Songs, poems and stories are written about it and it's an experience that people in relationships never want to face. But no matter what, somewhere along the way heartbreak will happen to all of us. We asked photographer and writer David James to share his perspective on the turmoil that heartbreak brings...
"I once called it a migraine in the soul." - David James
It's always their fault
Words by David James
It’s gonna feel like brick hit you in the stomach; a sore, throbbing tooth that hangs about like a tired old cat meowing for one last saucer of milk. Like a migraine in the soul. Or something like that. It hurts. It aches, and for no good reason, other than the reasons you give it.
Let us just keep this thing within the scope of romantic relationships, okay? You know, when couples break up. Reasons for said breakup can certainly range from day-to-day, depending upon which direction the finger is pointing. It’s my fault for working too much – and not being there for her. And It’s her fault for, well, seeing that other guy.
To be fair, heartbreak is often just plain, well, unfair. There is no good reason or blame other than it is a normal reaction to living amongst other humans.
But that conclusion, also, can be so painfully unsatisfactory. We like to think we live meaningful lives and that things happen for a reason. And that’s when that subterranean voice – the pity party for one – starts to yammer: ‘I’m an idiot... What if I had been a better blah blah blah… I’ll never find anyone else… I’m fat!’
Let me just say, for your sake - and if you are going through the throes of that deep sadness – it’s not your fault, okay? It’s their fault – the ex, the ex-partner’s friends, their family, the ex-partner’s pets for god’s sake!
So, it’s anyone else's fault except your own. Why? I only offer this indulgent sentiment – with furious indignation - because anger has so much more ‘get up and go’ than despair.
Anger just has a little more pump to it. Ya know?!
Anger will get your butt off the couch, and back to work. Anger will get your fat bottom back to the gym and eating well again (I’ll show them). Anger will allow you to fly the flag from the house of the ‘living well is the best revenge’ creed. And so, you bloody should! You deserve it.
Heartbreak can get you all healthy (and shit) - if you get get angry. You may even hear yourself saying: “I’ll never let him/her ever hurt me again! I’ll never give my heart away!” (that is, until you meet someone else because someone thinks you’re super-hot from working out at the gym all the time. You start dating and eventually form a long-lasting romance, and the cycle repeats itself until you’re on the couch again eating far too many Maltesers). Emotional beings, we are. And while emotions are marvelous facets of our experience as human beings, they can be a pain in the bloody arse.
No one is immune to heartbreak – except for maybe psychopaths. And the fascinating thing about these creatures is that they suffer from a lack of empathy, extremely low levels of anxiety, and an abundance of self-centered fearlessness.
I’m already jealous! Psychopaths don’t have feelings like the rest of us. They don’t really worry about what others think of them. That’s why, psychopaths make great CEOs.
One upshot is that psychopaths never feel heartbreak. Lucky bastards. They just dust themselves and get on with life.
However, while psychopaths make up 1% of the population, they also makeup a whopping 20% total of the prison population. That means, these emotional robots absolutely love to dabble in a spot of crime. Low empathy levels and a penchant for cheap thrills, and severe self-centeredness means they just love to get in to trouble. They are hustlers par excellence. But their behavior makes them, commonly dubbed ‘anti-social’ by nature.
The majority of us are emotional, and social beings. So, I guess, it just depends how you want to use these pesky emotions. I myself, would prefer to be an emotional utilitarian – if I can ever help it. Which conglomeration of thoughts and feelings will give me the best results?
All I can say is getting angry helps. So much more than despair. Despair will keep you on the couch, and keep you from chatting in an empty room as you stroke that tired old cat (you may even turn to becoming a really keen cat person who stays in their pajamas all day and shakes their fist at the noisy neighbors).
Despair will keep you on the couch, and keep you chatting in an empty room as you stroke that tired old cat...
Anger will get you back into the game of life and slaying dragons again. Steal the treasure from heartbreak. Use it as a foil to your old self.
Grab heartbreak by the elbow, throw it into the passenger seat of a souped-up bright blue Holden, and speed furiously – chewing gum - along the highway to greatness. So, if you are going through heartbreak right now, here’s some advice: Get mad! Get laid again. Go buy yourself something nice. Dust off the old gym pass. Flirt with your coworkers. Go on a liver cleanse, or party more! Taste like no one is watching. Dance the ripened fruits of life. Quit taking vitamins. Or take more. Shoot a gun if anyone will let you.
And don’t forget - it’s always their fault!
David James has been taking photos for almost two decades and is based in Blenheim where he works as a freelance photographer, and a writer for The Marlborough Express.