Broken Hearts Mended

Back in my student days P. would be the go to friend for advice. He was wise, for a young man, and had a great way with words, speaking in a stream of local idioms that made him sound like a fairground fortune-teller. Unlike the fairground fortune-teller, much of what he said did come to pass. I remember him predicting the demise of my flatmate’s new relationship: “It’ll be over by the New Year. She’s sleeping with her boots on, that one. She’ll be gone like snow off a ditch in a matter of weeks.” He was right. S. was moving on. Again. Adding to the trail of broken hearts she’d created, scattered nonchalantly behind her like the remnants of a tickertape parade. As I write, I wonder about the truth of what I’ve just said. Had she really created all that despair? Was she responsible for breaking the hearts of others or do we, in many ways, participate in the breaking of our own hearts? Ultimately each of us is responsible for decisions about how to react to the world around us – and the ruptures that inevitably occur. You might ask: ‘Yes, but what of deception?’ ‘Yes, but what of broken promises?’ ‘Yes, but, but, but …’, and this is exactly the point. There is sophistry in finger pointing. We can trick ourselves into false reasoning, into believing the fault all lies on one side only. We re-tell our own unedited (or heavily edited) stories that that can get sleight-of-handed into justifying and validating the age-old accusation, “s/he broke my heart.”  Then that’s the version that becomes written in stone. But what if s/he didn’t break your heart at all? What if a measure of pain is an inevitability of living an open and full life? In this case, nobody’s to blame. All the rain, all the storms, the cold, the doubts, the questioning, the tears, the suffering, it’s just a by-product of being human; and if it’s not already behind you, then it is almost certainly ahead of you. We all climb out of it, eventually – hopefully with an enhanced awareness of the fragility of our heart and the hearts of others, realising they are like the petals of the most delicate orchid.

Someone whose heart has been broken has the possibility of learning how gentle they need to be with other people’s hearts. ‘Tell me on a Sunday’, an Andrew Lloyd Weber and Don Black song, is sung from the perspective of a woman anticipating a break-up, getting ready for the heartache. She makes a plea to the other to be gentle with her heart. Simple conditions. It seems that implementing such simple conditions takes bravery these days.

“Don’t write a letter when you want to leave

Don’t call me at 3 a.m. from a friend’s apartment

I’d like to choose how I hear the news

Take me to a park that’s covered with trees

Tell me on a Sunday please

Don’t run off in the pouring rain

Don’t call me as they call your plane

Take the hurt out of all the pain

Take me to a park that’s covered with trees

Tell me on a Sunday please.”

Have you been ‘lucky’ enough to hear the news sitting under trees on a park bench, on a Sunday? It will never be nice, but pain can be sweetened. Recently T. said to me, “Your miss is your mercy.” I had heard a similar saying a few years back; different words, same lesson: “sometimes not getting what you want is the most marvellous stroke of luck.” Neither is what you want to hear when you have your heart set on something, or someone. And I’m not so sure of the truth of them anyway. I’m probably more of the school of thought that believes – better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. The pain will evaporate. Happy memories stay.

Jenny Kiss’d Me’, by Leigh Hunt

“Jenny kiss’d me when we met,

Jumping from the chair she sat in;

Time, you thief, who love to get

Sweets into your list, put that in!

Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,

Say that health and wealth have miss’d me,

Say I’m growing old, but add,

Jenny kiss’d me.”

2 thoughts on “Broken Hearts Mended

  1. This plea, at the end of a short W B Yeats poem, comes to mind when I read about broken hearts..

    ‘I have spread my dreams under your feet;
    Tread softly because you tread on my dreams’.

    Another request for gentleness.


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