Was my heart ripped apart when Jay passed away? Absolutely! But I realized that the heart muscle does heal – just like any other muscle in my body. Also, I figured out over time that when you work your muscles – like your legs while running or biking, you create little tears in your muscle fibers and it’s the re-building of those muscles that makes you stronger.
Your heart is an amazing muscle! It beats 100,000 times per day and about 2000 gallons- and all without us thinking about it! Even after the loss of a loved one it still beats and still works hard for you. It can even get to be a stronger muscle than before.
In fitness when you do physical activities, you tear your muscle tissue due to the impact you are placing on it. This is called Strength Training Activities. When you leave these workouts you can feel achy, tired, and sore. When your spouse dies your heart muscle is torn. It literally felt like it was bleeding and may not stop. It physically hurt so much. I had never felt physical pain like this in my heart before. What I didn’t know at the time, of course, was the long-term benefits of strengthening my heart! Those tiny tears were helping me grow bigger and stronger.
When exercising what is helping you grow is the resistance you are putting on your muscles. When the resistance is more than what you are normally doing, your muscle building is activated. The same goes with your heart- you have activated the muscle building! The hard part is we can’t go easy on the intensity- I didn’t get to choose that. My intensity was at a 10 and that is like over-training and like you know when you push your muscles too hard, you can have severe muscle strain or an injury.
What I had to do was lower the stress and strain on my heart in other ways so I could take care of my broken heart. I had to start letting things go- like having a perfectly clean home or worrying excessively about my future. I turned to meditation and talked really kindly to myself. Breathing deeply and slowly steadies your heart. The words that go to my brain do connect to my heart. I let myself cry and learned that tears heal. I had no idea until I studied tears that there are 3 different kinds of tears while crying and different chemicals are released in your body to help you heal. That’s really amazing.
I learned to really take care of my heart and the rest of my body. I still exercised. I told people how I felt and opened my heart to new ways and new perspectives. I tried to be patient with my heart muscle, just like I would with my leg muscles after a long run. I gave it what it needed and deserved. It took years, but my heart did become stronger- physically and emotionally. It does heal. Remember you still get rips and tears in it, just like your other muscles, but when you have tools to help it heal, it becomes easier. I’m so grateful for my strong heart and all that it does for me.