How to Break A Heart

Emily Autumn has a great line in one of her poems:

How to break a heart
It is not difficult
Anyone can do it
So could you, if you tried
Just find a light
And switch it off
As easy as blinking

I never realized how easy it is. I mean I’ve had my heart broken a few times. Careless words thrown at me proved just how fragile love is. It shattered from a well-aimed needle or a stray bullet. I always marveled at the power of love and how it bound me to someone. Somehow, forgetting how delicate love could be, unraveling with one snip.

My character’s heart is going to break. I haven’t worked out exactly how. But having gone through it myself, I know it will tear her apart. But she will get through it.

I remember the first time my heart broke what hurt the most: Knowing it wouldn’t kill me. Instead, I would have to endure months of pain. Each day a bitter reminder that I was once again alone in the world, cut loose from the ties that bound me. The sun shined, the bird chirped and the rest of the world could give a rat’s ass about how I felt.

I hated that feeling, hated playing the waiting game. Most of all, I hated knowing that I brought it all upon myself because loving someone always opens you up to hurt. It’s the risk you take.

But I’ve also learned that all those feelings can be locked inside a big trunk and stored in some forgotten corner of your soul. Repressed away until you feel nothing.

In the end, life can be whatever you make of it. Broken hearts mend. Loss is overcome. And one day you smile after months of sadness.  I can’t quite flip a switch and make it all go away, but I learned to wallow and then bury it. To mourn and then move on. I think that is perhaps the greatest tragedy in life: Knowing you can survive anything, but wishing you didn’t have to.

How did you deal with your first broken heart? Do you prefer to read about someone bouncing back or wallowing and slowly climbing out of it? Which makes a better heroine in your mind?

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18 Responses to How to Break A Heart

  1. Jen says:

    Ben and Jerry’s, sweat pants, unlimited Kleenex and my gay bff saw me through it. Still feel a twinge when I think about it.
    It depends on how the writer deals with it. Too quick a bounce back feels superficial. But wallowing forever can be painful and dull. Maybe have her wallow a while but in scenes that don’t make it into the book? Let the reader know she went through hell but don’t take the reader through every second of it.

    • Junk food and good friends definitely are a help. 🙂
      I think Stephenie Meyer did a great job of capturing the pain in New Moon without making the reader feel bored. You got the highlights of Bella’s depression and the struggle she endured, but not every second of it. Thanks for the advice on how to keep the reader’s interest while delving into the emotions of heart break. 🙂 I agree that bouncing back feels kinda unrealistic unless the character is acting fine when deep down she isn’t.

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    Heartbreak brings a pain like no orher, that’s for sure. But it’s those types of experiences that fuel our writing. They add reality and depth to our words.

  3. Having a heart that feels broken is something I have felt several times during my life and for very different reasons.. Your words spoke volumes of your love and your perception on how we overcome our emotional journeys .. Which eventually we will give thanks for make us who we are today..

    ” In the end, life can be whatever you make of it. Broken hearts mend. Loss is overcome. And one day you smile after months of sadness. I can’t quite flip a switch and make it all go away, but I learned to wallow and then bury it. To mourn and then move on.”…

    Many thanks Kourtney for sharing.. And I hope you soon get well.. Hugs Sue xx <3

  4. Ally Bean says:

    I’m all about “wallowing and slowly climbing out of it” because that’s how real people deal. Anyone who bounces out of heart break is a pretender, not really sincere to begin with.

    • It’s the path I take as well. Though I think some people just push it down deep and leap on to the next thing out of fear of the pain. It might be their only way of dealing but it certainly makes the relationship seem like it mattered way less.

  5. EllaDee says:

    I’m not sure indeed my heart has been truly broken… more like cracked, stomped, battered and bruised… but I dust myself off and move on. NEVER looking back.

    • That’s a great way to look at it. I do tend to look back and analyze and try to figure out what happened and why. I have even given people second chances when I thought they could change. But eventually, the only way to move on is to focus on what’s ahead and leave the past in the past. 🙂

  6. Lori D says:

    Ahh, yes, a deep subject. When we write, our characters hearts probably have to be broken in some way. If not, who would want to read it? It would be boring with everything perfect, no? Then, to show their growth can be inspirational to some extent. Personally, I think it’s why our souls choose to dwell here for a time. To experience the excitement of highs and lows, even though the lows are miserable. How would we know the high without the low?

    • Exactly. The lows are important and a necessary part of the cycle of life and love. And when we see a character suffering through a broken heart we root for them more because we connect with them in that moment. 🙂

  7. I kind of like writing about things like heartbreak, only because I know how it gets better for the characters. That eases the sting a bit. In real life, it’s a lot different, but does make for good material.

    • I think when a character is in pain, you get to the heart of who they are. You can show something you can’t when they are going along happily in their existence. Yes, real life is way worse. But at least we can take that experience and funnel it into our writing.

  8. Yatin says:

    They say usually people come out of shock/setback within 90 days, it’s good to remain distracted those first 90 days after a heart break

    • 90 days. That sounds like a long time but then I think 3 months is very short. 😉 I think it really depends on the person. Some people need distractions, others need to wallow. I don’t think there is only one way out of it, just the way that works for you.

Any thoughts or reactions or favorite foods you want to share?