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How to get over a heartbreak, instead of giving way to hopelessness and despair? We dig deep to find for the good things that life still has to offer.
As I write this title, I realize the header exudes a sense of a rom-com adventure, which ends in a happy ending, with a red bow tied neatly in the end! However, life much as we want is not a rom-com and let’s just say we make our happy endings by making the best of the cards dealt by fate. Therefore, to set the record completely straight, this is not a comic adventure, but it has humor and I believe happiness, and adventure if you have the right lenses on!
A few years back, I met someone, well after I had given up hope of meeting someone. I was not particularly concerned about being alone or dying alone. I was very happy in my personal and professional space. I had just gotten off a brilliant appraisal rating, I was surrounded by friends and I had investments and travels and overall a bright lookout about the future. I had places to go and things to do! Then I met someone; for that extremely successful woman – intelligent, educated, liberated, independent and yes, sensitive, it is well nigh impossible to find a man who echoes yourself. And the odds cease to exist when you hit 30+. But I met someone like that – he was educated, erudite, free-thinking, high living, traveling where and when the heart takes and sensitive. I could understand him and sense him and feel him, without a word being spoken. He was my other half, the very center of my soul, the core of my being. We were friends, we argued and we had each other’s back. It was perfect, but as I said, nothing in life goes quite the way it does in books or films. One fine winter morning, over a cup of coffee, he told me he was getting married in less than a month to an ex. We were never officially in a “relationship” so I could not hold him accountable for anything on paper; I knew what I knew, but there was nothing to be said or done. I don’t believe in scenes and I abhor conflicts. And knowing him the way I knew him, there was no point asking when, what, where and why. It was time to make a quiet exit and then find a quiet dark place to lick your wounds in peace.
I got up every morning with only one question on my mind – how will I live my whole life without him? How will I get through each day, each month, when every hour came back to haunt me? When I did not know him, I did not know I was missing on something, but now that I knew, my whole being and reorganized itself and then quite suddenly asked to go back to its original design.
How do you go on living in a world that does not make sense anymore, when every sight, and sound reminds you of the loss? How do you exist when the other half of your soul has been hacked away from you in one bizarre act of emotional violence? Well, you do – you do, because again this is not a book or a film, but it’s life!
As a writer, I did not have a book sponsorship deal, nor did I have the finance to go traipsing over the world, in search of food, spirituality or even love. I just had to make do with whatever resources I had in my limited means to make the best I can of what was perhaps the only situation that had left me stumped in what had been an already difficult life. So what did I do?
I could not go to work! I love my work and am passionate about it. Work does help bring things in focus, but it is important to give yourself some time to heal as well.
What many of us do not understand is sick time off is not just about your physical wellbeing; but also, mental well-being. You have just been dealt an emotional blow, that tantamount to being stricken by some severe illness. Your mind, yes, your mind, along with your heart, needs some healing and that can be done, when you allow yourself some resting time. You will find yourself focusing much better on your work, after a few days of emotional rest.
It is only natural to want to be alone after such an emotional crisis; however, that does not help! Instead, difficult it may sound, and it is difficult, go out and hang around with people to whom you matter, who have got you covered and who will do everything to make your one hour with them a happy hour.
Being around love heals you like nothing else, and ensures you do not become a cynic. Sure, you may not have the love of a romantic partner and that is not ok, but you have the love of others and that is a blessing. Also surrounding yourself with people who care about you, reminds you of the very many reasons to live your life in the best possible way.
I remember the very weekend following this disclosure, going ahead and hosting a party that I had planned previously. This was followed by many lunches with my girlfriends, midnight drives with my best friend and his wife and many other dinner outings. I did not want to go and almost always forced myself, but after a point, it became a natural rhythm and while everything was not all fixed, I was once again looking forward to being with my circle of friends.
I cannot emphasize enough the healing power of food; there is food that nourishes your body and then there is food to nourish your soul.
I ate the few weeks following this episode, everything and anything I wanted or craved for; I ate at the ritziest restaurants and street-side outlets. I cooked everything from Pumpkin soup, to Shrimp pasta to Chicken in a mushroom sauce to traditional Bengali fish dishes. I cooked and ate and fed others and found joy in creating things out of my hand as well savoring each bite, each flavor as it sunk inside me, one morsel at a time!
I am book obsessed; I have a TBR that will outlive me; my friends joke that people have libraries in their home, but my home is a library. I am that kind of reader; but with all the emotional entanglement of being involved with a man who is a borderline genius and keeping him personally and stemming from that our relationship straight was hard work and while I was still reading, I was not reading the way I used to.
Now, repentant, I went back to my original friends – my books. I read everything and anything that caught my fancy. I read things and left of things to move on to something that seemed to interest me more. I read old favorites ( To Kill a Mocking Bird and Harry Potter and Agatha Christies) and a lot of nonfiction (I found solace as always in Rebecca Sonlit and Hannah Arendt and found a lot to think about with Nassim Taleb) and finally poetry ( something I did not ever enjoy till now).
A good book goes out and grabs your attention, even when you don’t want to attend and then, if you are fortunate, they help you rebuild your soul. I had a lot of help from Pablo Neruda, Walt Whitman and Lucille Clifton as I tried to find my path in the new normal. This can be applicable for movies or Netflix or even knitting or anything that you enjoy!
I could not take off to Italy or Thailand because well, my father was sick and I wanted to be in the range of half a day’s flight. Instead, every morning, during that time off period, I would tramp off to discover the city I was born and raised in.
I walked from Chandni Chowk to Chawri Bazaar to Jama Masjid and back. I tramped all over Connaught Place and India Gate and Rashtrapati Bhavan and I spent a day exploring Lodhi Garden and Khan Market. I walked till my legs ached and I stood looking at things I had seen many times before and yet never really seen. I shared autos with strangers out shopping for weddings and I had random chats on government and best oil for cooking when taking the metro back home. I did all of this in the first few days so that after I came home, tired to the bone, I could drift off to a night of dreamless sleep and then one day, I did not need to walk through endless streets to get to sleep!
We need therapy; there is no shame, we need therapy. We need to be able to pour your heart out to someone without judgment or I told you so! Sometimes it can be friends, or family or even professional help.
My elder sister was a huge emotional support as were my friends, but they all were also in the process of recovering and adjusting to the new normal of seeing someone they deeply loved struggling to live through each day. I could and did talk to them, but after a point, I was also increasing their pain. Instead, I found help from a young mentee who is one of my staunchest supporters, whose hand I have held, through her dark hours and who was an excellent listener. Her indignation at what had happened to me was equally violent, but having not witnessed the whole drama, she was sympathetic without being immediately injured. I could talk to her and I did, every day, when things came down and she helped me navigate those critical hours.
This is not easy to do, especially when you feel like the ache in your heart will just stifle the very breath of your life. But the fact remains that if you find something new to do, it will absorb some portion of your energy and mind space and in turn take away focus from the hurt.
I took up gardening; my previous attempts had led to murderous attempts that led merciless butchering several plants. However, this time, I started small and started with a few and read a lot about how to grow them. I found what the Japanese will call their “Ikagai” in planting, weeding and watering and seeing new leaves sprout up. It was the promise of the goodness of life and finding happiness in every day!
This is perhaps the hardest and most difficult one. It’s so hard to believe that someone is watching over you when you have just been handed the biggest fender of your life. But you need to hang on and believe because, in the end, that is the only thing you got! Life is not fair, life is not easy and life is hard. But life is still a gift and if you try hard enough, there will be many reasons to live and celebrate it! Therefore, hold on tight to that faith, which is the only thing that will light your way through that night
So, there it is! That is how I attempted to get over my heartbreak. I am not sure if there is really a secret formula for how to get over a heartbreak, or if one can truly get over such emotional violence. I know that personally, my emotional DNA has undergone a lot of rewiring but there is life and one has to live it and live it well. And to live well, we have to find ways and means to recover from what has been dealt with us, and instead of giving away to hopelessness and despair, we have to dig deep to find inside us, all the good things that life still has to offer.
There will always be nights of crying into the pillow, there will be dull ache when you see his pictures shared my common acquaintances (I say acquaintances, because your true friends, would have dropped him once and for all; remember they are your squad!) and there will be times of wondering where did you go wrong. But as you focus and force yourself to focus on other things and take the time out to restore your body and soul, the hurt will become a dull throb and then, a niggling pain and then one day, it will stop being there altogether. Things will not be as perfect, but then you may find a whole new definition of perfection for yourself!
Image source: a still from the movie Aamhi Doghi
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