I don’t care what Hollywood tells you… there are no perfect relationships… believe me… I’ve had my share! I listen to how people walk away with their hearts in their hands with dignity and class. Not me… every time one of my relationships ended I wanted the world to know I got screwed! Figuratively… not literally… I was ready to snatch the weave right off their heads! I’m going to blame my behavior on drugs and alcohol… because it’s partially true.

If you’re in recovery, be very careful how you mend a broken heart… no one is worth relapsing over!

To fall in love is awfully simple, but to fall out of love is simply awful, especially if you are the one who wanted the relationship to last. However, to stop loving isn’t an option. Author Henri Nouwen writes, “When those you love deeply reject you, leave you or die, your heart will be broken. However, that should not hold you back from loving deeply. The pain that comes from deep love makes your love ever more fruitful.” But how do we get beyond the pain? Here are techniques I’ve gathered from years of heartbreaks, professionals and from conversations with friends on how they patched up their heart and tried, ever so gradually, to move on.

Go through it, not around it.
I realize the most difficult task for a person with a broken heart is to stand still and feel the crack. However, that is exactly what you must do. Because no shortcut is without its share of obstructions. Here’s a simple fact: You have to grieve to move on. During one of my break ups, my therapist repeated almost every visit: “Go through it. Not around it.” Because if I went around some of the issues that were tearing me apart inside, I would bump into them somewhere down the line, just like being caught in the center of a traffic circle. By going through the intense pain, I eventually surfaced as a stronger person. Soon the pain lost its stronghold over me. The process of working through it sucks… because you realize, “Hey (insert name), isn’t coming back. I can’t make a heart feel something it won’t…. I’m going to make it! As Tina Turner sang, “when the heartache is over… I know I won’t be missing you!”

Stand on your own.
One of the most liberating thoughts I repeat to myself when I’m immersed in grief and sadness is this: “I don’t need anyone or anything to make me happy.” That job is all my own, with a little help from God. I may not like it or even believe it… but it’s true. When I’m experiencing the intense pangs of grief, it is so difficult to trust that I can be whole without that person in my life. But I have learned over and over again that I can. I really can. It is my job to fill the emptiness, and I can do it … creatively, and with the help of my higher power.

Make a good and bad list.
You need to know which activities will make you feel good, and which ones will make you want to toilet paper your ex-lover’s home (or apartment). You won’t really know which activity belongs on which list until you start trying things, but I suspect that things like checking out his wall on Facebook and seeing that he has just posted a photo of his gorgeous new girlfriend is not going to make you feel good, so put that on the “don’t attempt” list, along with e-mails and phone calls to his buddies fishing for information about him. On the “feels peachy” list might be found such ventures as: deleting all of his e-mails and voicemails, pawning off the jewelry he gave you (using the cash for a much-needed massage?), laughing over coffee with a new friend who doesn’t know him from Adam (to ensure his name won’t come up).

Create a new world.
This is especially important if your world has collided with his, meaning that mutual friends who have seen him in the last week feel the need to tell you about it. Create your own safe world–full of new friends who wouldn’t recognize him in a crowd and don’t know how to spell his name–where he is not allowed to drop by for a figurative or literal surprise visit. Take this opportunity to try something new –to program your mind and body to expect a fresh beginning – without him.

Find hope.
There is one emotion that is stronger than fear, and that is forgiveness. However, forgiveness requires hope: believing that a better place exists, that the aching emptiness experienced in your every activity won’t be with you forever, that one day you’ll be excited to make coffee in the morning or go to a movie with friends. Hope is believing that the sadness can evaporate, that if you try like hell to move on with your life, your smile won’t always be forced. Therefore, in order to forgive and to move past fear, you need to find hope.

Love deeply. Again and again.
Once our hearts are bruised and burned from a relationship that ended, we have two options: we can close off pieces of our heart so that one day no one will be able to get inside. Alternatively, we can love again. Deeply, just as intensely as we did before. I never believe for a second that it will happen for me… but it does. I am never going to give up on love… I hope it doesn’t give up on me.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

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