I'm no stranger to heartbreak.
I've broken hearts, and I've had mine broken. I've demanded answers and had answered demanded of me. I've spiraled into masochistic post-breakup bouts of social media stalking and watched as men I loved did the same to me.
I've wailed, loudly -- in the rain, leaning against a refrigerator, at the foot of someone's bed, under the covers, in my car, walking to class. I'm embarrassed to say the public has seen my red, puffy-eyed face one too many times.
I know what it's like to be physically unable to breathe. To be tortured by my own mind. To convince myself I've gone crazy. To want to go to sleep and truly never wake up.
All of this sounds, well, terrible. And it was.
I've never broken a limb before, but I can imagine that breaking a heart feels just as bad, if not worse. Having your heart broken is like having someone set your entire body on fire and leave you to burn alive, and then walking away, and maybe even laughing a little bit.
But if I could do it all again differently, I honestly wouldn't. I wouldn't take away a single one of my heartbreaks. Because as much as it sucked at the time, I actually feel bad for people who have never experienced heartbreak.
They don't know love.
They may have had crushes. They may have flirted with infatuation and lust. But they've never loved -- truly, madly, deeply loved -- to the point where someone can be capable of ruining them.
People who have never experienced heartbreak don't know what it's like to put all their trust into another person, to value someone else's wellbeing above their own. They don't know that kind of intense selflessness.
They don't know what it's like when your mind, and your heart, and your body and your soul all align perfectly, and you just want to go to the nearest mountaintop and shout unintelligible things over and over again until your lungs run dry.
Because how deeply someone can hurt you is directly proportional to how deeply you loved that person, to how wonderfully overwhelming, heart-stopping, all-consuming that love was.
That's the kind of love they don't know. Worst of all, because they haven't experienced it, they don't even know if they're capable of it.
They also aren't as capable of empathy, which is, I believe, a vital skill to exercise. Part of being a good person is having the ability to understand other people's life experiences, to really be able to see things from another person's perspective.
Heartbreak is one of those things that most people have experienced at some point in their lives. And because most of us do know what it feels like, we can connect and sympathize with others about it. We can feel human together.
What's great about feeling empathy for other people's heartbreaks is it lends itself to feeling sympathetic about other kinds of tragedies.
Because when you've been heartbroken, and you connect with someone who's also been heartbroken, you're exercising that sympathy muscle and preparing it for a bigger tragedy.
Those who have never experienced heartbreak can't do this. They can't connect with most people on that most basic, universal level. And their appreciation for other universal things, like music, movies and books, isn't as deep as it should be.
They have no idea what it's like to listen to any love song, watch any sad movie and read any heartbreaking book, and visualize images or have thoughts of a lost love.
They've never experienced that release of energy -- the kind that resonates deep in your heart, the kind that forces you to confront your heartbreak and accept that it's a part of you.
They don't know what it feels like when art speaks their language. Because when you've had your heart broken, all art speaks to you.
You're simply more creative, more in sync with your inner self. You're aware of every emotion you're feeling and every emotion you're trying to avoid feeling. You're hypersensitive to sound, to touch, to smell -- to your very existence.
Everything has meaning you can turn into something beautiful.
People who have never experienced heartbreak have never been able to tap into their true creative potential.
They don't know how to be inspired by tragedy, how to turn sadness into wonderful, budding creative energy that's bursting with potential for change, with desire for something new.
Having your heart broken makes you reassess everything. You hit the reset button. You do something different.
Maybe you finally decide to start that creative project you've put off. Maybe you quit that job you've hated for awhile.
Maybe you get a new haircut. You become forced to do something different that ultimately benefits you in the long run. You grow as a person.
People who have never experienced heartbreak have never had the kind of eye-opening growth period that's necessary after the end of a relationship in which they feel lucky that they experienced love -- and know they're worthy of it again.