Thursday, February 13, 2014

Heartbreak and Healing

I looked up from my phone for just a moment as I stood at baggage claim in Salt Lake City waiting for my new purple suitcase to appear on the track. I was surprised when I caught sight of a face I knew. It was the face of a girl from my old ward, whom I had talked to just briefly, maybe twice before. I knew virtually nothing about her. But she said hi, so I put my phone away and we talked for a minute.

We exchanged only tidbits of information, nothing of importance, until she mentioned the name of a boy who used to be in our ward. I had heard something about the two of them dating the summer before, but even without that hint I saw everything I needed to see in her eyes. She was heartbroken. 

She spoke more freely then, telling me more than she probably would have under any circumstance besides being horribly lonely. But with every word she drew closer to tears, and as her eyes brimmed with moisture, mine began to as well. Because when I looked in her eyes I saw the same agony and hopelessness that had filled my heart just nine months before.

I remember the day that it all began better than I would like to. March 12th. I remember what I was wearing, what classes I had, the tightness in my chest when I realized what was happening. I remember being stunned that this could happen so out of the blue. When I was so sure of him.

More than anything, I remember the worst pain I've ever felt in my life. It was emotional, spiritual, physical. It felt like that beating, bloody muscle was actually being torn to pieces. It felt like if I didn't have my arms wrapped tightly in front of my chest a dark hole would open and swallow me up. It was a pain I didn't know I was capable of feeling.

I never knew what a broken heart was until I had one myself. I'll admit, I thought it was all melodrama, and that you could just shake it off and move on, easy as that. But I had never been in love before, and I had never had someone tell me they didn't love me back.

It didn't take more than a few hours for me to realize I wasn't going to get through this on my own.

I'd had strong experiences with the Atonement in the past. I'd handed over sins and guilt to my Savior's shoulders, and I'd let His sacrifice free me of my transgressions. but I had never considered that Christ could take away even the pain that wasn't my fault. I remember vividly one night shortly after the break-up when I sat on my couch drowning in pain. I felt it everywhere, pressing down on me and making it hard to breathe, hard to see light, impossible to feel hope. And I finally gave up and said audibly, "I can't do it. Father, I can't do this. I can't handle this pain any longer. It hurts too much for me to bear."

And immediately I heard a whisper in my head, my Savior beckoning me forward saying, "Kylie, I died for you. I suffered for you. I lived through this pain so that you don't have to if you will just give it to me instead. Because I can handle it for as long as you need." 

So that's what I did. I put my pain on His shoulders and tried to live without it. It was there—it was always there—but I went from constantly drowning in sorrow to just a bit fragile. I took each day at a time, and I made my Savior my best friend. And I did whatever I felt I needed to do to heal, without worrying about what anyone thought. I wrote the boy a letter that I never wanted a reply to, I quit cooking for awhile, I blogged, I found a new job, I started reading for fun again, I started running, and as spring poured into the valley, I felt myself getting slowly stronger with the sun.

It was months before I truly felt whole again. Before my heart felt put back together. I wish it hadn't taken so long. I wish I could have bounced back easier, that my heart could have been more resilient. But sometimes fixing something that is broken just takes time. Time and trust and faith and a whole lot of reliance on the Savior to bear the pain.

Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them.
And now I ask of you, my brethren, were they destroyed? Behold, I say unto you, Nay, they were not.
And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved. (Alma 5:7-9)
The Savior has the power to change your heart. Whether your heart is guilty, lonely, stressed, or horribly broken . . . He can fix it. Will He take the pain away completely? Probably not. But will He help you bear it immediately? I promise that He will. 

So we stood there, two people barely acquaintances in the overcrowded Salt Lake airport, as college students returning back to school bustled around us grabbing their luggage. But time was still for us. And I rememered that at exactly this moment the previous year, the boy had come to pick me up. He'd brought purple flowers, and I'd smiled. But now, as I saw the heartbreak in this girl's eyes and the hopelessness in her tears, I knew exactly the state of her broken heart. and I tried to take that pain away from her for just one second, to make it easier for her to bear. I hugged her, and she hugged me back, desperate for something to hold on to. I wished I had time to tell her everything I had learned from my Savior about healing, everything that helped me feel whole again, but the moment passed and we both got caught up in finding our bags and finding our way home. Maybe, if I'm lucky, she'll read this and know.

And there's one more thing I would tell her: Don't give up on love. Don't give up on being yourself and being vulnerable and letting people into your life again. Elizabeth Gilbert said, "This is a good sign—having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something."



BronteCampbell said...

This is exactly what I needed today. Thank you.

BronteCampbell said...

This is exactly what I needed today. Thank you.

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