Heather at Brightside Farm

Heartbreak: A Valentine’s Day Post

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.

heartbreak (n.)

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.

Heather at Brightside FarmHere 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.

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  • Reply Al February 14, 2018 at 9:41 am

    wasn’t expecting that…Hope you have a better day going forward today:-( Feel sad that your usual humorous and positive self is so distraught by a day that actually only exists to Americans…irony…its just another day

    • Reply 2summers February 14, 2018 at 9:45 am

      Oh, it exists in South Africa too. My inbox is full of South African Valentine’s Day promotions 😩

  • Reply Jackie February 14, 2018 at 9:52 am

    You have a way …. that broken heart stays forever

  • Reply dizzylexa February 14, 2018 at 10:02 am

    Funnily enough chatting to a friend the other day about age. We were recalling what young love is and how good it felt and then that incredible heartbreak, where you sob like you have never sobbed before. We were actually quite sad that these are feelings we were never going to feel again. I think age and time makes you more resilient to these feelings. So on the bright side you more than likely won’t even think about this great big steel door next year.

    Just take time today to reflect on all the great things in your life. xxx

    • Reply 2summers February 14, 2018 at 10:13 am

      Haha, I hope so. I like your implication that my love is still ‘young’ 😂

  • Reply Lisa Johnston February 14, 2018 at 10:24 am

    Heartbreak sucks, and it takes as long as it takes, but as you already know it goes away eventually. Happy UN-valentines to you.

    • Reply 2summers February 14, 2018 at 12:00 pm

      Thank you! Same to you.

  • Reply Lani February 14, 2018 at 10:30 am

    Yeahhh, overrated, consumer holiday needed to give shops something to put up after they put away Christmas displays. Interestingly, I’ve been seeing a hellva lot of Christmas displays that haven’t been taken down all over Thailand. Everyone here is “that neighbor”. And now we have the plethora of balloons and flowers everywhere in front of the schools so that kids can run out and buy something for their friends. Actually, it’s interesting to see how American holidays take over this Buddhist country.

    I like to refer to this particular day as VD

    Well, dear, from one 40something to another, uncork your favorite wine, read, binge watch s.th, do whatever you feel like doing that is not terribly harmful and just soak it in. Throw yourself a pity party and relish in it. No point in pretending it’s not there, so I say, embrace it.


    • Reply 2summers February 14, 2018 at 12:00 pm

      Yes! This is exactly what I plan to do tonight. Thanks for the encouragement.

      Valentine’s Day (VD) is also huge in SA. So irritating.

  • Reply Patricia Lenz February 14, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    We all place way to much value on these so call special days. Let celebrate Its great to be me day and reward ourselves with a chocolate flowers bubbly what ever takes our fancy on our day. Let stop giving our fucks to theses days because everyone says we should.

    • Reply 2summers February 14, 2018 at 12:43 pm

      Amen, sister.

  • Reply Momo Street February 14, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Hey Heather. Valentine’s Day is way overrated. My wife is in Bali celebrating a friend’s 30th wedding anniversary (yes, there are still a few strange folks out there whose marriage lasts that long). I read this excerpt this morning and found it pertinent.

    and find
    where a person
    loves from. That’s
    the reality, not
    what they say.


    • Reply 2summers February 14, 2018 at 1:09 pm

      That is beautiful and true and very relevant. Thank you.

  • Reply Nicole Melancon February 14, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    Great post as always Heather! Yes heartbreak is very very hard. Hang in there and again when life feels sad do what I do. I think of all the beautiful amazing things you have going. You may be single but you are filled with friendships and living in Joberg doing what you love! So keep the chin up!

    • Reply 2summers February 15, 2018 at 9:08 am

      Thanks Nicole. x

  • Reply autumnashbough February 14, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    It IS overrated. Damn you, mass media, and chocolate makers, and romance novels, and Hallmark.

    Okay. Maybe not chocolate-makers.

    • Reply 2summers February 15, 2018 at 9:09 am

      I agree. Get rid of it all except the chocolate.

  • Reply Shasha February 14, 2018 at 6:14 pm

    Hello Heather,pliz don’t stress about this Vday,it will soon be over and life goes on as usual from tomorrow. Cheer up friend, as i am writing this i am still at the office working.From here am going straight home to sleep, for me its just like any other day, u ain’t alone my friend.

    • Reply 2summers February 15, 2018 at 9:09 am

      Thank you 🙂

  • Reply catji February 15, 2018 at 2:13 am

    I hardly notice it. Just the latest/current commercial promotion thing, the Christmas stuff got replaced by red hearts, ads change to reflect, takealot and so on generate a few more emails than usual…a few facebook posts scrolling past…
    There’s no connection between it and my personal heartbreak stuff. …Which is not affected by any specific day. More than any other [special] days, this one is just a social construct…spread by everyone wanting to do like americans/europeans do, and by globalised commercialism /internet.

    • Reply 2summers February 15, 2018 at 9:12 am

      I always felt that way too. But somehow Valentine’s Day got to me this year.

      • Reply catji February 15, 2018 at 3:24 pm

        oops! I hope that doesn’t happen to me! 🙂 Not likely though, because I wouldn’t know it’s Valentine’s Day unless …[Fb or one of those emails.]
        …Regrets, though, that never stops.

  • Reply Jerome West February 15, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    I call it Single Awareness Day

    • Reply 2summers February 15, 2018 at 3:24 pm

      Amen to that!

  • Reply violetonlineisonline February 17, 2018 at 12:11 am

    bloody men.

    • Reply 2summers February 17, 2018 at 12:12 am


  • Reply M I Urban February 17, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    Single Awareness Day; I’ll remember that next time.

    It’s few days later now; hope the sun is shining again for you! xo

    • Reply 2summers February 17, 2018 at 1:59 pm

      Thanks. It’s a little better, I think because I published this blog post.

  • Reply Su-yen February 17, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    Should have called me – I hosted world’s most unromantic super fun V dinner just because it was a Wednesday xx next time

    • Reply 2summers February 17, 2018 at 3:43 pm

      Hahaha! That would have been awesome.

  • Reply ForeverFluctuating April 17, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    Your description with the door….its too perfect. I’m currently struggling with a break up and have a few posts I’ll be writing. But I just appreciate that someone else gets it. (sadly) To the point that my feelings were put into words.


    • Reply 2summers April 17, 2018 at 2:49 pm

      I’m sorry to hear you’re also going through something – it really sucks. If it’s any consolation, I feel so much better now than I did when I wrote this post two months ago. I hope the same happens for you 🙂

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