How do you mend a broken heart?

    Two nights ago, my friend paid me a surprise visit. It was very late and he seemed to be drunk. What made me worried was the fact that he was in tears. Supposedly men don’t cry (although I know that Jesus wept and a lot of other famous men also did).

    “It’s finally all over with us,” he told me. My friend was referring to his relationship with his girlfriend. They were engaged for five years and was about to get married this June. But something happened: Her childhood sweetheart came back from the United States and they have rekindled their love affair.

    Yes, my friend is broken hearted! Broken heart (or heartbreak) is a common metaphor used to describe the intense emotional pain or suffering a person feels after losing a loved one, through death, separation, moving, being rejected, or other means.

    As my friend was sharing his heart woes, the line of Helen Reddy’s song came into my mind: “I can’t say goodbye to you no matter how I try. You’re such a part of me, without you I would die.”

    For many people having a broken heart is something that may not be recognized at first, as it takes time for an emotional or physical loss to be fully acknowledged. As Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson puts it: “Human beings are not always aware of what they are feeling. Like animals, they may not be able to put their feelings into words.”

    This does not mean we have no feelings. Well-known psychologist Sigmund Freud once speculated that a man could be in love with a woman for six years and not know it until many years later. Such a man, with all the goodwill in the world, could not have verbalized what he did not know. He had the feelings, but he did not know about them.

    It may sound like a paradox — paradoxical because when we think of a feeling, we think of something that we are consciously aware of feeling. As Freud put it in his 1915 article The Unconscious: “It is surely of the essence of an emotion that we should be aware of it. Yet it is beyond question that we can ‘have’ feelings that we do not know about.”

    Even the Holy Bible has a passage on the subject: “Insults have broken my heart and left me weak, I looked for sympathy but there was none; I found no one to comfort me” (Psalm 69:20. In this verse, King David explains that insults have broken his heart, not loss or pain. It is also popular belief that rejection, major or minor, can break an individual’s heart. This heartbreak can be greatly increased if rejected by a loved one or someone whom you respect.

    Now, going back to my friend. As I looked at him, I was reminded of the words of England Dan and John Ford Coley. “Every now and then I cry. Every night you keep staying on my mind. All my friends say I’ll survive it just takes time.”

    So, how do you mend a broken heart? This was the question he posed to me. I was caught by surprise but I was prepared already. Having been broken hearted several times over, I can say I am an expert on the subject.

    Accept it. No matter what you do, it is the end a beautiful relationship. If there is a beginning, there is always an ending. You can’t control the feeling of the other person. When it comes to love, two hearts must beat as one. If there’s only one that beats, then it is not love at all. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, be glad that you were part of the person’s life before.

    It’s not the end of the world. Just because you won’t see your loved anymore, the world is going to end. The fact is: the wind will continue from blowing, the sun from shining, and the sea rushing to shore. Your friends and enemies may talk about the failed relationship but that’s part of life. You are still in control of your life. You can even sing the Every Brothers’ song: “I’m through with romance, I’m through with love. I’m through with counting the stars above.”

    Move on. It’s okay to think of your beloved for a day or a week. But after that, move on. Count your blessings. That person may not the right person for you. I have known a lot of people who said, “I should have not married early in life.” Or you might be singing the song of Ogie Alcasid: “Bakit ngayon ka lang dumating sa buhay ko.” The break up might be a sign that someone much better is just waiting for you.

    Find another love. Easier said than done. I am sure you have heard it before: “I won’t find another love but you.” What they really meant is that they won’t open their heart again for another new love. Instead, listen to your heart. Love will find a way. “I believe for everyone who goes astray,” Tom Jones sings, “some will come to show the way.”

    These rules are not foolproof. There are those that despite what they do, they continue to be broken hearted. And although “heartbreak” is usually a metaphor, there is a medical condition — appropriately known as broken heart syndrome — where a traumatizing incident triggers the brain to distribute chemicals that weaken heart tissue.

    Broken heart syndrome is clinically different from a heart attack because the patients have few risk factors for heart disease and were previously healthy prior to the heart muscles weakening. The recovery rates for those suffering from “broken heart syndrome” are faster than those who had heart attacks and complete recovery to the heart was achieved within two weeks.

    The symptoms of a “broken heart” can manifest themselves through psychological pain but for many the effect is physical. Although the experience is regarded commonly as indescribable, the following is a list of common symptoms that occur: a perceived tightness of the chest, similar to an anxiety attack; stomach ache and/or loss of appetite; partial or complete insomnia; anger; shock; nostalgia and apathy (loss of interest).

    Other symptoms include feelings of loneliness; feelings of hopeless and despair; loss of self-respect and/or self-esteem; medical or psychological illness (depression, for example), suicidal thoughts (in some cases); nausea; fatigue; constant or frequent crying; a feeling of complete emptiness; the thousand-yard stare; and in extreme cases, death.

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