We meet heartbreak in every stage of our life, the “I like you, do you like me?” note comes back with the “No” box checked. The dreamy guy you hoped would ask you to prom picks your friends instead. Your college boyfriend and his study partner are working on more than Business and Econ. Heartbreak follow us into our 50’s, 60’s and beyond. The pain is just as overwhelming as it was in our youth.
I remember vividly the moment I realized what was going on in my marriage that lead to my divorce. It was a truly visceral experience. I was on retreat we were in a group meditation/writing exercise. The question we were to write on after meditation was, “Who are you angry with?” As I picked up my pen to write, I got nauseated, and I swear I heard a massive “thwack” sounding in my head. It was as if a lightening bolt struck me straight out of the Montana sky, and I knew in that instant my marriage was over. A quick seven months later, it was.
As a yoga teacher and a mid-life divorce coach, I hear of heartbreak from students and clients. It has sounds, sights, and sensations; it impacts our whole being.
“When I read the emails, the floor dropped out of my world, and I felt myself falling.”
“The photos I found drained the color out of my life. All I could see was gray, and I heard static.”
“Realizing what was going on hit me like a wide swung baseball bat to the gut.”
“Our marriage died slowly. It felt like the life was being drained from me.”
“He was only a roommate at the end; we became that distant. It was like tunnel vision, seeing him from far far away.”
“I became hollow. My desire to be touched and held in a loving way was denied to the point it became unbearable.”
“I think I knew it in my bones, but would not allow it in my head.”
(Feel free to add your own description; we all have at least one.)
The 5 stages of grief Elisabeth Kubler Ross developed while working with the dying apply easily to heartbreak and divorce. It is the death of life as we knew it. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance are the well known stages of grief. They refuse to obey any sequence. They skip around moment to moment offering no guarantee you won’t cycle back to Anger months or years after you thought you’d achieved Acceptance. Recovering from heartbreak has no set time frame, and there are many people who live the rest of their lives cycling through the pain.
While traditional therapies help some, I found work revolving around the question of “Why?” defeating. For me, a visceral experience required a whole body approach to recover. I already practiced yoga, and after my move to California, I started returning to the ocean and the beach. A few years of long walks, swimming, learning to surf, along with my yoga practice reconnected me to my whole self. I surrounded myself with family and friends, sights, sounds, and sensations that got me past heartbreak – at least this time.