learning / relationships

What’s the Difference Between a Broken Heart and an Open Heart?

My Artwork

I am pretty sure I know what a broken heart feels like. There’s a deep hollowing in my chest and my eyes just begin to well up with tears. And, life starts to move very slowly and the tingling in my cheeks make my face red and there is a trembling in my fingers.

My whole body went numb as the painful truth that he kept secret from me for three years choked me. It just killed me. I was just this shell of a person for days. The outpouring of  betrayal and distrust and confusion overwhelmed me. The drama was telenovela level crazy. While I innocently worked my ass off in a country where I knew nobody, lacked any understanding of the culture and only had six weeks of Spanish class, I had no clue what was happening until it all came to a head one day.

I know better. I intellectually know better because of all the the domestic abuse training I got as a women’s center volunteer, the lessons learned in yoga teacher training and professional training I received in social work classes. I went through three months of therapy to learn how to identify workplace abuse and bullying. I instinctively looked around at the life I built with this person. I knew eventually that I couldn’t deal with this anymore. It was simple. I don’t tolerate being in a relationship that lacks love and respect. With as much dignity and grace I could muster, I quietly walked away. 

When God and the universe want to tell me something, I get a tap on my shoulder early  in the morning. It’s quiet. I’m exhausted, and I know I have to just sit there. Sit there waiting for the lesson. I journal my morning pages. I meditate and I wait for the Truth. I have to dig deep and remove any false pretenses and random distractions. Oftentimes, there is weeping and sadness. I am mourning over the loss of someone I dutifully trusted and loved. I lost my best friend.

After getting the tap on the shoulder that quiet morning, the truth was in Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements.” 

1) The Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; They are in a completely different world from the one we live in. 

2) Immunity to other people’s poison is a gift.

3) If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if  they walk away from you. If that person doesn’t walk away, you will surely endure many years of suffering.

Is having your heart broken a gift? Because it sure as hell does not feel like that right now. And, I have all these fears many of them irrational and many of them ego driven. I don’t want to live my life out like a horrible telenovela or a crappy Lifetime movie.  And, I most especially don’t want to become the Latin American version of Eat, Pray, Love. But, here I am. I left my neighborhood. Dusted myself off and am in a whole new town. If my life is becoming a movie of epic proportions, I want to be the director and I want it to be premiering at the Cannes Film Festival. And, it better have a magical unicorn in it. Unfortunately, we aren’t in control sometimes. The Universe and God end up grabbing a hold of you and they get to tell you where to go.

You know what my biggest fear is of all? That the damages and the suffering this has created will close my heart completely. And I need my heart. I need the feelings. I need the experience of knowing what happiness, sadness, anger, excitement and laughter feels like.  As an artist, writer, and a yoga teacher, I need to know the full spectrum. It’s the only way I am going to get through this and the only way I can be an authentic and honest inspiration for my students, clients, friends, and loved ones.

After weeping for a good hour that morning, I had a shift in thinking. I did nothing wrong, and the longer I choose to be victimized by someone else’s crazy-making the more suffering I will endure. People do mean things because of themselves. It’s a hard lesson for me to swallow that it has absolutely nothing to do with me. I can’t rely on my demons to cure me ( especially my obsession for perfection and obsession for pleasing people) to get me out of it. I must detach myself from this pain and suffering.

Maybe my heart needed to be broken in order for me to experience feeling whole and feeling renewed. I feel like the Universe wants me to continue doing my work and this person just no longer served an honest and pure reason for being in my life. Now that I have been away from this person for two months, I feel this sense of quiet, peace, and comfort. I had no idea how dark and how brooding and how sullen his presence was in my life. In the end, I needed to build up my immunity to other people’s poison. I needed to give myself the gift of leaving. I’ve seen this in work environments back in the States for years. I’ve been in some pretty dark and negative environments and toxic work relationships where no matter how positive, how hard you work, or how smart you are you just never thrive. Nothing I did was going to be good enough. You just have to go.

Have you ever had to clean out a closet or a drawer filled with tons of useless junk? That one place in your home that gets ignored and crap just collects. That’s what this highly emotional and dramatic experience feels like for me. I got gutted out and emptied. There is this clearing in my heart and in my mind now. And, instead of filling it up with foolishness like the last time I ended a relationship (imagine a crazy shit show of hedonistic bad choices),  I am fighting so hard to hold on to hope. I am sitting quietly thinking about the dreams that lie within me that I was too scared to pursue. I am telling the Universe that I refuse to become jaded and I refuse to create a bulletproof wall around my heart.

When life makes you feel broken, you have a choice. You can continue on a downward spiral of self destruction and drama, or you take a U-Turn. You run towards love, respect, and dignity. Not towards things or other people, but you must commit to turning inwards and shifting your focus on taking care of yourself. It’s the only way I know how to heal myself right now. I’m starting a new love affair – a love affair I should have never abandoned. This love affair is in valuing myself and never settling for anyone or anything that doesn’t serve my highest self.

I am still capable of love and sharing love.

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