Let your heart break

Many years ago, I read this quote by Rumi, ‘you have to keep breaking your heart until it opens.’ I was intrigued by this quote but in all honesty, I questioned this notion of recurring heartbreaks leading to some idealistic place within me where my heart will be wide open, expanded and creating space for something not experienced before. I felt hopeless and a deep ache gnawed at my insides as I imagined a life with an aching heart that will pave the way to some utopian emergent process.
My journey as a therapist pushed me to the far end of my internal existence time and again; forcing me to excavate painful layers; cutting deep into bleeding wounds; sometimes turning away to avoid looking at my findings and sometimes awed by the precious hidden treasures. Once the personal processing started, I realised that it’s happening with or without me so oscillating between an avid and a reluctant participant, I continue to hold on dearly to my seat on the rollercoaster of this complex life’s journey with an occasional fearless defenseless throwing of my hands.
Let your heart break. Sounds cruel, doesn’t it? Isn’t there enough misery and dissatisfaction in life already? We experience heartbreak in so many moments and life experiences anyways so why give this permission to allow further breaking of my precious heart?
Our heart starts breaking the minute we arrive into the world and throughout so many moments and phases of our lives. I believe that disappointments in life rooted in unattainable goals do not come close to the pain experienced by the unavailability of relationships and this heartbreak isn’t limited to an adult intimate relationship only but our heart breaks throughout our life. That moment when the infant comes out of the womb and realises the separateness of his mother. The toddler’s heart breaks when he ecstatically runs towards the father who returns from work but a phone call distracts him from picking up the toddler clinging to his leg. The woman who moves from one relationship to another hoping for that one true love that she imagines will act as a balm on her burning soul. The man who waits for the day his wife expresses desire for him and compensates for his chronic feeling of being unwanted.
The heart breaks because it hopes. We live our life with the relentless hope and the refusal to accept the limitations of others. We grieve for the loss of what we believe we deserve to have; be it the nurturing parent we did not have, an understanding life partner, a friend who chooses us over another. I imagine that the nine months in the mother’s womb instil this stubborn hope that others will provide the same warmth and nurturing. It almost feels like that first scream of a newborn baby is the attachment protest to the drastic unavailability of the other and he howls with the grieving realization.
And so begins a life hanging on a precarious balance between hope and heartache and we grieve, and scream and protest every time the heart breaks into uncountable little pieces. But I understand now that this breaking of the heart is the path that would lead to a place of placid acceptance that the life I have is my unique experience and what I deserve is irrelevant but what I have is all that matters and it’s good enough.
Let that heartbreak and allow yourself to experience the anguish every time the heart feels crushed. Feel the pain of unmet desires and needs; the anger towards the perceived rejection by others as this grief of your aching heart will open you to a place of deep settling within where you can internalise the acceptance of you being present to yourself as the most significant place to be. Where you accept others as mere visitors enabling your heart to be wide open to feel your own precious existence within yourself. Let your heart break until it opens you to yourself and that’s when it stops breaking and starts healing.

The writer is a BACP (British Association For Counselling and Psychotherapy) accredited individual and couple psychotherapist based in Islamabad. She can be reached at zaramaqbool@yahoo.com or her official website.

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