“I plant roots so deeply in the people I love that I always lose a piece of myself when they go.” – Beau Taplin
Residual feelings…those pesky little pieces of the ones we loved that are left inside of us after they break our hearts. You’d think someone completely ripping your heart out and stomping on it would be enough to get rid of any feelings you once felt for them, but unfortunately that’s not how we humans operate.
No matter what kind of messy breakup we go through or how hurt we’ve been, we’ll always have that tiny, microscopic part of us that cares…even though we probably won’t admit it.
We like to pretend that once a relationship is over we can just move on without a second thought. We go out with our friends, throw ourselves on a dating app and search for the next one, all the while pretending that we no longer care.
Sure we may think we’re fooling our family or friends with the masks we put on each morning, the ones that make the world think we’re totally fine, but we’re so wrong. People, especially those close to us, recognize this behavior and know that it’s all just an act.
Why do we try to pretend like we’re indestructible, like our feelings are made of stone? We put all this pressure on ourselves to immediately get over the gut-wrenching pain we feel. We punish ourselves for having emotions, for feeling the loss of someone we thought we had a future with. Why?
What we often don’t tell ourselves is that it is okay to cry, to lash out, to feel pain. It’s okay to scream into our pillows or burn pictures of memories we once cherished. It’s okay to to be vulnerable, lost and sad.
Some days we may lay on the bedroom floor, unable to move or think. We may live on auto-pilot for a while or even cut ourselves off from the world. We may wallow in self-pity and overanalyze the situation, wondering what went wrong and how we failed.
However, eventually the days begin to turn into weeks, and it starts getting a little more tolerable to wake up each morning. It get’s a little easier to climb out of bed and face the world, if only for a few hours. We start to remember how we were before our world came tumbling down, before our lives were completely shaken.
After a while, the weeks become months, and we turn off our auto-pilot mode. We start to reach out to family and friends, the ones we cut off during that devastating time. We begin to genuinely smile and venture out of our cave that we kept ourselves in.
We begin to see that the sun still shines and that, while time seemed to be standing still the past few months, the world has kept on moving. We start to feel hopeful and optimistic about life, and we realize that we now have a chance to start brand new.
At some point, maybe months or even years, we find the walls around our heart starting to slowly come down. We feel the ice start to melt from our wounded soul, and we notice the pieces have magically been put back together. We find that our heartbreak was only temporary, and the pain we once felt so deeply has slowly faded.
In this process we learn to heal, we learn that not even the toughest heartaches can break us. We feel empowered, invincible and ready to take on the world. If we can get through this, nothing can stand in our way.
And then one day we meet someone new. We start to have feelings we weren’t sure we’d ever experience again. Those butterflies that were dead and gone have suddenly reappeared. After years of being dormant, our cheeks become flushed and our hearts begin to race.
We start the process of falling in love all over again, but this time is different. This time we know the signs to look for, we know what we deserve and what we will and will not tolerate. We know our worth and that our happiness is a priority. No more putting our needs on the back burner for someone else. This is our chance to get it right.
Throughout the process of exploring new love, we think about the heartache we encountered last time. We think about that person that once made us so happy yet broke us at the same time. We begin to feel things that we’d buried deep inside, things that we thought we were over.
We once again start to punish ourselves for having residual feelings, but the truth is those feelings are completely normal. When we truly love someone, a piece of them stays with us forever. At some point in our lives we’d put our hearts and souls into another. Love that deep never fully goes away.
Honestly, residual feelings can be a good thing. Through all the tears and hurt and devastation, we learned a lesson. We learned that we can fully love another. We learned our self worth and how resilient we truly are. We learned that we’re human and that even the strongest people break down.
This is all part of the process, even the lingering feelings. We must first grieve before we can ever even think of moving on, and even after moving on we can’t expect ourselves to act like it never happened. It did happen. The smiles, the tears, the happiness, the pain…it was all real.
As time goes by, the memories and pain fade into the distance. They become a mere blur of the past, and we learn to move forward in life. We learn to love again. We learn to forgive ourselves and others for the pain we’ve endured. We start to accept that those leftover feelings are okay, that we’re allowed to have them.
And in this moment of acceptance, we are truly freed from the pain and heartache of the past. Our residual feelings blend into our souls, and with our new love by our side we learn that this is the new us…the capable, loving, strong, deserving person we were always meant to be.
Myka Shantell 💋