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Healing a Broken Heart: It Will Get Better

Sad Woman

“This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

I thought I went through my last breakup a few years ago. I thought I had paid my dues, cried my share of tears, and dealt with some deep wounds. I thought I was done. I was happy and in love, and talking about moving in with my boyfriend.

One day we took a little vacation. We laughed and explored the desert excitedly talking about our dreams. Three days later I found myself sobbing on the floor of my tub, hot steam clouding around me.

Our breakup was actually quite beautiful aside from the shock and confusion. We looked into each other’s eyes. We smiled. We cried. We held each other. We said goodbye.

It might sound like we handled this really well, and in many ways we did. We always respected one another. We never said anything hurtful or manipulative. I think that shows how much we loved and cared for one another.

But I was still a mess, deeply heartbroken and deeply depressed. It was the deepest depression I’d ever been in. I could do little more than cry and stare at the ceiling. Nothing in me wanted to stay in bed and nothing in me wanted to get out. It felt like torturous limbo with a crushing weight on my chest.

My mind couldn’t comprehend a day when I wouldn’t feel like this. Each night I fell asleep I prayed the morning would be different. But each day I woke up with a pang in my stomach and a heaviness in my heart.

Until one day I didn’t.

It wasn’t a miracle. My pain didn’t disappear in my sleep. But I started to feel better. The first day I was able to eat a little more. The next day I found myself laughing with a friend. I slowly started to be able to sleep longer hours and function more clearly. It was a snail’s pace, but it was progress.

If you’re going through a breakup right now the truth is that it will get better.

I needed to hear this over and over again from other people. When the pain is so intense it takes over everything. It’s very difficult to believe anything will change. I would call my mom in the mornings sobbing into the phone, “It still hurts. It’s not getting any better. Why does it still hurt?”

It’s supposed to hurt. Your heart is broken. You loved deeply, and now it’s over. One side of the coin is that endings are really sad. The other side is that endings are opportunities for new beginnings, and that’s really exciting, even if you can’t feel the excitement right now.

It was difficult for me to see that I was making any progress so I documented my days over those weeks. I found that there were five key things that helped me begin to heal:

  • I felt all the feelings.
  • I took advantage of my support system.
  • I gave myself love and compassion.
  • I took responsibility for my life.
  • I focused on me instead of him.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to allow yourself to grieve when your heart is broken.

Our bodies are intelligent. They can hold trauma for a lifetime. When we sob so deeply our chests heave and the tears fly out, our bodies are purging the pain. Allow this to happen. I was so tired of crying, but I would keep on doing it as I needed. I actually cried a little a few hours ago. It lessens. The pain lessens. I assure you this.

There were two or three people who were my everything during my lowest low. I used their support to get me through all of the times when I just wanted to give up on my life. I talked things through incessantly, something that can help us come to terms with the situation. Our minds need to process the change, especially if it was traumatic or sudden.

It’s really important that these are people who understand you, who are capable of being there for you in this way, and who are nonjudgmental. Someone who is going to say to you, “Honey, I am so sorry you feel like this. My heart breaks for you.” Not all of our friends and family are capable of taking on that role, and that’s okay. You just need one or two.

Through these first two steps I started to gain my own strength and identity back. I got to a point where I knew that only I could pull myself up out of it. I had enough moments of clarity through my pain that I was able to see what I needed to do for myself, and I gave myself so much love.

I honored myself and acknowledged that my heart was broken. I didn’t judge myself for being weak or stress out about being low functioning. I just let myself fall into my own arms.

I treated myself like my own daughter. I asked how I was feeling and listened to the response with compassion. I kept telling myself, “I am here for you. I am always here for you.” This type of love for myself helped the pain dissipate. It helped me to feel worthy of life again.

I am also someone, probably very similar to you, who is always looking to better myself. Nothing in life is isolated—we’re all connected and affected by one another, so I knew there were deep things about myself to look at.

Instead of focusing on my ex and why he left, I began to look at myself. I questioned what I was doing in my life that left me in relationships where men chronically abandoned me.

I didn’t put pressure on myself to figure it all out, but I allowed the question to be there. I invited the answers to come in as they needed to. I knew that whatever was most obvious was probably not the full picture — and it wasn’t.

Through a candid conversation with a very close friend, I began to discover some of my deepest fears. I realized that when I get very close to people I become afraid I will lose them, something that occurred repeatedly in my childhood.

When someone I was close to shared a different perspective than mine, on some deep unconscious level I became threatened, terrified this was the beginning of the end for us. Ironically, my own fears of abandonment contributed to my relationship ending.

This kind of revelation is liberating when there is a lack of clarity in a breakup. I saw myself so much more clearly, and then I looked at the relationship through my ex’s perspective. I saw my newfound self through his eyes, and I understood how he felt. It all made sense.

One of the most important things I did that allowed me to heal was to focus on myself each time I thought of him.

This is especially true if you are not the one who wanted to break up. I didn’t reach out to him at all. I gave us each space. I knew seeing him show up on social media would increase the pain so I used all my willpower to stay focused on myself. If I felt the urge to check up on him I reminded myself that I didn’t need to feel any more pain. This was enough.

Getting through a breakup inevitably comes down to letting go. All of the steps I’m describing are about allowing.

We have to allow ourselves to feel everything.

We have to allow our feelings to be okay.

We have to allow ourselves to be supported.

We have to allow ourselves to be worthy of our own love.

We have to allow ourselves to see the truth.

And finally, we have to allow ourselves to move on.

I know it’s hard. I’m right there with you. Just remember that it will get better. 

Sad woman image via Shutterstock

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About Michelle D'Avella

Michelle D’Avella is a Breathwork teacher and mentor, giving people lifelong tools to free themselves of limitations and create lives with more peace and purpose. Download her FREE guide to heal your heart and follow her on Instagram for daily doses of inspiration.

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  • Isabelle

    You described the feeling so well, a broken heart really is one of the hardest and worst things to go through since the only thing that can heal it is time, which can sometimes feel like a standstill when you are heartbroken. As you said it really is important to let yourself go through it and grieve you will get through it and everything will be fine.

    Also remember that you had a life before this it is a REALLY hard thing to do but it helps a little bit and to know you will continue to have a life after them.

    I went through the same thing where I could not imagine myself not hurting it took me almost 2 years to fully get over my ex and for my heart to fully heal. Shortly after those 2 years, I met my now husband at the start of our relationship 7 years ago, I was still a bit traumatized and scared from the heartbreak I had endured and was so scared to go through it again but now we have been so happily married for 5 years and still going really strong. Of course you never really know what the future holds but we are both certain that we are each other’s love of our lives and that we want to be together until we are old and gray 🙂

    All this just to say that there is a light at the end of that long tunnel, after my biggest and hardest heartbreak came the perfect person for me who fills my heart with so much happiness and joy. When you are fully healed and ready the same thing will happen to you and sooner than you might think. The heartbreak I went through to this day helps me to appreciate what I have and who I have it with.

    Another thing my heartbreak made me realize is how amazing, true and caring family and friends are, all of them in their own way were there for me every step of the way offering me so much love and support it made the heartache a little easier. These people will always be there for you and with you through life and that is such a blessing and important thing to have.

  • awesome insights and truth, Michelle. This is one of the best pieces I’ve read on Tiny Buddha! I didn’t honor the support system i had around me when I went through something similar and found comfort in isolation. “We have to allow ourselves to be supported” is such an important line and life advice. Yes, it will get better but yes, it also requires work on our part as you’ve outlined here. Thank you for sharing your journey of healing and for writing with so much strength.

  • Thank you for your kind words, Vishnu. My support network has been such an important part of my healing journey, and I know it can be difficult for many people to rely on others when in need. We need to learn to allow ourselves to be there for each other, especially in our lowest moments.

  • Thank you for sharing your story, Isabelle. While I don’t necessarily believe time heals (I think we can harbor our pain in our bodies for a lifetime, part of why I teach Breathwork!), we can process our pain can truly heal. Our minds know the truth, that we’re being cleared out for something better, that the pain doesn’t last forever, that we had a life before this person and will have one after, but in the processing of grief the pain can be all encompassing. It’s powerful stuff. I’m so happy you have found a wonderful, committed partner. I know mine is on his way to me. 🙂

  • Jack

    Hi Michelle,
    I went through the same situation as you. I broke up with my ex about a month ago. We have been together for 4 years.
    We broke up happily after meeting up for the last time.
    At first , i just cry all day in my room and pretended to be okay in college. In the end i suffered a mental break down and things just went south starting from there.
    I miss her a lot, and the loneliness that i feel is just so terrible. The heaviness i felt in heart after waking up everyday just makes things worse and ruined my mood for the whole day. I was in a despair for the whole time and even attempted to hurt myself. I thought of committing suicide by jumping off my college building but the thought of being so irresponsible made me change my mind.
    Fortunately , there are many friends that supported me throughout this month and it really make thing so much better and i am really grateful for their support and love.
    Thank you for sharing your stories and i found some motivation to pull myself together to face the world again.

  • Though I marriage my only love and been married almost 18 years I found this article very helpful.

  • I’m glad. 🙂

  • Hi Jack,

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I am so glad you haven’t hurt yourself. I know it can feel like there is nothing worth living for, but please remember that these moments pass. They can be so overwhelming that it’s difficult to get outside of, to see any hope, but things always get better even if they feel like they don’t. I’m not sure where you live, but please use this as a resource if you ever feel suicidal again: http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html

    When we love deeply, when we are brave enough to open our hearts completely, we risk this kind of pain. But that’s why we’re here: to love. So don’t close your heart. If you begin to give yourself the love you’re longing for you’ll feel whole again.

    Sending you lots of love and healing.

  • This is beautiful Michelle. May you find the love and commitment that you are looking for in relationship and in yourself.

  • Thank you so much, Lori.

  • MeccaGodZilla

    Michelle, I do not know where to begin. I just want to say thank you. This write up helped so much! Blessings from NY and huge, huge thanks

  • tt

    Thank-you so much for this, it’s exactly what I needed, at the right time.
    Wishing you all the best for the future!

  • So glad to hear! Huge hugs back. <3

  • So happy to hear! You as well.

  • Paul

    I have been friends with a lady for many years and over the last year we began spending lots of time together. she has been married and been divorced for many years. She was involved in a 2 year relationship that ended with her heart broken where she was giving 100% and the man was not doing enough to be with her. She ended the relationship. Know here i come and let me 1st say I have always been attracted to her and thought here is my opportunity to finally get a chance to be with this woman. I showed her who I was and my feelings of unconditional love , completely re did her home and worked side by side on many home projects, family issues, – celebrated her in her new career and gave her so much emotional support and unconditional love and treated her they way i knew she derserved to be treated , broke down many walls i believe that she had put up to protect herself and she allowed me in so i continued in hopes that eventually she would see i was the one for her and we made a great couple…. all around her would say how lucky she was she had me in her life and she often acknowledged the same and questioned why she derserved anything. so you get the picture very close … never sexual however every other aspects of our relationship- friendship was that of a couple.

    So here is the rub- she declined a dinner invite by me and said another time as she had a date !!! i lost it

  • LovenoLimit

    “When you are fully healed and ready”. I can’t wait for the day when I’m fully healed and ready. And I do know where I’m making my mistakes and how it’s holding me back. I will eventually get to the point where I feel these behaviors are no longer necessary