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Moving from Heartbreak to Happiness: How to Work Through the Pain

Lonely Man

“Pain makes you stronger. Fear makes you braver. Heartbreak makes you wiser.” ~Unknown

There I was, sitting in my lounge room, waiting for my girlfriend to return home.

We had just bought our first house together and had been living there for a week. It was a chaotic time, balancing moving, work, study commitments, and an obscene amount of renovations. However, the heartfelt joy of settling into our own place overshadowed the chaos.

Our new home held the dreams of a future life together. The thought of raising a family there filled my heart to the brim.

It was an exciting time in my life, and I felt I was exactly where I was meant to be. I had the house, the girl, and the ring ready to propose with. Life was good.

When she arrived home, she was visibly upset. Clueless as to why, I comforted her and asked her what was wrong. Then came the heartbreaking words I never wanted to hear: “I can’t do this anymore.”

There was no warning, no hint of anything being wrong with our relationship.

As I sat there, overcome with so many emotions and questions, I tried to comprehend what had just happened. I desperately did everything I could to convince her not to throw away what we had.

Yet, the more I talked to her, the more I began to not recognize her. Her assertiveness and aggression grew, and the girl I thought I knew concluded with “I no longer love you.”

With that, our once inseparable connection dwindled to nonexistence. Devastatingly, I lost all hope when she moved into another relationship shortly after leaving me.

If rock bottom was a destination, the heartbreak of losing the relationship and her moving on to someone else seamlessly had sent me there. Not only was I left mourning the loss of love, but I was living with the fact that someone else had taken my place in her heart.

I had to give up the house, along with my dreams of spending our lives together. Even losing her family after they had embraced me as one of their own cut me more deeply than I could express.

All day, every day, I kept picturing her everywhere—even in my sleep, as I dreamed of her constantly.

What was wrong with me? I asked myself over and over again. I wondered, how could someone say they love you and show so much affection for so long, but within an instant turn into a stranger? The relentless analyzing of our time together seemed to never end.

I could see my family and friends were doing everything they could for me, but I couldn’t connect with them, or myself. I constantly felt my heart was being crushed and I thought I was losing my mind, as I would endure a year’s worth of emotions each day.

However, after countless breakdowns, grieving, crying enough tears to fill the Amazon River, and spiralling into depression, I came to realize that some of the greatest answers in life come from the questions we never ask.

These are the answers I found to help reclaim my life back from heartbreak.

The first answer came through forgiveness. Forgiving your heartbreaker is a personal decision. You don’t have to do it face-to-face, nor do you have to condone them for their actions. I found my forgiveness had to happen continually; “forgive over and over again” became my mantra.

One thing that helped me forgive was empathizing with my ex’s decision to leave me. Although this shattered my heart, I came to accept, forgive, and understand her choice, because she wasn’t happy; and that’s something I can understand, because I too would leave a relationship if I were no longer happy.

In the end, she decided what was best for her path in life, and it was up to me how her decision affected my life.

I could either be bitter and angry because she abandoned me, or I could choose to forgive and see her off with love.

It was by far the hardest thing I’ve done. However, choosing love through forgiveness was an essential step to take on my healing journey.

Another step in the right direction for me was writing down everything I was grateful for every morning and night—simple gifts in everyday life, such as the warm sun on my skin, a fresh breeze, or even a smile from a stranger (it’s amazing what a smile from someone does to you).

Taking the time to recognize all the little blessings each day offered completely changed my outlook.

If you feel you are struggling to find gratitude in your life, place your hand over your heart. Can you feel its beat? That alone is the most powerful gift you can be grateful for.

Practicing these lessons has allowed my personal development to grow further than I thought possible.

I still have moments where I break down, cry, and feel as though I’ve been swallowed in a sea of sadness, anxiety, and stress. Nevertheless, I have learned to be watchful when these moments start to overwhelm me. I begin to focus on my breath and mindfully engage with the present moment by acknowledging my senses and focusing on what I can see, hear, and feel.

Once I have bought myself to the present, I recognize and accept my thoughts and feelings with complete self-love. I do not judge or discourage myself for having them. Instead, I embrace and grow through each thought or feeling while it is with me, knowing it shall eventually pass.

Everything passes eventually. The present is all we truly have, and the only permanency in life is impermanence.

When you’re dealing with heartbreak, happiness can feel another world away. However, continue to read, write, create, surround yourself with loved ones, seek professional help, and allow yourself to do the things you enjoy. These are the steps that will help you get through this.

Furthermore, be brave and open up to new ventures. Engaging with people on deeper levels, daily meditation, writing, and finding yoga were some of the greatest gifts my heartbreak welcomed into my life.

So say yes to happiness, to love, to a positive mindset, and continually affirm that you have the strength to handle whatever comes your way. Acknowledging that things are constantly getting better will be a huge turning point in your healing.

While the pain may sit with you as you adjust to this new phase in life, remember, you are growing in these times, and every experience in life offers you a gift. Even heartbreak.

A bad chapter in your story doesn’t mean it’s the end, either. It’s just part of your journey. And everyone’s journey is different, so don’t feel you must rush through your grieving and heal as fast as possible; instead, welcome in all that comes with it. You may be hurt, but you are reading this and taking the steps to gain strength so you can move forward in life.

After all, moving forward is all we can do. How would you do driving a car constantly looking in the rear-view mirror? Don’t allow your past to cause a crash in your present. Continue to look forward and see the world in each moment as it continually comes toward you.

When you are ready, you will open your heart and love again. Even though you may feel your heartbreaker took that love away, they didn’t! They simply helped bring it out of you by reflecting the love you feel eternally within yourself. The beauty of this is that you can feel that love all the time through self-love. No one has the power to take that away.

The more love you give yourself and others, the more you’ll receive in return.

Embrace this time and let your life become full of beauty and love as you move onward from heartbreak to happiness.

Lonely man image via Shutterstock

Profile photo of Tom Baxter

About Tom Baxter

Tom is a life adventurer, who loves to explore and immerse himself within the world through travel, meditation, and yoga. Creative outlets such as writing and playing music help fuel his passion to help others on their journey of personal development.

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  • Tra

    Thank you for being so open and honest, Your story hit home for me…and I needed this right now – to read, to reflect and possibly gain some strength. Thank you and I hope all is great for you.

  • Sharuhk

    How about if the one who has grown distant and cold for no discernible reason is a family member! My mother has almost aggressively distanced herself emotionally from me and it’s broken my heart. She’s in her 80s but her mind is sound so it’s not that. I know her husband is not a fan of me, but she’s never let anything like that come between us in the past. I’ve been respecting her clear (but unspoken) wishes and giving her lots of space, cutting WAY down in my correspondence with her (and being very brief — just the facts ma’am! — when I do).
    We don’t have much time left and I hate to waste it like this, but I can’t MAKE her want to be close again, can I?

  • Tom Baxter

    Hi Tra,

    Thank you for sharing such kind words. I am so glad my story
    was able to resonate with you. Heart break is one of the hardest trials we face
    in life and although the path back to happiness can be a difficult one to endure,
    if we choose, we can make it one of our greatest triumphs. You are strong, you
    are loved and nothing can take that away from you.
    All the best

  • Tom Baxter

    Hi Sharuhk,

    I am so sorry to hear of your heart break with your mother. Unfortunately,
    we cannot control the choices that other people make. Be it family, friends,
    partners or even strangers, everyone will make their own decisions in life as
    we can make ours. I have found that always be open with communication, expressing my feelings and coming from a place of love towards others is the best way to approach any relationship.
    Always feel you can seek professional help and guidance as well.

    I wish you well and hope that through love, your relationship reunites

  • phoenixchick

    My situation was a bit different. I am a faithfully married woman who was inexplicably and incredibly drawn to another man. We never directly admitted anything to each other – it would have done no good, because I will not cheat on my husband and this other man has enough integrity, as well, to not cross any lines. It truly felt like I went nuclear, not only because of how I felt, but also knowing nothing could or would be done about it. He and I saw each other through a public organization, but he left and I have heard nothing since then. It was as devastating as any breakup I’ve had up until then. There’s nothing, really, to forgive – neither of us could help it, and neither of us did anything to encourage it, let alone anything worse. I wish I could tell him that I’m sorry that both of us were so deeply hurt. All I can do is hope that his life is filled with much happiness and success and many blessings.

  • Tom Baxter

    Hi phoenixchick,

    I guess that it goes to show that although the script of heart break is different for everyone, the feelings, thoughts and emotions we undergo are the same. I think you summarised everything perfectly by saying “All I can do is hope that his life is filled with much happiness and success and many blessings”. Sometimes it is hard to hear our own words but in the end, it is through love that we can find peace with our heart break.

    Wishing you all the best

  • Brav3

    Hi Tom,
    Your article has touched me. My own broken heart goes to you and all those people who are in the same situation as you and me.

    I have been going through breakup as well. My ex gf broke up with me after 2.5 years of loving relationship and I was shocked and clueless. Its been almost 3 months now, and I still cry in morning or night, thinking how could she do this. My situation is hard because even though she abandoned me emotionally, she is still in my life as co worker. Sometimes, even looking at her, makes me feel this intense pain of loss.

    Today, for the first time, I started to think about my resistance to forgive her. I know I will forgive her in future but not now. I am trying to let go which is the hardest thing in this world.

    Buddhist psychology is very helpful in handling this. I suggest you to read some books on it. “When things falls apart’ and ‘ The places that scares you’ by Pema Chodron. There are some talks on youtube by Jack Kornfielld that works like soothing balm for your burning, broken heart.

  • Tra

    Beautiful, loving words. Thank you for sharing your kindness!

  • Tom Baxter

    Hi Brav3,

    Thank you for taking the time to write your post. I am truly sorry to hear of your heart break and can definitely relate to what you are going through.

    Forgiveness and letting go are both very challenging processes. However, just by thinking of it shows you are on the right path. It does take time, but the more you manifest on those thoughts, the more you come to believe in them and soon enough you will live them.

    Our paths take many turns in life, mostly unexpected. However, these turns are always taking us to where we need to be. Although it may not feel it now, and I didn’t feel it after 3 months, but everything will get better. You will live life with a much greater perspective and appreciation having walked through heart breaks path.

    I absolutely adore all of Pema’s work. She is a great example of how heart break can directly lead you onto your true calling in life. I would also suggest reading Eckhart Tolle’s, The Power of Now.

    All the best my friend

  • phoenixchick

    Thank you – and to you, as well.

  • Brav3

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for your reply.

  • Brav3

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for your reply. Indeed, I never expected my life would turn this way and there’s still alot of pain and grief that I am working on. I can relate to your rock bottom stage, I am currently living it. For the first time in my life, I do not know where I am heading but this time I have decided to let it be and not holding on to anything ( learnt from Pema’s book). Maybe I meant to stay alone forever. Maybe I never meant to have wife and kids. Maybe I need to go to spiritual path and renunciate this world. I don’t know. I do know that I would never go back to the way I was. She changed first and changed me on her way out of my life.

    I am still struggling with questions that you described ” What was wrong with me? and how could someone say they love you and show so much affection for so long, but within an instant turn into a stranger? The relentless analyzing of our time together seemed to never end”. Could you tell me a bit your experience on that. How did you handle that? Any advice is much appreciated.

    I did read The Power of now. Currently, reading Jack Kornfield’s Wise heart. All the best to you to.

  • Ike Vazladelis

    I feel as though this was written for me!! I went through exactly the same thing! Everything you say makes perfect sense Tom and I’m working through it just as you have. It’s taken me three and a half years though as my world was ripped apart. I carried her on my hands and I too woke up everyday in shock and disbelief when everything crumbled. She also re-married mere months after literally RUNNING away but today I am the best version of myself and I know I will heal completely.

  • Christopher Lee

    I am going through this right now. Almost exactly in fact except add in 7 yrs of marriage and 3 kids.

    We still live together for the time being as well (this is very recent 6 weeks or so).
    We’ve done all we can to make things decent between us for the sake of the kids but at times I’ve boiled over and have taken it hard and I’m sure that feeling will hit again once she moves with the kids.
    It has been hard overall and really hasn’t started getting a little better until 2 weeks ago when inread an article on here on letting go and being reminded of impermanence. Even as I type this she is with another man in another relationship leaving her words of unhappiness to hang in the air. It hurts to know I couldn’t make her happy but I think more as i dive into myself I realize that we are responsible for our own happiness and her reactions her emotions are greater reflections of her own self, her insecurities, etc as is the same with me.

    I have a long way to go but I have hope a plan and support (like this page which I’ve come to love).

    Thank you for sharing this.

  • Christopher Lee

    I am going through this right now. Almost exactly in fact except add in 7 yrs of marriage and 3 kids.

    We still live together for the time being as well (this is very recent 6 weeks or so).
    We’ve done all we can to make things decent between us for the sake of the kids but at times I’ve boiled over and have taken it hard and I’m sure that feeling will hit again once she moves with the kids.
    It has been hard overall and really hasn’t started getting a little better until 2 weeks ago when inread an article on here on letting go and being reminded of impermanence. Even as I type this she is with another man in another relationship leaving her words of unhappiness to hang in the air. It hurts to know I couldn’t make her happy but I think more as i dive into myself I realize that we are responsible for our own happiness and her reactions her emotions are greater reflections of her own self, her insecurities, etc as is the same with me.

    I have a long way to go but I have hope a plan and support (like this page which I’ve come to love).

    Thank you for sharing this.

  • Sri Purna Widari

    Hi Tom, it must have been a shock for you when you heard it the first time and I can only imagine how overwhelming it was for you. Heartbreak was tough and there were times when I found it hard to forgive and I did not force it. Good luck on your journey.

  • Sri Purna Widari

    Hi Christopher, I am sorry for what happened to you.
    It must have been painful.
    I have never been married nor have kids, and honestly this kind of thing like separation or divorce when there are kids is one of the most frightening thing that I can think of.
    You are now in the grieving process. I am sure you have been shocked with this decision even when you have thought about doing it already.
    It will be easy to blame yourself when you see your ex with someone else and I can imagine how hurtful it is but probably it has nothing to do with you. It is probably her fear to be alone, her fear of loneliness, her fear of financial insecurity, etc.
    I am sure you will feel angry, sad, disappointed, and scared too to the uncertainty an it will be perfectly normal.
    I hope you will give yourself time to grief properly, to feel and label the emotions when it resurfaces, and cry as much as you need.
    But in the process, please remember to eat well, drink enough water, exercise, journal your feelings and thoughts, talk to someone especially those who have been through this, communicate with your kids as a reminder of the strength you need for them, watch movies that make you laugh,and whatever self care that feels right for you.
    I wish you strength, resilience, wisdom, and love.

  • Sri Purna Widari

    Hi, I feel your pain.
    You are scared to be hurt again and it is completely normal.
    I broke up last year and thinking of entering a new relationship is overwhelming for me right now.
    Even though I do not know you in person, I am sure you are a lovely human being who will find love once you are brave enough to open your heart again.
    At the moment your fear and pain might overpower your faith and that is okay and maybe it takes longer time to heal.
    I am wishing you peace and healing.

  • Sri Purna Widari

    Hi you,

    I can feel your pain.
    I was the other woman and trust me when I tell you it is probably for your own good that nothing happened between you too because if it did, your pain would be even more like what I had.
    I literally wanted to end my life when it was over.
    I felt ashamed.
    I hope you will be brave enough to leave your marriage if you are not happy.
    As much as I believe it will be hard and I would like to believe that you are doing your best to fix it, I hope you know that you deserve to be happy.

  • Sri Purna Widari

    Hi Sharuhk,

    I left my father who has hit me.
    The violence happened repeatedly since I was a child and although there were bright times in our relationship, I could never really trust him completely.
    It has been 8 months since I left and he never apologized and never reached out to me.
    I have been hurt and held grudges.
    i was angry at myself that I let this happen and I could not protect my mom in the past when it happened to her too.
    If you suffer with this rift, why don’t you tell her how you really feel?
    Is it safe for you to ask why she decided to keep her distance for you?
    Are you ready with her honest answer?
    Are you ready with her possible rejection?
    Is it possible that you have hurt her feeling so deeply that she could not tolerate it anymore?
    I just finished listening to Four Agreement about NOT TO MAKE ASSUMPTION.
    She is probably hurting and I am sure when she is ready, she will contact you.
    Wish you peace.

  • Tom Baxter

    For me, it was a gradual process. Coming to fully understand that I couldn’t have done any more for the relationship was a large part of my healing. While yes, I made mistakes (as we all do) and in hindsight I could have done things differently, I feel comfortable to move forward knowing that I always did all I could throughout our time together.

    Furthermore, embracing that I could not control how my ex felt, nor could I control her decision on wanting to live her life without me. This came through constantly forgiving her.

    In the end, my life is not controlled by anyone else but myself. While I may face challenges on my path, it is up to me how I react and act upon them. Accepting all of this was in my hands allowed me to let go of those questions.

    As long as your are always coming from a place of love, you can rest easy within yourself. How others choose to take this is entirely up to them. By doing this though, you will always find or have peace with your life.

    Keep doing what you are doing. This is just another part of your journey and with positive thinking, you just never know what beauty may be coming into it next.

  • Tom Baxter

    Hi Ike,

    Thank you for writing. I am glad my story spoke to you. Although we feel so isolated at the time, there are millions of people who are sharing the same experience.

    It is a life changing event to go through but as you perfectly put it, “today I am the best version of myself”. If we can take the pain of heart break and turn it into this, while allowing everything to run through us, rather than trying to constantly control it, we’ll live a very beautiful life.

    All the best my friend. Life still has plenty of beauty to offer you

  • Tom Baxter

    For me, it was a gradual process. Coming to fully understand that I couldn’t have done any more for the relationship was a large part of my healing. While yes, I made mistakes (as we all do) and in hindsight I could have done things differently, I feel comfortable to move forward knowing that I always did all I could throughout our time together.

    Furthermore, embracing that I could not control how my ex felt, nor could I control her decision on wanting to live her life without me. This came through constantly forgiving her.

    In the end, my life is not controlled by anyone else but myself. While I may face challenges on my path, it is up to me how I react and act upon them. Accepting all of this was in my hands allowed me to let go of those questions.

    As long as your are always coming from a place of love, you can rest easy within yourself. How others choose to take this is entirely up to them. By doing this though, you will always find or have peace with your life.

    Keep doing what you are doing. This is just another part of your journey and with positive thinking, you just never know what beauty may be coming into it next.

  • Tom Baxter

    Hi Christopher,

    I’m sorry to hear of your heartbreak.

    It is good to see you are reading and allowing yourself to grow. I also found reading many articles, blogs and books helped me immensely. Plus, it sounds as though you are really understanding that no one has control of your happiness, nor can we give permanent happiness to someone else either. It has to come from within.

    Essentially you summed it up well. We reflect what we feel within ourselves. I have found that by always looking to grow through life’s lessons, embracing the beauty of each day and to always come from a place of love, this will guide you into a life full of peace (even during the hard times), which reflects onto others.

    It is natural to be thinking and feeling the way you are during a time like this, we all do. However, this can be a time where you really embrace yourself as you are. You can learn so much of yourself and grow into the person you were always meant to be.

    I wish you all the best

  • Tom Baxter

    Hi Sri,

    Thank you for your kind words. Yes it was a difficult time I had to face but through it came so many gifts. So much so, I wouldn’t change what I went through for anything.

    I wish you well and thank you for sharing your compassionate thoughts with others on here.

  • Sri Purna Widari

    Your welcome.
    I know how it feels to have pain and I know how it feels to be alone when experiencing it or when I have someone comforting me.
    So, now it is my turn.
    Keep on writing authentically.
    Hugs.

  • Brav3

    I have been trying to develop this understanding of ‘I couldn’t have done any more for the relationship’. It is very slow. Sometimes, thoughts like ‘ if I would’ve done that or this better’ keeps on judging me.

    It is one of the most excruciating feeling in this world when the persons you love most says you that she doesn’t love you anymore and go separate ways. Embracing it, itself feels like insurmountable task, not sure when will I start the forgiveness for her. Perhaps its due to that its been only 3 months and feel her presence at my workplace. I avoid contact with her all times.

    However, I think I am getting better with my acceptance, again very slow. There are days when I am on the roller coaster ride of emotions, early morning and nights are the worst and there are days of peace and calm as well.

    Yours words very helpful and inspiring. Thank you very much to take the time out and writing it.

  • Brav3

    Hi Sri,

    Thank you for your kind words. My last relationship has shaken me from my roots and I am trying to understand what has happened. Its been 3 months and emotions are never ending.

    I wish you all the best to.

  • LovenoLimit

    I can’t Shake this hurt inside of me. I know I need to let go. I know I do. If only it was
    That easy

  • Xv

    This have been a constantly to go place whenever I feel lost and felt that I’m sinking in the deep deep hole every now and then. It has been only 1month but the pain still seems like it was just yesterday.

  • ashish dhiman

    LovenoLimit. Everything happens for a reason and there are no accidents. Every experience brings a lesson with it, we must recognize it. We gotta feel it to heal it, otherwise the pain will remain inside our body and it will cause dis-ease to us. Hope that light of wisdom stays with us.

  • LovenoLimit

    Thanks for the kind and uplifting reply. Believe it or not, I’ve come a long way and I’m not hurting no where as much as I was when I wrote this a month ago. Every experience does bring a lesson. I was able to look at the bigger picture and realized that I dodged a huge bullet. I was able to reflect on the pros and cons and how I would benefit if the relationship did continue. And it wasn’t much.

  • Tora

    Hi everyone
    I am actually getting over mine. I endure it for 16yrs of an almost 17 yr marriage. I hate myself that I didn’t feel worthy enough to move on. I allowed him to cheat ..call me names..leave and beg him to come bk to hurt me again and again. This pain is so deep and when I try to heal to move beyond it a little bit he goes and do something else and I believe it was my fault. I ve been fighting for my marriage and family but I m tired and lost the battle. I know I m beautiful smart worthy and desired by someone. This article is very helpful and interesting. Keep your head up its there lost.

    Tora

  • J

    Thank you for this article. Today my fiance and I decided that we had reached a point of no return. It is incredibly painful, but this article made me think about the incredible wonder that is pain.