Archives For Heartbreak

Heartbreak Feels Like

December 22, 2014 — 141 Comments


Heartbreak feels like horrible pains in your chest, like someone is stabbing you. And then crushing pressure. And you can’t breathe.

Heartbreak feels like you can’t stop crying.

Heartbreak feels like your stomach is twisted in knots and you can’t hold down any food.

Heartbreak feels like you pretended someone cared about you. Because you didn’t want to think about the alternative.

Heartbreak feels like finding the evidence of who they really loved.

Heartbreak feels like all the times they told you your writing was too long. That it bored them.

Heartbreak feels like your desire to write has been killed.

Heartbreak feels like you see all the times he read her work. And it’s so trivial, so nothing, it’s agony to wrap your brain around why he was so disinterested in your writing.

Heartbreak feels like a friendship you made up in your head. Because you needed a friend.

Heartbreak feels like everyone caring when you wrote your deepest secret. Except the one person whose shoulder you wanted to cry on.

Heartbreak feels like knowing you’re so fucked up no one will ever love you. You have been so damaged that no one wants to pick through the ruins of your life.

Heartbreak feels like a sled bumping into the back of your heels on a cold walk home at dusk. Crying because she forgot to pick you up and it’s winter and you’re not sure where you are.

Heartbreak feels like every birthday she never remembered.

Heartbreak feels like you’re afraid now to hit “publish.” Paralyzed because you realize nothing you’ve ever written is any good.

Heartbreak feels like your hands are shaking so much you took hours to type this.

Heartbreak feels like finding out your best wasn’t good enough. but someone else’s mediocre was a feast.

Heartbreak feels like it’s not just your heart. Your whole body feels broken.

Heartbreak feels like pushing away people who do love you.

Heartbreak feels like he wrote “that took my breath away” about her really bad poetry. And actually tasting your own vomit.

Heartbreak feels like she wrote a crappy, purposeless blog. And seeing him all over that blog. When he hasn’t read one of your posts. Not even the really funny ones.

Heartbreak feels like remembering how he approached you. Out of the blue. And wishing it never happened.

Heartbreak feels like your shoes are too tight. And letting your toes press hard against the inside front because if you tell her she’ll get angry that you need new ones.

Heartbreak feels like losing the only house you ever had. Because you grew up in a housing project. And having him say, “oh, you’ll bounce back.”

Heartbreak feels like he doesn’t even know it’s the only house you ever lived in. And that you grew up in a housing project. And that you won’t “bounce back.” Because he’s never read anything you’ve written.

Heartbreak feels like someone being mean to you when you’re at your lowest. When you just want them to hold you.

Heartbreak feels like you blew the chance of a lifetime. Many times.

Heartbreak feels like watching your best friend die of cancer.

Heartbreak feels like stealing stuff from your friends to buy drugs.

Heartbreak feels like a rhythm in your head that’s been playing since childhood: Love me, love me, love me, love me.

Heartbreak feels like you want to just get drunk and build a blanket fort, a personal video game sex fort. With hookers.

Heartbreak feels like you want to fuck all his friends.

Heartbreak feels like you probably will.

Heartbreak feels like you read everything he ever wrote. Because that’s what friends do.

Heartbreak feels like finally realizing, he’s not your friend.

Heartbreak feels like wanting someone to take care of you. Even for one day.

Heartbreak feels like realizing you have no idea what that even feels like.

Heartbreak feels like a rhythm that’s been playing in your head since the break up of your marriage: Alone, alone, alone, alone. Forever, forever, forever, forever.

Heartbreak feels like you were killed in your writing. And you’re not sure why.

Heartbreak feels like you know he thinks you’re “the crazy chick.”

Heartbreak feels like you’ve been in recovery from your childhood your whole adult life.

Heartbreak feels like you’re so exhausted from this. And understanding why you’re not worthy of love. It feels like this: empty empty empty empty.

Heartbreak feels like how he ridicules you for writing this. Because you have to expose every part of yourself, “down to the last blood cell.”

Heartbreak feels like getting beaten when you’re too young to fight back. And looking at your son’s small body and just thinking, “How?”

Heartbreak feels like getting raped in a shooting gallery on Avenue D. Because you deserved it.


Heartbreak feels like this: Over over over over.

Heartbreak feels like you can’t breathe. You cannot breathe. You have the evidence in front of your face of what you feared most and you cannot breathe. 


Heartbreak feels like you just found your kid’s journal. And he wrote yesterday, “Mom cried all day. She tried to hide it from me, but I’m not f***ing stupid.”

Heartbreak feels like your 11-year-old wrote “f***ing” in his journal.


Author’s note: 
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is informally known as ‘broken heart syndrome’. It almost always happens to women and patients are typically in a critical state during the first 48 hours. The main symptoms are chest pain and shortness of breath. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is a weakening of the left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber, as the result of emotional stress.


I know I always write something here. It just seems stupid now. 




Do you hear that?

Come closer.

That’s the sound of my heart breaking.


My son has always loved the ocean. His eyes match the sea, changing from blue to green with the swell of the tide. My love for him is an ocean, an overwhelming force which is sometimes calm and steady, and other times full of conflict.

A mother’s love is like the continuous miracle of the sea. It begins in the ocean of your womb – but there is something unsettling about the way your baby kicks. So fiercely you feel bruised on the inside. There is something willful and stubborn about his refusal to come out. He arrives weeks late, and even then – after almost 40 hours of labor.

Your baby is overwhelming and mysterious and brutal, like the ocean. He screams uncontrollably for hours a day, every day. And you bring him to one specialist after another, to be told it’s “colic.” You are advised that only a “tincture of time” will help.


Your toddler doesn’t hit milestones, and the pediatrician advises you to seek help. And they unravel the mystery of why your little one tantrums constantly, tears at his clothes, screams at the sound of the blender.

He has “Sensory Processing Disorder” – and you begin your quest to understand the crossed wires of his central nervous system.

You spend your days helping him to make sense of, and feel safer in, his world.

Brushing his body, joint compression exercises, assuaging his need to sink his teeth into everything by giving him chewy tubes, letting him roll on a huge ball, and crash into a mountain of supersized pillows, and jump endlessly on a small trampoline.


And at 3, he is now diagnosed with ADHD. And the doctors offer you their prescription pads. And you refuse. How could a 3 year-old articulate to you if medicine was making him uncomfortable?


And so consumed are you with his needs, so absolutely drained, that he is 4 years old and you realize another child is out of the question.

You live with that guilt forever.



A few years go by, and the ocean of his psyche ebbs and flows, in ways you can’t predict or explain; sometimes smooth and peaceful, but often tumultuous, and uncontrollable.

Your child fidgets incessantly. Talks constantly. Makes loud, disturbing noises. Climbs, jumps and crashes constantly. Sucks on clothing, fingers, crayons, anything.

The sun “hurts his head.” If he gets any part of his clothing wet, even slightly, he cries.

He seems to have no body awareness, no sense of spatial relations to other kids. Crashes into other children constantly.

And when playing, gets excited to the point of biting. Never out of aggression, but biting makes him the pariah of playground. You mourn that this gorgeous human being is being sabotaged by some internal trigger switch.


You research and find the best pediatric neurological clinic on the East coast, and get on a year-long waiting list.


And at 5, after a week of evaluations, it is confirmed. ADHD, Hyperactivity-Impulsive type. In addition to Sensory Processing Disorder. And they offer up their prescription pads, and once again – you say, “No.” So fearful are you of altering his brain chemistry.

Because he is, undeniably BRILLIANT. Creative. Funny. And you are afraid that medication will dull that brilliance. He is the ocean, untamed and magnificent, sometimes raging and destructive.

He is your fierce little warrior. And you are determined to help him flourish, despite his lettered labels.

Another quest begins.


Martial arts. Supplements. Structure. Lots of sleep. Cognitive behavioral therapy. Classification. Hellishly difficult diets.

You buy $10 socks for your child. Because he needs “sensitivity socks,” entirely seamless – and even then, an invisible piece of lint will send him into tears.

You spend each morning in an exhausting battle to dress him in clothes he can tolerate – because he cannot wear jeans, or buttons or zippers, or elastic around the sleeves. And no shoes ever feel right.

He can still feel the ghost of the tag you cut off of his shirt, the way an amputee still feels the ghost of a severed limb.

By the time he is dressed and on his way to school, you feel totally defeated.

At 8 am in the morning.


You advocate for him tirelessly, through classification and declassification and IEPs and 504s.

The years pass, and some new challenges emerge. When your marriage crumbles, and you are left on your own to deal with this beautiful child, you realize,


You are so depleted just surviving, you no longer have the energy to deal with his needs – which have grown so pronounced.

The hour of homework, which takes four. Sending him upstairs to shower, only to find him unshowered an hour later, lost in an imaginary world.

The morning dressing battles. His lack of spatial awareness, the constant clumsiness and touching and fidgeting and noises. His lack of social cue awareness, his inflexibility, his fixations.



You hear yourself tell your friend, “I can’t raise him.

Why can’t he just be normal?”


Not caring if she or anyone else judges you. For no one could possibly judge you as harshly as you judge yourself.


And now, his therapist says, “We must have him evaluated again. I’m fairly certain he has…”

You say it with her.


Because you knew.


And you’re drowning now, in an ocean of pain and despair. Unable to face yet another quest to unlock the mystery of this latest diagnosis.

Wondering how you can afford thousands of dollars of tests your insurance doesn’t cover; how you both will survive the nightmare trial and error of endless treatments.

How can you possibly keep him afloat, when you are sinking fast to the bottom of the briny deep?

You look up furiously and demand that God explain why he did this, when all you’ve ever wanted for your child was for him to have a better childhood than yours.


And then, you spend the perfect Saturday together. And you are reminded of his brilliance. His humor. You laugh together, all day.

That evening, you both snuggle on the couch. While you write this, his story, he reads.

Every so often, and for no reason at all, he looks up over his enormous library hard copy of War And Peace, just to say,

“I love you, mom. So much.”


You may be drowning, but he is not. With his beautiful spirit, endless compassion, soulful heart, keen wit – he is simply adrift.

And you will fight for him, as always. You will figure this out.

Yes. The turbulent waves of your uncertainty sometimes rock with indomitable fury, pushing away, only to crash and break, but he is the shore that grounds you. Your love for him is like the ocean; endless, chaotic, fickle, and profoundly deep.

And there is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean always returns to embrace the shore.



Do you have a special needs child? Or know of one?

As a parent, do you sometimes feel like you just can’t go on?
Talk to me. I’m listening.


This version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow is sublime.
This is not the official video, but it’s our favorite. Filled with the images of beautiful children.