I remember my first high school love. He was handsome (at least, I thought so at the time). He was intriguing–I wanted to know everything there was to know about him. He was athletic, funny, friendly, and most of all, he was “mine.”
And then he wasn’t.
My heart was broken. I didn’t know there could be a pain so bad. It made me question every text I sent him, every second I spent on him, and everything about myself. Why wasn’t I enough? Why didn’t he like me? Why weren’t we together? And I thought that heartbreak would be one of the most painful things I might experience in my life.
I just didn’t understand that there were more types of heartbreak more painful than a high school romance.
As I’ve grown older, time has exposed me to all sorts of tragedies, and I’ve learned that a broken heart doesn’t just refer to romantic love.
1) Drifting away from a friend. One day, something will happen, and you’ll want to call a friend, and you’ll realize that the person you want to call isn’t really a friend anymore. It hurts.
2) Feeling rejected. Someone doesn’t like you. Someone doesn’t want to be with you. Someone doesn’t like that project you put your heart and soul into. It makes even the most confident person question their self-worth.
3) Failure. That project you put your heart and soul into? It tanked. For whatever reason, it isn’t good enough, and it hurts. It makes you question everything about your talents, interests, and work ethic.
4) Disappointment. Chances are you had a hero. Someone you looked up to, trusted, and idealized. What happened when you realized your hero was also a villain? We never stop having heroes as we grow older, and it hurts just as much when your adult heroes let you down.
5) Lies. Okay, lies have been around forever. (Remember that time you lied to your mom and told her you did NOT sneak an ice cream cone from the freezer?… okay, maybe that was just me.) Remember when lies started having stakes attached. You start to question who you can trust, and it breaks your heart when someone you thought you could trust lies to you. Lies you tell can also hurt… have you ever told someone you’re okay when you’re not?
6) Death. Death doesn’t hurt the same way when you’re older. You’ve most likely known the person longer than the people you lost when you were younger. Maybe you lose your rock: your best friend, grandparent, parent, or spouse. As a child, things were taken care of, as an adult, you have so much else to worry about in addition to the loss of a loved one.
7) Romantic Relationship Issues. Are you married and you want not to be? Are you single and want not to be? Again, the stakes are higher. Marriage is a covenant with God, which is one of the weightiest, most expectation-ridden decisions we can make as humans. I’ve been married for only three years, and already I can attest to the fact that marriage is so much different than my childhood expectations, and that can be heartbreaking.
8) Starting a family. Even though I’m not there yet, there was a time when Ty and I honestly thought that we would not be able to have children. Heartbreaking. I can’t imagine the pain that women and men go through with infertility, miscarriage, failed adoptions, disabilities, and so much other heartbreak that comes with starting a family.
9) Children. I haven’t had children yet, but I’ve seen (in real life and on television–that’s valid, right?) how much pain can come with that life experience.
10) Losing a spouse. This is a category all on its own, separate from “death.” When a couple marries, they become “one flesh.” Losing a spouse is literally losing part of yourself. My thoughts, prayers, love, and sympathy are with anyone experiencing this.
11) Chronic disease. There’s a unique pain someone experiences when their own body isn’t a safe place anymore. I’ve seen people suffer though this, and that’s been heartbreaking, but I can even imagine going through it myself.
There are so many heartbreaks I haven’t experienced yet, and I’m absolutely terrified to see how heartbreak will change as I get older. I can only hope that as heartbreak intensifies, so does my strength, faith, and understanding of the world around me; that I’m getting stronger with the pain.