“I burn, I pine, I perish.”
It’s not at all comforting to know we can actually die of a broken heart. A traumatic emotional stressor can be enough to cause physical damage to this precious organ. It has the fancy name of takotsubo cardiomyopathy but explains the horrific stories we hear of those otherwise healthy souls who leave this world suddenly after the loss of a loved one. For some, the pain is just too much to bear. And yet for others it might seem way, way harder to live on. Like Didion said, “A single person is missing for you and the whole world is empty.”
Inside these pages we wallow in the misery of heartache. The suffering, melancholy, anguish and grief. The key to surviving pain is to feel it, no?
The throb of devastating loss, the pain and complexity of human relationships or simply the internal despair we feel when we have let ourselves down.
Romantic heartbreak – you know, the kind that has inspired over a billion songs – takes up some serious space as it is perhaps the most poetic, if not the most palatable.
Unless, of course, you happen to be going through it: that feeling of cosmic betrayal, the longing for something that no longer exists – or maybe never existed. Constantly dissecting things to figure out what actually happened, what went wrong and why. The anger that comes with deception and unfaithfulness, the eternal ache of bewilderment as to why this one person – when there are so many others that could be more attractive or appropriate – matters just so much.
And – ‘hello, ego’ – the simple realisation that it had nothing to do with the other person, and everything to do with our ideas about ourselves.
When artist Tracey Emin shares with us here her musings on grief, memory, loss and spiritual love: “I wish I didn’t have to suffer” and “I made a neon once that said ‘It’s different when you are in love’. The feeling of love can cure and mend so many things, but the fear of a broken heart can be more damaging than a broken heart itself”, it begs the question of whether heartbreak isn’t ultimately what connects us all.
Is it not the real human experience to wear the scars of all that we’ve felt and ached for? Those moments and the memories are what make us part of this world and what help us to, in an extraordinary act of faith, find inner reserves to forge a way ahead no matter what. Without pain, would we ever feel rapture? Without our own stories to project on them, would all the songs and art that moves us so even matter at all?
Perhaps we need to embrace our hurting hearts, abandon that fear of love and loss and take that walk down heartbreak beat knowing it’s okay to say, “I don’t want to get over you.”