This morning I put that question out to my Facebook family. I was honestly curious. You see, I had recently learned, in a conversation with my old pal B, that he had endured neither. In his almost 60 years he had never broken anyone’s heart nor did he feel his own heart had ever been shattered. Yes, he had been dumped (more than once) and sure, his actions undoubtedly led to the dissolution of a love affair or two. But he truly believed there had never, ever been a broken heart, either given or received.
“So what did you do when you got dumped?” I queried. “Were you not sad or despondent? Did you not grieve the end of the union or ponder what went wrong or even wonder if it could be salvaged?”
Ummm … no. B just got on with his life. Hung out with the guys. Approached his hobbies with full-time zeal and not an ounce of guilt that they were stealing time from his girlfriend. Maybe bought himself something new. B’s heart was fully intact and just fine, thank you, and there was still much life to be enjoyed without old whatshername.
I bet we all wish we could have been B at some point in our lives.
My first gargantuan (and completely unexpected) heartbreak took place when I was 17. I had fallen for a much older man (22) who I had met whilst underage drinking at the local haunt, facilitated by my mature countenance and my sister’s fake ID. I was fully smitten with Mr. Dreamy and he seemed taken enough with me, in spite of the fact that I was still in highschool and still a virgin. I had lots on the go (theatre, music, I even took him to a beauty pageant where I represented my store in the Miss Savette contest!). Even though I was young, I’d like to believe he found me unique. Certainly different than the girls his own age who drank with us on occasion.
The trouble came when he realized I wasn’t quite ready to explore full carnal knowledge, nor was he ready to be the one deflowering me, especially when the girls his own age who drank with us on occasion were more than willing. . Off he went on a party weekend with his buddy and buddy’s girlfriend. When he returned buddy’s girlfriend was HIS girlfriend and buddy (who had apparently been drunk most of the time and therefore oblivious to the extra-curricular activities of his “friends”) was single again.
So was I, as it turns out. Except he didn’t tell me. He called me upon his return, all chit-chatty about his crazy week-end, and then ended the conversation with a simple, “I’ll see you at the bar.”
I did not see him. There or anywhere. Nor did he ever call me again. I endured three weeks of torturous misery, wondering what the hell had happened. Finally one of his friends coughed up the truth. And I was devastated.
I spent most of that summer wallowing. I woke up every morning hoping it was all a bad dream. I sleep-walked through my days wishing with all my might he would call. I went to bed every night believing I would never be happy again. I was crushed. Mr. Dreamy crushed me.
It would be another 30 odd years until anybody crushed me again (read my book).
You see, that’s the thing with broken hearts. When you get one and survive, you don’t want another one anytime soon so you do everything in your power to prevent a repeat. This typically means becoming the Dumper as opposed to the Dumpee. I became an expert Dumper.
My friend SB posted this on Facebook this morning: My heart has been broken and while it was awful and took years to recover, the journey to mend my heart took me places I might never have gone without the heartbreak. And for my heart to break in the first place I had to love. I wouldn’t wish that love away to avoid the pain and am forever grateful to have had the journey.
Nice, eh? Very astute and mature and even poetic.
I wish I could subscribe. But when I look back on Mr. Dreamy, I am just pissed. I am pissed that this vacuous, immature and unaccountable JERK coloured me and my life for a very long time. He could have told me the truth on that phone call. He could have let me down gently and kindly. Instead he turned me into a Dumper-Junkie for many years to come!
Okay, breathe Vickie.
At least I was available for the heartbreak, right? CL chimed in on Facebook that “unless you are emotionally crippled” hearts will break and get broken. Perhaps Mr. D was emotionally crippled? Perhaps he still is. I, at least, know I am not.
KB (my teenage guru) believes that hearts will always roll unless someone is “actively” trying to prevent it. In other words, if you’re open and vulnerable and willing, at some point you’re gonna get schmucked. MB echoes this sentiment: “I think the only way it may be possible to prevent all heartbreak is to keep your emotions under lock and key at all times and don’t get close to anyone or let them get close to you.”
Yep. That I understand. It’s the vulnerability thing. You’re either willing to get naked or you’re not. Damn the torpedoes and damn the consequences.
A lot of folks offered that heartbreak isn’t always romantic and I concede to that willingly. I have many friends who have been broken-hearted over the loss of a parent, a child, a pet, a friend … even a job. I understand that many of these heartbreaks are unavoidable or arbitrary and we must simply live through them. My question went more to the relationship side of things, where broken hearts are typically caused by choice, not chance. RS offers quite eloquently that, “If it’s a lover breaking your heart, just make sure he or she is worth the suffering.”
I was surprised that I did not hear from a single soul who said, “I married my high school sweetheart and we’ve been blissfully happy ever since. No heartbreaks here, lady … sorry.” Not one single person. Maybe all those folks are so busy being blissfully happy with fully intact hearts they have no time (or desire) to weigh in in pithy Facebook questions?
What I did learn (and love) is that most people who have known a heartache or two have taken the lesson and left behind the anguish.
LM: I truly believe heartbreak is inevitable if you live and love.
CF: A heart wide open will take some hits … but that means it is living
BP: It’s definitely a learning experience and has made me who I am today. I think that’s a good thing.
Yes. Every learning experience IS a good thing. And for the record, this pendulum swings both ways.
Many years after Mr. Dreamy became my worst nightmare, I found myself in the unenviable position of breaking off a 4 year relationship with a colleague. We had never been a stable union, our match was not made in heaven, I’m pretty sure we both cheated and I had met someone with whom I wanted a “real” relationship.
And so I told him the truth. I told him I had met someone with whom I wanted a real relationship and our acquaintance, both romantic and professional, was now coming to an end.
That morning, after my heartfelt confession had been rendered, I left his house and did not go home. I went straight to my parent’s home where I sat on the sofa in their den and wept buckets for two hours. My mother didn’t quite get it. “But YOU broke up with him, Vickie? Why are you so sad?” (To be truthful, they never like him or our relationship so they were not exactly crying with me).
My father explained quietly, “She just broke a heart. And often the pain of breaking a heart is worse than the pain of having yours broken.”
How right he was. Because when our heart gets broken, we don’t get a vote. Our fate is foisted upon us and we are left drowning in a puddle of our own tears, wondering what the hell happened.
But when we break a heart intentionally, we get that vote. We become judge, jury and executioner. And to watch the person you once loved shatter in front of you … well, I’m not sure which is worse.
I am sad to say I have broken a few hearts since. And my own has sustained more than its share of bruises.
And that is okay.
Because there is no amount of money on this planet that would make me want to be B.
Has he had a simpler, less volatile life? Probably. But the question begs – if you have never felt the loss of love, have you ever truly loved?
My life has been saturated with colour. Every colour of the rainbow. Every level of pain and joy. Every realization that actions have consequences, we are all each other’s keepers and it is up to us to share our hearts freely and with faith but to also hold other’s hearts in our hands with respect and honour.
I have no idea what ever happened to Mr. Dreamy. I have no idea what will happen to B. I do know that it is truly “better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all” (thank Alfred Lloyd Tennyson). I am grateful for ALL of the opportunities an open heart has brought to me and I am confident that, no matter what, I will survive (thank you Gloria Gaynor).