Wise Women in Heartbreak

photo by Summer Hokulani Engman

How do you handle heartbreak?

Their answers varied tremendously. Yet they all (mostly) intersected on the concept of feeling the grief all the way through. Check out Part 1 and Part 3.

49, Tuscon, Arizona

I let myself drop into my body and lean heavily on practices like yoga, running, dancing to let as much of the sensation move through me without clamping down on it. Allowing all my feelings. And using silly distractions as needed — movies, baby sloth videos on YouTube, etc.

Tools like spring cleaning, swamping, crying, I haven’t had a romantic heartbreak in a long while, so it’s been other kinds of heartbreak that may not need quite the same.

40’s, New York City

I don’t think I could handle it so I avoid feeling it.

51, New York, New York and San Francisco, California

In no hierarchical order whatsoever:

I cry. Sometimes a lot

I write in my journal a lot

I take long walks

I talk to my girlfriends a lot

I do a shaking meditation where I shake and speak incoherently for 20 mins — just sort of let my body and emotions do whatever — and then I meditate right after for 20 mins

I cry again

I get really fucking angry and have internal conversations with the person

I let myself feel all of it

I write how much I hate them

I write how much I love them

I listen to sad love songs

I eat too much

I don’t eat enough

I play with dogs

I pray

I pray some more

I get frustrated with how long the process is taking

I realize that I loved the person much more than I first thought

I cry over that

I mourn all over again only this time I really sink in and feel it all

I surrender. Really surrender.

And I start to find peace…

I would say let it rip and bleed the way our needs to, while also giving yourself tons of support. Friends, touch, and comfort from a place of self leadership.

The most healing heartbreak experience was sitting with a friend and just feeling how much in hurt, while not trying to stop it or blame him.

But just saying, ow, fuck!

Self talk can be tricky because it’s easy to try to float above the pain. And just diving into the pain can also be hurtful because there’s so self leadership.

So for me, it’s about both of those happening at the same time.

30’s, London, England

By feeling it. Going deep inside of the sensation worked the best for me. And then allowing whatever wants to happen happen. I ended up painting a gorgeous piece of art once I was deep inside all the feelings.

44, Roanoke, VA

Breathe. I became aware that I needed to learn how to breathe all over again. The first step was to be aware of my breath. I learned how to change my breath in order to change my response to what was happening in every moment. That helped me to protect my internal climate, and decide how much I allowed it all to impact me. I also had damage to my lungs and rehabilitation for scar tissue and toxicity was imperative.

Breathing connects me with the belly of the earth to keep me grounded, connected to my heart, to the cosmos and beyond the sun. When I feel tethered to this nobody can say or do anything to hurt me. I have already been there, felt so much hurt. It’s kind of like a superpower. Nobody can touch me anymore. I know what to worry about. I know what is worth worrying over. And I just don’t bother with the other stuff.

Orgasm. I knew how orgasm changed the chemistry in my brain. Oxytocin release fights against cortisol which is prevalent in trauma and depression. It changed how my body was feeling. Sometimes it would be a stroke or two, sometimes just being with my pussy, sometimes it’s a climax and that’s nice.

Going deep into my body. I spent lots of time in bath houses. I would go from hot to cold, hot to cold, hot to cold, hot to cold. It reminded me that I am indeed alive. In the cold water, I taught myself how to open when everything in me wanted to close up and contract.

Animals. Three months after the fire, I spent 8 weeks in an equine therapy program. That was a game changer. Before that, I numbed myself with wine and Game of Thrones for 3 months. Then one day I worked at a farm with a horse and had a profound encounter. That horse gave me a pathway and a portal to my kids. I could feel them with me; the horses were mediums. They are so much more in tune energetically with what is happening within us. I also had incredible experiences with elephants in Zimbabwe.

Sisterhood. Men and women grieve so differently. I need my girlfriends.

Space. I gave myself massive, massive space — to do everything wrong, to have greasy hair and no makeup and not to give a shit about what I was wearing. No self judgement.

Creation. I read a ton of books and meditated regularly. I took up altercraft — creating alters. Where ever I was, I would create an altar. In the woods, in my home, waiting in line at a restaurant. I was constantly thinking about my heartbreak, always mourning my boys. When I think of the heartbreak, I like to create things to shift that heaviness in to something else. Breathe, anchor, honor.

Traveling. I gained a different perspective by seeing different cultures. It helped me pull my head out of my ass. I realized, You are not so special, Lindsay. There is an entire world of grieving people and other people have it worse. I can use this as a blessed sanctified nourishing experience for someone else’s good.

Shamanic School. I learned to walk in the dark and be in open dark spaces. I learned that I need the dark more than the light. That I need to go there often. Culturally we are afraid to be in dark places. Sometimes it’s going out in the dark and to listening to birds, bats and crickets and feeling comforted and finding beauty there. Using that metaphor in other areas of my life. I learned that the dark is not so scary.

35, Philo, California

Feel it all. Stay connected to friends throughout the process. Find the art and beauty in it. Let it change you, don’t think you will get out of it as the same person; you absolutely 100% won’t. It’s meant to change you, and meant to break your heart open to more life and sensitivity and true empathy. There is no going back.

Listen to the blues, break some of your own rules, smoke a cigarette, write dark poetry, watch a horror movie. Make friends with the down of it. And then when the bell rings to emerge from this round of heartbreak, come out and create something from it.

36, Naples, Florida

I let the grief come as it comes, in waves. When a wave hits, I pause and feel the exquisite pain of it all. I feel the tears run down my cheeks, I feel my breath change, I feel the intense love that somehow feels lost.

Then I move. I sink into my curves, into my sensuality and I dance. Sometimes I put on a song and dance and other times I dance to the emotional waves rippling through my body.

Check out Part 1 and Part 3.

artwork by Katrina Pallon

Coach & Writer. Musings on being a woman, creator of Body Love, alchemist, mother, brendafredericks.com

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