I am surely not the first, nor will I be the last, person on earth to experience heart ache in love. Many of us have found ourselves staring down the shock of “I don’t love you anymore”, which can leave you feeling lost, confused, and bitter towards former partners and love in general (cue the ‘I’ll never find “The One”‘ tropes).
If you’re anything like me, you turn to things like alcohol or drugs to find relief from the pain of a breakup, only to find that it can actually intensify the hurt inside. Worse yet, it can guide you down a path of assigning blame or dwelling back on ‘what ifs’ and ‘should haves’. This only serves to make us feel worse about ourselves and the situation.
In this day and age, there’s enough pain and heartbreak to go around, which is why I decided to shake up my entire world in the hopes of healing. For me, this meant:
- Quitting my job
- Selling as many of my worldly possessions as possible
- Building a converted van
- Deciding to throw myself wholly into my art
- Getting the hell out of Dodge
After my breakup, I found myself looking around at the landscape I had known my entire life – with no desire to see it ever again. Every road held a memory, every season reminders of what I had lost, all while still working a job I hadn’t been happy at for years. And it was then that the light bulb hit.
I had lost seemingly everything important to me, but I had gained some things – things easy to overlook in the midst of heartbreak.
I had gained opportunities, and I had gained the freedom of being single. Possibilities previously impossible when factoring in my partner’s needs and wants as well as my own were now open and accessible to me. Money saved for our future became money saved for my future and mine alone. Plans constructed for us could be knocked down and rebuilt into plans for me.
Most importantly, I gained the knowledge that I had been lost for some time, and it was there that the idea to pick up and hit the road in a camper van was born. I had been living my life based on what others wanted for me instead of living it the way I wanted for so long that I no longer knew how I wanted to live. So what better way to find yourself than to get lost in the vast world we live in?
And so I made myself busy. There’s no time to dwell on feelings of rejection when you’re too busy doing things you enjoy, right? Concocting plans, perusing used van ads, and recruiting a fellow heartbroken friend along the way to join in my journey. I learned how to wood work building our van interior, I threw myself back into my artwork after years of feeling disconnected from the creative part of myself, and I began to accept parts of me that I had denied for so long in order to ‘fit’ with my relationship, my friend group, and the persona others had come to expect from me.
More importantly, I reached out. To friends, to family, to a therapist. The hardest part of healing can be accepting that it’s okay not to do it on your own. It doesn’t make you any less strong, and in fact makes you more so for recognizing when you need a little help. While my heart is still far from healed, I’m getting a little closer every day. I learned that talking about and expressing your feelings keeps them from bubbling up and boiling over and, subsequently, making me feel like I had no control over my often intense emotions.
The moral of this story isn’t necessarily to uproot your entire life and buy a van over a broken heart, but instead to sit back and examine what makes you, well, you. The best way to heal yourself is to find peace with yourself as a person. Because romantic love can and will fail you, but being truly, deeply, authentically in love with yourself softens those blows.
To heal a broken heart, it’s simple. Go back to what you love, surround yourself with people you love and who love you, get out of your comfort zone, live your life to the fullest, letting nothing and no one get in your way, and most importantly: fall in love with yourself again. There’s already someone on this Earth who is made perfect just for you, and they’re just a look in the mirror away.