The Transformative Power of Heartbreak

by: Frankie Pérez

“I feel like a bird with a broken wing.”  The words took me by surprise even as I said them and I couldn’t understand what had compelled me to reveal my brokenness to a perfect stranger.  Yes, I did feel broken – heart broken.  Prior to this moment, the idea of a bird with a broken wing had never even crossed my mind, but the image fit perfectly with how I felt.  I did feel like a bird with a broken wing that would never fly again.  I felt disheveled, sad, and empty.  Back then the idea of ever loving again seemed an impossibility.  I wished I felt numb like so many people say they feel when dealing with pain.  But instead I felt a heavy and sharp pain right where my heart ought to be.  Whomever coined the term heartbreak meant it literally and not simply as a poetic metaphor.

Often people come into therapy looking for ways to ease the pain of their broken hearts.  Anyone who has gone through heartbreak knows just how debilitating and all-consuming the pain can be.  In some ways it may be more difficult to deal with the pain of a broken relationship than with the death of a loved one since the finality of the death forces a level of closure and acceptance not existent when the cause of your heartbreak is very much alive.  In either case we feel the pain and grieve.  As a therapist I always wish there was some magic word, some spell, or ritual I could suggest that would take away the pain.  Unfortunately there is very little anyone can say or do to truly ease the pain of a broken heart.  In time, the pain will subside.  But why must we deal with feelings of heartbreak or brokenness?  How do we make sense of ended relationships, broken dreams, betrayal, and extreme loss?  Why must we go through the darkness of such intense and agonizing pain?

The pain of brokenness does serve a higher purpose.  In order for something new to emerge we first need to experience a certain kind of death.  Like the mythological phoenix that dies and then rises from its own ashes, the cycle of birth and re-birth calls forth in our lives what is often a radical transformation.  If we allow it, from the broken pieces something beautiful and magical emerges.  So we break because the universe is prompting us to grow, to evolve, to move into a different direction; to shed our old skin and be borne anew into a reality that is more in alignment with our true purpose.  We break because although we may not want to face it our outmoded present situation is no longer serving us.  We break because it is through this brokenness that a new wholeness emerges.  We break because the light within us has grown larger and it seeks a new form—it is through our brokenness that our light shines through.

The only way out of the pain of heartbreak is through it.  In order to gain the re-birth of transformation and the lessons inherent in the pain we must be willing to feel it.  Often people avoid feeling the pain of heartbreak at all costs, or they neglect to learn the lessons that every primary relationship brings with it.  This is why people often get stuck and fail to grow and move forward, remaining in a state of victimhood that blocks them from their intended future.  If you get stuck, consider getting the help of a professional to help you in processing your emotions so that you can begin to move forward.  The recipe for dealing with heartbreak is:
•    Be kind, patient, and loving with yourself.
•    Grieve and feel the pain.  Feelings are the guide to your new self.
•    Journal your thoughts and emotions.  Let the paper hold the full intensity of your pain, your anger, your confusion, and your hopes for a new life.
•    Pray.
•    Stop fighting the change.  Pain is the effort it takes to hang on to an old idea; so let go.  What is for us comes to us.
•    Every primary relationship brings with it gifts and lessons of growth; look for them.
•    When you are ready, be willing to forgive, say good-bye to what used to be, and accept that something has forever changed.
•    Be open to transformation and to a new and happier you.

When going through difficult times we are often blessed with unexpected angels that come into our lives to help heal our hearts. One such angel came into my life and quickly disappeared that night at a neighborhood bar where I found myself inexplicably telling this stranger that I felt like a bird with a broken wing. It had been three months since the break-up of a very difficult and trying relationship and my best friend had coaxed me into going out with her. Although it may seem like a small thing, the words had and incredible impact that served as a soothing and calming tonic to my heart. Almost as if waiting for me to say that line, and without pausing for one moment he said:”That’s OK. Birds with broken wings grow wings that are brighter, more beautiful, and stronger than they were before.”At those words I felt an opening of light and hope in my heart. At that moment I knew that I would be OK and that I would allow myself to love again. And I did.

Frankie Pérez, LMFT

Frankie Pérez, LMFT, is a relationship specialist, soul-centered psychotherapist, and Franklin Covey Certified Personal Life Coach.  He is the founder of MindGym, LLC, a psycho-educational service offering counseling and/or coaching to individuals, couples, and groups.
Frankie also presents workshops on Couples Communication, Dating, Mindfulness Meditation & Soul-Centered Psychotherapy, Sports Related Communication Excellence, and Peak Performance using Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Time Line Therapy. He may be reached by phone at:(214) 289-7995 or by email at: .