Can there be anyone over 16 who hasn’t suffered heartbreak at least once in their life? Other than Sheldon Cooper, that is. When faced with emotional distress, we might envy his total lack of commitment to anything which can’t be reduced to a mathematical formula.
But facts speak for themselves. The vast majority of teenage relationships fail to result in marriage, while those that do have a high divorce rate. That adds up to an awful lot of break ups and the inevitable heartache that follows.
You don’t even have to be seriously involved with a person to suffer such pangs; Alice in The Runaway Children is devastated when rejected by her rock star hero, Ricky Retch, while there’s many a teenage girl who goes into serious mope mode if Justin Bieber or other crush doesn’t ‘follow’ them back. And, though they may not show it, heartbreak happens to boys too. Love doesn’t always play fair.
Matt*, the son of a friend of mine recently split up from a girl he was nuts about. No one really knows why. He was kind, courteous, considerate and respectful of his girlfriend’s deeply held religious beliefs. Sex before marriage was not on the table and he happily abided by strict rules of conduct - agreeing to chaperones, early nights and strict codes of behaviour with no illicit fumbling! Because he loved her. Wanted to marry her. Things progressed, their respective parents met and all seemed set for a winter wedding. Sadly, out of the blue, the young lady ended their courtship. Nicely, of course, yet with very little explanation. Matt was devastated.
We’ve all been there. A break up is possibly the most traumatic blow we could ever endure, crushing self-esteem along with any thoughts of happiness and leaving the victim in a hollow of despair. And no wonder. Romantic love is THE most powerful emotion we could ever experience. Shakespeare penned sonnets about it, singers have crooned about it, novelists have immortalised it and even Solomon, the second wisest man who ever lived, was completely bowled over by it. He too experienced unrequited love when a beautiful Shulammite on whom he’d set his heart rejected him for her one true love. But then, he did have 1000 wives & concubines to soothe his fractured ego!
After a break up, you may feel as though you’ve been thrown into a dark, dank pit. But there IS a way out. Just start climbing – one step at a time:
Stage 1 – Denial, when you can’t believe our loved one doesn’t want you any more. For days, you’ll wait for the phone to ring, convinced he/she will change their mind and realise they just can’t live without you.
Stage 2 – Rage, which can turn love to hate. “The cheek of the guy/girl! How dare they reject ME!”
Stage 2 – Depression, in which despair takes over and self-esteem hits the floor, as you wonder if you’re worthless and unlovable.
Stage 4 – Resignation,giving you a realistic view of your circumstances. It may still hurt, yet you’re beginning to glimpse a time when things will be better.
As family and friends will tell you, wounds heal in time. Problem is, they hurt now. Healing a broken heart is like setting a broken leg – you know it’ll get better eventually but in the meantime, it’s simply agonising. How can you lessen the pain? Well, crying will certainly help, so don’t hold back. Tears don’t make you weak – even the strongest people shed them at times, so feel free to have a good, old blub to get some of that pain out of your system.
You need to look after yourself too. Eat well and take exercise to recover all that emotional energy. Then channel it into interesting and enjoyable activities. Above all, don’t spend too much time alone. Seek the company of genuine people, family and friends, who really care about you. And if you have a faith, then pray, pour your heart out.
Learn from the experience. Be analytical. Examining what went wrong will help you to avoid the same mistakes again. For instance, what reason did the other party give for breaking up with you? Make a note of it, even if you feel it was a unfair. Why do YOU think they rejected you? Is there anything you could have done to prevent the breakup? Has the relationship thrown up any flaws in yourself, or ways in which you could improve emotionally? How can you apply the experience to future relationships, and how would you conduct yourself differently next time?
Make a list of comforting sayings to which you can keep referring. These could be from novels, films, plays, scriptures, poems - anything that hits a chord and helps to lift your spirits. Music can help too – but avoid moody, romantic music which could drag you down.
Remember too, in the middle of distress, it's hard to see an end to the misery. But it IS there. Time, patience and hope, along with these practical steps, will help you to reach it.
“Questions Young People Ask Answers that Work Volume 1” http://www.jw.org/en/publications/books/