Sometimes people do things that are incomprehensible. I once knew a man who was married to one woman, while starting a family with another, two towns away. I mean, you have to know it’s only a matter of time before that explodes everywhere, right? I was once betrayed by someone I believed was a friend, someone I’d tried to help, in a way that left me in tears for weeks, trying to make sense of it. I had another friend years ago who screwed me over for a job. The thing is, it takes a really long time to know another person. Sometimes you believe you do, and then something happens and you realize you didn’t know the person at all, not really.
Sometimes this happens because we project and assume. We project our own ideas of what it means to be a friend onto the other party, without stopping to wonder whether they have the same definition. Or we project our ideas about who we think someone is, or want them to be, without allowing them the time and space to show us through their actions. Or we assume how things are for us, is how they are for other people. We imagine everyone is working with our frame of reference, and what’s obvious to us will be to them. There are all kinds of ways we can get burned.
Transitions are never easy. Even though we long for stability, we resist the one stable thing we can count on: everything is in a constant state of flux. Fear is usually at the root of our resistance to change. The devil we know is better than the one we don’t, or something like that. That very thinking keeps us stuck in situations that crush the light out of us. If everything is always changing, if people and feelings and circumstances are always in motion, it means we can never know what will happen next, and for many people that’s a scary thought, so they try to pin down the things they can. People don’t like to be pinned down, though, or taken for granted or expected to always be the same. That isn’t a fair, reasonable or rational expectation.
What we can hope for from our close family members, partners, and loved ones, is communication. Few things are worse than transition without conversation. I know a woman whose fiancé left her three months before their wedding and never looked back, never explained himself, never said a word. He just took off while she was on a business trip, and left a note that said “Sorry.” That’s it, one word, and she was left to piece together what had happened on her own. It’s cowardly to bail without explanation, and it’s also disrespectful to the tender heart of the person left in the dark. Life is hard enough when we do have answers. Maybe we’ve grown apart, or what we wanted five years ago doesn’t feel right today. You have to be where you are. You can’t force love and you can’t force life, and you cannot control what other people are going to do, or say or want or need, but you can handle yourself with integrity and have compassion for people, and think about the way you’d like to be treated. Y’know, just common human decency.
Even when we aren’t treated with respect, we’re still getting an answer, right? If someone won’t talk to you, they’re actually speaking volumes about their own limitations. Some of the most important conversations happen without words. Could words soften the blow? Undoubtedly, but you can’t manage another person’s path, and people can only have the tools they have. What you can do is recognize something very essential: if a person treats you poorly, that’s a reflection of where she is on her journey, it’s not a reflection of anything lacking within you, and then you can go about the business of healing. Your first task is going to be opening up your gorgeous heart once more. Try not to let the heartbreaks harden you. Recognize that people in pain spread pain, and that it can be no other way, and try to wish them well. In the meantime, let your own light shine.
Sending you love,
10 thoughts on “Let the Heartbreaks Soften You”
Ally how do I subscribe to your posts?
There should be a “subscribe” button at the top right corner of the posts…are you not seeing one?
Wow. I am so grateful that my friend Maura encouraged me to check out your writing. I so deeply resonate with much of your work and am equally inspired as a writer myself. Your posts always seem to appear at the perfectly relevant moment. I came to your studio a few times back when it first opened. It’s awesome to see it not only thriving but also continuing to blossom multidimensionally. All the best! In gratitude and appreciation.
Thanks so much, Galia. Glad this resonated with you, and hope to see you again 🙂 XO
“What you can do is recognize something very essential: if a person treats you poorly, that’s a reflection of where she is on her journey, it’s not a reflection of anything lacking within you.”
These are the most impactful words to me from this blog post. Thank you for taking the time to write words that help people to heal.
Thanks so much. Sending you lots of love.
“Even though we long for stability, we resist the one stable thing we can count on: everything is in a constant state of flux.”
So, so true and powerful. Thank you. Sharing this post right now….
You’re so welcome. Grateful it resonated with you. XO
A friend sent me your post, and I’ve since shared it with two more. These may be the most helpful words I’ve ever read about finding a compassionate response to pain in a relationship. We want to defend our bruised and battered hearts; instead, as you illustrate so beautifully, we can choose to soften them and to bring more love into the world. Thank you for sharing your stories, your insights, this profoundly wise essay.
Thank you so much. Sending you love and hugs.