A broken heart has got to be one of the worst things that we as humans go through. The feeling of your heartstrings being snapped and leaving your chest tight and your mind broken is something we all have gone through at some level.
In my case, without going into too much detail, I was experiencing heartache from a relationship that I wished had been and everyday my heart hurt. I just couldn’t move past it, my mind couldn’t stop thinking about it, even subconsciously I dreamt every night regarding the situation I was in. I had been here before and I’m sure I’ll be here again, and it never really gets easier and recovery never goes by quicker, in fact it almost seems like every time this sort of thing happens, the time to recover is longer.
I started thinking about everything critically one night and realized that things hurt me so much because I had expectations of what I thought was going to happen, or what I thought should have happened, and those expectations were not met and shut down quite quickly. All my hopes and dreams about the relationship seemed quashed and it wasn’t for the lack of trying. I did my best and my expectations still weren’t met and I was hurt, so it raised the questions… What were all my expectations and how could they be met? And if they were met, would I still feel this way?
So I came up with an experiment;
Hypothesis: By writing out all the expectations I had with the person I was trying to get over, perhaps I could overcome all these feelings of longing that exist for them and recover from the pain.
Objective: To process the expectations I had for someone in order to relieve heartache that I was experiencing.
Procedure: Write a full fantasy life, with as much detail as you can write into it. Write in all your expectations that you had from the first kiss to your final moments, and everything in between and then burn the entire story.
Here is what I wrote about:
I started off by writing about the first date that I had actually had with the girl that I felt heartache for and wrote the fantasy about what could have been if we became an actual couple. I wrote in great detail about when we would have had our first kiss and what it would have felt like. I wrote about a passionate sexual experience which ultimately would have led to our first child. I wrote about how I would have proposed to her and then having our first child. I wrote about our wedding and our honeymoon and the second pregnancy caused from the honeymoon. I gave our children names. I wrote about the house we would have lived in and what we would do for fun and enjoyment. I wrote about the little things, like hugging her from behind and kissing her. I wrote about our parents getting sick and our children growing up, what types of jobs we would eventually have, the vacations that we would take. I wrote about my father passing away eventually and the troubling times I would have and how she would be there for me. I wrote about our children graduating and our daughter falling in love with her high school sweetheart. I wrote about her mother’s passing away and the words her mother and I exchanged as she was on her death bed and the pain and withdrawn feelings my wife would have had from it. I wrote about how we started travelling which gave her zest for life again. I wrote my mother’s sudden passing away and the support she gave me for that. I wrote about our son marrying a girl and settling down while we moved to a different country for our retirement. I wrote about our daughter having her first child and giving us our first grandchild. I wrote about us moving back to help with our grandchildren. We would travel during the winter to someplace warm but come home to be with our grandchildren the rest of the year. I wrote about my body starting to decay and how I was forced to move into a home and how she would have moved in to be with me. I wrote about my frustrations that I was old and couldn’t move anymore and felt so helpless but she would reassure and console me. I wrote about how I got sick and I knew it was almost my time even though she kept telling me things would be alright. I wrote about my children coming to see me and saying goodbye. And finally I wrote in great detail about my final moments, how I wanted her to live as long as possible to be a part of our children’s’ lives and that I would wait for her and how I wanted her to embrace me one last time while I told her I loved her with my last breath before fading away…
Conclusion: After many many tears were shed especially as I was burning the fantasy life I had wrote, I started to almost feel like the person that I longed for, in this life and not the fantasy, was not the same person that I had loved in my fantasy. Like there was some sort of dissociation from reality in the process of writing the fantasy. I felt like by writing the entire life that I may have had an expectation to have, those expectations were met, I lived them through a dissociated fantasy and reality didn’t hurt nearly as bad. As far as I could tell, I never developed an attachment to the fantasy version of the person I longed for as we had lived out our full life in its entirety. It made me almost feel at peace with it all but I wanted to see how I felt for the coming days after the experiment.
Day 1: After the first day I still felt disassociated from the real life person and thoughts I had of them didn’t invoke any feelings of longing or heartache. I felt like they were a different person from my fantasy version.
Day 2: I was still feeling pretty good. I was able to see pictures of her and her boyfriend and I felt happy for her. The person in the picture wasn’t the same person that I had a life with however I noticed that there was a slight tang of longing still, but that couls still just be associated with the fantasy person I loved.
Day 3: My mind still thought of her and thought of things I would have liked to do that I did not write about in my fantasy and that hit me a bit harder than I would have liked, but that longing was still not nearly as bad as it was before. She contacted me today asking how I was and I was able to reply with a bit of anxiety but I still felt good about everything.
Day 4: We carried on the conversation from the day before and I didn’t feel any longing or sadness during the conversation, however afterwards I felt some heartache over it again. It’s hard to say if it was lessened because of this experiment or because some time had passed by or both.
Day 5: Scrolling through social media still invokes a response from my heart. I feel sad that I had so many feelings and emotions that went unanswered. I had to force myself to think about the fantasy version to get over that sadness. Perhaps the effects are wearing off, or perhaps exposure reverts my feelings back. I’ve also recounted the experiment many times whereas it was created to let go and burn away the thought which may be a mistake.
Day 6: Seeing places we went and doing things that we used to do together has struck a chord and given me a bit more sadness and heartache.
Day 7: Started thinking about her at night and when I woke up again. Perhaps my experiment is starting to wear off or perhaps there’s something else I’m missing?
Day 8: My sadness and heartache seem to be triggered by memories of things that happened which then lead me to think about things I had wished I had done with her. I thought about another experiment to try. This experiment that I had just done sorted through the future fantasies and expectations that I had with her, but I never dealt with the past realities. I needed to find a way to sort through everything that had happened that we had together so I can let go of the past as I had let go of the future.