Avoiding heartbreak is more difficult than trying to stop your eyes from closing when you sneeze. It just can’t be done and really what is the point in trying?
Recently I was telling someone about a tricky love situation a friend was in. Their advice on the issue really stuck with me. ‘Don’t let her get her heart broken’, they said. The throwaway, and pretty cliché, statement suggested that it was solely my responsibility to fight off any potential cads vying for the opportunity to rip her heart to shreds. Even if I could claim responsibility for taking names and kicking ass in the name of a friend’s heart, I’m not sure if I would want to protect anyone from the inevitability of heartbreak. And it really is inevitable, just like a closed-eye sneeze while you’re riding a bike down a main road. You have no idea how it’s going to end, but you just have to trust that you’ll either keep riding or land somewhere relatively soft.
I write this knowing as well as most people the feeling of going through heartbreak. I don’t believe that anyone can be solely responsible for heartbreak, it is a willingness to descend into the whirlwind of love that is the first step and then the rest is out of everyone’s control – I’m not here to lay blame.
Even when you’re lying in an ice cream stained shirt, under a mountain of snotty tissues with your eyes almost swollen shut you know deep down that you regret nothing that has gone before. From under your Everest of snot-soaked tissues and self-pity you will eventually emerge with a clearer head and only a little bit of residual heartache. And you’ll eventually find a new something to pour your heart into, whether it’s a plant, a person, or a new hobby.
Heartbreak is and always will be an incredibly painful journey. Whether it’s due to the loss of a family pet, the breakdown of a relationship or the death of a loved one, it’s a big part of life and a character-defining event. Most of the time I try hard to find the lessons buried deep within the heartbreak. Other times I just feel great cutting up old photos and slagging off my exes to friends.
A particularly memorable loss was when I was four years old and my mum and dad packed up our life and moved from NSW to QLD. During the chaos of the pack I lost track of my favourite toy: a cabbage patch doll I had affectionately named Russel Baby (perhaps an early attempt to breakdown gender norms). Not only was I leaving behind the city I had grown up in and the pals I had eaten playdough and finger painted on the reg with; but I was leaving behind the toy who kept me company when I was going to sleep and played with in the absence of any siblings (the real life sister came a few years later, after I had begged and pleaded). This was one of my earliest experiences of heartbreak. And it taught me all sorts of lessons in being resilient and letting things go. My parents ended up making up a story about someone finding Russel baby and sending her to Brisbane. We all knew it was a different doll, but I let them convince me otherwise.
When I was younger I owned a pair of pyjama pants that said ‘Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them’. Oh how little did I realise back then that I would come to whisper that phrase to myself many times over. Thankfully, aside from all the rock throwing, I’ve learnt many many invaluable things from some of the boys. A few of those being: don’t start fights at schoolies (you’ll get your jaw broken), generosity is in the good times you share, keep your friends close and your exes closer, trust your intuition (even if it means making hard decisions) and laugh all of the time – especially at yourself.
So, with all of this in mind, go forth and love! Take off your seatbelt and throw yourself headlong into it (this advice does not apply to any type of motor vehicle). Don’t worry about heartbreak, that’s for future you to deal with. Love thy neighbour, love thy fish and especially love thy self (because someone’s gotta get the ball rolling).
To read more articles by Georgia Lejeune take a look at her story on Panama Festival in Tasmania or follow her on the grams @geelejeune. Images featured are by Maeve Lejeune, see her work at Flingo Project.