“It took me a year to get over my last heartbreak.”
I tweeted this last week and it sat with me. I thought about the ways in which I’ve let love overcome me and how, after so long, I finally came up for air. Some retweets for aspiration later (along with refusing to journal) has left me with the hard questions. Why so long? Why did I love a man for so long? A man who made it clear that I was not the woman he wanted? Better yet, how did I “do” the healing process?
Two years ago, I hit rock bottom. In love with a man who didn’t love me back, I searched for the reasons why I wasn’t “good enough”. Overwhelmed with guilt from the harmful things I did, I fell into a deep spiral. Through countless hours of sob filled prayers, therapy, art, and self-discovery, I learned to separate my guilt and pain from the reality. That by far was the hardest love experience I’ve ever had and once I healed, I was confident in my ability to love and lose again.
But I forgot just how tricky love is. How every man’s love won’t feel like the next and how every man’s hurt won’t feel the same. The plot twist with this last love episode was that I lost a lover and a friend. I lost my best friend. That was different and I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. No amount of prayer, art, mantras, or journaling could soothe the pain in my chest. No amount of self-care brought my best friend back.
I often reflect on the last year and wonder why my tried and true self-care methods just didn’t seem to work. Sometimes I used that as an explanation for why that guy was “the one”. Other times I berated myself for my failures. Many times I just felt confused. As the Queen of self-care and recovery, to the point that near strangers reach out to me for comfort and help, I couldn’t understand why the process just wasn’t working. Why my prayers felt empty. Why my self-help books seemed to blur together. Why art didn’t release the pain. Why music didn’t provide an escape. Then I realized, my process didn’t fit neatly into a box.
Self-care is one of my guiding life principles but it took this last heartache for me to understand that self-care is not magic. Self-care will not automatically heal me. It will not make me forget about the person that I loved who did not love me back. Self-care can make me whole, but self-care cannot erase.
Time is the part of the process that I think we often ignore. The fact that time is often the salve to the bandage of self-care. Time is what loosens the knot in your chest when your former lover’s name is brought up over coffee. Time is what allows you to be in the room with his new girlfriend and not want to rip your hair out. Time is the part that self-help books tend to forget. Time is what eventually allows you to sleep at night and not fear dawn. Time is what gets us through, what helps the love of years’ past fade to a quiet beat. Your process of recovery is not found in a self-help book; it’s found in your willingness to succumb to time.