Love Yourself

Listen closely because I need you to understand this: you do not have to die of heartache.


There exists no pain more profound, more searing than that of a shattered heart. If you’ve been spared this affliction, consider yourself fortunate. But you understand the abyss I speak of for those who’ve tasted its bitterness and felt their heart squeezed so tight that they wondered how they were still breathing. Whether it is the betrayal of a spouse or lover, the loss of a child, or the transition of a loved one, heartbreak is its own kind of hell.


I never fancied myself a hopeless romantic, dismissing relationships, love, and marriage as secondary to life’s grand narrative. Call it cynicism, if you will; I was never that girl dreaming of marriage and planning my happily ever after. So, I went about my life, reading, writing, debating, leading, and living my truth when I unwittingly crossed paths with a man while working on a community project. Unbeknownst to me, he had been observing from a distance. He was brilliant, engaging, and community-centered, endowed with humor, charm, and good looks. Yet, in my commitment to justice, I initially overlooked him.

As our collaboration evolved, friendship blossomed, leading to shared moments outside the project. The attraction burgeoned, unspoken dreams taking shape. Then, one day, the script flipped. In a movie store, a relic from the pre-streaming era, he dropped to one knee, proposing in a moment that blew my mind. I stood there, a million emotions washing over me, unable to respond. The proposal lingered unanswered, an unexplored terrain opening within me—an acknowledgment of a love I didn’t think I desired and was unprepared to confront.


The fall was colossal. Despite the love, chemistry, and mutual respect, our paths diverged. Our latent traumas clashed, culminating in an abrupt end bereft of closure. I unraveled. This love had given me a sense of self. Who was I without that love? Music and books have always been my refuge. I processed my plunge into the blues through the melancholy refrains of love songs like Billie Holiday’s “Good Morning Heartache,” Mariah Carey’s “I Can’t Live if Living is Without You,” Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” Toni Braxton’s “Breathe Again,” LeAnn Rimes’ “How Do I Live Without You?”—each note became an echo of my anguish.

Pride kept me from reaching out to him; I would give no one the pleasure of knowing how deeply they had hurt me. Self-preservation and something deeply innate compelled me to re-create my life. I could feel the strength of my female ancestors imploring me to reconnect to myself, my worth, my own love. Gloria Gaynor’s song played on repeat. “At first, I was afraid, I was petrified… I will survive.”  Months passed, sleepless nights, listless days until a moment of awakening transpired. It was as if my foremothers surrounded me, questioning my inertia. I made a decision —rise, dust off the remnants of heartbreak, and thrive. Introspection followed. What had I sought in that relationship that I withheld from myself? Did love necessitate a forfeiture of self?

I reaffirmed my values and aspirations, trusting that my heart would emerge resilient, my mind enlightened, and my soul enriched. The transformation was profound—altering how I perceived the heartache revealed it as a journey of self-discovery.

Today, as I guide others through the labyrinth of heartache, I empathize, having traversed that path myself. Revisiting these lessons over time, anchoring them, I recognize the necessity of the work. While we can’t control how others enter our lives, we retain agency in choosing intimacy and how we love ourselves.

Your story, I may have yet to learn. Your struggles, I may not comprehend, but this I assure you: heartache need not be a harbinger of demise. But once we recognize what it is we are feeling and realize we can feel deeply and love deeply, engender hope, and feel joy; we can demand that all parts of our lives produce the love and joy we desire. Grant yourself time. Identify and center your joy. Connect with your worth. Your heart will heal if you allow it. Believe in your resurgence. Love YOU.

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