This week, my little boy asked his girlfriend to marry him, she said no. I have reassured him that he has plenty of time to settle down, what with him only being six, but this offered no comfort. He has said he doesn’t want to talk about it any further at this point and I am respecting his wishes. And by respecting his wishes, I mean, waiting tentatively for him to talk over his first-ever heartbreak. I think watching your child have their heart broken might actually be worse than your own heartbreak, even if they are only 6. It might seem trivial, and of course I think his little relationships are cute and they make me smile, but to him, this is serious stuff. This is his whole world at the moment.
Asking for space gave me a minute to think...
...about how we heal our broken hearts. I’ve had mine broken a few times, multiple times by the same people in some cases. There is some science to say we experience this kind of pain as seriously as we do physical pain, and I am here to say, I concur. Heartbreak has been responsible for some of the most brutal parts of my life, and I think the only difference now, through all of it, is that I understand that whilst it is unbelievably painful, it is temporary. It will pass and there will be so much more love in your life, and you will even get to the point where you are glad it happened.
Whilst that writes like a small shift, I know it is hugely significant. For me the worst part about pain is the feeling that things will always be this way, I will always feel this way, and this is my new life now. I’m very dramatic. It leaves me feeling utterly helpless. I never want the boys to feel helpless. I remember feeling as though I was treading water, sometimes going fully under, only coming up for air little and often.
After my divorce and the absolute shit show that was 2015,
I think people assumed that any heartbreak following that I would be able to handle like a pro. Because surely it couldn’t get any worse than dealing with a broken heart whilst pregnant and looking after a toddler. It couldn’t be any worse than giving birth, knowing your husband was only there for your baby and not for you. It turns out night feeds aren’t the worst thing you can experience but doing them with a shattered heart is definitely up there. In some ways the assumptions were right, but that doesn’t mean it’s a breeze either. Having my heart broken again after my divorce was just further proof that yes it can be devastating that not everything worked out the way you wanted it too, and there is no limit or threshold for pain. When it arrives, it will arrive in the same way it did last time. It’s just that this time, maybe it didn’t last as long. But it didn’t make the pain any less.
Archie & I
If he asks, I’ve decided I’ll say to my darling boy that I’m so sorry he’s hurt, that it’s ok to be disappointed and upset, that I love him more than I could love anything, and that whilst it feels horrible now, it won’t always feel that way.
The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read... by Philippa Perry
I won’t tell him...
...that he will be glad it worked out this way or belittle his hurt, I’ll just be there for him when he needs a hug or a chat. I’ll sit by the riverbank as he treads water and throw him a lifeline whenever he needs it. But I won’t dive in and try to fix his problems. I’ll wait patiently for him to join me on the riverbank, knowing that as he swims he’ll get stronger. Next time it won’t take him as long to come up for air, and it won’t take him as long to make it to that bank, where I will be waiting for him, always.
Adele - When We Were Young