Heartbreak, and Hermit Crabs


I’ve been trying to figure out how to write this. It’s an explanation for my prolonged silence, and also something that I feel the need to share. 

All of the beautiful people in my life (and there are sooooo many of them) have experienced some sort of heartbreak in their lives. Whether it is the loss of a partner or parent or child or dream. 

Heartbreak is a unique beast. An exquisite creature. And it can also be a really shitty experience. 

I've learned a lot about heartbreak in the past month. I’ve learned a lot more than I ever wanted to, if I'm being honest.

I've broken off my engagement, and the most significant romantic relationship of my life so far has ended. I've spent the past little while navigating my way out of that chapter of my life. Hence the silence.

It's been so many things all at once. Difficult and graceful. A gift and a trauma. There’s been growth and decay. I’ve been free and terrified. It's made me feel strong and oh-so-exhausted, at the same time. 

The swiftness with which civility and small talk replaced intimacy and joy was jarring. Brutal, really. Absolutely brutal. 

The loss of the person is one animal, always. But the space that opens when you say goodbye to all the shared dreams, the micro-culture you've created together? Well darling, that's where the tears fall. And fall. And fall. And I’ve just been letting them fall. I’ve been letting my heart do it’s thing. 

The only way we can go is forward.

The only way to climb is up.

It’s been a weird time. A lot of boundary building. A lot of deep breathing. A lot of one day at a time. A lot of working out.

And, perhaps most surprisingly, a lot of love. I’m surrounded by so much love I feel buoyant. It’s okay if I can’t carry myself right now, because I have all these incredible people ready and willing to cradle me. To carry me.

That support network I’m always telling you to build? It’s a safety net of love. There is no free falling. These past few weeks there have been countless caring text messages and dinner dates, lots of word vomit, amazing hugs. And tons of grace. So. Much. Grace. 

The strangest thing I’ve learned here is that this heartbreak isn't so much a breaking down or apart. It's a breaking out. 

It’s not like a baseball bat to glass. I want to be clear: I haven’t been shattered. Not in the least. 

It’s more like I’ve been cracked wide open. Like an egg. Like this shell I had built over the past three and a half years had become wrong somehow. So I cracked it. I ventured out. I left it behind. 

(Just writing that my stomach drops all over again. Whoosh.)

And I guess that’s really what brings me to hermit crabs. Yes. Hermit crabs. 

Because I’ve been thinking about them a lot. 

You see lately I’ve been feeling a lot like a hermit crab. 

Hermit crabs are soft and squishy and vulnerable. Their shells are their armor, and their home. Their protection from the elements and predators...kind of like our identities. And hermit crabs are always growing. That means that every so often that home which once felt so spacious and nurturing and safe begins to feel a little tight and uncomfortable. 

They have grown. 

So here is the tricky part: they have to find a new shell--one that is actually a little too big for them--to move into. In that transition from old home to new home, old identity to new identity, their softness and vulnerability is exposed. 

I’m finally beginning to settle into my new shell. I’m beginning to understand it’s nooks and crannies. But it still feels huge and foreign and awkward. There is so much space, and I want to be super intentional about how I fill that space. 

Mostly, I want to fill it with love. And really great scented candles. And yoga. And hummus. And smoothies! I want to fill it with hope. Hope for you and me and us and the future.  

Darling, if you’re working through a heartbreak right now: I feel you. If you’re still struggling with a heartbreak from years ago: I feel you.

You are felt, darling, loud and clear.

I want you to know though that you can do this. You are strong and brilliant and so beautiful. You are bright, and you have jewels hidden in your depths. I have so much hope for you.

I really wanted to tell you that on the off chance you needed to hear it right now.

Happy Friday, beautiful. Make the most of it. 

Yours in love and hope, always, 
Marielle Heidebrink