I have shared honestly with my A Simple Alternative community that I experienced deep heartbreak last year. This experience, and how I survived its depths, have been shared in glimpses on social media, and I received more responses than I expected. Turns out, heartbreak is a common experience, who knew?
I created a list of the resources that helped me most when all I wanted to do was lay on the floor. Also, I highly recommend laying on the floor for a while.
The time will come when laying on the floor gets old, and you’ll be ready to process some of the heaviness, for that I commend you. Please know that I’m an advocate for not rushing this process. Heartbreak, like all experiences, will leave you at some point, when it’s ready to. If you can resist the urge to shove it away, with the right support, you will transform.
You won’t find any gimmicky advice here, I’m not a fan of pretending feelings don’t exist. In a powerful time like grief, I’m an advocate for finding the resources that help us notice our experience, and turn inwards for guidance. In the depths of my own grief I was frustrated that a lot of the articles and videos I found on heartbreak were all titled “Get Over Him Fast!” or “10 Tips To Ditch Your Ex Quick!” They felt gross, unrealistic, and shaming. Heartbreak is a natural process. It means we have touched something precious with our hearts, it means we have loved, it means we are alive. It is worth taking whatever time we need to acknowledge all aspects of ourselves that need attention and care through this transitional time.
Heartbreak is acute in its ability to drop us out of our known existence and into a new paradigm, where everything is turned upside down, Alice-In-Wonderland style. When you enter this vortex, take a breath. The more we can do to befriend heartbreak, the more easeful this uncomfortable time will be. Use these resources as liberally as you need to, for as long as you need to. It’s the whole caterpillar turned butterfly thing, I’m sorry to tell you, and being a caterpillar shoved in our cocoon with our feelings is rough. But, you will blossom, or bloom, or, metaphor of your choice. Until then; lay on the floor, use these resources, and gather your people to talk with.
If you find yourself wanting some gentle movement, this is a great resource. Adrienne encourages us to come closer to our tender feelings and to use movement and breath as a path for doing that.
This simple five-minute meditation is powerful. It helped me to drop out of my thinking, and into my body. Teacher Megan Mook offers a simple mantra for our breath practice. Not only did I find myself turning to this video on every hard day, I also found myself saying the mantra while falling asleep at night, or waking up in the morning.
This presentation is done by a dear mentor of mine, Rafia. In this video, Rafia explores suffering versus pain, and how we create our own suffering when we are in pain. This is an important distinction to tease out when we are in the thick of heartbreak. How is believing our painful thoughts, or “resisting getting drenched”, as Rafia lovingly calls it, making our condition of pain worse? My favorite line from this video is “set down your umbrella, and get wet”. In other words, stop resisting your pain, this is where the journey begins.
If you’re one of those people that confidently believe your pain will deliver you to your new self, so long as you're courageous enough to sit through it, this talk is for you. If you read that sentence and thought “no effing way” this talk is also for you! Glennon expertly dives into the uncomfortable feelings that we go through as humans with breaking hearts and encourages us to meet ourselves with a sense of unbecoming. This talk is for you if you need some inspiration for embracing your pain as a tool for transformation.
This is an hour long lecture given by Ram Dass from 1992 in Rhinebeck, NY. It’s a beautiful talk that focuses on both human and universal love. Ram Dass explores what it is that attracts us to people, and why it’s so painful when we have to let go. My favorite take away from this video is when Ram Dass light-heartedly encourages people to sit with their heartbreak. He talks about how someone will come to him six or eight months after a breakup and ask why they are still in pain and he says “throw another 6 months at it, keep throwing 6 months at it until it feels better!” What simple wisdom, time, time, time.
I recently discovered this podcast, but I wish I knew about it months ago! The Love Drive is put on by Shaun who hosts honest conversations about love and sex. On this episode, Sam Lamott, founder of Hello Humans, discusses his recent breakup, and his strategies for coping. My favorite strategy: asking himself “You’re going to die, now what?” Sam gets right to the heart of what matters in this life while staying supremely relatable.
These are the resources that will cost a small amount of money, but I was able to find either through my local library, in a friends library, or for a small fee. There are no affiliate links here, I share these in hopes that they serve you well. My first recommendation is to get yourself a small microwavable stuffed animal filled with rice. Yes, you read that correctly. I recommend this because the weight and the warmth helped me sleep at night, and help comfort me on the days when everything seemed horrible. Pop into your local TJ Maxx and have a Donna Meagle Treat-Yo-Self moment in the stuffed animal section, you won’t regret it. Honestly, I’m not even in the depth of my heartbreak anymore and I still sleep with mine every night!
I recommend starting with this book because Lodro opens with deep empathy and knows that with the experience you’re going through you probably can’t make it through a whole book, so he wrote the book in small paragraphs. It’s designed for you to jump to what is relevant that day. I found myself gravitating toward a few chapters in particular that were always helpful, and mixing it up when new feelings arrived. Lodro writes from a Buddhist perspective, so there is a lot of spaciousness for feelings and mindful awareness which I appreciated.
This book is also written from a Buddhist perspective and offers wonderful journaling questions that can be revisited over time, and even a self-guided heartbreak retreat at the end. This book is for you if you are curious what gems are waiting for you out of this experience of grief and transition. Susan guides us lovingly on the journey of befriending our heartbreak.
If you’ve never read this book, you might be rolling your eyes, but stay with me here. 1) this book is my bible. 2) Elizabeth Gilbert details the feelings of the devastation of heartbreak and how she came back from that in such brilliant detail, it’s really worth a read. If you’ve read this book before, now is a great time to revisit Liz Gilbert's timeless wisdom about seeking solace by embracing our messy selves. It is honest and gritty, and exactly what I needed to read to remind myself that heartbreak is a universal experience and a universal transformer.
If you liked Glennon Doyle’s video, this book goes even deeper into exploring her first marriage and her struggles with alcoholism and bulimia. It’s a wonderful book that is more about finding yourself than it is about a relationship. Glennon masterfully depicts what it’s like to feel lonely, and all of the ways we cope, until one day, we find the courage and support to bloom.
All of these resources, combined with therapy and amazing friends, carried me through the depths of my grief. Wherever your grief is touching you today, I hope you feel supported and know that I believe in you, and I believe in where grief leads us.