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Self-help is harder than it sounds

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I realized something this weekend with absolute clarity: I have no idea how to deal with a broken heart. I’ve known it vaguely over the past three weeks, but this morning it hit me. I have no idea what I’m doing.

It’s kind of strange, actually. When I tore my MCL, I went to the doctor. I wore my brace, I didn’t play any sports for six weeks, and I iced and massaged it. When I’m sick (which is rare), I get lots of sleep. I try to eat healthy foods, take Vitamin C, and drink a ton of water.

But none of these things work when you’re emotionally unwell. You can’t put ice on the memories that won’t leave you alone. Drinking lots of water won’t make the loneliness go away, and you can’t stay well rested when you’re going to bed exhausted but unable to asleep. There’s no vitamin that aids emotional recovery.

I will be the first to admit that I don’t know what I’m doing here. So far I’ve been trying to stay busy: the medication of distraction. I’ve consumed a lot more alcohol and a lot less food than I normally would. I’ve done almost no housework and the only exercise I’ve done is riding my bike to work. (I’ve gone on two runs now, so hopefully that counts for something.)

But now, after one more week of staying as busy as possible, trying not to be alone (thanks friends!) and struggling to wake up every morning, I think it’s time to try something new. Last Sunday was still rough, but maybe if I get myself back into the habit of acting normal, it will help me feel normal. You know, like in The King and I, the song about whistling when you’re afraid to pretend you’re not?

The result of this deception
Is very strange to tell
For when I fool the people
I fear I fool myself as well

I whistle a happy tune
And every single time
The happiness in the tune
Convinces me that I’m not afraid

Make believe you’re brave
And the trick will take you far
You may be as brave
As you make believe you are

(Full lyrics here.)

I’m not talking about ignoring my feelings, or pretending to myself that I’m fine. There are still a lot of feelings and memories that need to be worked through; a huge hole in my life that hasn’t even begun to heal. The waterworks will continue (for the time being anyway). But maybe I can relegate the sadness into smaller windows of time by keeping busy, and maybe I can help my body feel more alive by drinking lots of water and actually eating on a regular basis.

My stomach just growled. I should start now.


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