Heartbreak is something that almost everyone on the face of the earth will encounter. We go through rough breakups with someone we cared about. We lose someone close to us. A partner or spouse cheats or hides a dark secret. A friend we hold dear betrays us. We don’t get that promotion, or suddenly face unemployment. The ensuing heartbreak consumes us, makes us doubt who we are, causes us to turn to coping mechanisms, grieves us, and so much more.
Heartbreak and relationships unfortunately seem to go hand in hand.
Enter the global pandemic lockdown of 2020. Suddenly everyone who was single and ready to mingle was stuck at home. Couples all became long distance, even within the same city. Those living together were now spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the same space. You know the stories – we lived through the stories. We know or are people who struggled deeply.
Like many, I conceded to not have any chances at dating for the foreseeable future. I doubted falling in love was in the cards for me. When I was bored of staring at my work computer screen, out the same window everyday, the ceiling fan as it moved at the same steady pace; fatigued from countless Zoom and facetime calls just to see my loved ones; somehow slowly becoming bored of the hobbies I could do safely, I would do the thing that drove me craziest: re-download dating apps again and again.
For a few days, it would be fun to swipe (and swipe and swipe) and connect with new people. But those connections wouldn’t go anywhere and I’d get bored of the thing I did in my boredom, delete my accounts and the apps, and repeat the same cycle. My friends and I would share our dating woes in our weekly catch up calls, with certain adult beverages in our hands to make light of it.
After a moment of reckoning and a long conversation towards the end of the year with someone I go to for life advice, I decided that I needed to take them seriously if a relationship was something I desired. And something crazy happened: I met someone amazing.
And I hope he isn’t reading this. This will be somewhat mortifying if he is. But he knows how much I appreciate him.
Over the span of a few weeks and some wonderful in-person dates when it was safe to do so, I realized this was the person I had always prayed for. Now my list isn’t long but I’m a girl that certainly knows what she wants and what’s important to me. This guy went above and beyond my expectations.
Suddenly I had something exciting to look forward to every week. We’d get to know each other and with every conversation I’d become more and more certain this was the real deal. Our dates felt like magic. Not only did it feel great to safely be around someone again, but I was more comfortable than I had ever been around someone I was pursuing a relationship with – a number I can count on far less than my two hands. We prayed for each other, supported each other through some big decisions, and shared our deepest passions with each other. We wanted the same things out of a relationship, and when time made for commitment, we were on the same page.
My friends, co-workers, and family had never been more excited for me. They knew that I wasn’t someone that dated often and really considered someone carefully before deciding to move forward. He met two of my closest friends and I met some of his. Some of them could see the change happening in me – witnessing the tangible release I had over control of this aspect in my life. They kept me accountable and encouraged, helping me work through my thoughts and emotions after every date in the first weeks, guiding me as needed. They were and still are my sounding boards and we’re equally as excited as I was about this potential.
But this was dating in the time of coronavirus – so of course a time came where we weren’t able to see each other due to self-quarantines and potential exposure. We pushed through, just like countless others did and we had done with family and friends in the months before. Phone calls and video dates became our norm.
Then things changed in the blink of an eye. One night he wanted to talk. I had just gotten home and it was raining. Within the span of minutes, we were done. Just like that.
I’d like to say that I took it all with grace. And I did in the minutes that followed until he was no longer around. Then the tears came. And they wouldn’t stop.
It’s been a few months now, and I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t still think about him from time to time, wondering how his life has been. Curious about the big steps I knew were coming up went for him. We have plenty of mutual friends and part of me always wants to ask. But I won’t.
Heartbreak isn’t the end all be all – I learned more about myself in those months with him and the months that followed than I had in a long time.
I learned that I’m fully capable of dropping my walls, releasing my fears and anxieties, and being fully comfortable and myself around someone I hardly know. I didn’t feel like I had to put up a facade or mask things about myself. It was freeing beyond belief.
I learned that I’m more resilient than I believed. There were days when pushing through my hurt felt impossible, but it was. With a lot of prayer and support from my friends, each day became a little bit easier.
I learned to lean into my inner circle in a new way. I had never been through a heartbreak like this. I wasn’t grieving a lost loved one to death – this was a new type of grief. I spent lots of time alone in the days that followed, but my loved ones never stopped checking in on me, helping me process the pain and heal in a healthy way.
I learned how to appreciate the little things another person does for me so much more, especially in the context of a romantic relationship. I found myself in awe of quiet moments, special conversations about life, and thinking about life in a different way.
I learned that this type of healing really does take time. I always knew the cliche, but had never lived through it in my 25 years up to that point. I finally understood the strong desire to send just one more text and call one more time. To seek out closure in whatever that looked like. Deleting our messages and call logs was like going through the breakup all over again. Unfollowing him on social media felt like torture, but not as torturous as it was refreshing for updates before taking that step. The days where the wave would crash and I’d feel myself drowning in sadness once more were overwhelming. But finally the tears stopped and I thought about him less and less and less.
I re-learned that dating myself can be more fun than anything. I’ve always loved solo adventures, just as much as I love hanging out with my crew, but taking yourself on dates is a special kind of love. Every week on my sabbath day, I try to take myself on a date – whatever that looks like. Sometimes it’s cooking up a big brunch at home and reading on the balcony in the sun. Sometimes it’s going to an art gallery or museum and strolling through the park with a coffee in hand. Most of the time it’s driving to the beach to watch the sunrise over the waves or kayaking in my favorite spots.
I was reminded that sometimes God has other plans than I do. And that’s okay. I strongly believe that God put him in my path for a reason, and that was to show me parts of myself I didn’t know. It was a trial I needed to go through. There was beauty waiting for me in the highs of dating him as well as in the lows of suffering through that breakup.
My prayers haven’t changed at all despite this. I still pray for the man I will hopefully one day marry. I pray for God to bring me someone that I can do life alongside and be on mission with. I pray every day for him to continue to hold my healing heart. I pray to always know that I’m enough, no matter what my mind tells me or what the world can say about me.
Maybe you’re going through heartbreak right now. A relationship ended. You discovered your partner or spouse doing something that causes you deep, earth-shattering pain. Maybe you’re in the grips of divorce. You’re facing the betrayal of a family member, friend, co-worker, or manager. This is what I want to leave you with, and remind myself of. Say it with me:
“I’m fully loved and fully known by a God that is way better than my expectations could ever be.”
And (most days, if I’m fully transparent) that’s enough for me.
Kat is a full-time ministry worker and has a passion for sharing the Gospel in creative ways. You can find her spending her weekends outdoors and on crazy adventures, reading a new book every week, attempting to perfect the art of making lattes, listening to all things indie and alternative, and binge watching Marvel, Star Wars, and action dramas.