This is a vulnerable post for me. To be honest, the last thing I wanted to do today was write because it’s a high-feels day.
But, then I thought, maybe that’s the perfect time to write. Maybe by letting my pain be a real, valid thing, someone else will feel seen. As easy as it is to tell myself I’m less worthy, less successful, less of an expert, less professional for having days when I feel like a mess, I know that none of that is true.
Part of what makes me me is the fact that I know what it means to feel raw, anxious, and heartbroken.
So, that’s what today is about.
Heartbreak and tenderness.
Not the traditional Hollywood kind of heartbreak with a dramatic break-up or a violent death.
I’m talking the kind of heartbreak that comes from wanting to support someone you love and realizing you have no idea how to actually do it. The heartbreak of confronting your own fears or trying to expand your own boundaries and finding you’re not ready or you’ve fallen short.
The heartbreak of disappointment or self-betrayal.
Maybe some folks would use another word for the agony I’m talking about, but my heart hurt last night and felt like it was breaking. So, I’m calling it heartbreak, critics be damned.
I know I’m not alone in feeling like I have to have it all figured out all of the time.
I know I’m not alone in feeling pain over the realization of just how fragile and precious everything in this world is.
We all have so many reasons to be heartbroken. Violence. Injustice. Loss. Self-betrayal. Trauma.
And sometimes it’s not the hard stuff that cracks me open, but the transcendent beauty, the endless hope that I have so much faith in. Sometimes love is what breaks me.
Today, I want to simply say, it’s OK to break your own heart. It happens. It hurts. It might even feel like you won’t ever recover. But you are an important part of the world and your pain will become something breathtaking someday.
It’s OK to not know how to get through a day because it hurts too much. It’s OK to ask for help or to watch cat videos for a few hours or to sit in the bathtub and cry or to pull the covers over your head until tomorrow.
It’s OK if you have to pack it all down and muscle through because you can’t skip work or the kids need to be fed or your parent is sick, and instead, to wait until you have a moment to yourself to cry in the car or a closet.
The word agony has been circling my thoughts over and over today. But behind the agony, I also have this strange feeling of being cleansed.
As if, by allowing the pain to take up space, by weeping and gasping and being a wreck that doesn’t know how she’ll get through the next moment, I’m purging the stuff I’ve been hiding from in order to make room for some light.
Sometimes finding my edges only happens after I’ve stepped over them and fallen. Which, in itself can be a remarkable thing, if I’m open to it. Even if it hurts like hell.
So, tenderness is my invitation of the day.
Tenderness for the stuff that hurts. Tenderness towards the mistakes and the failures. Tenderness in how I think about it all, in how you think about it all.
I want us all to invite tender smiles, tender touches, tender sips of water that slide down your throat and awaken each taste bud with it’s coolness, tender steps on the earth so that every cell of every toe knows it’s alive and valuable and important.
Sometimes life is hard.
Sometimes love hurts more than anything.
Sometimes we think we can handle something and then find out after it’s too late that we weren’t quite ready for that.
Sometimes we wake up to horrible news about police brutality or bombings in Iraq or shootings in nightclubs or college campus rapes or that a loved one is sick or that we’ve run out of money.
And it’s OK to hurt.
It’s OK to feel heartbroken.
It’s OK to wail and sob and beat your fists on a pillow and turn off social media and unplug from the world.
Heartbreak is a part of life, especially when you’re living in courage, vulnerability, and openness…living by aiming high and wanting more for yourself and the people you love.
Just know that behind the heartbreak is a chance to rebuild, to reconnect, to ask for help, and to come out stronger (even if that takes days, weeks, months, or years to do so).
When you find yourself hurting so badly you can’t remember how to breathe, I invite you to think about tenderness.
How tender can you be with yourself? How tenderly can you speak to yourself? How tenderly can you tend to yourself? How can ask for help from others who know how to be tender towards you, whether it’s in person or online?
My heartbreak has a message. That message might be to take better care of myself, to find a way to be OK with where I am instead of trying to force myself to be where I’m not, or to surrender when holding tight feels so much less scary.
My invitation is tenderness. Putting the pieces back together means you can make your heart more expansive, more resilient, more powerful in a way that honors you and your journey.