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Mending a broken heart


Text and Photo by Henrylito D. Tacio

“Let go. Why do you cling to pain? There is nothing you can do about the wrongs of yesterday. It is not yours to judge. Why hold on to the very thing which keeps you from hope and love?” – Leo Buscaglia


Two nights ago, my friend paid me a surprise visit. It was very late, and he seemed to be drunk. What made me worried was the fact that he was in tears. Supposedly men don’t cry (although I know that Jesus wept and a lot of other famous men also did).

“It’s finally all over with us,” he told me. My friend was referring to his relationship with his girlfriend. They were engaged for five years and were about to get married this June. But something happened: Her childhood sweetheart came back from the United States, and they have rekindled their love affair.

Yes, my friend is broken-hearted! Broken heart (or heartbreak) is a common metaphor used to describe the intense emotional pain or suffering a person feels after losing a loved one through death, separation, moving, being rejected, or other means.

As my friend was sharing his heart woes, the line of Helen Reddy’s song came into my mind: “I can’t say goodbye to you no matter how I try. You’re such a part of me, without you I would die.”

For many people having a broken heart is something that may not be recognized at first, as it takes time for an emotional or physical loss to be fully acknowledged. As Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson puts it: “Human beings are not always aware of what they are feeling. Like animals, they may not be able to put their feelings into words.”

This does not mean we have no feelings. Well-known psychologist Sigmund Freud once speculated that a man could be in love with a woman for six years and not know it until many years later. Such a man, with all the goodwill in the world, could not have verbalized what he did not know. He had feelings, but he did not know about them.

It may sound like a paradox — paradoxical because when we think of a feeling, we think of something that we are consciously aware of the feeling. As Freud put it in his 1915 article The Unconscious: “It is surely of the essence of an emotion that we should be aware of it. Yet it is beyond question that we can ‘have’ feelings that we do not know about.”

Even the Holy Bible has a passage on the subject: “Insults have broken my heart and left me weak, I looked for sympathy but there was none; I found no one to comfort me” (Psalm 69:20. In this verse, King David explains that insults have broken his heart, not loss or pain. It is also a popular belief that rejection, major or minor, can break an individual’s heart. This heartbreak can be greatly increased if rejected by a loved one or someone whom you respect.

So, it’s finally over. But you can’t move. Helen Reddy crooned: “I can’t say goodbye to you no matter how I tried. You’re such a part of me. Without you, I would die deep in the heart of me. I know that you and I were meant to be forever, I can’t tell you goodbye.”

There is no such thing as forever – even in love.

Now, going back to my friend. As I looked at him, I was reminded of the words of England Dan and John Ford Coley. “Every now and then I cry. Every night you keep staying on my mind. All my friends say I’ll survive, it just takes time.”

So, how do you mend a broken heart? This was the question he posed to me. I was caught by surprise, but I was prepared already. Having been broken-hearted several times over, I can say I am an expert on the subject.

Accept it. No matter what you do, it is the end of a beautiful relationship. If there is a beginning, there is always an ending. You can’t control the feelings of the other person. When it comes to love, two hearts must beat as one. If there’s only one that beats, then it is not love at all. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, be glad that you were part of the person’s life before. 

It’s not the end of the world. Just because you won’t see your loved ones anymore, the world is going to end. The fact is: the wind will continue to blow, the sun will shine, and the sea will still rush to shore. Your friends and enemies may talk about the failed relationship, but that’s part of life. You are still in control of your life. You can even sing the Every Brothers’ song: “I’m through with romance, I’m through with love. I’m through with counting the stars above.”

Move on. It’s okay to think of your beloved for a day or a week. But after that, move on. Count your blessings. That person may not be the right person for you. I have known a lot of people who said, “I should have not married early in life.” Or you might be singing the song of Ogie Alcasid: “Bakit ngayon ka lang dumating sa buhay ko.” The breakup might be a sign that someone much better is just waiting for you.

Find another love. Easier said than done. I am sure you have heard it before: “I won’t find another love but you.” What they really meant is that they won’t open their heart again for another new love. Instead, listen to your heart. Love will find a way. “I believe for everyone who goes astray,” Tom Jones sings, “some will come to show the way.”

These rules are not foolproof. There are those who despite what they do, they continue to be broken-hearted. As Christie Brinkley puts it: “I’d rather have a broken arm than a broken heart.”

Margaret George offers this simple advice to heal that broken heart: “The cure for a broken heart is simple, my lady. A hot bath and a good night’s sleep.” 

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