In the very first draft of my list I tried to brainstorm everything significant I could remember from these past almost thirty years. Extensive, the list included many, many experiences that didn't make the cut, some more prominent than others, all for a good reason. It's difficult, at least for me, not to consider some of the heart breaks involved in life as they've so thoroughly informed who I am now and where I am now. My heart breaks led me to my... what would one call it ... heart win? But we aren't there on the timeline yet, and technically, we aren't even to the biggest of the heart breaks either, chronologically. But this isn't the space for a run down of breakups, and surviving a broken heart is more than an individual event. For me, surviving a broken heart is a community event, a reminder of who we are alone while simultaneously bringing us closer to the people and parts of our life often go unseen until needed.
When I moved to the most recent version of the list, surviving a broken heart was nestled in my late college years, holding the weight of my last big break before my my current great win, and while I understand my intention, in this early morning quiet, I realize how inaccurate that placement was. Adult broken hearts are different than those in youth. Not more significant, not better, worse, easier - just different. As an adult, though this theory is allowing for exceptions of course, there's more history involved, more rationalization, it's more understandable and predictable and more complicated in some ways, and sometimes even the devastation is more practical. A broken heart as an adult doesn't always have the luxury of innocence and ignorance, or really stubborn will, that the brokenhearted youth can afford.
And so, though I wept and thrashed and called my friends over and over and made sweeping declarations about the end of life and love, I survived. I loved a couple boys so much my heart ached from the impossibility that we would never be together again and I allowed myself to wallow in the notion that I would never love again just long enough to feel it, really feel it, and not too long that I missed out on the moving forward, of getting where I am now. I went back to bad situations when my heart hadn't broken quite enough and I made sure to finish the job, but I still made it through, and each time I learned a little bit more about when an end is the end.
It's a messy beast, this thing we call love, these rituals of romance and relationship, and though I cringe now at the situations and people I threw myself into wholeheartedly, I'm actually pretty grateful, despite what my high school journal says, to have those memories, to have loved that much, to have given so much so blindly (as most great teens do), to have suffered so poetically (as most great teens do). It all felt so final, but I'm thankful it wasn't.
I'm definitely a person who believes we don't celebrate enough of the smaller wins, the moments when we simply survive, because thriving is great, but sometimes we need a pat on the back just for making it through, broken heart and all.