Finding Gratitude for Heartbreak on Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Menders. Many years ago, when I first started Mend, I spent this holiday in San Francisco and wrote this note to the small group of family and friends who were my very first Mend subscribers (before we even had a wesite!)  I’m so grateful for all that has happened between then and now and I’m so grateful for all of you. Have a wonderful holiday. Love, Elle.

“Be thankful for every heartbreak, for they were planned. They come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave. Their purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life. And you do.” —Unknown

Going back to a city that you gave a chunk of your life to is always bittersweet. There are so many memories in every corner. For me, moving to San Francisco from Boston was a transformative experience. I had just ended a serious relationship, in part because we weren’t right for each other, and in part because I wanted to move to California and he didn’t want to go with me. I knew the move west was right for me professionally and personally, and I was determined to get there, even if that meant going alone and leaving pieces of my heart on the floor.

I was so heartbroken when I arrived, but San Francisco and the people that I met here took me in graciously and got me back on my feet. I don’t know what I would have done without this place. In fact, my only steady love interest in the first year of living here was the city herself; the breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge, the magic of Dolores Park on Sundays, the damp running trails of Golden Gate Park and the way the city looked as you approached from the Bay Bridge. My love affair with California continues to this day, though this year I made my way down the coast to warmer weather.

As I was walking through the city yesterday, I caught sight of places where I’d been on first dates, thirtieth dates, birthday dinners and lazy weekend afternoons. There is a part of remembering those moments with significant others that is painful, but these days I mostly feel gratitude. Without those people, I would not be where I am now. I was having lunch with a friend yesterday and I mentioned the memories that had come rushing in when I returned and how I couldn’t believe things had worked out the way that they did. She said something like, “It can’t be any different from exactly how it is.” And that’s so true of our experience with heartbreak.

Every time our heart is broken, we are changed. We have to face ourselves and then, eventually, have the courage to face someone else again and lay it all on the line. And the amazing part is that we do that, over and over. So today, even if it seems impossible, I challenge you to express gratitude for all the heartbreak that has led you to this very moment. Without it, we would certainly not know ourselves as we know ourselves now.

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