To Fully Heal Your Broken Heart, Make Sure You Do This

Broken heart

“Grief is healthy and it is healing.” ~Richard Moss

When I was a little girl there was this belief floating around in my head that there was only one person. One person who was my soulmate. One person who could love me. I think the belief was formed by some concoction of Disney movies, religion, and American culture.

What’s worse than this belief is that I somehow found myself afraid that I wouldn’t even have one person. I was afraid I would be alone. Forever.

I don’t know when I adopted the belief that I wasn’t enough, that I might not find someone, that I was unlovable. My mom did her best to reassure me, but it didn’t quite do the trick.

Self-love is the work we have to do ourselves. No one else can give us that gift, no matter how young we happen to be. 

Into my third decade of life I did the deep work that led me to discover what it actually meant to love myself. My life transformed in so many incredible ways, and then I no longer worried about whether there was someone out there who would love me. I knew I was lovable, and by more than one person.

At some later point I met a man. I liked him, but there were some red flags. He was a bit flaky, and he lacked the ability to communicate maturely. I was about to walk away, and then suddenly everything changed. The red flags turned green, and we pranced off into the moonlight.

That red lack-of-communication flag never really turned green. Nothing had actually changed. He just hid who he really was until he felt suffocated and invisible. After almost a year of living like this he left me with no warning.

For a long time I felt so much pain that my entire being melted into sorrow. I fell into a deep depression and reached out to a spiritual teacher who wrote me this:

Please do not indulge any thought that attacks yourself or even your ex-boyfriend. Grief is healthy and it is healing.

I wrote back to this teacher that I wasn’t indulging in negative thoughts, that the pain was so overwhelming that I felt no anger, just the deepest sadness I’d ever felt.

I spent a lot of time in bed feeling my pain, crying, and thinking. This was a man who I was building a life with. This was a man I opened my whole heart to. This man showed me love and support like I’d never experienced before. And then he swiftly took it all away. As I lay in bed for days with a churning mind the stories began to surface in whispers:

See, I am unlovable. He didn’t think I was worth loving.  I’m not enough.

And the stories grew louder.

“Please do not indulge any thought that attacks yourself.”

The stories we tell ourselves that deny the essence of who we are may be so deeply rooted that we’re unconscious of their presence. I was attacking myself. Each time I allowed these beliefs to hold an ounce of truth I was attacking myself.

So I worked on loving myself instead. I worked on seeing the truth of who I was in each moment. The truth I found was this: I am worth loving. I am enough. I am lovable. I am beautiful. I am whole. All of this is true right now, in every single moment I am living. 

A few months into my grief, the anger began to surface, and I started to vilify him. I was tired of feeling the pain, so my mind created stories about him to make me feel better. I told myself he was incapable of loving me, that he couldn’t allow me to be fully me. I thought about how he was a selfish person for treating me the way he did.

Please do not indulge any thought that attacks yourself or even your ex-boyfriend.”

My teacher was right. Those stories didn’t do my ex justice. They didn’t honor the time we shared together. And they didn’t actually serve me. They were a weak tool to help me avoid my pain.

The truth is simply that he wasn’t my person anymore. And that didn’t make him wrong. It didn’t make him bad. I didn’t have to turn him into a villain to heal my wounds. I didn’t have to diminish my pain or justify his actions. I could simply allow for the pain and allow for the healing.

Grief is healthy and it is healing.”

That breakup took me down, down, down. It made me forget who I am so I could find myself again. It was the greatest gift I have been given in a very long time, and it took me many months to recognize the gift at all.

Grief is healthy and it is healing. I didn’t need to make up stories to ease my pain because the more I hid from it the more it had a hold on me. Instead, I chose to let the pain wash over me. I allowed it to teach me. That’s how grief can become a gift.

We don’t need to hold on to old lovers, torturing ourselves with “what-ifs” that don’t serve us.

We don’t need to condemn ourselves for being imperfect, for being too much, for not doing all the right things.

And we don’t need to denigrate the people we have loved because they hurt us.

I have never been more confident that I will have an incredible partner in life one day. You can too. But first you have to let go of that story, whether you’ve adopted it as a child or created it to feel less pain as an adult. Stop shrinking yourself down because you won’t let go.

Allow for the grief so you can begin to truly heal. Through healing you will grow more fully into yourself, and from that place you will discover the truth. Release the burdens of storytelling. You don’t actual need them. You are strong enough to heal on your own.

About Michelle D'Avella

Michelle D’Avella is an author, Breathwork teacher and mentor. Her memoir, The Bright Side of a Broken Heart is available here. Download her FREE guide to heal your heart and follow her on Instagram for daily doses of inspiration.

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  • Livelife364

    Hi Michelle
    I’m a 49 year old male who has gone through a relationship that turned my world upside down. The sole purpose of this relationship was to force me to confront my shadows, the old stories, just like you. Yes, the relationship was a gift, because it has helped me to re-align with my Life Purpose. But it also exposed a core shadow of mine, which is that I am not lovable, and do not deserve to be loved. So, just like you, I made up more stories (like I need more stories) about this other person, and vilified them. But deep down I know that that is not fair, and also not the answer. I’ve been grappling with this for many months now, and today I realized that I do not have to hold on to this person. I am lovable, and I have a lot that I can bring into a relationship. And, most importantly, I realized that I have the choice and the capability to attract the person I would like to be with into my life, once I am perfectly clear as to who I would like in my life. So your article came at exactly the right time (no coincidence, of course), and it means a lot to me. Thank you very much for sharing your journey with us. I am sure you are helping many people with your honesty.

    All the best on your path.


  • sia

    Hi there.. I just entered the phase of anger of grief and I have been continuously obsessed with bad thoughts of suffering and punishment for my ex. I have to see him everyday at work,i got him that job even after he cheated on me many times and married someone else just because I still had feelings for him then. I cannot stop myself from praying for a horrible torturous pain in his life from past 3weeks. As u said in the article, I hope this phase passes away sooner.. I want to be normal again.
    Great article, at a good time for me
    Thank you

  • Hey there. Man, that’s a rough one. I would suggest looking inward at your own pain in the moments you are overwhelmed by rage. Often time we push our pain outward because we have difficulty processing it on our own and letting it go. Glad the article helped.

  • Amen, Gunter! Beautiful realizations, and I’m so happy to have been a part of that final validation. Much love to you and the beautiful future that awaits you.

  • S. Flores

    This article is just what I needed to see. I have been stuck for literally years with each and every previous failed relationship hounding me to the point I find myself now: unemployed, depressed, miserable, and living a solitary life while being married to another failure! No, I don’t mean he is a failure, but the 27 year relationship is, and has been for a long time. I have tried so many things; chakra cleansing-balancing, removal of negative crystilline blockages in my body-spirit, prayer, self-appreciation through demonstrated love gifts, reflexology, past-life regression and forward life progression with positivity and nurture thinking. But to this day, I still feel like I am unworthy. The fact that this scenerio has been repeated throughout my 48 years on this planet and across sexual, love, work and friend relationships is proof to me that there is something wrong here. But finally, here in your words, I can feel the “truth” of acknowledging the pain without demonizing the ‘others’, opening myself to the grieving process without making up stories that only serve to further insulate me from the pain, and finally letting go of this lifetime full of anguish over every bad decision, poor choice and bad investment. I just want to thank you again, I will cry, scream, wither and probably eat a ton of ben and jerry’s finest before this is over, but it will be over and I can finally see the truth (and the light) at the end of the tunnel!

  • Aidin

    As always amazing…

    I have been 3 months into breakup, there are lots of ups and downs obviously and I have kept me no contact to minimize the pain and repercussions.

    However the harmful train of thoughts don’t leave me alone even for a day. It is extremely hard to prove myself that the result of the relationship is not because of my inadequacy or insecurities.

    Thank you for the amazing read.

    I pray for all the broken hearts to be healed.

  • Eva Sparrow

    Dear Michelle,

    Thank you so much for this article, it’s something I’ve been needing to read.

    Everything you describe in this article about your previous relationship is exactly like it was for me and my ex. We shared a very intense/passionate love for each other, we felt to be each others soulmates. During my depression, he was the one who fully supported and loved me. I had never felt this kind of commitment from anybody. It made me feel safe and so loved.

    And then, without any warning, he announced that he was leaving me. My entire world that I had built around him, got shattered into a million pieces. I could’t comprehend any of it. I just could not understand that someone, who told me how much he loved me everyday, who was making future plans with me, who often said that i was the love of his life, could suddenly back out and leave. It ripped my heart out and made me feel that I could never trust anybody again.

    After a few moths, he knocked at my door telling me that he’d made a big mistake, that he was incredibly sorry ans that he couldn’t imagine a life without me. I forgave him, thankful to have him back into my life. One year later the same thing happened.

    This time it was somehow less painful. I felt stronger, like I was preparing for this to happen again. Instead of feeling lost, I experienced anger and disbelieve that he could do this to me a second time. He came to his senses yet again after a month, but this time I told him to get out of my life for good. I found out that he had been cheating on me and been dishonest about a lot of things.

    It’s been one year and I don’t miss him, thankfully. But I can still feel the anger about his betrayal and the way he treated me in those last few months that we were together. In my mind, I’ve made a narcissistic, lying, cheating & immature asshole out of him, which reflects the pain I still feel. Of course, I realize that this is not an image that actually reflects who he is and the beautiful moments we shared together.

    I realize that these feelings are getting in my way, especially since I recently started seeing someone new. I notice that I often get insecure, finding it hard to truly believe all the sweet things my new boyfriend says to me. I keep getting scared that he’s going to change his mind about me. There is something in my mind telling me that in the end I’m not worth fighting for.
    I KNOW that this is bullshit and totally untrue. But it’s hard to let those feelings of anger and disappointment go.

    So THANK YOU for reminding me that these bad/painful memories about my ex, shouldn’t control how I feel about new relationships. That these feelings of anger are nothing but a coping mechanism for the pain I’m still processing. Grief is OK, grief is good, grief heals, this too shall pass.

    Kind Regards,

  • Ben

    I got my heart broken two years ago. I know I don’t want another partner, my feelings for that person who doesn’t want me anymore are too strong. But I know I am perfect the way I am, I can love myself and have the great and fulfilling life I always imagined on my own.

  • Álvaro

    Thank you, Michelle. Agreed with every word.

    Also: if your soul is half as beautiful as this article shows, you’re very right to be confident you’ll find someone. 🙂

  • Yes! You got this! Be present with each and every emotion. Allow it to surface. Feel what it’s pointing to. Give yourself love. Let it go.

  • Hi Aidin, Continue to be patient with yourself. Healing is a process. Do your best to give yourself as much love as you need.

  • Thank you for sharing this, Eva. I’ve been doing some writing on anger that I’ll be sharing over on my blog shortly. It’s a powerful energy that can hold us down if we don’t use it properly. Often times we use anger to avoid feeling the pain beneath. That pain often points to our deep wounds, the unworthiness you’re speaking about. We have to heal those parts of ourselves to be able to show up in our new relationships in a healthy way. Keep working on self love. <3

  • Glad to hear you are connected with that truth, Ben.

  • Very sweet of you, Alvaro. Much appreciated. 🙂

  • Sue

    You are an inspiration. This post resonates with me, loud and clear. Thank you for showing me to the other side, where the happiness hides.

  • Thank you, Sue. <3

  • Jojo

    Thank you Michelle for this. This post strikes a chord with me as I just came out of a break up and I find myself struggling to let myself mourn the relationship without constant rehashing and trying to figure out if I did the right thing or not.

    I was the one who initiated the break up because despite how nice, funny and caring as my ex was, I felt an emotional void in that relationship. I felt like I could not connect with him emotionally and felt like I didn’t have enough emotional support. He is a very busy man so we don’t spend much time together and he doesn’t do too well at consoling me in times of difficulty but I know he was trying his best. We decided to break up after trying countless times to bridge the emotional gap. I ruminated after the break up because I wanted to make sense of it and try to learn what do I truly want in a relationship but I find myself wondering if I have made the correct decision. Did my feeling of lack of emotional support come from lack of boundaries or because we really could not connect?

    We decided to be friends after the break up and his messages are confined to sending me links of common interest and no further responses after my reply to his messages. I can’t help but be triggered by his messages as it made me miss the times that we had together more, and the way we used to text. But today I told myself that I’m allowed to feel sad but no amount of thinking and wondering will change the past. I can only learn to move THROUGH this grief, and eventually it will pass. Thank you for reminding me that.

  • AJ83

    I needed this article more than I thought. I am fresh, FRESH, in a “break” with my S/O of three years and he blind sided me with this news, and I don’t feel we will reconcile. He has the same red flags and I rode them out because I felt it was just a phase. I’ve been heartbroken before, so I know this does not last forever, but nonetheless the grief of this is the worst so I hope it means my healing will be the best!

  • Liz

    Can you tell me whats wrong with “what if”? What if IT really happens, you know? I know it cant be guaranteed 100% but something similar? What can we do about them?
    Ive fallen into depression that way too by Holding on to many negative beliefs, overthinking, holding on to damaging emotions (actually my unconscious brain did). Suddenly this yr I realized how much I suffered with emotional & mental health since ive an anxiety disorder. That made it worse. Not only that but being hypersensitive was just way too much for my system that i think i got chronic fatigue. Ive realized how much ive suffered. I started crying. I saw myself broken, shattered into pieces, my grief was so huge & everything was going downhill.

  • Deb

    Thank you Michelle. Although my grief comes from a different source, I’ve moved slightly past the anger and I’m learning to allow the grief to wash over me, to feel it so I can move on to a better, truer me. Thank you for your articulate words. It calms my heart to know there are others that stop to learn and be better. Better just themselves and just for the joy it brings to life.

  • lizacat29

    Thank you for your article. I copied many of your phrases into my journal, making them personal advice: “I don’t need to turn myself into a villain in order to punish myself or atone”, “I don’t need to turn “x” into a villain in order to ease my pain”, “I don’t need to hold on to what-ifs, or to condemn my self for being an imperfect human for” (fill in the blank). However, I am going through a rough patch again…left a 3 year relationship, moved to a new part of the country where I have no friends yet, and my 94 year old father died. Lots of grief…and as those feelings wash over me, I find that every single mistake, sadness, and loss of the last few years .result of another rough patch: leaving my 38 year marriage, moving to a new area to care for my parents, 3 self-destructive relationships with some pretty disturbed people) has popped up again. I have tried yoga, meditation, rituals, and working with therapists and I’ve done “ok” for awhile. But my point is, I thought I’d done it, let go, accepted, forgiven. And then once again, a wave of grief that washes over me causes all those awful stories to be flooded out of the corners they have been hiding in and to float back into my consciousness again. Surprise, they weren’t gone at all. And that in itself feels like another failure.

  • Aelio

    Release the burdens of storytelling. You are strong enough to heal on your own. Beautiful

  • lilknaap

    Your article doesn’t talk about one sided love! One has to be in that place to feel the gut wrenching pain. Not that I’am trying to undermine your story.

  • nephat duncan

    Thank you,,I do agree with your lessons…I have been in the situation of denial for over eight months but now I see light…..

  • Jonathan Breitkreuz

    Exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank-you.