There was always something special about Rebecca. Adorable, perky, yummy on the inside as well as the outside. It was hard not to adore her.
Life was good to Rebecca. She grew up in a lovely home with a warm, close family. It could have been easy to be jealous of Rebecca, but because she was so kind to everyone she met, no one could ever come close to mustering an unkind thought about her.
When it was time to start dating, Rebecca had her choice of young men. The list of anxious suitors was quite long, filled with many men patiently waiting their turn in the hopes of getting a shot at charming Rebecca. After a few attempts at finding Mr. Right, along came Steve. For all intents and purposes, Steve appeared to be to the perfect match for Rebecca. Handsome, smart, on the right path toward financial success, he was quite the catch. Everyone, including Rebecca and Steve, felt it was a match made in heaven. They were perfect together – Barbie and Ken, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire – clearly, they were the “it” couple.
In no time flat, they found themselves engaged and swept into wedding frenzy. This was definitely going to be the affair of the century. Rebecca fully immersed herself in the flurry of wedding activities. Shopping for her stunning gown, trousseau, plus widgets, gadgets and furniture for her new apartment, she couldn’t have been any happier. Life was good. In fact, life was grand.
Everything was on schedule… invitations were mailed out, all the finishing touches were decided upon and in place. And then, the unthinkable happened. Four weeks before the wedding, Steve sends Rebecca a text. Not a phone call, not a letter, not even an Email. But a text!!! And in the text, he basically tells her that he is feeling overwhelmed, confused and unsure about his future. That he must call off the wedding and is leaving that evening for Israel to “find himself.” No further explanation was offered.
At first Rebecca was in absolute shock. It had to be some kind of crazy prank. After all, they were deeply in love and everything was perfect. Rebecca’s mother quickly called Steve’s mother, only to learn that his mother was as baffled as the rest of them. She felt absolutely embarrassed and equally in shock and had no clue as to why Steve was behaving in such a strange and despicable way and she admitted that neither she nor her husband had any power over Steve that would encourage him to rethink his impulsive and absurd decision and pull it together.
And then the hysteria began in earnest! Rebecca had no experience with great disappointment or pain. Sure she had minor upsets here and there, but nothing so major that would cause her to miss a night’s sleep. Without any frame of reference regarding dealing with hardship, let only a hardship of such magnitude, Rebecca basically crawled into bed for a week and shut herself off from everything and everyone. Rebecca (and her family to a lesser degree) were in mourning.
Eventually Rebecca was gently coaxed into getting out of bed and slowly reentering the world of the living. With time and lots of therapy, Rebecca started to resemble her old self again. At least on the outside. She continued her education and found a wonderful job. She reconnected with her friends and went out and appeared to enjoy herself. She resumed her hobbies and other interests. But she refused to date. Her heart was so broken by Steve, that she insisted to her parents, but more importantly, to herself, that she would never allow herself to risk going through once again what she went through with Steve and therefore would never accept another date.
At first Rebecca’s parents went along with her wishes and gave her time and space to figure things out. But by now Rebecca was closing in on her twenty-third birthday and her parents were starting to get a little nervous. They didn’t want her to spend her life alone. The question was and is – How can you mend a broken heart? Or more specifically – can you mend a broken heart?
The answer is “no,” at least not entirely. The heart is one of our strongest yet most fragile organs. However, once it’s been broken, and specifically broken in such a dramatic, didn’t-see-you-coming kind of way, it is wounded. No one can really hope to totally walk away from such a blow without a hole in one’s heart. With time, insightful thought, a reorganization and integration of new attitudes and ultimately acceptance, the hole can get very small and eventually become a non-issue. But we take that hole with us to the grave. And that’s O.K. That doesn’t have to get in the way of a successful life in all areas – including love.
One of the mistakes many people make is trying to force themselves to refrain from ever thinking about a painful period in their life. Ironically, the more you try and tell yourself that you cannot think about something – anything – the more you keep it present in your mind. On the flip side, if you give yourself permission to accept certain difficult thoughts as part of the tapestry of your existence, but choose to minimize them off to the side of your brain, as you engage in happy thoughts that hopefully take center stage, you will no longer be a slave to those ineffective efforts in mind control. You will allow the negative thoughts to remain, but they will lose their grip over all other important matters.
In Rebecca’s story, we spoke of a young woman who understandably believed life, certainly her life, was like a fairy tale. She was never forced to look at pain squarely in the face. Therefore, pain was a frightening and alien emotion to her – something to run away from and ultimately shut down.
Rebecca needs to understand that life is sometimes filled with tragedy, disappointment and painful experiences. But life is also very beautiful, filled with love and precious moments to be treasured. And most important, life is a journey that has risks, but without accepting the risks, one misses out on the magnificence of all that life has to offer.
If Rebecca can embrace this shift in her perception and build herself up in a way that equips her with the courage to take a chance on love, despite the hole in her heart, despite potential pain, despite being vulnerable, Rebecca’s heart can certainly be mended enough.
Esther Mann, Navidater