Heartbreak = Heart Broken Open

29 May

When the shock of some unsuspected, yet foreseen, news creates a tremor of this magnitude.. A magnitude that reaches down into the foundations of what you know and gives it a good shake, there is nothing left to do but to write about how you have, how you are, and how you will survive this.

I have survived many horrors and been indulged by many pleasures of this world. I am not sure if surviving them has made me more thick-skinned or more fragile but I think that I live and experience the world on a sliding scale between the two. I have come through addiction and lived through violent traumas but this thing, this thing called love unmasking itself as heartbreak is an entirely new beast to me.

The first few weeks after I played Lauryn Hill’s, “I Used to Love Him”, like the bass off that track could vibrate healing and indifference to his absence straight to the core of me. It helped. Music, poetry, and writing are healing tools. This right here is reclamation, it is recovery, evolution, metamorphose, and resiliency. In this same vein, I avoided Etta James’ song, “I’d Rather Go Blind,” like the plague. In those first few weeks, heck even the first month, I couldn’t even listen to, “Sunday Kind of Love”, without being cynical that it didn’t exist. I couldn’t fathom this love until I could believe it possible for myself again, and I do. I have always been a hopeful romantic and I’m beginning to see that it’s a dream that never dies until it is fulfilled.

I can listen to Etta James’ and I can feel the depth behind her words. That girl was shook at some point. Shaken up got her that song, just like shaken up got me this page full of writing.

I thought this moment would break me. I had tried to half-prepare myself for seeing him next to another girl but that mental preparation just seemed like unnecessary infliction of psychological pain. Would I rather be blind like Etta James? Hell no, I love having sight even if it isn’t 20/20 and I need to wear glasses or gain sometime between here and there to see shit clearly. If Etta James wrote a song a few years later about this same fellow and this broad, I’m sure the track would’ve been titled “I thank the Lord for Now I See”… Or is that a line from Amazing Grace?

Anyways, It wasn’t a soul crushing break up but it was my first REAL encounter with any form of love and the end of it did sting and cause some wear and tear on my heart. Before all of this I had to pin down my insane fear of intimacy and fear of letting someone know who I am as a “Indigenousperson/woman/alcoholic/addict/mother/sexual-abusesurvivor/bodywarrio/artist/”. Those are a lot of slashes to carry around into relationships and unpacking them, as I am still on my healing journey, is.. well it can be bloody terrifying.

It was necessary for me to grow. He was necessary. The pain was necessary.

Like Mayda Del Valle says in one of her poems, “They say it is better to have loved then lost than to never have loved at all and I know that’s some shit to say but I’m still going to try to live by it.” A month or so ago that was still some shit to say and today, well I know that I’ve been changed by it and I’d like to think it has prepared me for a greater bigger love. This was a puddle jump, and I want the ocean. I like how Glennon Doyle Melton talks about heartbreak as something her and her sister used to run from but now they understand “that the heart that breaks open can contain the universe”. I have been broken down and built up enough times in my life to know and trust that I come out more real and my soul magnified at the end of it. Today I choose to trust.

Was this all my reaction? No. This is the “I have had some time to sit with it and am finding my own truth through this process” reaction.

My initial reaction was shock. Then I was sad. I can admit that I wanted to be the first person to symbolically “move on” by getting into a new relationship. Because of my historical fears of intimacy I have always carried a “reject-first” policy where if I felt some pull back by whichever man-boy (yes lot’s of those) I was talking to then…. Boom. Rejected. I did this out of self-preservation because I didn’t know how to handle rejection. Quick breakdown: Children survivors of trauma can grow into different adults with different attachment styles… mine happened to be a high fear of intimacy but a high need of outside acceptance. To preserve the small bit of balance that I had as a crazed alcoholic/addict I NEEDED to reject first. I have also learned that as an alcoholic/addict I suffer from “First Thought Wrong,” where my first thoughts are almost ALWAYS wrong. It takes me a few thinks and thoughts to get to something “normal”. This is my life.


“Hey Helen, did you hear about the lecture that is happening up at the school?”

First Thought: “Beer.”

Second Thought: “I wonder if there’s hot guys”

Third Thought: “What’s the lecture on?”

So when I seen this picture of him and her I was all like…

First Thought: “Bitches Ain’t Shit but Hoes and Tricks” …. Or is that Snoop Dogg?

Second Thought: “I need to get into a relationship. Yesterday. With a really hot guy.”

Third Thought: “…A really hot guy and post tons of selfies of our hotness together”

Fourth Thought: “Okay. I can feel my shit coming up. It’s not as bad as I thought. I can live through this.”

When you are an alcoholic addict in recovery… the thought that “I can live through this” is a power filled thought that reverberates through your being. I became grateful because I had that thought. I was used to my sand castles being destroyed and pulling a wasted tantrum or falling into a gigantic wave of depression and being swept out to my sea of madness. But no.

I    Can    Live    Through    This.

Today  I see things with beauty. Life has re-opened itself up to me and just yesterday I seen two eagles… I am on my path and I trust it. I laid some tobacco in the water with my best friend yesterday… and I can be like that water.

Carving a natural path.

Giving of itself.


I can be that.


Hakatah Wuujo Asonalah

(Creator You Have Done Good To Me)

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