Everyone has experienced a broken heart. You have. Your friends have. I have. Some hearts broke into pieces, some broke open and then there were those that broke, got burned, got buried and forgotten.
Although some stories I hear are more shocking than others, I have learned in my 20+ years in personal development never to compare pain. Pain is not a competition, it’s a personal experience.
My heart first broke when I was a child. My father told me repeatedly that I was the reason for his unhappiness in life. The second time it was when he killed our pet budgies, Hermanni and Hiisi, because he was too hungover and they were making noise.
Looking at their limp bodies lying in the trash, I realised that I, too, should be quiet. The life had drained from their little eyes, and I reasoned that this was my destiny too, if I didn’t become invisible. If I was seen, I would meet my maker, just as they had. I felt scared for my life, silenced, and utterly powerless. I was no older than 5.
Looking back at that little girl, I want to cuddle her and tell her it’s all going to be ok, and that there is a happy ending, but between then and now there have been unknown wars I had to fight.
I had to learn to be a person. The interaction with my father had left me with a broken personality, because instead of being treated as a person, he quickly taught me that I was simply a side-character in his life, that’s it. I had to find my voice - the voice that knew more than the screams of terror of my early childhood.
I had to learn to have faith in humanity and the people around me. For someone who has been at the receiving end of the world for most of my life, it was nearly impossible to see how anyone could respect me as a separate entity - an individual with value well past what I could do for the other person.
But most of all, I had to learn how to trust. To first trust myself as an autonomous person and then trust others without losing myself in the background.
I was yearning for love, which brought about unhealthy relationships, codependency and emotional, psychological and financial abuse. It was like all I could do was surrender to the powerlessness of relating to others. I was completely at the mercy of their approval or disapproval. And yet, I was yearning for love.
If I wanted to have a loving and a deeply intimate relationship, I had to be seen. If I wanted to own my life and graduate beyond my early life’s patterning of pain, I had to become visible. While at the time I didn’t have language around it, I realised that there were different parts of me that needed different things. My thoughts were important to me, so were my feelings. Throughout my childhood and early adulthood I had become extremely intuitive about the people and situations around me, so embracing my intuition was important to me, but so was the nitty-gritty sensory experience called human life. I was never happier than when I was planning, connecting with others, intuiting the needs of others and make things happen in the real world. That was when I realised that I had to learn to integrate the different parts of me: the thinker, the feeler, the intuitive and the sensor.
The first thing I had to realise was who I actually was. One of the most validating experiences came when some 15+ years ago I worked with an Enneagram coach. I was “diagnosed” with having type 2 personality. I say “diagnosed”, because while the discovery was very validating, it also made me feel ashamed. I was the chronic helper. I measured my worth by how well I was performing as a helper. Well, that was a slap in the face, but in a good way, if you know what I mean. The second most validating experience came when I realised I was an INFJ on the Myers Briggs personality profiling tool. Reading the description, I finally felt like someone understood who I was. Maybe my personality wasn’t broken after all. Maybe it was just fractured? Finally, the thinking, feeling, intuitive and sensory aspects made sense to me, and while I don’t think we, as people, are the result of a personality test, it sure as hell is a great place to start when you feel like you don’t know who you are.
The second thing I had to find out was what I actually wanted from life. This was a lot more complicated. The first time I asked myself the question, the only thing I could come up with was: I like horses. That’s it. Nothing else. There I was sitting with my notebook wide open, pen ready to take notes about the deep insights I would get about myself and all I had written was: I like horses. Well, I guess it was a beginning, I thought.
Once I had an idea about who I was and what I wanted from life (horses, LOL), I could start to take the 3rd step: come up with ideas and make a plan that was directive, but not too restricting. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t falling into the old pattern of people-pleasing, and that I would stay on my own course. This took some serious navigation to do.
So, I started to talk to other horsey people and started consciously making friends as an authentic, sovereign person, as opposed to someone who just had to change colours like a chameleon, just to fit in. In that time with people who also liked horses, I learned something else about myself: I was a serious and hardworking individual who loved teamwork and would like to have a partner who would see those qualities, get my connection with horses and embrace the fact that deep down, under all the coping mechanisms and social distrust, there was a heart of gold waiting to be cherished.
Those simple discoveries led me to the love of my life, Peter. People talk about soul mates as if they somehow exists somewhere “out there”, and they have to be chased after, or accidentally discovered through divine timing. Over the years of deepening my understanding about who I am, what I want from life and then being willing to take those small steps that seem insignificant (like just hanging out with horsey people), I have learned that all of our soul mates actually live within us. Only after we find our soulmate within, can we find their qualities in others.
To find your soul mate, I suggest you begin your own personal integration journey. This will ensure that each part of you is moving into the same direction without warring against each other. This is what we call Adulting 101, or Integrating the 4 People Within.
Your heart, too, can become unbreakable.
I believe in you.
For more information on how to start your personal integration journey, check out Adulting 101 - the 4 People Within course here.
Heart Photo credit: Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash