By Catherine Hedge
I once read a old fairy tale about an innocent girl who met with tragedy. The Ice Queen broke a magic crystal. A shard flew through the air, piercing the child’s heart. Originally sweet and loving, she became increasingly cruel and rigid while her brother tried to save her. I wonder if that’s what happens when our hearts are broken. Sharp fragments bury themselves into our psyches and dare us to pry them out.
I’ve never met anyone over fifteen who hasn’t had a broken heart at least once. Sadly, most of us experience it multiple times and know all the platitudes people use to make us feel better:
“Just keep yourself busy. You’ll get over him/her soon enough!”
“No one ever died of a broken heart.” (Are they so sure?)
“If it were real love, none of this would have ever happened”
“Just wait. Someone better will come along.”
You know they mean well, but all you really need is someone to wrap both arms around you, to say, “I am so very sorry….”, and to listen. Sometimes it seems you’re asking them to listen forever. You tell the same story so often your sister, brother, mother, friend could say the next line, but still the spinning of it is healing.
You need someone to say, “It really wasn’t your fault.” Even if it was. You need to talk about little moments, insignificant before the break-up, that become magnified into monumental foretellings. (Why didn’t I see it coming? How could I have been so naive? Why wouldn’t he/she change when he/she knew I needed him/her so much?) Characteristics that were once endearing when you loved the person become traits that drive you crazy. Places you adored, holidays you cherished, friends you shared, you avoid in the aching, dulling aftermath of a soured romance. That shard of heartbreak can keep digging deeper, shredding your spirit until it seems there is nothing left.
Some creatures really are made to love only once. My daughter told me a story of a friend who used to hunt wild geese. He was very proud of bagging a large goose until he saw the gander circling, landing, and calling out for hours for his lost love. The sound was so mournful, he never hunted geese again. The story is that goose may have returned to search for years, that they mate for life.
But humans are lucky. We do have the capacity to love again, if given the chance. Perhaps a dear friend, a new lover, or our child reaches inside us and finds that old injury. Somehow, with patience and hope, they tweeze out the slivers of glass. That makes us love them even more.