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  • Writer's pictureWendy Bradfield

Love & Heartbreak Experiment 101: Should You Keep Your Heart Open to Love During a Breakup?

My very first heartbreak was terrifying. I thought I had a heart attack at the age of 22.

Who did I call to take me to the ER? The man I just broke up with.

He rushed to my aid after a frantic phone call, and we tore into the ER yelling about my heart attack.

After numerous tests, the doctor explained what had occurred.

Wendy, the cartilage is swelling around your heart. There’s no known cause and no known cure, but it feels excruciating in the heart & chest area. You did the right thing by coming to the ER.

I’ll never forget his next words. Have you lost someone dear to you recently, a death, or some other devastating event?

I looked into the eyes of the man I called the love of my life and said yes, actually, there has been a death. My heart is broken.

To my surprise, he was not surprised and said he had seen this scenario a few times before.

So, can the loss of love actually kill you?

I’m not sure.

But it can destroy you if you let it.

Getting through the day is like trying to run up a sand dune

I open the cupboard, and a large glass serving platter crashes down, shattering in every direction.

Uranian energy, I think to myself, a perfect reflection of my life right now.

I don’t have the heart to clean it up or bandage the cuts on my bleeding feet where the shards sliced my delicate skin.

Coffee is more important now. Basic needs that offer a bit of comfort are what I want most.

Coffee first, and then I will deal with the aftermath of my life and the glass platter in a thousand pieces on the floor.

Heartbreak sensations and self-preservation

The first instinct in a painful breakup is to close your heart and protect yourself because it can feel like you’re going to die.

Gut-wrenching waves of pain tear through my stomach. My chest heaves in rhythmic unison, for every wave feels like my heart will cave in.

You need to survive, you think to yourself.

The waves of pain keep coming — each one more disorienting than the last.

I won’t eat, I won't sleep, I will write my best poetry and philosophize about why my mantra is anything for love.

My epic love affair

In a matter of seven weeks after moving back to Egypt, I managed to make a host of wonderful friends, move into a beautiful flat, fall madly in love and get my heart smashed like a roasted eggplant destined for baba ghanoush.

My epic love story came crashing down in the shortest, most intense, and deeply connected relationship I’ve ever had, albeit one-sided.

It was like a hurricane, and before I could focus on the aftermath, he was gone.

I knew the possibility was likely, but love is worth the risk.

Heartbreak hits differently when you're in a new country without the familiarity of home, routine, and family — it’s scarier.

Heartbreak habits of the past

In the past, I’d isolate myself for an extended period of time after a breakup and practice self-destructive judgment.

I’d whisper, you deserve to be alone for choosing so unwisely in love—stupid girl.

When love ended, I’d back up into a dark corner and practice self-imposed suffering in the name of figuring out the life lesson.

I'd beat myself up and focus on everything that was wrong with me.

The one thing I’ve never done is try to keep my heart open during a painful breakup.

Why would anyone do that?

Well, I don’t know, but I want to try it and find out.

The door behind you and the door before you

I’m staring at the door in front of me, and it's waiting to be opened.

I don’t want to stay in limbo between the door that just closed and the door that wants to be opened.

In actuality, they’re the same door. The end is the beginning of something if we recognize it.

I’m not going to play the self-imposed suffering in isolation role this time.

I’m walking through the door in front of me while my heart is still open because I want to find love, even in my semi-so-called broken state.

All doors swing both ways. It's our perception that determines the state and direction of the doors and where they lead.

The love experiment: Part A

My dear friend, who happens to be a relationship coach, has an intriguing idea about my current situation.

Why not keep your heart open to love right now instead of nailing the door shut and trying to figure out where you went wrong?

Whoa, that is a radical thought.

But why would you want to keep your heart open to pain and vulnerability?

  • An open heart is an opportunity to heal.

  • An open heart may attract another person you are more compatible with for a significant relationship

  • Maybe you didn’t do anything wrong. Perhaps everything about your situation is right. Why not tune into that idea?

Um, okay — mind blown.

The love experiment: Part B

Okay, so here’s an unpopular approach to heartbreak aftercare.

Start dating immediately and focus on everything right about my newly single situation.

People do it all the time, and I used to be someone who judged them for it. Yikes, it's an embarrassing thing to admit.

I’ve always been proud that I remain single for a long while after a breakup to self-reflect.

I don’t need a relationship to make me feel whole because I’m happy on my own. But I love being in love.

I often joke that one of my superpowers is falling in love in 7 days or less. I guess this is a good thing and a bad thing depending on how you look at it.

So, as fast as I can fall in love, I’m curious how quickly I can fall out of love if I really try instead of ruminating about why it didn’t last.

If I start dating immediately, it might be a positive step in the right direction.

I’ve never used this approach, but, ironically, my dentist asked me out on a date the same day of my breakup.

I did a thing I never thought I could do.

I said yes and accepted his invitation for a date.

Many people move on directly after a breakup, and I don’t know how, but I’m going to try it and see what happens.

Why love?

Love isn't about feeling good all the time. It's about opening your heart and soul to the highest highs and the lowest lows.

Love is an agreement we make to gaze into the soul of another and see ourselves through each other's eyes.

We risk losing ourselves in the process.

But it's also a chance to experience a purified version of our highest self.

Because when another human being sees you through the eyes of love, there is no higher vibration.

If you allow yourself to merge with their vision of you, it’s the greatest gift you can receive.

But you must allow for this sacred exchange and the risk that comes with it.

The way of love is not a subtle argument. The door there is devastation. Birds make great sky-circles of their freedom. How do they learn it? They fall, and falling, they’re given wings.
— Rumi

I was open to loves gifts in this union, but my partner turned away and chose fear instead.

I jumped into a pool of bliss and allowed myself the pleasure of becoming purified through his embrace.

I was sure he’d join me, but when I looked back up I saw that he remained on the ledge where he closed his heart in the name of protection.

I was alone.

I fell in love with someone who said they were falling in love with me and then backed out in the final moments.

I watched as fear swept over his heart and closed down to me. He couldn't stop it.

I don't blame him because we all unfold and grow according to our needs.

We all have limitations we place on ourselves.

In the end

I accept him as he is because, in my eyes, he is a beautiful light-filled being who I love.

My heart breaks not only for myself but for the man whose heart is shrouded in fear and cannot receive love’s blessings.

I believe this is the first time I’ve ever let go in perfect love. It's definitely the first time I chose not to close my heart and suffer diligently.

My heart is broken, but how it got that way doesn’t matter. The important thing is it's open, and I will not close it.

Just maybe, if I keep my heart open, I will stumble upon a greater gift than my Earthly self could ever imagine.

As waves of pain pummel me from within, I whisper to my lost beloved, I forgive you, I release you, I love you.

I need coffee strong enough to wake up my ancestors! You can buy me one here if you enjoy my scribblings! Many thanks, xoxo

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