It was mutual and somewhat expected. I took it surprisingly well at first.
Until—just a few weeks after our break-up—I found out he was already dating someone else. Someone we both knew. Someone he had been friends with throughout our whole relationship and who I suspected always had a thing for him.
That’s when I lost it. I did devastation good, like the loss of a first love should be.
I didn’t get out of bed for over a week. I missed classes, appointments, exams. Because it was too much effort to talk to anyone, I didn’t bother letting my professors know what was going on. I destroyed the 4.0 GPA I had up to that point.
I didn’t eat anything for 4 days. My roommates snuck bagels from the cafeteria into my top bunk but I wouldn’t touch them. I finally drank some Gatorade after they threatened to call my mom.
One day, from half under the covers in my top bunk, I caught a glimpse of a book my mom had tucked away in my suitcase. It was called A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. It was based on another book called A Course in Miracles.
I sure as hell needed a miracle.
Flipping to the section called Relationships, I read things like:
“There are only two emotions: love and fear”
“If I project guilt onto another person, I always end up feeling more guilty”
“Pain doesn’t stem from the love we’re denied by others, but rather from the love we deny them”
I didn’t understand it completely the time, but I was intrigued. The book shifted my attention away from my pain for the first time in a week.
It explained that although it feels like we’re hurt by what someone did to us, what really hurts is that their closed heart tempted us to close our own. It’s our own denial of love that hurts us.
As a way to end the judgment and re-open our own hearts, forgiveness is key. Specifically, Marianne Williamson told how she got over heartbreak by forgiving her ex and releasing him to the Holy Spirit.
I was supposed to repeat the mantra “I forgive Kyle and release him to the Holy Spirit”.
Forgiveness would change my perception. Releasing him to the Holy Spirit meant handing my pain over to something bigger could heal it for me, since I clearly wasn’t doing a very good job on my own.
I repeated the mantra until I fell back asleep. The next day, I got out of bed and said it some more.
Over and over and over. I walked all over campus reciting that mantra in my mind. “I forgive Kyle and release him to the Holy Spirit. I forgive Kyle and release him to the Holy Spirit.”
I did this for days on end. At some point, I forgave the girl he was dating and released her, too. Then I forgave myself—for being weak, for not keeping it together, for ever imagining our wedding, for letting myself be vulnerable, for wrecking my GPA—and I released myself, too.
With every step across campus, I forgive. With the next step, I release. I forgive, I release.
Until I finally felt better. Not just better, but saved. Over it. Lifted up somehow. It certainly felt like a miracle.
Fast forward 12 years. I was working with an incredible coach who was helping me through the grief I felt over not being able to get pregnant.
She taught me to surrender and release any lingering thoughts or emotions I didn’t want.
“I’ll never get pregnant” was to become “I surrender and release the fear that I’ll never get pregnant”.
The fleeting, “It’s not fair” that loitered in my mind became “I surrender and release the thought that it’s not fair”.
Just like forgiving and releasing Kyle, I could surrender to and release any unwanted thought or emotion. Maybe not instantly, but the practice of monitoring my thoughts long enough to surrender and release them helped me feel in control again.
It was something clear and concrete I could do (notice the thoughts, surrender them) to help myself heal. And there was something I didn’t have to do (release them to something bigger) to heal.
Now I forgive and release and surrender and release all the time. If there’s someone I need to forgive, or something I’m better off surrendering to, I know the words that feel like magic. And I still always get my miracle.