|An old weathered heart can still break.|
My 17-year-old is nursing a broken heart. After spending much of the summer with a certain young man, she asked him what, exactly, they were doing. In other words, was she his girlfriend? His responses – "I'm too busy for a relationship"; "It's not fair to you because I'm so busy"; "I like you but..." – has made it clear that her desire for more is not his desire. At least not right now.And so...her heart breaks.
My daughter is kind. She's beautiful. Smart. Funny. She's also achingly open-hearted. Loyal. Guileless. Though there have been a few boys interested in her, none held her attention as anything more than friends. Until this one.
She's had trusted friends suddenly turn on her – some teenage girls can be merciless. Excluded from groups. She was stung by their cruelty. And sad.
But this is different. Perhaps not for her – she seems to be dealing with her heartbreak in healthy ways, seeking out fun with other friends, throwing her energy into school work and extracurriculars.
Nope, this time it's different for me.
Since my daughter confided her heartbreak to me a few days ago, I've felt sick. Food tastes bland. I can't sleep. I have a rock in my stomach that won't budge. I'm having a hard time concentrating on work. My heart aches. There's a weight on my chest. It feels, for all the world, like D-Day all over again.
So I'm putting into practice all the advice I'm forever offering to each of you: I've laced up my sneakers and am trying to walk my way to clarity. I'm trying to eat something – soup, smoothie, anything healthy that goes down easy. I'm meditating to make space for the feelings rather than pushing them away. I'm trusting that these feelings won't sweep me away into an abyss. That they will abate.
Clearly this is triggering in me deep feelings of loss and grief that have nothing to do with this particular boy (who, incidentally, I would like to throttle). I would give anything to spare my daughter this particular pain, one that cuts into our sense of who we are, that challenges our belief in our worth.
I remind her, gently, that she will likely go through this a few more times at least – heartbroken at being rejected or heartbroken at rejecting another. Rejection. It's a cruel word. One that speaks to our sense of feeling alone. Cast aside. Unvalued.
But we can withstand rejection when we don't reject ourselves. I'm reminding my daughter that this boy's inability to place value on her right now is a reflection of him, not her. A diamond unrecognized is still a diamond.
And I assure her that, no matter what life dishes up, I will, as long as I'm alive, provide her a soft place to fall. But that I hope she'll continue to create such a space for herself. To be gentle with herself. To keep her heart open to all life has to offer, including the really really tough bits.
I'm heartened to see she's instinctively encouraging her own healing. She's spending time with a friend who's going through his own heartbreak – the two are shoring each other up and making each other laugh. She's launched herself into a running campaign with plans to tackle a 5K race in a few weeks. Yesterday, during lunchtime, she sought out the practice room at her school and played piano, texting me that she just thought she "needed to be alone."
In the meantime, my D-Day Revisited continues. So I try, really really try, to follow her lead.