On heartbreak and heartache

I was compelled to write this post a while ago after reading Meg's post, How It Feels To Be Heartbroken. Some people's words resonate, even when they're saying something that you've heard a hundred times before on other tongues, and Meg's post, and several of her tweets on the same subject since, have really taken me back to my own experiences of lost love, experiences that have moulded and shaped me in ways unfathomable. 
This isn't a post for Megs, but it's certainly inspired by her, and by the many hearts that break, audibly and otherwise, every day. It hurts, and I don't think it ever leaves you, but I've never really committed anything to paper on the subject, which is odd, for me. 
And there you have it, my first lie, because I have written about this before, in depth, endlessly, until my fingers bled (actually, real life blood.) I had, what can only be described as the most hideous of human experiences, I had my heart broken at 16. TEENAGE HEARTBREAK IS UNBEARABLE. Not only are you full of raging, angry, awkward, body-hating hormones, not only are you battling everything from self-deprecation to acne, but you are very ill-equipped to deal with heartbreak. I was weeks away from sitting my GCSE's, I was deliriously happy and desperately in love, it was a gorgeous Summer, and boom, a Sunday night text, something about "needing some space".
The very worst thing that you can do, I have grown up knowing as a result of that experience, is to underestimate young love. Even the term "young love" sounds patronising and tedious. There was nothing childish, nothing immature, nothing "puppy-like" about that episode in my life. I have never known pain like it, I would gladly go through the physical agony of child birth several times over again, than experience the emotional torture of that break up once more. 
I attempted to take my own life on more than one occasion, I developed a severe eating disorder, and I deliberately put myself in recklessly dangerous situations (with a variety of catastrophic results) in the aftermath of that breakup. My world imploded. The anger that I feel when I see anyone trivialise matters of the teenage heart (parent's who laugh and coo over their own children for having a girlfriend/boyfriend - tease them for it, ruffle their hair, point out that they're blushing etc. - stop it, unless you'd do it to your boss, stop it) knows no boundaries. If you're experiencing your first ever heartbreak I will be there, in an instant, because I know that you will never hurt like that again, ever - and whoever you are, I will talk to you for hours and hours so that you are not alone with that pain. 
Of course, I'm still here, and I did "get over it", eventually I weighed very little, my hair started to fall out, my periods stopped, I couldn't physically cry any more, and I took to sleeping for around 15 hours a day; but somehow I got up and got on with it and I was/am, absolutely fine. 
I got through my GCSE's somehow, with my ex-boyfriend of the moment to thank for my A*'s in English Language and English Literature. When I said I wrote at length about my experiences of heartbreak; I submitted a weighty anthology of poetry as my English coursework, which was possibly over-graded, but which failed to touch on a single subject other than my recent breakup. My grades were the highest in English ever obtained at the school. I don't say this to boast of my academic prowess, only to illustrate that the emotional fallout from heartbreak is a tsunami of feeling otherwise completely unreachable by human consciousness.
My English literature exam took place in the same exam hall as my ex boyfriend's Sport's Science A Level. It was the first time he'd been in the same room as me in weeks, having avoided me (understandably - I was a wreck) and the adrenalin pumping through my veins spilled out and I aced it.
More recently, my marriage disintegrated; spectacularly, painfully; it was, and still is, a dark and sad affair, tinged and stained with bitterness, and regret, and guilt. One of the first people to get in touch, to say that if I needed anything I was only to say, that I was being thought of, worried about, hoped for - was from my high school boyfriend. It seems a funny full circle to have turned. Since that most awful of breakups when I was sixteen, a breakup that could quite conceivably have killed me, had things been only slightly different, I have had various unsuccessful relationships, one of which resulted in the birth of my son, another in my now failed marriage. My first ex boyfriend (we shall refer to him as "S") is engaged to be married next year, to the Mother of his own son - it's safe to say, we both ended up having lives, and we're both still living them. 
Telling someone that it will be OK when they're broken hearted doesn't offer any comfort though, telling someone they will get through this, will meet some one else, that they have their whole life ahead of them is aimless - because in the midst of heartbreak, nobody wants to get through it - they want to go backwards, back to when everything was safe and OK. Nobody wants to meet someone else because they're still in love, and a lot of the time, nothing seems quite so bleak as the remaining decades of life before them. 
I only very (and I mean, very, very) recently let go of my son's Father. I hadn't realised this until I actually came to letting him go. Ours was a relationship which defined me for a long time, it was the relationship which taught me never to be defined by a relationship, which ultimately lead to the ruin of the next one I found myself in. I was consumed by my love for him, probably from around our second date. Given the pain of that horrific breakup in my teens, I found it relatively astounding that I could be so in love, I mean, I had pledged never to fall in love ever again, after all. But you do, you always do. When we went our separate ways three years later, me pregnant, and mortified, I realised two things. 
  1. There's always another chance at heartbreak, just as there is always another chance at love. People will always tell you that you'll love again - they always forget to warn you that you'll hurt again. 
  2. It's true, it doesn't hurt quite as much as the first time. 
I did get on with life pretty quickly though. It wasn't long before I drew a line underneath him and moved on. He flew to Micronesia - which helped, but I met someone else, someone who I would go on to marry in a couple of years, and I carried on. I'd got through the horrors of my first heartbreak at a relatively young age, and the next time around, I was hardened to it, it hurt, I cried and I hurt myself and I woke up wishing that I was still asleep for days and days on end, but it was easier. 
It was only recently then, that I realised, that I hadn't gone a single day without thinking about him. Either thinking about him at length, missing him, wondering where he was and what he was doing, or the trivial thoughts; seeing something he'd love, or hate, wishing I could text him to tell him about something I'd heard that I knew he'd find hilarious. I'd done that for five years. Five years, and I hadn't even realised that I was doing it, so engrained was he on my consciousness. Heartache is a weird thing, my heart had fixed itself, but it had remained bruised for such a long time that it had become the sort of pain I barely noticed any more. There is no timescale on heartache. Nobody tells you about that either. I'd conducted an entire 4.5 year relationship, raised my son, got married, had an affair, separated from my husband - all the time in the great shadow of a broken heart. 
And now, here I am, I'm almost twenty seven, I've only just gotten over a break up that took place five years ago, and this is the first time that I've really written anything about my first experience of a broken heart - which is now a decade ago in my history. What's more, I've broken someone else, I think for the first time (if I'm wrong, please don't write about it in the comments, and I'm sorry!) I read something recently, and I can't remember for the life of me where, about the truth about human hearts, the truths that very few of us admit to ourselves or to others, and one line which struck me, was the following: 
When someone that you love stops caring about you, it is confusing, and it hurts so much. When you stop loving someone that you care about, it is equally as confusing, and it hurts so much.

Now I know that it's almost impossible to have sympathy for the person who has broken your heart. I certainly didn't when S sent me that message about needing space and then admitted to having cheated on me with a girl with enormous boobies whilst I was at my waitressing job at the weekend. I didn't worry about his confusion, and his pain, when I was ramming my fingers down my throat to regurgitate a spontaneous round of mozzarella and pesto on toast. 
Later on I never wondered how hurt and confused the Father of my unborn child might be when he sold his house and car and booked a once-in-a-lifetime trip around the planet. But if there's anything that my 10 years since heartbreak have taught me, it's that people are remarkable. People are so complex, and complicated, and so f***ing deep... you'll never have the answers that you think will make the pain stop. Never. 
Of course, there is karma as well. The girl with the big boobies turned out to be a cousin he didn't realise that he had. 
 

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