Sunday, January 6, 2013


What is heartbreak?

I think most people will agree that heartbreak is the state of emotional distress that occurs when one person deeply hurts, or "breaks the heart" of another person. Often, people will say "yes, he/she really broke my heart..." or "he/she is such a heartbreaker!".

I'd like to challenge this idea.

I don't think it's fair, or even really humanly appropriate, to allow or assign another human being the power to cause such emotional distress to another human being, at least not in the realm of "love". Why should someone else, equally vulnerable and weak as we are, be able to hold the power to destroy us emotionally by "breaking" our hearts? I don't want to live in a world where someone has that power over me. I don't want someone who is absolutely no better or worse than I am to be able to cause such destruction in my emotional life.

So what is heartbreak, really, then?

I would say that people don't break other people's hearts; people break their own hearts. When some person leaves another person, when some person cheats on their significant other, when some person tells another "it's not you, it's me...", when some person says "you're just not what I'm looking for", what's really happening there? We all assume that either that person is a jerk, or has commitment problems, or we may even say that they deserve better, and that's why they "moved on", that's why they broke the others heart.

What about the person who got their heart broken? What do we assume about them? Either they must have done something wrong, or they were too boring, or they deserve better than to be stuck with a jerk like that, or maybe even that they deserved to have their life left in shambles for being so weak. Either way, we assume that the person is, indeed, heartbroken. They're in pain. They're the victim. We sympathize with them, we empathize with them, we even pity them.

What if I were to suggest that the heartbroken person did it to themselves? What if we were to take the victimization process out of the entire ordeal. Then nobody's the "bad guy", nobody's the "victim", but everyone's on equal ground. Sure, the person that broke it off may legitimately be a jerk, they may have royally messed up with cheating, or lying, or any number of bad deeds. But maybe it was a good thing what they did. Maybe they did the other person a favor by leaving. Because, in reality, the "victim" is now free from living a life stuck with a jerk, or a cheater, or even simply someone that didn't truly love and appreciate them the way they deserve. The heartbreaker is no longer the bad guy.

So does that make the heartbroken "victim" the bad guy? What did they do so wrong to wreak this emotional havoc on themselves, then? Maybe they didn't do anything at all.

I'd like to postulate that people don't break other people's hearts, people break their own hearts. I believe that heartbreak occurs when someone fails to live up to someone else's standards. What happened with the two people where one cheated on the other? Why did the victim get hurt? It wasn't because the cheater has such human power to destroy another human being; the "victim" expected the person who cheated to be a decent person, and the cheater violated that expectation. What happened with the couple where one person decided to move on because "it just isn't working out"? One person expected the other to love them, in whatever way, and the other person failed to live up to that expectation. Heartbreak is about violated expectations.

Is it wrong to have expectations for other human beings? Absolutely not. It's wrong to have NO expectations for other people. But is it wrong to be so utterly destroyed when someone violates our human expectations? Yes; I would say it is. It's normal to be hurt when someone deceives us, intentionally hurts us, cheats on us, etc. But to go so far as to say your heart is broken? Why would you want anybody to have that power over you? What makes them so much better, so much more powerful than you that they have the RIGHT or ABILITY to break your heart? Absolutely nothing. Nobody should have that power over another human being. This transcends social class, race, religion, age, and everything else. We are all PEOPLE, equally fallen, equally made; nobody has the power to destroy anyone else emotionally. We as people shouldn't ALLOW anyone to do this to us. Temporary hurt is alright and healthy, but heartbreak is not. Once we realize that what we're feeling is simple betrayal of our human expectations, we can overcome that sickening fear that we're not good enough for that other person; we're no longer the victim. Would we really want it to work out with someone that cheats, someone that doesn't love or appreciate us as we deserve, someone that thinks they're better than us when in reality, they're nothing more or less than we are? Heartbreak is when we put all our eggs in one basket, all our trust in the ever-deceitful, ever-so-fallible human race, and we're inevitably crushed when reality crashes upon our heads and we're made to see that the person we thought was so perfect and magnificent and wonderful, well, that person is human, too. Heartbreak is NOT when one person is so much better than the other, and they decide to bring down their mighty foot and crush the heart of the weaker and lesser human.

So how should we cope with heartbreak? We need to realize that when we're so hurt by another human, that that's just the thing; it's another human. Of course they're going to mess up. Of course they'll betray our expectations. They're human. No one is so much higher than anyone else as to be able to transcend human nature and NOT hurt someone else. So when we feel like our hearts have been broken, we need to step back and analyze the situation, and understand that we're no lesser, and the person is no greater, than humanity in its very essence. We all make mistakes. We all hurt one another. Once we can come to terms with this, we can take rest in knowing that it isn't by some fault of our own that we find ourselves hurt, it's just "life", it's just humanity. Once we take away the power that we assign others to be able to hurt us so deeply, we can heal so much faster.

How can we PREVENT heartbreak? Some people will say it's inevitable. I would disagree; getting hurt is inevitable, but heartbreak is not. Everyone will get hurt by another person at some time; similarly, everyone will hurt another person as well. But heartbreak; that absolute and utter emotional destruction caused by putting all our faith in humans and being betrayed, that can be avoided. Simply don't put all of your hope, faith, and love into humanity. Why fully trust something so flawed, so weak, as humanity? You're setting yourself up for disappointment. So don't do it; don't put all your eggs in humanity's basket. I'm not suggesting that you close yourself off from humanity, that you never trust any person ever again. I'm just saying that we  shouldn't place such high expectations on people when it's impossible for anyone to live up to them all the time. Trust in something infallible, something not capable of deceit and cheating and failure. Something that won't, that can't, let you down. Put your faith in that first, and humanity second. For me, that something is God. To me, God is that infallible, loyal, eternally loving "something" that I put my trust in primarily. Once I came to understand that humans are humans, and that we're all equal, all in the same boat, it became so much easier to cope with my betrayed expectations. Nobody's the bad guy, nobody's the victim anymore. Everyone is equal, nobody's better or worse than anyone else anymore. We're all just humans, and once we realize that humans make mistakes, humans hurt other humans, then the blame and responsibility aspects of "heartbreak" can be removed, and we can heal much more adequately and quickly while taking solace in the Rock in our lives, the infallible, incapable-of-deceit Entity that will never betray us. For me, as I said, that Entity is God. There's nothing quite so amazing as being able to take peace and comfort from the One that created the universe, even when times seem impossibly hurtful, even when my heart feels so broken by the flaws of humanity. I would encourage anyone and everyone to try and seek Him in times of trouble. But at the very least, don't have such impossible expectations for humanity; we're all irrevocably flawed, we're all human. Don't let anyone break your heart; it's not their right, it's not even their ability.

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