I want my heart to be broken. And I want it to hurt. That gnawing, empty, breath-taking heartbreak. You know the feeling, right? I definitely know it. I’ve spent my life relentlessly attempting to avoid it. It absolutely terrifies me. But in spite of my constant efforts, I’ve still had my heart broken at least a few times.
My worst heartbreak was because of a girl. Obviously. We were in a relationship for 5 years. I asked her to marry me. She said yes. Everything was perfect. It was supposed to be a beautiful, happy ending. It wasn’t. At some point, she fell out of love with me and the relationship ended. My heart shattered. It hurt to wake up. It hurt to go to sleep. It hurt to breathe.
Another heartbreak came from losing a Muay Thai fight. After losing my first fight by a brutal, painful and embarrassing knockout, I poured my heart and soul into training for my next fight. I did everything right. I made all the necessary changes. I trained harder than ever. And I lost. Again. It crushed me. I questioned my self-worth. I questioned my identity. For months, every time my coach would say my name, I expected him to tell me that he didn’t want me fighting or coaching at his gym anymore. I wanted to quit.
Both of those earth shattering heartbreaks only occurred because I was naive. If I would’ve actually thought it through and realized the potentially devastating outcomes, I never would’ve fallen in love with that girl and I never would’ve fought again. I hated myself for allowing it to happen. I was reckless. I considered it a huge mistake on my part. I’ve been even more vigilant in avoiding heartbreak since then.
But recently, something happened. It no longer hurts to wake up or go to sleep or breathe. I now look back at my time with the girl and I am overwhelmed with gratitude. She made me a better person in almost every way I can think of. The happy times, the demise, the breakup, the gut-wrenching heartbreak, everything. It has given me a strength and happiness that I never even considered possible. My life has become something even more beautiful because of my time with her.
And I no longer think my coach is going to tell me he doesn’t want me at his gym. I’ve changed the way I train, the way I think about it and approach it. I dominated the fights I’ve had since then. My confidence has improved. I feel stronger. I’m not afraid of losing.
I was wrong to avoid heartbreak. It’s been the biggest mistake of my life. My worst heartbreaks have been my greatest gifts. They only occur after something beautiful, profound, meaningful happens and when it’s all over, I become a better version of myself. I want more.
Heartbreak feels a lot like getting hit by a train. I came to the obvious conclusion that it’s almost impossible to get hit by a train if you don’t go anywhere near the tracks – and for most of my life, I stayed away from the tracks.
But heartbreak means something powerful. It means I gave a piece of myself to something I loved or trusted or had faith in. It means I was vulnerable. It means I recklessly poured my heart into someone or something I care about and shared a deeply profound moment with them without fear of the outcome. And I can’t think of anything I’d rather do for something I love.
In a few months, I’m moving across the country. I’m leaving Portland to start a job in Atlanta. And I want my heart to completely shatter when I leave. I want to collapse in tears when I think about seeing Portland shimmer in the rain while I’m running across the Burnside Bridge. I want to feel that deep, relentless ache in my chest when I think about the street my apartment is on. I want my heart to stop beating when I see a picture of someone in Portland I care about.
My broken heart will be proof that I left a piece of myself in this city, on these streets, with these people. That I loved, trusted, had faith. That I laid on those tracks in the face of my paralyzing fear. That I gave it my everything. That I poured my soul into the people and things that matter to me.
I’ve successfully avoided plenty of heartbreak in my life and I’ve missed thousands of beautiful opportunities because of it. I was too scared. I’m still scared. But I can’t let it happen anymore. It’s a mistake I refuse to make again. I’ll be reckless. I won’t think about the outcome. I will give a piece of myself to those I care about. I will let them break my heart. I’m terrified. But the most profound, beautiful things in this life are scary.