My alarm went off ages ago but I keep hitting snooze. Eyes closed, pretending it’s not morning, I imagine I’m in a doorway. I’m standing in the doorway and a huge, heavy steel door slams shut. Right in my face.
I bring my hand to my face and everything feels intact. No blood, nothing broken. But it hurts like a motherf*cker.
I stare at the slammed-shut door. Half my life is on the other side but I can’t see it or hear it or feel it anymore. I scream, bang on the door a few times. But it hurts my hand and my face is numb and what’s the point. The door is locked and I don’t have a key. That part of my life is gone. I should just walk away from the door but I keep standing there because my legs are paralyzed. I stand there and cry and there’s a breathless, splitting-open feeling inside my chest, like my heart and lungs are being torn out of my body and thrown on the ground and stomped on.
Every morning, and several times throughout the day, every day, the feeling is the same.
This is heartbreak.
also heart-break, “overwhelming grief or sorrow,” 1570s, from heart (n.) + break (n.). Expression break (someone’s) heart is from c. 1400. Related: Heartbreaking.
From the online etymology dictionary.
People have written about heartbreak for at least 600 years according to the definition above — most likely much longer. There’s nothing I can say that hasn’t been said before in a million books and movies and poems and songs.
But I’ve only recently realized what heartbreak actually is. This is crazy, considering I’m in my 40s and I’ve been through marriage and divorce and death and all kinds of sh*t that I thought was heartbreaking. I’ve thrown the word around quite a lot, thinking I knew what it meant.
Metaphorical heartbreak, the “overwhelming grief and sorrow” described above, is different from getting your heart broken. I’ve certainly felt overwhelming sorrow and grief before. But real, literal heartbreak — the active process of having one’s heart broken — is a different thing entirely.
I broke someone else’s heart once. I’ve always felt terrible about it. Now that it’s happened to me I feel hella worse.
I’m writing about this because it’s Valentine’s Day. I can’t remember caring much either way about Valentine’s Day before. But today I hate it bitterly and I’m pretty sure I always will from now on.
Again, this is nothing new. Valentine’s-bashing is totally cliché. Heartbroken people (as well as restaurant snobs, like the ones referred to in this article, and jaded people more generally) have been railing against Valentine’s Day for decades. I’m sure there are hundreds of other blog posts just like this one being published across the world as we speak.
But today I feel the need to officially add my voice to the chorus: F*ck you, Valentine’s Day.
Here I am, standing awkwardly alone in front of some flowers, feeling heartbroken and not celebrating Valentine’s Day. (Photo: The Joburg Foodie)
You can f*ck right off, Valentine’s Day. On behalf of brokenhearted people everywhere, I slam my steel door in your face. That is all.