In 2021, I went through a break up that would shift my perception on love for months. We’ve heard about break ups and how they are “a normal part of life” but I didn’t realize the complexity of heartbreaks until I faced it head on.
I knew the pain I felt had left a mark on my trajectory of life because of the shattered glass. The way life cracked when I realized the one I loved wasn’t who I thought they were. And the way it shattered when attempts to fix what was broken only made the glass more fragile.
Even though it was my most painful heartbreak, it wasn’t my first. My first heartbreak was when I watched my dad roll his suit case out the garage when I was 8 years old. He hopped into a cab to the airport and that would be the last time I saw him for years. At the time, he was my best friend and the person I looked forward to seeing everyday at 6pm when he got home from work. Life changed completely after that. We moved around a lot, bouncing from one school to another, staying at shelters, until finally founding a home. The separation was hard on my mom and her heartbreak spread to her children which taught me more about heartbreak and pain. Eventually my family and I moved to The Gambia in 2013 to be closer to my dad. And well, heart breaks just pilled on after that.
Those are just some core moments that my mind connects heartbreak with. But 2021 felt very different.
Since prioritizing my walk with Christ, God has been breaking down the walls I built up from childhood trauma. Life is extremely complex and from a young age my mind found a way to cope during a crisis by moving in auto pilot. Never facing things fully, and letting myself get distracted by something new.
I knew a change in my heart begun when I started reflecting more on emotions and hardships. Letting myself understand the root of my reactions and unravelling the closed off parts of myself. But a big tell that a change was happening within me was when I started opening up more to people and allowing myself to be vulnerable with my partner.
I let myself fall in love without hesitation and shoo’d away thoughts of jumping ship.
An even bigger tell was when I realized I couldn’t suppress my heart break no matter how many times I tried to distracted myself. I didn’t jump into any new relationships or have the time to travel or escape. It was just me, my pain, and my new apartment (not how I envisioned my first few months of living alone to go LOL).
But there was one thing I could put my all into, and that was school. It was my last semester of Uni so I threw myself into it. Everything else in my life seemed to have a shadow of my ex. My business, Toronto, poetry (because I write what I feel), and even some content. A lot of my projects had to be pushed back or revamped completely. But school was only for me, my love life never mixed with it.
One thing about pushing feelings down too much is that they find a way to creep up and manifest physically.
Although I was finishing all my assignments, going to the gym, working with different clients, and staying “productive”. My emotions were screaming for help. Soon those emotions didn’t want to be silenced and whenever I thought of him and the heartbreak my stomach would hurt. Every time I got a text my stomach turned. My gut issues amplified around that time, and it was all linked to my emotional state.
Gut issues, migraines, and hives would come in cycles for months. Then one day, after neglecting my faith for too long I raaaaan to God, begging him to heal me and to make me forget about my ex and the heartbreak.
But God wouldn’t let me forget and he didn’t heal me on the spot. Instead, he told me to sit still. To take all the pain, all the thoughts I was suppressing, and sit in it.
I couldn’t. Honestly, I avoided God for a few weeks after that.
The healing process in particular tends to get very ugly before it gets beautiful. I believe it gets unbearably painful, more than the trauma itself, before it gets better.
It’s funny how we avoid the things we know will help us because we are afraid of the process of it. The healing process in particular tends to get very ugly before it gets beautiful. I believe it gets unbearably painful, more than the trauma itself, before it gets better. The trauma feels like the way your knee stings after falling on pavement. But the healing and the emotions afterwards is like scraping skin off with a dull knife. Just unreasonably painful.
You cannot control the magnitude of it.
So, while avoiding those painful emotions and NOT healing, I finished my semester. Sure enough, the moment I handed in my final assignment pain came knocking on my door.
“Remember me?” she said almost wincing because she knew I was in for it.
School was done, I was on my social media hiatus, and I was rebuilding my relationship with God and myself. In other words, I had no more excuses but to sit in my pain. To add oil to fire, I prayed that God would remove everyone in my life who isn’t truly for me. And he did just that. He put me in a season of isolation, and while grieving my last relationship, I also had to grieve some friendships.
But with everything lost, God replaced it with his love and people I didn’t realize I needed or already had.
Distracting myself with school was like placing a bandage on a cracked skull. It might hide the cut but it’s not enough to stop the bleeding. I spent that semester working with a bleeding skull. Sometimes blood would drip into my eyes forcing me to stop, and in those little pockets of being still I realized I missed him and wasn’t over the break up.
In those little pockets of being still, every ounce of my body wanted to call him or text him to see how he was doing. But I would stop myself and get back to work, orrrrrrrrrr binge watch shows to keep my mind focused on something else.
But God had other plans that faithful last week of my semester.
He forced me to sit in that pain while he stitched the opened wound. The week after I would be hit with major depression. You know the type that keeps you in bed and for some reason just makes you exhausted? Yeah that.
He destroyed the walls that were there since childhood (more like obliterated them), leaving me emotionally vulnerable for the first time in years. It was like my bedroom floor opened up and water shot out through them, forcing me to swim up to the ceiling until I had no where else to go. Then taking one final last breath, I let the water swallow me up.
But he didn’t leave me there, he stayed in that water with me. Even when I got mad at him for letting me endure that type of pain. Even when I yelled at him, and shut him out to the point I thought my faith would never be the same.
Still, he floated in that water beside and waited until I asked him to open the door.
And he did. The water gushed out the room leaving a soaked mess and the faint sound of droplets trickling down my walls. This part of my healing was called the “cleaning up”.
Cleaning up consisted of shedding the layers of unforgiveness and anger. Removing the guilt and digesting the pain in a way that doesn’t make me feel worse about myself.
Cleaning up consisted of shedding the layers of unforgiveness and anger. Removing the guilt and digesting the pain in a way that doesn’t make me feel worse about myself. I realized a part of myself felt stupid for being with a man who didn’t value boundaries and lacked self-control around women. I chastised myself for not leaving sooner, and in a way was hurting myself more than he hurt me.
But with every negative seed planted, God showed me how to be more graceful with myself just as he has always been with me. I can’t control how people will act, people will always do what they want. Sometimes their actions might cause you pain, but that doesn’t mean what they did is a reflection of you.
People can only meet us where they have met themselves. My view of loyalty was completely different than my ex’s, and that’s okay.
It doesn’t make me stupid for loving him, because at the end of the day the ability to love and experience love is a gift. We just have to learn to pick what we will take from that experience whether good or bad.
I no longer take the heartbreaking, although it’s still here. Instead, I accept the pain and choose to not let it define that relationship or me.
Healing doesn’t mean you’re broken. It is actually the door to rediscovering your strength and true self. It is the needed transformation that catapults you closer to God’s will. Thankfully, He walks with us, hand in hand, as we navigate the pain.
To say that I’ve completely healed from that heartbreak would be a lie because God is still teaching me to sit in my emotions. And honestly, I could write a whole book on this topic because the last few months have been eye opening. Maybe I will. But I’ll leave this little (or long) blog post here for my heart broken readers.
Since I can’t share lessons without bullet points, here are some bullet points to take with you if you’re starting your healing journey:
Do Something for Yourself
Despite the pain, I decided to finish my degree. A big part of me wanted to take the semester off because a lot was going on at once. Yet I felt this sense of urgency, not forced urgency, but as if God was saying that graduation would open a door for me.
So I listened to him.
Finishing my degree was actually a joyful moment. Not only did I feel accomplishment, but I realized that there is so much more to life outside of relationship and break ups. I knew this before, but actively working on school while dealing with a break up amplified that idea.
We are beings on our own before being in any type of partnership. It’s “me and me” first before “me and them”.
Stay Single Please.
I can’t express this one enough. Yes, you will feel lonely but remember you are still getting over a routine. Before the break up, you guys talked every single day. Now that things are different you want to replace that absence.
But you got to learn to be okay with your own company.
You’ve got to heal that part of yourself before being with someone else. Or else you’ll bleed on the new guy, and will loose yourself every time you jump into a new relationship without healing.
I’ve watched people jump from relationships to relationships and I’ve noticed that a strong sense of self begins to decrease. If we don’t know how to be single, then our identities and personalities will change in every single relationship. There won’t be a strong idea of “This is A’Isha” it will always be “This is A’Isha with ____.”
And if you’re in your twenties, embrace your singleness. The ability to truly explore ourselves and understand who we are will make us power houses in our thirties. It’s okay to spend time alone and be excited to do things on your own.
At the end of the day, you are the only constant person in your life. Time to get to know you.
Love Has a Starting Base, that’s You.
Yes, you have so much love to give. Maybe you spent your life looking for more people to give love to that you forgot where the love resides: in you.
You. This beautiful being, filled with complex experience, who has came in contact with so many people. Who has always connected with those who were love deprived and poured as much love as you could give in them.
I used to be this person, and in a way I still am. I’ve always made sure I lifted my friends up and spoke words of worthiness and love in them. But the one person I neglected was myself. That’s the problem with wanting to give love, we often think others need it more than ourselves.
Sometimes that need to love on someone is a hint to love on yourself. Also, learning to love yourself sets a bar on what type of love you’ll accept (but that’s for a different post).
Beloved, please pray. Let me tell you, I stayed away from God when I was in the thick of it and it made things way worse.
We aren’t built to deal with things on our own. Trust me, I did that for YEARS. God wants us to call on him, he wants us to bring ourselves the way we are. Jesus didn’t come for the righteous ones but he came to seek and save the lost and broken. He wants you to meet him right where you are.
Yes, that also means bringing our heart broken, bitter, and unforgiving state. In fact those are moments we should ruuuunn to him because his love has a way of healing those things. It’s not always easy, but his methods are necessary.
The devil might have used your last relationship to break you, but God will pick up the broken pieces and use the plans the enemy had and turn it for good.
You don’t have to be healed to speak to God, in fact surrender that pain to him. And he will do a good work in you.
When I tell you I was always iffy about therapy until that break up: I MEAN IT.
I went to a few sessions here and there but I never truly did the work. That break up biologically changed me and I knew I had to seek professional help because I wasn’t myself anymore.
Sometimes some people come into our lives, turn it upside down, then force us to dive deeper within ourselves. And in the diving, we realize it wasn’t only the break up we needed to heal but also the traumas of our past.
Therapy allows us to get a professional perspective on life, one that friends and family can’t access.
Therapy made me realize that my ex wasn’t the guy for me, simply put. The rose coloured shades were removed and from a logical stand point I could actually be happier with myself. I also learned that I have a tendency to feel guilty and letting that guilt lead to self-sabotage.
When I broke up with him, he tried to make me feel bad for breaking up after finding pictures and videos of him with another girl on social media. As messed up as it sounds, I actually honed in on that guilt which added to my trauma.
I never let myself truly digest how bad he messed up and somehow tried painting myself as the bad guy. But truth is, the guy cheated. No matter how much one tries to justify it, it was his unfaithfulness that lead to the break up.
Changing my perspective helped me become more empathetic and graceful. After years of being hard on myself, I learned grace.
So….. that’s it!
I’ve realized this blog is filled with drafts since I use it as a diary. This year, I choose to be more vulnerable and share what I usually draft. Not because of views or likes, but because I feel called to.
God is doing a good work in me, and his first instruction is to open up. I’m at a place where I finally can.
I don’t know if anyone will read this but if you’ve made it to the end, thank you!