FIRSTLY, my most heartfelt condolences to Vanessa Feltz for what she’s being forced to endure after [purportedly] discovering that her boyfriend of 16 years, Ben, has been seeking out entertainment with other women.
I don’t envy her one bit.
It doesn’t matter how strong, how independent or how smart you are, heartbreak is an absolute swine.
It has crippled me many times.
It has left me feeling physically paralysed, emotionally suffocated and psychologically bewildered in one fell swoop — sadly, on more than one occasion.
It is the kind of agony that envelops your entire being and affects every aspect of your life.
That heart of ours is a powerful organ, and when it breaks it feels impossible to go on.
Anyone who says they haven’t had their heart broken is either lying to themselves or is not a sentient being.
It happens to us all in various shapes and sizes.
For Vanessa it must feel like a cruel double whammy on account of her first husband having walked out on her and her daughters, following his infidelity.
She must feel that adultery and betrayal continue to cast a shadow over her pursuit of happiness.
The cheating and duplicity have nothing to do with her, but there are inevitably moments when you start to question yourself, who and what you are, and possibly even what you did wrong.
So not only are you bearing the cross of indescribable pain but suddenly you’re forced to go on an involuntary journey of self-analysis and retrospective second-guessing.
Seems like a cruel twist of fate when you’re already on your knees, scrambling around on the floor for your dignity and pieces of your broken heart.
But Vanessa isn’t the first to have her heart broken.
She certainly won’t be the last.
It’s that we manage to get through it that matters.
I never talk about getting over heartbreak because I’m not entirely convinced you ever really do.
There’s always a tiny, tiny part of you that is forever scarred, damaged and incapacitated by the experience — no matter how small.
It’s always there.
The strange thing is that heartbreak can even come from when you yourself have ended something.
I opted out of my last marriage and the heartache was unbearable for a long time — the sadness, fear and sense of disappointment was palpable.
I coincidentally read with interest this week that a new study now claims that an unhappy marriage is better for your health than being single or divorced.
It has something to do with having lower blood sugar levels if you’re in a relationship.
Thank God they clarified that, because I’ve never heard such tosh.
I’d rather be unhappy on my own than trapped in an unhappy marriage.
Peddling this kind of nonsense is dangerous and would likely persuade people to remain in miserable situations for fear of getting diabetes.
You get less for murder than you do for enduring an unhappy marriage.
Six years ago, I didn’t expect to find myself single at 50.
Vanessa certainly didn’t expect to find herself single at 60 and I can’t pretend to her it’s not tough out there.
The dating world is the new Wild West (but that’s a whole different chapter) and I don’t suppose that’s the first thing on Feltz’s mind right now.
But here’s the point: the inescapable and unreasonable fact about heartbreak is that when someone breaks your heart, it is you that has to do the recovering, the healing, the mending and, not least, the learning to trust again.
But, as we all know, it isn’t impossible.
It just seems that way in the depths of your despair.
Things don’t always pan out how we think they will.
Always seems to me that “man plans and God laughs”.
Worth holding on, then, to the fact that “this too shall pass”.
Because it really will.
Meanwhile there is some short-term assistance available.
Above, I offer my five tips to ease the pain . . .
Turn to your pals
FIRST and foremost, it is the immeasurable love and friendship of family, close friends – and sometimes even strangers – that will help keep you upright.
Because more often than not I’ve found myself, metaphorically speaking, in a heap on the floor.
It has felt as if I’ve crumbled or melted into a messy pile on the ground.
The pain and loss can feel so completely all-encompassing that you feel incapable of functioning with any semblance of normality.
But your friends are there to pick you up and support you – so use those offers of help.
I have friends I know I can call in the middle of the night, if needs be, because unfortunately heartache doesn’t just happen during working hours – it catches you unawares at 2.30am, and that’s when you might need a shoulder, or better still, an ear.
Ignore the well-meaning but clumsy friend who says: “You’re better off without him” etc, because while the intention is to boost your spirits and self-worth, it’s not how you are feeling in your darkest hour.
Cry it out
FOR God’s sake, cry!
Cry as much as you can.
I’m not much of a crier but heartbreak invariably opens the floodgates.
It’s good to cry, and even though you make between 15 and 30 gallons of tears a year, there will come a day when you stop – not ’cos you’re done with your achy-breaky heart, but you’ll just be too knackered to cry any more.
See the process as a kind of mourning.
You’re in part lamenting what was, and in part what should have been.
On the bright side, you’ve been spared what should have been, because it never would have been.
If that makes sense.
So although I highly recommend finding distractions and seeking out entertainment, they can only help so much.
The hard work comes with time . . .
Hit the pinot
THE unnerving thing about heartache is that it is an actual physical pain.
It actually exists.
Your heart can actually be painful when it’s been broken, and the dastardly thing about it is there is no medicine for it – no painkillers can take away the hurt.
Pharmaceutical drugs don’t touch the sides.
And maybe that’s why we so often overlook people with heartbreak because it has hitherto not been seen as a medical condition.
Surround yourself with good people.
Go and do fun things.
Get your ego massaged.
Get your body massaged.
Take up running.
Go underwater basket-weaving.
Let your hair down.
Get absolutely blathered.
Book a hol.
A trip out.
All these things are great diversions, albeit temporary fixes.
They’ll take your mind off your pain and remind you that you’re still actually capable of laughing, away from the person who made you cry.
Embrace the pain and get a dog
I HAVE always made sure that I ride out my heartbreak.
I don’t kick my can of sadness down the road.
Painful as it is, you’ve got to just endure it.
I’m not saying I embrace it lovingly but I’d rather suffer the pain as it’s happening than pretend I’m fine, then have a nervous breakdown three months down the line.
I don’t say get a dog to mend your broken heart, but their love is unconditional, and mine have kept me going through many a heartbreak.
They have eased the pain.
Don’t hide tears from kids
IT’S a tough gig hiding your heartbreak from your kids but I have always been honest with mine and explained that I’m feeling sad.
Kids shouldn’t fear pain and heartache – in fact it’s not a bad idea for them to witness it.
Or you can always run upstairs and scream into a pillow or bite your own arm.
Sob in the shower.
Go chop some wood.
Make some bread and punch the dough.
I promise you will feel better.
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