in you, even temporarily, if they weren’t part of your essential being. 

Make a list of all the things you let yourself believe when you saw yourself mirrored in loving eyes. Write them as facts: I’m fascinating. I’m beautiful. I’m funny. I’m important. Realize that you chose to believe these things in the context of your relationship, and now that the relationship is over, you have another choice: either to reject a loving view of yourself or to believe the truth. 

But, you may say, what if these positive things aren’t really true at all? What if the truth is that I’m hopelessly unlovable? Well, let me remind you that when you believe you’re an insignificant bird dropping on the sooty gray pavement of life, you feel unspeakably horrible. On the other hand, when you opt for believing what love once taught you about yourself, the core of your despair is replaced by sweetness, however bitter your subsequent loss. I say, use what works. Self-concept is a self-fulfilling prophecy: When we let ourselves believe that we’re wonderfully attractive, we act wonderfully attractive. By letting yourself believe the most loving things your ex ever said about you, you can get rid of the bathwater but keep the baby, honoring and preserving what was precious in your relationship, while letting go of the pain. 

Study Question #3: What Did My Relationship Give Me Permission To Do?

Being in love is so intoxicating, that special person so compelling, that lovers often drop some of the obligations and rules that dominated their lives before they met. When you’re in love, you may forget that you don’t usually allow yourself to splurge on perfume, or write poetry, or be wildly sexual, or say no to invitations you’d rather not accept. When your relationship is over, the bleak prospect of going back to the rules can drive you to the brink of despair, making you pine obsessively for your lost love to return and free you again. Eliminate the middleman. Free yourself. 

You can start by making another list. This time write down all the forbidden things you allowed yourself to do when you were madly in love with someone who was madly in love with you. Now give yourself permission to do all those things anyway. 

Nothing can make your trip through Heartbreak Academy easy or painless. Grieving will always hurt, but it is not mindless torture. It’s more like panning for gold. Recurrent floods of sadness and anger gradually wash away the rubble of the defunct relationship, leaving only the bits of treasure: the remembered moments of real communion, a new understanding of your own mistakes, a clear picture of the dysfunctions you will never tolerate again.

Letting these precious things emerge naturally means that you will retain the real love you’ve received, even as you let go of your former lover. And realizing that you hold the keys to your own healing will keep sadness from becoming despair and help you master the lessons a broken heart can teach. It means the relationships you create after that will be more trustworthy, the unavoidable losses less devastating. 

“The world breaks everyone,” Hemingway once wrote, “and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” A broken heart is simply a heart that has a chance to become stronger. It’s a heart that is more self-sufficient, more open to the truth, and more capable of lasting love. 

43 replies
  1. Jane Lee Logan
    Jane Lee Logan says:

    Wonderfully helpful as I continue to navigate through both the ending of a relationship and the deception and betrayal that led to the ending. I also lost my sister and best friend during this time and I see these suggestions might also be helpful healing from this loss.

    One other thing that I find helpful is to make a list of all the qualities I feel like I miss in the person and then I look for them in my life. So if for example companionship is something I have my list I notice my puppy snuggled up against me looking at me like I’m the most loved being on the planet and recognize the companionship I have right now. I find that when I do this, I notice that I have the things in my life that I think I’m missing in the absence of this person–just in different form. I’ve also noticed that things and people just “show up” in mysterious ways that express the things I thought I was missing.

    Reply
    • Sharon
      Sharon says:

      Dear Martha,
      After my almost 9 month relationship with a much younger man ended (17 years younger) what I thought was just a ‘casual’ relationship showed me otherwise and I was heartbroken. I missed his touch, his kiss, his laugh and playfulness. He had never been married at 38 and was missing that in his life, and wanted it with someone in his own age bracket, even though the sex was the best we’d both ever experienced. But I knew he didn’t love me because he would have never walked away from the connection we had, if he had loved me. The hardest part was seeing him with someone else, and even harder – he lives across the street! Weeks have gone by and the pain has lessened now and reading and researching breakups has helped a lot. In order to not create the same type of relationship, I’m currently reading ‘Why Men Love Bitches’ by Sherry Argov, a book I should have read years ago. And then I found your site and your column and I’m sure I’ll be okay. Time heals, right? But understanding what happened and knowing what to do or not to do again, is key. A life lived without love, is a life without passion and I’m just not willing to do that. So when the time is right I’m sure I’ll dive in again but next time I’ll be emotionally, mentally and spiritually ready – something that was not present in the last relationship. Thanks again Martha! We love you!

      Reply
    • linda
      linda says:

      Your story sounds like mine, my sister and husband were lost the same time, at that time I really thought I would not survive, but here I am, I survived their betrayal, and am a better, smarter person.
      Thanks Martha. My favorite thing you have ever done was the Lifeclass with Oprah, that was unbelievably helpful, I re-watch it as often as I have time for!

      Reply
      • Carole
        Carole says:

        I am finally expressing and experiencing the pain, hurt, anger and distress of being cheated on and abandoned by my husband some 12 years ago. Why has it taken this long? I had an 18 month old boy to care for in the wake of my loss and the responsibility I had towards him quite literally saved me. It was also a very public betrayal so, having already been humiliated, I was determined to react to the situation with as much grace and dignity as I could muster. Trouble is – that just pushed the pain down inside. Recently, it finally surfaced Wow. Who knew you could feel such things more than a decade after the event. But I know that I needed to let them out to let them go. Martha, your advice is the very practical balm to my injured soul. You have an incredible insight into the human heart and I thank you for your wisdom and love.

        Reply
  2. JenF
    JenF says:

    “Something about certain people helped me lower the drawbridge over the moat that separated me from the world, but in the final analysis I was the one who’d actually done the trick.”

    Wow. This just put words around something I’ve known all along, but just not consciously… and boy, does it ever sum up my many years of romances & subsequent breakups. Reading this article, I realize I have a lot of work to do with my inner child, but I feel hopeful about breaking the patterns and moving on to something real.

    Reply
  3. Lauren
    Lauren says:

    Absolutely brillant….insight into my heart. I have been thinking about an old love for so long and never understanding why I still think about this person. It is not the person it was the feelings. I miss those feelings. Thank you. Free at last.

    Reply
  4. PaticeM
    PaticeM says:

    Thanks for the insight. Our 32 yr relationship came crashing to a halt this past summer, after my partner, 71 yrs old, lied, cheated and then betrayed me with someone we had met and known for only 2 months. My ability to create has kept me alive-through many months of tears and disbelief. Now I’m in anger and survival mode as I am forced out of semi-retirement to find a job, new home, etc. I would never have expected such callous cruelty from someone I’ve loved for so long and someone who told me they loved me. I wonder how I could have been so vulnerable and naive? I’m hoping to learn from this.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth says:

      PaticeM, I am grieving the death of a long marriage made even more painful by the cowardly and cruel way my husband ended it. I too have to start over with scant resources while he enjoys a new relationship with his wealthy partner. I know you must feel as overwhelmed as I do but when you find yourself lost in a storm of emotion, try to bring yourself back by focusing on anything other than the person who betrayed you. Exclude them from your thoughts. Practice shunning them! As long as you allow them to be part of the equation, you will sum yourself up in the negative. They have already stolen so much with their hideous behavior. Don’t invite them to take more by questioning why. Easier said than done when you’re facing an unknown future but one learns by repetition. Start small and eventually you will have enough room in your heart for yourself – and you will have all the love and support you deserve. All my best to you….

      Reply
      • PaticeM
        PaticeM says:

        Thank you Elizabeth-I haven’t been on here for awhile so didn’t see ur comment. I wish all the best to you too. It is very difficult. I have decided that whatever the reason it had nothing to do with me; the issues are theirs although that doesn’t help when u can’t find work at 62 yrs old. But I will not succumb to holding hate nor anger inside as that will destroy me as well. Working towards a better future as I also am wishing for you.

        Reply
  5. TBoulet
    TBoulet says:

    Curiosity led me to read this article after seeing it on Facebook – despite being in a healthy & happy relationship after 10 years of mostly my own path.

    As I read it, I reflected on how I’m quick to feel angry these days – often at a job that isn’t fulfilling, and sometimes from a small disagreement with my love. These words inspired me to try a little social experiment on myself and apply the concepts to the next kerfuffle – allowing work or my relationship to be a bit of a lab.

    It was totally helpful! Thanks!

    Reply
  6. Liz
    Liz says:

    This blog touched my heart. I believe that all of the right words were delicately placed on this page and I received them all. When there has been a break up it is very lonely and can feel as if the world is closing in on a person, But God!. There is a place that is logical to turn to and it might be a warm tear stained blanket. However the sun does come up in the morning and the logic behind the hurt is that the old has now been thrown out to make room for the new. I thank you so much for your insightfulness in this narrative.

    Reply
  7. Sapphire
    Sapphire says:

    ~

    Today, I ended a connection with a man whom I profoundly love, and I realise now, I was not in love with, before we were due to meet , it was a long distance relationship. I have found this one of the most challenging things that I’ve ever done, to speak my truth with love and honor my hearts lead in this day, each step has revealed more. I pray tonight that our Angels will care for us both. Thank you for the guidance and comfort Martha,

    Arohanui, Sapphire.

    ~

    Reply
  8. Suzanna
    Suzanna says:

    I think it’s cruel to expect people to transition out of a relationship all alone and with no support! Oh, how I wish I’d had a coach to help me through a couple of deeply painful (and long, drawn-out) ends to relationships. Thanks for your always-heartfelt, always-on-the-mark insights, Martha!

    Reply
  9. Tiffany
    Tiffany says:

    Martha,

    I love the inflections in your writings. Your books are so funny and enlightening and my friends and I quote them often. My girlfriends and I are very close, and all growing spiritually and emotionally together. We empower each other to take chances and follow our true selves. We all knew that we had to make a change, but didn’t know where to start. I bought your book, loved it and bought copies for all of them. We went to a book signing in Phoenix and felt your deep compassion for all things.

    This article hits home for all of us at one point or another. My very good girlfriend was hurt a few months ago, and made a change in herself. She is looking at her relationship and asking why. She is taking from the relationship what was positive. The heartfelt talks, the new experiences and all of that love. She learned a lot from him, good and bad. She is taking the good with her and consciously making better decisions about men. I am very proud of her.

    I am in an amazing loving marriage, and I take time to look at it objectively. What can we do to make it stronger and more healthy? I want to be with my husband forever, and rather not check into heartbreak hotel again. But I know people change and things change. If I am ever there again, I will know that I will be okay. I have amazing friends to help pick me up, and awesome memories to keep with me forever.

    We are all very blessed to have you lead us into finding our higher selves.

    Thank you so much for everything.

    Reply
  10. Tara
    Tara says:

    I, too, am looking at what will likely be the end of my marriage to a man I truly love and wanted to grow old with.
    He used to love me but now blames, accuses, and makes me wrong all the time.
    At 50, I’m too old to seek another relationship, but there is a lot of wisdom and help in this article. I’m smack in the middle of that Unilateral Torture thing, and it hurts, horribly.

    I’m glad at least there might be a way to get through it.

    Reply
    • Linda
      Linda says:

      Tara, at 50 you are far from being too old for another relationship! After a 25-year marriage (that should have ended long before), a rocky several years of a relationship that was never a good idea from the start, and the belief that I was “too old,” at 51 I met the man who is the love of my life. When your life is open and good, the new relationship will find you. You do not have to go on some desperate search for a new man. Besides, love comes in many forms in addition to romantic relationships. Best wishes for a beautiful, fulfilling life as you move on.

      Reply
    • Julie
      Julie says:

      50 is the new 40 !

      I just ended a Miserable marriage. Life goes on to a better place for you and no compromising.

      To be yourself is wonderful. Not being judged or controlled. Priceless –

      Thanks to Martha and her work she shares with the world.

      Julie

      Reply
  11. linda
    linda says:

    Tara,

    You will not only make it through, you will soar. I am 50, and what I went through for the last 2 years, has aged me to look like 70yrs.old.I am still raising our last child, had to go to work, and now am the happiest I have ever been. You must trust that the universe helps to look after us. It really does, get a good therapist, I cannot tell you how helpful they are!

    Reply
  12. Beth
    Beth says:

    Martha, I send you love. I think you have an emotional IQ that is off the charts. I’m so grateful for who you are and all that you have written. Thank you for putting everything out there for the rest of us. I can use it, and it helps.

    Reply
  13. Wanda
    Wanda says:

    I to am working through a devastating breakup of being with a man for almost 10 years and then the big reveal , lies , cheating . Double life
    Was so disturbing to me and then having to find a new home and pack in the middle of winter and then he became callous and cruel , something I had never , ever expected from him … I had been so good to him … It’s so hard to make sense of it all , I feel like I wasted 10 years of my life and I’m not young anymore . Sad

    Reply
  14. PaticeM
    PaticeM says:

    Wanda I can relate to the “callous and cruel” behavior change also. I read in a book on husbands who abandon their wives (and vice versa) that these are basically very unhappy people who have to blame someone else for their dissatisfaction with life; there’s a pattern where they look back and say the loyal spouse is responsible for all the things that they could have but never did, like climbing Mt Everest, etc. The reason they become cruel too is that they need to justify their betrayal and if they can provoke you to get angry and stoop to a low level for revenge, etc, then they can say “See that’s why I had to get away from her. She got what she deserved.” Rise above it-meditate every day, especially when you feel the anger towards them-it can get intense when the realities of the abandonment hit, like finding a job and housing, etc all by yourself. They do play the blame game, telling the new person how rough their life was with us-too immature to take responsibility for decisions that they did or didn’t make in their lives. And of course, they look for someone younger to pity them, and encourage them to try new things, etc. One day, they will wake up and realize that they are just sad unhappy old men full of regrets. Don’t regret losing them-be thankful you will not have to grow old with sour unhappy people-take care of you and you’ll learn to love life again, in a different way. I know that getting to that point is very very hard when you loved them, but I’ve convinced myself that my loving spouse I knew has died; I don’t know this mean-spirited person and would never have fallen in love with them. Their way of apologizing for what they did, after lying, cheating and stabbing me in the back, (after 35 yrs)was to say “I have to live with what I did to you for the rest of my life on this earth.” See how they try to twist things and make themselves the victim? Very sick manipulative people. Hopefully we will all see how blessed we are to be free of them. Wishing you strength, love and lust for life again.

    Reply
  15. Wanda
    Wanda says:

    Thanks PatriceM …. He at 62 had sex addiction , prostitutes … And he lost his job and I started packing …. He blamed his family of origin and I told him to man up and take responsibility and he could not handle my anger …. I really hope Karma bites him in the ass big time …. Hard To Believe !!

    Reply
  16. Dee
    Dee says:

    I have a very unique situation. My son was injured by the doctors and his life is set up. I married young and have a child with special needs. I have been with my husband for 14 years & married for 8. I am only 33 years old. I don’t have any other support system (I.e family, friends). I have had to commit my entire being to my child’s well being to the point of it resulting in my becoming a full time stay at home mom for the past 13 years. I have pursued school with no prevail because of lack of support. My husband has cheated and blantely disregarded me through the entire relationship. He only changed for 1full year after 6 years and asked me to marry him at 25 because I’d had enough. I would’ve left long ago but without the option of employment and no where else to go I was stuck. It was either fight for custody with nothing to offer and the threat of CPS or stay and be strong. Well needless to say this has only made it easier for him to walk all over me. I am at my wits end and don’t know what to do. He has graduated from random chicks to prostitutes and doesn’t seem to care enough how it affects me. I now suffer from panic attacks and have done so since I met him and his family. Now it’s here to stay because I can’t keep him from cheating and or trying to control every aspect of my independence. I am sick literally at this point and beyond tired. PLEASE HELP ME!!!

    Reply
  17. Deepti
    Deepti says:

    “When your relationship is over… you pine obsessively for your lost love to return and free you again. Eliminate the middleman. Free yourself.” Totally empowering words!
    I always knew it had something to do with me, my view, but I didn’t know how to access it. Thanks Martha Beck for your insight and your humour 🙂

    Reply
  18. Julia
    Julia says:

    WOW. I was reading Oprah’s magazine today and stumbled upon some inspiring words by you. I ordered three of your books and found myself drawn to this message board and article. As many of you, my husband of 7 years has been having multiple affairs over the past 4. We have 5 year old twins…PATRICEM your last post HIT HOME! He WILL end up alone, unhappy and his children will want nothing to do with him. He’s found himself in the arms of a younger, skinnier, no responsibilities co-worker. It’s sad. I am starting the journey of healing with my AMAZING counselor, journaling AND as of today, Martha. Thank you for being there and understanding!

    Reply
  19. Jeannette
    Jeannette says:

    I just found this and it has helped so much. Now… to put it into practice.

    I met the guy of my dreams 9 months ago today. We’ve both been through some very difficult relationships – both been left and cheated on, etc. We thought we’d finally found each other. I always joked about us being old together and that I would have to be the one to die first in old age because I would miss him too much. The whole relationship was so lovely. We always held hands. We spoke every day throughout the day, all day. He always said he loved me, xoxo’s, bought me little love tokens, etc. It was sweet. 5 weeks ago, his father who’d been suffering from lung cancer (whom he had a very severed relationship with due to abandonment when he was a kid, but my ex was trying his best to be there)took a turn for the worst. I suggested that he go over there as quickly as possible, as he might not have a chance to say goodbye otherwise. He did and he helped his father the last week of his life. He saw his dad suffer a great deal, but he never got what he wanted, that resolution. His dad. He called me throughout, with updates, to unload, etc. He wanted to come home for a couple of days (his dad lives in another state) for some ‘normalcy’ before heading back to deal with the aftermath. He really wanted to come straight to me before he headed to his own house. He asked me to go with him and his son to the funeral, etc. for support and I went, in a heartbeat. It was difficult. I saw him start to shut down. His relationship with his step and half brothers is chaotic, but family nonetheless. After the funeral we headed back home, where Christmas awaited us 3 days from then. It was more chaos, it was busy, it was a whirlwind of having to do last minute shopping, wrapping, hosting dinner, etc. 3 days after Christmas he decided very impulsively to quit smoking. He warned that he’d probably be a not so nice person for the next few weeks. Between Christmas and New Year’s he became more distant, detached, numb, sad…A couple days later I noticed that our online communication was a little different, not as warm, etc. That night I asked him if everything was ok, if he wanted space to himself that weekend, I was more than happy not to go to his place for the weekend if he just wanted to be by himself. He said he had a lot things in his head, a lot of things were coming up. I had him call me to clarify a few other cryptic things he said in text and he just said it, with no hesitation…I don’t think my heart feels as strongly as yours does for mine. I’ve tried so hard to feel ‘passionately in love’ with you but that should just happen on its own. (I WAS IN SHOCK) He doesn’t feel ‘in love’ with me. He thinks I’m amazing, caring, supportive, the most amazing woman he’s ever met but he can’t feel that ‘passionately in love’ piece that he once felt. (Who does after nine months???) I asked how long he’d been feeling this way and he said 4-5 weeks (basically 1 week before his dad took a turn for the worst.) That was that. He’s shut the door. The person I once knew is gone. What I’m hearing does not match what he was like. At all. He bought me a vintage typewriter for Christmas (I’d once said it would be fun to have so that I could type him love letters) that he carefully researched. 4 weeks prior had bought me a sterling silver antique spoon that was stamped “I love you more than coffee”. 5 weeks prior had said in a text “When are you coming over? Feels like I haven’t seen you in forever. I had a bad dream that you broke up with me and I woke up all sad.” See what I mean??? I just doesn’t make sense. But he just turned that switch off. He told his neighbor that he thought I was amazing but didn’t want to screw up my life. He also said that I could be the perfect woman for him but he honestly didn’t feel ‘in love’ and no once could force him to feel that. I’m so confused. I’m so HURT and SHOCKED. I miss him like crazy.

    Reply
  20. Bridget
    Bridget says:

    Thank you.
    I needed to get back my shine and magic and this article has really helped me.
    You’re a star Martha Beck! xxxxxxxxxx

    Reply
  21. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    Incredible article. Martha, you are a gift to the world. This article struck home as I ended a 21 year marriage (after my husband cheated and fell in love with his girlfriend AND had a baby with her). I’ve been told my pain isn’t just from the devastation of the betrayal and the immeasurable losses that I felt, but from my lack of love and abuse from my father in childhood.

    The crazy thing is that now, 3 years after my divorce, I am taking care of my father, who has Parkinson’s disease and is in a nursing home. Everyday, I have to find the emotional strength to show this person love who never showed me love. He has no one to visit him or take him out but me.

    I find that life is amazing in the lesson that it is providing me right now. I’m learning how to navigate through it, but it’s been very challenging. Your article is right on!

    Reply
  22. Sade
    Sade says:

    I’m crying as I’m writing so … bear with me … I let my heart be my compass awhile ago and consciously stopped fluffing up my pain in ‘acceptable’ words to avoid the deeper hurt … Where’s that damn blanket to hide me while I sob…. “Abandoned because I’m disabled now? The cruelty of lost souls.” Like a broken toy that no child wants to pick up in the shop they turned their back to me. And not just anybody. My family (a sibling and …) Am hugely thankful Martha that you validate this choking, painful feeling. Tears and the ‘blanket’ are not only soothing but very liberating. I needed this for years. Exactly a decade. Ah, a long sigh of relief. You understand.

    Reply
  23. Jo
    Jo says:

    Thanks Martha for the fine wit and wisdom. I’m happily married, but recently found myself drawn to someone I “thought” I always dreamed of all my life. He seems drawn to me as well, but we both have our feet firmly planted in reality so I’m just trying to see why this is happening to me at this point in my life, when I’m comfortable and at peace w/my family and friends. In light of what you’ve written, it makes more sense now–I can give myself permission to do what I’ve always wanted to do in my past and follow my aspirations as well as look at myself the way others see me in a positive light instead of believing I “need” to have someone else love, validate and direct me thru this process of self discovery and purpose.

    Reply
  24. t
    t says:

    Thank you, I needed this. In this moment. I needed this framework for interpreting the chapter I’m entering. I will chew a few more days, but must ‘accelerate into my decision’ as my friend’s father said when he taught her to drive…

    Reply
  25. clinton
    clinton says:

    I was crushed when my lover of three years left to be with another man. I cried and sobbed every day, until it got so bad that I reached out to the Internet for help. I wasted so much time and effort trying to get her back until I hit on the real thing. And that is you, ultimate spell. You were different from all the rest – you are the diamond in the rough. Thank you from the depths of my soul! I am extremely happy now. I hope God blesses you as much as you have help me to get my Love back, visit him on (Alimanduspiritualtemple@yahoo..com) he can be a great help to you all.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] made it through her divorce. She mentioned a writer called Martha Beck, and read out a section from a piece on recovering from heartbreak. I’m not really there yet, I guess, because I’m still figuring it all out. Like I said, […]

  2. […] one particular moment shines: when Leo saw the best in me, even though I couldn’t see it […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

40 − 33 =