When You Love with a Broken Heart

There are only two types of people in the world: Us and Them. For those of us who never got to be carefree and innocent, the guiding principle of our lives became:

Don’t be like them.

I have a huge place in my heart for ill prepared young people who are desperately trying to do the right thing. When you love with a broken heart, you live on the edge of your seat, holding your breath, prepared for everything to go to hell….

and silently praying it won’t.

“I’m still alive but I’m barely breathing  Just praying to a God that I don’t believe in. I got time while she got freedom Cuz when a heart breaks, no, it don’t break even.”       – The Script “Break Even”

White knuckling is what you do when you forge ahead while hiding fear. There’s a profound sense of something missing and you try real hard not to think of what it is. There’s supposed to be an older, wiser person you can turn to and he or she helps you find your way when you’re lost.

And what the hell do you do when there’s no one there to give you that? You do the opposite of what they did. They left so you stay. They yelled so you speak softly. They hit so you hold. They gave up and we never, ever, do.

“Well I wanted something better man I wished for something new                               And I wanted something beautiful And I wished for something true                       Been lookin’ for a reason man. Something to lose” – Foo Fighters, “Wheels”

And then you have it… I held my babies with a mix of awe and terror. Your first fear is that you’ll drop them. That one goes away fast. Your next fear is that you’ll fail them. That one…that one never goes away.

Don’t put pressure on yourself not to make mistakes. You’ll make them and they’ll do this thing that amazes you….they’ll forgive you…which means you need to too. Holding resentments against yourself is what we learned as self control.

When you don’t have many tools you work real hard to build something that just keeps falling down. All I knew was to give what I didn’t get. I worked too hard, but not for me. I hated the work back then. I thought it was the right thing to do because then they could have everything they wanted and needed.

I played real hard. I threw a million balls and read to them and built countless blanket forts and even when my back was broken, I threw them in the air and caught them.

but no matter how good they kept turning out I was terrified that today would be the day that I’d fuck it all up and scar them for life like me.

It took a lot of therapy and a lot of tears to get past that.

I’m reaching out to you cuz I’m watching you do what I did. I want you to get what it’s taken me a lifetime to learn:

You need to be to you as you are to little ones.

Ultimately, we must learn to parent ourselves. The only alternative is continuing to overlook the obvious: In our quest to be the opposite of them, we treat ourselves as they did.

That baby you hold in your arms is the most important thing in the world. Isn’t that how you always wanted them to feel about you?

We need chosen family. I’ve had two moms that did not birth me. I have countless brothers and sisters who do not share my blood. It saved my life.

I’ve still never had a dad. So when you allow me to be that to you, the part of me that’s still a bit broken gets to give what was not received. That’s vindication and it’s part of how I win in this life.

I’m pretty good to me these days. I’ve learned that broken hearts can be mended. I’ve learned that to take in the good stuff you have to let go of the pain. It took me a long time to embrace the lessons but these words ring true:

  1. I don’t have a damned thing to prove – to myself or anyone else
  2. I matter. A LOT. I am loveable and acceptable just as I am.
  3. What I was taught was never true.
  4. I needed good people like me in my life to teach me what is true.
  5. The best revenge really is living well.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.