Thursday, August 9, 2012

Teenagers and Broken Hearts

Do you remember your first broken heart? I do. I was 15 at the time, and a boy that I really liked and had been dating for awhile dumped me. I know using the word ‘dumped’ sounds like the moment was mean, calculated, callous – and basically that's how it played out – but it’s the only way to describe an event that was as insensitive as it truly was. Think about it for a moment. Is there really a more concise way to describe it? If I wrote ‘he broke up with me’ would it have the same impact? Nope. If I used the term ‘we split up’, would it sound bad? Not really. But when I say ‘he dumped me’, doesn’t it fit perfectly? Don’t you get a mental image of an insensitive son of a...? You bet you do.

But that was then.

Over 30 years later, it’s just a teenage memory --- albeit not one of the better ones. Even using the weighty expression ‘dumped’ brings on nothing more than a shrug. Bah. But decades earlier it was absolutely devastating. It was my first real broken heart. It was my first taste of many more broken hearts to come. It was my first realization that when someone leaves you, you may very fall apart for awhile. And that’s okay.


But I didn’t think it was okay then because I was a teenage girl. And teenage girls can be funny. When they first break up with a boyfriend, particularly if he’s the ‘dumper’ instead of the ‘dumpee’, the world seems as though it will end. And a heartbroken teenager is sincerely convinced that it will. After all, how can the world possibly keep turning when you’re feeling this crappy? In addition, I’d bet that the word never is used more during the teenage years than at any other time of our lives. And this word is not only used to emphasize the terminal pain and suffering that a shattered relationship conjures, it’s also an exaggerated response to every emotional experience in a teenager’s world.

“My broken heart will never mend”; “My wounds will never heal”; “I’ll never find another boyfriend”; “I’ll never be okay”; “I’ll never leave this house”; “I’ll never finish this project”; “I’ll never take off these braces”; “I’ll never make new friends”, “My teacher will never stop picking on me”, “The coach will never pick me for the team”. Never, never, never-

I took it one step further with my heightened sensitivity. Unlike many of the kids in my age group, my angst-laden world was not defined solely by the word ‘never’; it was also defined by the ensuing word ‘ever’, which was added on to properly highlight my level of anguish.

“I will never ever get over this”; “There will never ever be another guy for me”; “My mother will never ever be fair”; “This life will never ever be good to me”. Never ever-

I was reminded of that period of my life earlier this week when my 15 year old daughter’s boyfriend broke up with her after several months of them dating. Yes, I am using the term ‘broke up’ because the word ‘dumped’ does not apply to my daughters. They’re too precious. No one dumps one of my girls considering they’re both such a good a catch. If someone ‘breaks up’ with one of them, they’re simply misguided, making a bad judgment call. And missing out on someone special.

Don’t we all feel this way about our kids?

Anyone who ends up with this precious girl will be lucky.

Anyway, this is her first real heartbreak, and as much as I know from experience that it’s all part of growing up, I couldn’t help but feel my own heart breaking along with hers. I hugged her and wished that I could draw the pain right out of her. I wanted so badly to be able to take away her hurt feelings. To protect her. To shield her. Because even though there’s no doubt that ‘this too shall pass’, when relationships end, it hurts. And nothing upsets me more than seeing my children unhappy. But we can’t shield our kids from the pain the world will inflict upon them. And if we’re to be honest, there is growth in pain. Facing and overcoming difficult times makes us stronger and wiser, and these experiences are both valuable and necessary in preparing us for the adult world.

So, yes, this too shall pass. In the meantime, there’s ice cream to numb the heartache. Both of ours.

12 comments:

  1. Ah, who'd be a teenager again? Well, she's beautiful, and she's got you for a mother so hopefully she can bounce back quickly. Ice-cream will definitely help!

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    1. I wouldn't want to be a teenager again, no matter how much fun it was. If I had to choose a period to stay in, it would be in my mid 30s.

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  2. "The first cut is the deepest," just like that old Cat Stevens song says. Hugs to your daughter. Growing up is hard but we all do it and we all get dumped at some point. So if misery loves company, she's got lots!

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    1. We all have to experience these things. There's no getting away from them. And they build character.

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  3. Yes, I remember being dumped by a boy too. Actually, it happened twice but I didn't care about the second one. The good thing, I didn't eat for days and I dropped a few pounds. Now, no amount of sadness keeps me from eating.
    Take care of your big "baby" girl.
    Your Friend, m.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNnurmyiv7E&feature=related

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    1. I sure will. It's a tough thing to go through, but there's no avoiding it.

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  4. Oh I sure do remember that first time! And I thought things were going well! She just got up and left! Maybe she knew something I didn't at the time? lol

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    1. Perhaps you're right! She never offered an explanation. That's odd -- and awful.

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  5. Oh your little girl is so beautiful, Martha! I think ice cream and hugs are the proper recipe for a cure. It had to happen hough. the first one. The cost of being human I suppose. Thinking of you both!!

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    1. None of us can escape this. Heartache is a part of life. And so is grief. It helps build character and make us stronger. Unfortunately, it feels horrible when it's happening. She's a smart kid; she'll be fine.

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  6. It would be nice to shield them. I think about my two girls who are growing up fast, they'll be teenagers soon enough. But I have to try hard to not shield them. Shielding means that they won't learn, they won't grow up, they won't exprience life... so they'll be naive, sorry excuses for adults one day. So I try to support my girls, but let them experience their lives and not shield them from their own lives. I won't be around forever to keep shielding them, so I should let them figure out how to handle life without my shield. But they always have my support and love, of course!

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    1. You are absolutely right, TB. We should not shield our children from life's lessons. They build character and make them stronger. We would do an injustice to them by not allowing them to experience life.

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