As I’m sitting down to write this post, so many thoughts and emotions are filling my mind and heart. It’s a beautiful day in October. I’m sitting on my back patio in my beautiful home – there’s a light breeze, not a single cloud in the bluest sky, and the sun is showing off all bright. My heart is bursting with thankfulness for where I’m at in life now, though it wasn’t an easy journey here.
If you’re new or happening on this post somehow, you can read a little of my story in this heartfelt post and this follow up one. It’s taken me 2.5 years to sit down and write this post, but rightfully so because it needed to come from a ‘ready place’. I knew a day would come when I’d have the urge to write it, and today is that day. So here we are.
My eyes are filling with tears looking back at the Marissa of 3 years ago and truly being so proud of her. She walked away from something that *she thought* was her whole world at the time, knowing full well that it would shatter her life, but did it anyway because it wasn’t right. I think that takes true courage to step out into the unknown, to move beyond the norm or the ‘grin it’ kind of mentality we sometimes get sucked into. I don’t know how she did it, but she did. And I’m so so grateful.
I’m writing this post today for you guys for a few reasons – I’ve had countless conversations with friends and strangers about heartbreak over the last few years, and if I’m being honest? We don’t talk about it enough. We hide it, are embarassed by it, don’t know what to do with it, or keep it in the secret places.. but friends, it needs to be out in the open. We need to share with one another and frankly, we need one another. We need each other’s stories and strength. I truly believe that what I’ve been through is part of my purpose.. most of which I know I’m not even aware of yet. I’m sharing this part of my story with you all because I know that there’s those of you out there who need it too. You’ve asked, come to me desperately in your darkest moments, asking me if it will ever get better or if you life is over. I’m here to tell you, so fiercely, that it isn’t. And that your life is just beginning. Believe it, friend!
I waited such a long time to write this because writing a post about heartbreak or grief isn’t something you can do while you’re walking through it, or even ‘through it’. It has to come way after. After the rawness has passed, after the freshness has grown stale, after you’ve experienced more life and even love again…
Let me also just say that heartbreak and grief don’t just come from losing a significant other. They can be from losing a child, a parent, a miscarriage, a friendship, leaving a home or place that has impacted you… the list goes on. So really, this applies to all of us, because we’ve all experienced these things (or will) at some point in life inevitably. No one is exempt from pain!
So, how did I heal from heartbreak? Honestly, I don’t know and know all at the same time. There’s no secret sauce or quick fix.. but here are the things I did and learned along the way..
Sit in it. Sit in your grief. Feel every part of it. Give yourself the time and space to truly feel the reality of your heartbreak, loss, etc. Rushing onto or into other things (even daily tasks) will not help you and ‘busyness’ is just a coping mechanism we use to numb our pain. If you can’t sit still in your own silence, thoughts, and feelings for a significant amount of time then you’re running and racing away from truly feeling and facing your pain.
Maybe read that again.
If you can’t sit still in your own silence, thoughts, and feelings for a significant amount of time then you’re running and racing away from truly feeling and facing your pain.
When you truly sit in and feel your heartbreak and grief, you’ll feel them physically. These emotions are crippling – this is why we usually lose our appetites or develop physical ailments. The emotional transcends into the physical – your bodies systems are not independent of one another, they’re functioning together.. so when you’re in emotional turmoil your body will manifest it physically in one way or another. This is okay, it’s normal. Welcome it, but be aware of it and pay attention to where it’s settling in your body. We have to face it, friends! We of course don’t like physical pain, so shy away from feeling the emotional as to not ‘subject’ ourselves to the physical. This is a normal reaction, so we have to dig in to face it head on.
And if you don’t allow yourself to grieve, then it’ll surface and pop up in hundreds of difference scenarios down the road.. that you don’t want.
Those first days and weeks after I ended my engagement are an absolute blur – I really don’t even remember them, I think I’ve blocked them out – which we usually do in traumatic experiences. I just know I barely left my bed, didn’t eat, and cried about 17 hours a day. But I let my body feel it. I didn’t hold it in, I didn’t try to pull it together. I let it all out and felt it all. I don’t think I realized it at the time, but this was probably the best thing I did for myself then.
Cry it out. I kind of just touched on this, but friends.. cry. it. out. You need to. If you’re a man and reading this, you can cry too. Crying is not a sign of weakness, it’s actually a sign of strength, and your ability to be in touch with and feel your own emotions. (I also tend to think this is crazy attractive about a man.. but I digress 😉 ) I think there’s a misconception around grief (especially for men) that we can’t cry or cry too much because it shows weakness. It also makes us vulnerable, and this can be uncomfortable. But the truth is soooo opposite. And – crying in front of other people is good. I can’t even tell you how many people I cried to, in front of, on the phone with… etc. Other people can and need to see that part of you – you’re human, you can cry. You need to cry. It’s a way your body lets out that pent up pain.
I remember laying in my bed and sobbing for hours. My pillow would be soaked through, my blanket drenched, but it was a part of the grief process that was necessary. If you’re a crying disaster right now, it’s okay. I’m here to tell you that it is okay.
Time. Time is your best friend and worst enemy when it comes to grief.. because truly only time can heal you – there’s no quick fix, there’s no ‘two weeks’ and you’re done. It’s something that takes true time to work through. I remember in those first weeks asking my best friend (who had also walked through the same thing as myself a few years prior, so knew where I was at very well, thankfully!) if it would ever get better. If I would ever feel normal again. If I’d ever even smile again, be able to go to Whole Foods again, or even want to be with someone again. And she said, “Maris, yes. It doesn’t seem like it now, but every day you’ll heal the tiniest bit until one day you wake up and realize you’re better than you were last week or last month. It doesn’t seem like it right now, but you’ll wake up and realize that you have come a long way.”
I didn’t really understand what she meant until it happened. One day I woke up and realized I hadn’t cried in 3 days or I had actually eaten a meal or laughed with a friend. It happens naturally and gradually, and sometimes unknowingly. But time will take you there! Trust the process. Don’t rush it. It’s different for us all, and that’s okay.
You need people. Ohhhh you need people. You don’t need a lot of them necessarily, but you need them. That same friend I just mentioned was my rock and saving grace after my break up. I truly don’t think I would have made it through those months without her. I had certain friends who would check on me regularly, whether with a text or phone call. One friend showed up at my house the instant she found out, with a starbucks, hugs, and just sat on my couch with me. I was so grateful for these few souls that showed up for me – they were like literal angels in my life at that time.
People may not know what to say or do, and that’s okay. There’s really no ‘right thing’ and when you’re in grief you just need them to be there. To sit with you, even if it’s in silence. There’s definitely an appropriate time to be alone and have your own time/space, but being with other humans and experiencing bits of life is good for your soul in grief.
A quick note on the flip side of that – if you have a friend who’s walking through grief, they need you. Show up, check on them, call them. Their life is a total fog and they barely know up from down. You don’t have to constantly ask ‘are you okay’, ‘how do you feel’ etc but they just need to know they’re not alone and have people around them while they’re in the darkest moments of their life. These moments are about them and caring for their hurting heart and soul – put your own feelings aside and come alongside them. I distinctly remember when I shared with my dad about ending my engagement. He said and did nothing but hug me and that was really all I needed. How you show up for people in their places of hurt is a good indication of how you’re able to emotionally deal with your own hurt.
Journal your thoughts. I’m a big believer in journaling because it allows us to get out thoughts and emotions that might otherwise be too hard. For me, I could barely talk about the circumstances of my breakup for literal months because it was too touchy, sensitive, and just plain hard. I couldn’t utter a word about it – and those close to you will understand that. They won’t need information or details, they will just love you through it. But YOU do need to get it out someway, somehow. For me, journaling is my safe space. I could share and spill every emotion: of sadness, anger, worry, fear, insecurity.. you name it. I wrote it out, and it was therapeutic to release it out. Sitting and stewing in your thoughts and emotions isn’t healthy – they need to be released. For me, writing did that.
I journaled so much during those weeks and months. Pages and pages at a time, sometimes multiple times a day. I haven’t gone back and read them (as of now) but know that someday I will and will see the progression of how my heart healed.
Don’t force anything. Being in grief is scary because sometimes you don’t know when it’ll show up. I barely left my house for weeks and then realized I was afraid to. I didn’t want to go to ‘our places’ alone, or do things we did together ‘alone’. I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t face the world. Even though no stranger in a store knew a single thing about me, I still felt like it was too vulnerable for me. The first time I went back to Whole Foods I had a breakdown in one of the aisles and realized I just wasn’t ready to venture out and even do that yet.
You don’t have to force these things. I hate when people say ‘oh just get into your normal routine, it’ll be good to have some consistency or normalcy’. No. That’s not true or the case at all. There is no “normal” anymore. Your normal is now different, and you may not do those things or go to those places right away or even ever. And that’s okay! It’s good to create new routine and go to new places. Do this at your own pace and don’t force anything that you may not be ready for.
I eventually was able to go back to Whole Foods (ha) but it took a few months for me to get there. I also ate nothing for about the first 3 months aside from this one gluten free frozen pizza I’d get delivered via instacart.. also pretty sure I haven’t eaten it since HAHA. And probably never will either.
Have Faith. My faith and relationship with Christ is the basis for how I live my life in general, but especially during this time of heartbreak I pressed into and pursued Jesus in such an intentional way. I didn’t understand how or why this was happening to me – or how I was ever going to make it through.. but I trusted that God was going to bring me through it.
A lot of times, this looked like playing the same few worship songs on repeat while tears streamed down my face, but it was the rawness and brokenness of my heart that allowed for Him to come in and fill it. He was truly my comfort and what I clung to in the hardest moments. This entire time of my life created a dependence on Christ that I never had experienced before, and truly made me wonder how people do life without the Lord in it.
I knew the Lord gave me the wisdom and strength to make this decision in the first place, so I trusted that He had a purpose for me in it beyond what I could understand.. and someday I would know why and understand more. As hard as all of this was, I knew that I knew without a shadow of a doubt it was the right thing for me and that is truly what kept my eyes looking forward instead of turning back to what was now my past.
Phew.. this has turned out to be super long, but I don’t think it’s something you can really condense and I wanted to truly share my heart with you guys here. It hasn’t been an easy road, but it is one I can say I’m grateful for.
If you’re walking through grief right now, my heart goes out to you and is with you. Know that there is purpose in your pain.. even if you don’t know it now. You will smile again, you will laugh again, you will love again.
I’ve smiled again, I’ve laughed again, I’ve loved again. And all three in deeper ways that I ever did before. I thought I’d never love again, but I realized I didn’t even really know what love was before when my heart was revived. I’ve experienced more growth in life and love in the last 2+ years than I did in my entire 6 year relationship combined, and know just from that fact alone that I made the right decision for me.
I am so glad I had the courage to walk away from what I *thought* I wanted. There’s still lots to come in my life, my story is still being written. I don’t know where it’s going or how it will end up, but I trust the One writing it and know that His plans for me far exceed my own. I’m thankful for my story and past, for where it’s brought me and what it’s taught me. For how it’s shaped me and made me who I am. When we go through hard things, in love, life, and loss – they change us. We have the choice though of whether they can change us for better or for worse. I knew and purposed from the moment I made that decision to walk away that it would be for better, and I can honestly say that it has in every way.
Thank you for reading and hearing my heart, for sharing in these moments of growth over the last few years. It’s truly an honor to share with you guys and encourage you in your places of hurt and brokenness. I needed that in those moments and I hope I’ve done that for some of you too in sharing this part of my life. I don’t take that lightly and things like this mean more to me than all the cozy sweater finds or seasonal decor tours I share with you all ever will.