When You’re Heartbroken

published on Feb 14, 2022

I’m feeling a little heartbroken today. Not about anything in particular, really. Just about life in general. Some days be that way. And, you know, it’s a day when the world conspires to ask us all to be cheerful and look on the bright side and love ourselves and spread love and be full of hearts and happiness. So I wanted to take a time out and suggest something a little radical:

I’m feeling a little heartbroken today.

Not about anything in particular, really. Just about life in general. Some days be that way.

And, you know, it’s a day when the world conspires to ask us all to be cheerful and look on the bright side and love ourselves and spread love and be full of hearts and happiness.

So I wanted to take a time out and suggest something a little radical:

How about we don’t.

What if - what if we just… be here, in whatever “here” is for us right now?

There’s this idea that we’re supposed to be happy all the time, and if we’re not happy, then there’s something wrong.

But there’s something wrong with that, too. We didn’t come here into this life, onto this planet, equipped with a thousand shades of FEELING in order to feel only three or four of them.

It seems to me that we came here to feel all of them.

And here’s the thing about where we are, in this life, in this time, in this place. We are all layers of grief.

No matter what else is going on for you, there are layers of grief inside of you.

We are grieving a lost way of life due to the pandemic. We are grieving the thousand little losses and the dozens of bigger losses of the past few years. We are grieving the losses to our planet due to corporate greed. We are grieving political losses and cultural losses and the losses of people we loved and admired.

We are grieving our childhoods and the things that happened to us.

And under our personal and current griefs are layered all the older ones - the things that happened to our parents, our grandparents, our ancestors all the way back to the beginning of time. And we’re grieving things that haven’t happened yet, too. The things that happen to our children. The things that happen to our grandchildren and all the way forward to the end of time.

There are a lot of layers, and most of it we’ve tried to ignore and stuff down so we wouldn’t have to look at it, wouldn’t have to feel it.

But what if we did feel it? What if we walked out into the sunshine or the rain or the bitter cold or the blistering heat or whatever we are walking out into today, with a dog by our side, or a partner, or a friend, or no one at all - and we just went ahead and let some of that feeling rise up in us and be what it is.

What if we chose to simply accept it.

So I was walking through the neighborhood feeling some things today, letting tears spring out of my eyes. And I remembered something that happened several years ago.

I had the immense pleasure of seeing Anne Lamott live, and had an opportunity to ask her a question from the audience. She had been talking about the anxiety and struggle of the time, and about writing every day. And I stood up and asked her - “But how? How, when you are riddled with anxiety till you almost can’t see straight - how do you carry on?”

And she said, “Well, I pat myself on the shoulder and I say, ‘there, there.’”

And that was it. That was the advice from Saint Anne.

And you know what? It’s served me rather well.

So I was walking around the neighborhood, a dog at my side, but definitely no partner. And, you know, I would like to have a partner. Fuck. I LONG to have a partner.

Someone to share my days with. Someone to bear witness to my life, day by day. Someone whose life it is my joy to bear witness to. Someone to share all the little moments as well as the big ones. Someone to laugh with. Someone to cry with. Someone to bring me soup when I’m down, someone to dream dreams with and make them happen.

Someone, in the end, to come home to.

And this is my first time, in close to thirty years, that I have spent this ridiculous corporate holiday without a “Valentine.” Not that I was ever big into the day anyway - I mostly like the discount chocolates the day after.

So I didn’t think I would care that much. But I guess it got to me anyway, what with being human, which is a bullshit thing to be sometimes.

So I’m walking around the neighborhood, right, thinking about this and sad about things I’ve lost. I miss intimacy. And I don’t even mean sex - don’t get me wrong, I miss that, too - but mostly I miss the day to day intimacy. The inside jokes, the knowing things about someone that no one else knows, the knowing that there’s always one person who absolutely has my back, for whom I am the chosen one.

Gods, I miss that intimacy. I really do.

I long for it.

And we’re here on this day that supposedly celebrates exactly that, along with the romance and the sex (and the chocolate). And it got to me.

And I want to pretend, sometimes, that I’m not human, you know? It’s hard sometimes, being a Libra and having people see inside the box, behind the curtain, look in there and see that on the other side of the charming, smiling, silver-lining exterior there’s all this real shit that hurts just like everybody else hurts.

In all these messy, gritty, life-y, human ways.

And there’s a lot of stuff in my feed right now about loving the self, and I agree with all of it. I agree with it.

But what if loving the self, right now, in this moment, means NOT trying to cheer yourself up? What if loving your self, right now, in this moment, could mean - loving yourself EXACTLY AS YOU ARE including the messy, gritty, life-y, human FEELINGS you’re feeling right now?

What if you could FEEL them without trying to fix them.

What if you could?

And I think St. Anne’s advice is very good. It’s one way to remind yourself to just be gentle with yourself.

And I want to add another idea, as well. If you, like me, are wandering around your neighborhood WANTING things you don’t have - like a loving life partner, for instance. What if you are WANTING someone else, someone outside yourself to LOVE you. To meet you, to see you, to touch you, to witness you, to adore you - what if you want that and you didn’t apologize, not even to yourself, for WANTING something so human, so intimate, so deeply fulfilling as a PERSON to be YOUR PERSON.

What if you just didn’t try to NOT want that. What if you just WANT it.

And then - in that wanting - what if you look at WHAT it is that you want from that person. In detail, you know? What would they be doing right now? Holding your hand? Cuddling? Telling you a funny story? Rubbing your back? Listening to your day?

What if - what if you could go ahead and WANT that. And ALSO give it to yourself.


I don’t think self-love is a substitute for other-love. We are SOCIAL animals, and we are wired for intimacy. We CRAVE intimacy. Life IS easier with a well-matched partner. It IS.

(For most of us, that is. Said with gratitude and acknowledgement that not everybody DOES want a partner - which is a totally valid way to be. Please feel free to substitute something else you want, if there’s something you want, if it’s not partnership/love/romance/etc.)

But you can have both, and one of them you can have right now, no matter where you are or who you are.

What if you hold your own hand? What if you tell yourself that story? What if you look yourself in the eye and say, "All this grief is really hard for you. I see how sad you are. It's okay to be sad. I'm here with you in it."

What if you pat yourself on the shoulder and say, “there, there.”

I will end with this - I know a Sanskrit mantra that I use as part of my prayers when I’m specifically asking for healing for someone else. When I tell you that I am “praying” for you, especially in regard to illness or injury, the odds are high that at some point I have said Sanskrit mantras and lit a candle with your name in my heart.

This morning I was repeating the healing mantra and realized that I have never sung it for myself. So I added some repetitions and centered them on myself. And I began to cry.

Y’all. I want so many things. I want a dad who loves me and supports me no matter what. I want a mom - same. I want a partner. I don’t have those things in my life right now.

But what I do have is me. And I’m pretty fucking cool. So are you, you know.

I cried when I sang that mantra for myself because I realized how badly I needed it. How good it feels to be loved like that, to be loved with the kind of love that sings you well.

Loved with the kind of love that does not demand that you be what you are not. That does not demand that you feel anything in particular. That, in fact, loves and honors you for exactly what you are feeling right now.

For having the courage to feel it.

So go ahead and feel it, my friends.

If you are heartbroken, maybe let this be a day of feeling heartbroken. Can you be okay with that? Can you sit with yourself and pat yourself on the shoulder and say, “there, there,” and just be with the fact that you are heartbroken?

Can you love yourself like that? If only for today?

TAGS: heartbrokenValentine’s DayLoveFeelings
fen pic

Fen Druadìn

Fen Druadìn (they/them) is anamchara, storyteller, dragon, student of trees, and a breaker of generational curses.

Fen's mission here is to love and remember themself completely, connect deeply with the world, and help others do the same for themselves.

Fen connects deeply with the universe through their relationship with a sacred land in the Appalachians of North Carolina, and shares messages here and elsewhere. When not in the woods, they can be found on Facebook and Patreon.

If you feel led and are able, you can support Fen's work in any of these ways:

  • Monthly financial support via Patreon
  • Make a one-time donation via CashApp ($FenDruadin) or Venmo (username FenDruadin).
  • Make a one-time donation via Paypal (please choose "friends and family" to avoid fees)
  • Share their Facebook content with your networks, and/or like and comment
  • Follow this blog

You can also contribute to the work of reconnecting with yourself and the world in any or all of these ways:

  • Stand in front of a mirror, look in your eyes, and say, "I love you." Repeat daily for as long as it takes
  • Send your love to the trees and stones and water and Earth
  • Spend time in quiet meditation with a plant or stone person, and listen for messages
  • Clean up litter in your neighborhood and/or engage in other acts of environmental restoration
  • Build a personal relationship with the plants and animals in your area by spending time with them and listening for their messages and responding to their needs
  • Reconnect with your own strength and power and truth via meditative practice such as yoga, guided meditation, chanting, drumming, dance, or any other tool that feels right and helps you ground and connect
  • Engage in this community and/or other communities committed to re-establishing our right relationship with ourselves and the earth

Wherever you are, on your journey and in your life, may you be well, may you be at peace, and may you always find the next good step.

More about Fen

More Essays

Regular insights on creativity and the creative process.