How I Got It Together: Sarah Gordon on Using Heartbreak to Reclaim Her Value
Hello and welcome to the very first edition of the How I Got It Together series! How I Got It Together posts will feature articles written by people who have overcome adversity, are pursuing their dreams, or have an inspiring tale to tell. This is about highlighting voices from all walks of life to provide you a small dose of hope, empowerment, or maybe just a story you can relate to. I'm all for throwing some positivity out into this hellscape we call the Internet! If you'd like to contribute your story to the How I Got It Together series, please email me at catie dot L dot hogan at gmail dot com.
Our first guest poster is Sarah Gordon. She's a digital communication strategist during the day- and a grad student, powerlifter, and overly organized cat-mom at night. She thrives on helping others communicate and understand each other, new experiences, and coffee. Lots of coffee. She runs a blog about personal stories of overcoming, and sustaining one's inner power. You can also find her on Twitter @sarahvgordon.
Sarah's story of surviving heartbreak to rediscover herself and her value is relatable and powerful. If you're going through something similar, I hope you find strength in her words. Thanks for being the first to tell us how you got it together, Sarah!
Without further ado, here's Sarah Gordon:
There’s a popular quote, “Sometimes things have to fall apart, so that better things can fall together.” You see it written on gold glittery posters in basic bitches’ bedrooms, or cryptically posted on someone’s social media account. Seems silly, but when you live through it– those are some of the truest words you’ll ever hear.
Six months ago I was not the same person. At all. The man I was with for five years, who I was living with for most of that time, who I had named my beneficiary, and who told me he wanted to marry me– broke up with me. The last few years we were together were troublesome, for sure, but I was so entrenched in ‘us’ that I thought it was going to be okay. My grad school-research- brain made a plan to fix it. Because that’s what you do, you don’t end it– you just work harder, and harder, and give more and more, until you have absolutely nothing left in you. That was what I did. Desperate for answers, I even went to see an energy healer right before we broke up. She told me we would stay together for another year, but the breakup wouldn’t be hard for me. I was comforted knowing my pain would be minimal. But, I ended up just being blindsided. “The” conversation started with my fix-it-all plan (fully researched with bullet points, action items, etc.), when he stopped me. He said he needed to be on his own, that he wasn’t sure if he wanted the same things as me anymore. Whether that is true, I may never know. But those words made all the books I had read, all the ideas and effort I poured into us, just evaporate. I sat back, and completely uncharacteristic of me, I said “Okay. If this is what you want.”
I had no more fight in me. I couldn’t make this work anymore. I was in utter shock and devastated. I remember my sister calling me the morning after I sent her some super emo texts that night. She said “I’m coming to get you, you need to get out of there.” My zombie like status all the sudden changed, and I went into a packing fury. Throwing shit out, putting things in boxes. The gifts he had given me, cards he had written, I was passive-aggressively leaving on his dresser. But in that moment, I was picking up the pieces of myself that I had given him, and reclaiming them as my own.
In a few days, the shock dissipated. I had a group of my girlfriends come over to help me pack up my clothes. My best friend since middle school came in from NYC to help me. Ironically, I was just doing this for her a few months earlier when her relationship ended, with no clue I would soon meet the same pain she had. These women became my strength during those crucial first few weeks/months. I will never know how to properly thank them for all they did for me, but it is the type of relationship you get once in a lifetime.
In the first few weeks, I was on one wild ride. I took it hour by hour, day by day. I moved into my sister’s house, took over my two year old niece’s bedroom, and was welcomed with open arms and plenty of hugs. In between the days of crying and missing my cat, I had days of power. I had feelings of being unstoppable. I started to feel my fire reignite. I can’t tell you the last time I felt that, but I have a feeling it was about five years ago. Those same women who became my life- alert, would see me laughing more than crying. My niece and nephew provided the most amazing perspective and happiness in moments where I felt complete sadness. Yes, this wasn’t what I wanted to happen. But it happened, and in it, I was finding glimmers of hope. I sat in my
therapist’s office and told her, if I am going to go through this sort of pain, I am going to learn as much as I can. I am going to own it.
My summer semester was wrapping up, and ironically, one of the lessons in these immediate weeks was about emotional intelligence. I had heard of it, but after learning about this crucial piece of human interaction, it started to click. Him and I were never going to make it. I wasn’t going to fix this. We were on opposite ends of the spectrum, and instead of rising to the occasion, I was stifling myself. I am a fairly introspective person, and for five years I shut that off. I shut off my inner voice, I shut off my desire to grow, to be more, to be exactly who the universe wants me to be. I toned down my fire to the point where it was completely gone.
My emotions came in waves. Big, scary waves. But didn’t run from the pain I felt, I cried when I needed to, I reminisced when I wanted to, I let my emotions come and overwhelm me. Each time I did that, I almost always felt better after. I saw parts of myself that I hadn’t seen, ever. I felt free. I felt like I could go anywhere, I could do anything I wanted to. I learned, and I am still learning, that nothing could be predicted. Before, I craved control and stability to the point of wasting $80 on an energy healer. Then in 24 hours, my life became the opposite of control and stability. I didn’t know whether I was going to break down crying in the middle of the Branford Road Race (yup, that happened), or have a day feeling strong and empowered. I needed this chaos to prove to myself that I could handle it.
Today when new relationships seem scary, a fear of pain cannot guide my decisions because I made it through. And I can do it again. When those who break friendships and betray you after sitting with you in your darkest times, you learn to let them go, because you have gained the tools to pick yourself up and move forward. The strength in me is the most powerful part of this process. I found my voice. I found my fire. I sat with my biggest fears, I picked myself up and moved forward in life. I stayed the course and let myself be alone. I am full of gratitude for each part of this journey, and the parts that have yet to happen. I have people by my side who have proven that even if I fall, they will help me find my strength to stand. The timing and growth of my friendships prove that this is MY path, and it is happening just as it should.
My lessons learned are part of who I am now, I see the value of them every day. I thank my ex for ending things. He prevented me from having a life of disappointment and mediocrity, and I truly hope he can find his own light, too. Through the pain, the swollen eyes, the late nights– I rose up. I am learning every day. I now know I am destined for more.
When things have fallen apart, use it as a chance to put them together how you want.
“So even if the hot loneliness is there, and for 1.6 seconds we sit with that restlessness when yesterday we could't sit for even one, that's the journey of the warrior.” - Pema Chödrön