Words by Persia Lawson
September 14th, 2017
Of all the predicaments that leave us feeling trapped and desperate in this day and age, what could be a more under-estimated affliction than that of having your heart broken? Truly, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy – it’s that horrific. And yet, the majority of us will experience heartbreak at least once in our life time (and that’s if we’re lucky). It’s a condition that’s likely been around since the cavemen days and therefore warrants serious contemplation, in my opinion.
Like many of the women I now love coach, I spent much of my early twenties dating “Bad Boys”. They were typically heavy drinkers, serial philanderers and emotionally unavailable. Inevitably, these relationships never worked out. Yet, I often found myself stuck between a rock and a hard place, believing that I was destined to only ever fall for men who would eventually break my heart, claiming that they were just my type. As far as I was concerned, my love life was essentially out of my control because I could not help who I fell for. It never dawned on me that I was actively choosing these toxic relationships as a way of avoiding having to look at what was really going on inside of me, underneath all the romantic drama.
Because it is a choice, after all – who we give our hearts to; infatuation and obsession are decisions like any other but we tend not to perceive them this way. This is because we are regularly bombarded with the Hollywood-ised perception of true love as being all-consuming and immersed with pain, suffering and heartache. Yet, there came a point (after experiencing a crushing breakup one too many times) when I decided that this obsessive and addictive form of love was simply too painful and exhausting to fight for any longer. There had to be a different way.
And – it turned out – there was. It began by taking a very honest look at my own patterns in relationships. It was probably no coincidence that I kept being drawn to the same type of man that, for whatever reason, could never give me the love I so badly craved. I realised that I’d hopped from destructive relationship to destructive relationship, desperately looking for what was missing from within – namely, a sense of self-worth, love and acceptance. It soon became apparent that the only way that I could ever hope to find a healthy loving relationship in the future, was to first develop one with myself.
From the murky depths of heartbreak, I began to focus all the energy that I’d once used to obsess over relationships that were doomed from the start, into obsessively learning to love and respect myself instead. After all, I’d been more than willing to become fully addicted to my previous love interests – knowing full well it would only end in pain, so why not permit myself to become equally addicted to my own healing, safe in the knowledge that it could only be beneficial to my life? Without that other person to fix on, something needed to fill the empty void – it may as well have been me.
After what I later dubbed my “summer of self-love”, whenever new love interests turned up on the scene (as they always do just as things are finally going well), I was not completely thrown off course by them as I always had been before. My new-found self-worth was too precious a thing to throw away for what I used to sweepingly (and somewhat naively) refer to as “true love”.
I took my time, assessed whether these potential suitors would benefit or hinder my life, and only chose to commit when I felt sure these men valued me as much as I now valued me.
The result of this new perspective on love? After a year and a half of being single (the longest period I’d ever been without a boyfriend), I found myself very serendipitously meeting a man who – while by no means perfect – was very much available and willing to commit to me.
Having just moved out of the London flat we’ve shared for a year, we’re about to go on a six month around the world trip. This may not sound all that impressive but I honestly couldn’t imagine ever being happy in love again while I was in the darkest depths of heartbreak. It has the power to render us completely hopeless, and convince us that no one could ever really love us, just as we are.
However, I believe that our most difficult struggles offer us the biggest opportunity for change and growth. Had I not been in so much pain back then, I’d never have committed to the work necessary to heal my self-destructive patterns around relationships. Whilst the process was undoubtedly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, showing up for it has led to every area of my life transforming beyond my greatest expectation – mainly because it forced me to think, feel and behave in more loving ways to myself and those around me.
The relationship that came about as a result was just the cherry on top.
If you’d like further practical support with healing your heartbreak, head to heart-rehab.com for more free resources.
Persia Lawson is an author, speaker and “one of the UK’s most successful love coaches” – according to The Saturday Times magazine. As maven46’s love and life columnist, we caught up with Persia for our ‘maven46 meets’ series which you can read here. Catch up on last month’s column, What to Do When You’re Being Ghosted.
Want YOUR relationship or dating dilemma answered by Persia Lawson?
Head to persialawson.com and get in touch via the ‘Contact’ tab – can’t wait to hear from you!
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