8 Things I've Learned About Heartbreak After Getting Divorced In My 20s

by Karen Schneider

In December 2009, after years of strife and months of struggling to adjust to the shock of my separation, my divorce was finalized.

With a heavy heart, I tried to move on and accept that I was now a divorced, single mother at the mere age of 28.

"The Twilight Saga: New Moon" was about to be released, and I played the sh*t out of Lykke Li's song on the soundtrack, "Possibility."

I’m pretty sure even my cat learned how to hum the melody.

The song appears in the scene when Bella sits motionless in her chair after Edward leaves her, as months pass and life rushes on around her.

Her heart remains broken, shattered into a million pieces.

I related to that so strongly.

Heartbreak is that horrific feeling that seemingly seeps into your very soul.

It’s as though someone has punched you in the stomach, and you can't catch your breath.

But that's because that heavy ache is creeping in and simultaneously filling the cavity in your chest.

The worst part is, the person who caused that feeling is the only person you want.

You miss him or her terribly, but that only adds to your misery.

One day, your life is as it should be. You're happy.

Then suddenly, you're hit with the shock of realizing everything is not as you thought, and it never will be again.

At least, it won't be with your ex.

The shockwaves of hurt that ripple through your body change you forever as a person.

The pain comes in stages and lasts for months. Sometimes, it even takes years.

I have since experienced heartbreak again (and again), and I'm not thrilled to report it hasn’t changed much.

The devastation of losing someone you love never seems to get any easier.

Emotional pain can be far worse than physical pain. It is so difficult to deal with.

But often, it ends up teaching us valuable life lessons.

So, what exactly have I learned from getting my heart broken?

1. You learn not all people are worthy of your time, love or trust.

It doesn't matter how good of a person you are or try to be, and how much love you pour into others.

If these people aren't giving it back to you equally, they are not worth it.

You are always worth it, and the right person doesn't need to be convinced of that.

You deserve the best, so remember this.

You wouldn't invest your hard-earned money into a bank that wasn't offering any return, would you?

So treat your heart accordingly.

Invest time, attention and love into people who invest in you.

2. It’s not about you. It’s about your ex.

That cliché is actually true.

Your ex may have a myriad of reasons why he or she didn't want to be with you, but you can't let his or her issues with you damage your self-esteem and cause you to doubt yourself.

(After all, he or she was surely not perfect, either.)

If some of your ex's gripes resonate with you, then by all means, use them for personal improvement.

We all can be better tomorrow than we are today.

But never question if you are good enough.

In the end, your ex is not with you because your relationship didn't jive with the person he or she is.

It only opens you up to meet the person who is better suited to bring you happiness.

Remember: You should never have to change who you are to make someone else happy.

3. Even the best people and situations are not perfect.

I've been hurt by people who I once thought were some of the best people I'd ever had the privilege of knowing.

I never thought we wouldn't be in each other's lives.

Realistically, no one is perfect.

Relationships are hard work, even for those who are highly compatible and love each other.

Add in a dose of reality and the obstacles of life, and voila: pain.

Haven't you heard of that famous saying, "Sometimes, love just isn't enough?"

We aren't always meant to stay in each other's lives the way we originally envisioned. That is OK.

Or, it will be eventually. I promise.

4. Heartbreak helps you become a kinder person.

Sometimes, we break hearts. Sometimes, our hearts get broken.

This is what causes us to really stop and think about things.

The majority of people don't learn much until they experience something firsthand.

Kind people are often not just born. They are created based on situations that have brought upon their own heartaches.

Once you know how it feels, you never wish to inflict pain on another person.

5. There is power in being told you are not loved without letting it destroy you.

The end of a relationship is a confusing, difficult time.

Your ex (often subconsciously) became an ingrained part of you, your world and how you relate to others.

Remembering who you were before your ex and trying to define who you are now after your ex can be scary.

But it can also be extremely empowering.

You essentially get a clean slate.

You can rediscover all the things you loved that he or she didn't, or even the things he or she never wanted to try with you.

You get to define who you will be at the end of it all.

Getting through a painful situation gives you a confidence boost because you eventually realize you were stronger than you ever gave yourself credit for.

Once you get through it, you know you can handle almost anything life throws your way.

6. Don't make the same mistakes twice.

Listen: It sucks that your relationship ended.

It sucks that your ex didn't treat you like you deserved.

It f*cking sucks that it hurts so much.

But use it all wisely and pay attention.

The mistakes we make in early adulthood (and really, all throughout life) are the defining moments that will eventually bring us to the place we really want to be.

We will finally find the happiness we seek when we're smart enough to reflect back and ensure we learn from every situation.

Everything — and I mean everything — is an opportunity to learn and grow.

7. Forgive your ex.

"But he's an assh*le," you say.

"He treated me badly and doesn't care about how much he hurt me. I thought he loved me. I can't forgive what he did."

So, after many tearful vent sessions with your friends, you're still a mess months later.

How is this sensible?

He's out living his life. He's not worrying about you or how you feel.

He has likely moved on already.

Yet, here you are, wasting time and tears on someone who obviously didn't deserve a place in your life.

Forgiving someone who hurt you is an unfathomable concept for most, but it truly has nothing to do with the ex.

It is simply about giving yourself that peace to leave him or her in the past where he or she belongs.

You wouldn't let an assh*le live in your house, so why let the ex live in your head?

Time is f*cking precious. Don't waste it.

Forgive your ex for not being better, and forgive yourself for making the mistake of not knowing better.

8. Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of strength.

The most important lesson I learned — and am still learning — is that to be vulnerable is to be brave.

It definitely is not easy.

It takes courage to open yourself up to another person because it puts you in exactly the same spot you were when you last had your heart broken.

It is scary to know that someone can walk into your life and sneak into your heart without asking your permission.

You can meet someone whose importance to you can literally change in a day's time.

That is also what makes love so incredibly exhilarating. It is worth every scar.

Experiencing the lows of heartbreak allows us to appreciate the highs of love that much more.

I'm a passionate, emotional soul who wears her heart on her sleeve. There is no gray in my love.

When I love, I love hard.

So imagine my hesitation when I remember those feelings and those painful memories of love gone wrong.

No one would willingly subject him or herself to that, right?


The truth is, life without love — without that possibility of connecting on the deepest level — is just not worth living.

Love is worth every risk, and it will teach you more about yourself than you ever thought possible.

Even if you do end up with a broken heart, have no regrets.

Love deeply, and use each experience to grow.

One day, you will appreciate why events unfolded the way they did.

Everything happens for a reason.