Healing and Feeling: Pain, Joy, and Heartbreak
Updated: Jul 22, 2022
Once upon a time, I met Joy on the sidewalk. Literally.
Three years ago, in Brooklyn, I met a woman named Joy on the sidewalk.
I was amidst a full-on emotional release that was so intense, I couldn't walk down the street without leaning onto a stoop to let the tears pour out. No masks; I was fully stripped.
Many people passed by, until Joy touched me on the shoulder. What ensued was a three minute connection that went something like this:
Joy: Are you alright?
Me: My heart is breaking.
(I had just been broken up with, a world flipped, ideas of love and trust questioned).
Joy: You’ll get through this. You’ll be okay.
(She looks into me with such direct sincerity).
Joy, cont'd: I’m pregnant, and my husband and I are separating. It’s just not working. So I know. You’ll come out on the other end of this, you’ll be okay.
Me: (And I’m just standing there, looking at her like…..holy shit you angel). How did you do it..how are you?
Joy: I’m still doing it. It’s hard. You go through it, and you know it will get better.
Me: What’s your name?
Me: (Woah. Am I crying or laughing right now? Holy shit. Thank you Universe). Joy. I’m Remy. Thank you.
We parted ways. I went on with my walk into Prospect Park, experiencing immense releases of grief, with simultaneous glimmers of joy. I felt an overflow of gratitude amidst the heartbreak. Gratitude to be able to feel so vastly, to be able to love, and to break open. All I wanted to say was “THANK YOU.”
This was just the beginning of an immense process of healing and discovery. I committed myself to sitting with the emotions, letting them flow, and letting go into growth and gratitude. (This is distinctly different than identifying with emotions, taking them out other people, or numbing out the emotions entirely).
Here is what some of this healing process looked like for me:
1) I confronted my own truth.
It’s much easier to avoid pain and unconsciously hurt others, rather than to actually confront your own truth and healing. (Avoiding pain is also considerably less rewarding, attracts more pain, and numbs out joy).
Fun fact: Since I'm sharing a circumstance of heartbreak here, I'll also note that it took a solid year before I was even able to look at a man with any sensation of attraction. I had zero intentions of giving away this chance to work on my own sense of empowered self, as opposed to working out the pain on someone else who might serve as a representation of the light I wanted to cultivate. (And yeah, my libido was entirely gone, which was a strange gift at the time).
2) I cried a ton. I felt a ton. I released a ton.
Like, a lot. I was messy. NYC made this easy (love you), because no one questions a stranger crying on the sidewalk. (Except for Joy. She was an exception). Throughout time, the releases of heartbreak culminated in more and more gratitude.
I allowed myself to actually release and feel grief/anger/etc, as opposed to solely thinking about it. There is a difference between thought and feeling. Thought is of the mind, feeling is of the heart. You can attempt to rewire your mind, but if you don't also tend to your heart/subconscious ...well then... you'll feel yuck, stuck, and not very much alive.
3) I spent time alone.
I'm a social introvert. I love people and genuine connection, however I've learned that I regain my clarity, peace, and energy by being still. And for me, more often than not, that happens alone.
4) I danced a ton.
Like, a ton. Wildly. Alone. Under the influence of zero substances. I went to events like Daybreaker, Ecstatic Dance, and The Get Down, and also solo parties in my apartment.
5) I created.
I wrote, I acted, I expressed, I worked on my craft. (Yeah, I made literal crafts, but I also worked on my CRAFT as an artist). And I had FUN with it.
6) I meditated.
I began to meditate daily, and envisioned the magnificent being I was becoming. (While meditation was introduced to me at a young age...it had yet to become a daily habit). I meditated under the moon. Meditated in my room. Meditated in friends' rooms. On the subway. In the park. I discovered amazing meditation communities in NYC (...where I was living at the time. Now I'm in LA, baby!) I expanded my spiritual practices and studies.
7) I spent time in nature.
8) I wrote love letters to myself.
Because...Love letters :)
9) I embodied the joy of being.
I’ve experienced many different forms of heartbreak, challenge, and transformation both prior to and after this event. And more and more each time, I’ve embodied the joy of being.
To me, joy is a lasting commitment to gratitude, the evolving cultivation of love, and divine presence. Joy inherently exists when we feel immense gratitude for the existing now.
The joy of being doesn't have to be circumstantial. It just is. It resides in ultimate presence—so that when I watch a sunset, I go to a concert, I laugh my ass off, I have a conversation, I give a hug, or I sob—I'm fully there, radiant in my being. As one of my favorite poets, Rainer Marie Rilke says, “Joy is a marvelous increasing of what exists, a pure addition out of nothingness."
So, does the healing end?
Am I still heartbroken over this particular event/guy three years a go, that inspired the visit with Joy? No, absolutely not, and I haven't been for a long while. I'm eternally grateful for him and for the heartbreak. I'm so beyond grateful, words don't do justice.
Still, all of the nine committed "practices" I listed above— they aren't a one time deal. Sure, the deeper commitment to self-love and growth I've shared here was a result of this catalyst event of heartbreak. And I have since had, and will continue to have, discomfort and change of varying intensity introduced in my life, along with a ton of joy. It's all beautiful. That's being human.
Pain ends, and the evolution of joy, love, and gratitude never stops expanding. Perhaps healing can be equated to a daily commitment to self-love and growth...to unlearn and learn from behaviors, habits, and experience.
Being vulnerable with all things healing and feeling is not a gesture reserved for artists, women, social media, or discussions with your most intimate loved ones. Vulnerability isn’t a thing you shut on and off. It’s your human nature. If you shut off your vulnerability, you shut off your truth, you shut off yourself, you shut off your joy, and you live inside a projected image of self.
The list of healing/spiritual/wellness/self-love/emotional awareness practices will always keep evolving. In fact, calling it a "list" feels almost belittling. It's not a list. It's a part of my being, a part of my life practice.
I can't tell you what your own healing looks like. I can't tell you how to experience your joy. I can't tell you who you are. That's your journey. But I can promise you this:
There is NO seat at the table that will be missing for you while you're healing. Healing IS your seat at the table. Healing is an inevitable part of your continuous evolution of joy.
Remy Teicher is a creative, storyteller, social media professional and meaning-maker.