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It's not all about love and romance in February.

Heartbreak, Heartache and Valentine’s Day

As February is the “Love Month”, it is expected that most everyone would write about Valentine’s Day, romance and the whole giddy, saccharine sweetness of it all. Which is all well and good but seldom do people talk about the other side of the honeyed stuff, so, I thought it would be interesting to go against the grain and talk about heartbreak and the things that make people’s hearts ache and how they can navigate their way around these, for lack of a better word, “heartbreaking” situations.

Let me begin by saying that I am not anti-love nor am I a negative Nancy. It just seems people nowadays only want to hear or talk about good things. They try to skip the hard conversations and they run from pain, denying that they are hurting. As much as I do not blame them, Life has shown me that the good and the bad are relative in nature and that one can benefit from learning to handle both states sensibly.

Let us first define what “heartbreak” is. According to Merriam-Webster online, heartbreak means a “crushing grief, anguish or distress”. Cambridge English Dictionary echoes this by defining heartbreak as a “feeling of great sadness and or disappointment”. The word is used almost always in connection to failed romantic relationships and understandably so, but, the mere definition suggests that there is a wide range of issues that can cause our hearts to break.

So what are some of the different types of heartbreak?

The biggest and most popular one, of course, just to get it out of the way, is the romantic type of heartbreak – a contradiction, in a sense, because if it was romantic, how can it be heartbreaking, but I digress. This often occurs when a relationship ends, or when a romantic partner cheats, or when a love is unrequited.

I remember a friend of mine from college who caught his girlfriend cheating on him in the backseat of a car with his friend. They were in a committed relationship, seemingly happy, so that definitely took him by surprise that bordered on shock. Classic case of heartbreak right there.

And then there are professional heartaches. Recently, a friend of mine received the news that a job that she was hoping to get was being given to someone else. To say she really wanted it is an understatement so that was surely heartwrenching for her.

Then there is the heartbreak brought about by grief. Grief is emptiness, regret, guilt, longing and pain all mixed together like a veritably sad salad bowl. This I can personally attest to: grief is the worst cause of heartbreak.

So, what does one need to do when he or she experiences these heartaches?

As I mentioned earlier, Life taught me that the good and the bad are relative in nature. No one can definitively say something is bad especially if and when something good comes out of it and vice versa. Take for example my friend’s devastating breakup. Heartbreaking, yes, but it led him to meet someone much more suited for him. The missed job opportunity may lead to better career opportunities and even bigger individual growth for my friend. And with grief, yes, it may always invoke painful feelings and be heart and gut-wrenching, but, when we find ways to swim through the anguish and despair and finally find ourselves in calmer waters, we may be visibly shaken and most probably broken, but we will be unmistakably and undeniably stronger than we were before.

Embrace the negative vibes your heartaches bring you. Embrace the pain, feel the anger, wrestle with the despair, acknowledge their sordid existence! Do not run away from the pain and the hurt for it is only by feeling can there be healing.

It also boils down to a matter of perspective. If we change our perspective on that which is breaking our hearts, we open ourselves to the possibility that, at some point, it will not be that painful anymore. Heartbreaks will remain heartbreaking till we choose for them not to be, so, it is also a matter of choice.

Sadness is addictive; this I know to be true. We must choose not to be sucked into its whirlpool of negativity. It sounds simple, because it is simple, but I will concede that it is easier said than done. Some people forget that you only embrace the pain, you do not let yourself wallow or drown in it. Think of heartbreaks as an MRT ride – you get pushed and pulled, pinched, punched, and bruised, but ultimately the ride would end and you would find yourself where you needed to go, a survivor of sorts.

Heartbreaks and heartaches happen at different times and at various stages of our lives. If we choose to think positively and believe there is a good reason behind it, we can be more in control of our emotions and we would be able to will ourselves to move on and move forward to something better.

This Love Month, sweet and happy thoughts on love and romance are to be expected, yes, and they would make giddy hearts aflutter. But being able to discuss heartbreaks without breaking, being able to brave storms of pain and anguish without drowning, and being able to embrace heartache without dwelling – these are equally wonderful and should be celebrated as well.

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