All of us have different responses to Valentine’s Day–joy, expectation, ambivalence, cynicism and sometimes downright dread. For some of us, it recalls our “game face” mask of nonchalance when zero notes were passed our way in the schoolyard. In our adult life the day can be a moment to reflect on the existential questions of who–and how–we love, and why. We all know that negotiating relationships can be one of the most enriching part of our lives but they’re also damn complicated and messy, especially when one ends. So this Valentine’s Day we’re shifting the focus to explore how to heal a hurting heart.
We asked 32-year-old Colombian writer Amalia Andrande, author of You Always Change the Love of Your Life (For Another Love or Another Life) that’s sold over 250,000 copies in Latin America, to share how to start looking for love in the wake of heartbreak. (This is after you’ve acknowledged your pain, become friends with your tears and accepted that witchcraft or sorcery is not going to get your lover back.) Every bit of advice in this book comes straight from Andrande’s experience of being utterly bereft after a breakup. It’s also the book she wished she’d had to help her through. Here, she shares why getting a puppy is not always the answer, but why travel (near, far and into the self) can jump-start a healing heart.
A Puppy Is Not The Answer
“As the great existential philosopher, Cher, once postulated, ‘Do you believe in life after love?’ In my own personal experience, after my breakup, my answer was a resounding NO. Everything I had ever believed about love had just been demolished. My struggles had been in vain. My disillusionment was just as complete. Not only was it hard to reinvent myself and rebuild my life, but I had also become a complete and total cynic. ‘Love doesn’t exist’ was my life’s motto for quite some time. I would devote myself to renouncing love forever and finding unconditional love in a Burnese mountain dog puppy I would name Cindy after Cindy Crawford. Cindy was never going to betray me, she would be happy to see me every single day of her life, she wouldn’t complain if I didn’t wash the dishes, she wouldn’t leave me for my ex’s ex, and she wouldn’t say things like, ‘It’s been a while since you posted a picture of me on Instagram…that must mean you don’t love me anymore.’ But life has its ways, and a Bernese mountain dog wouldn’t fit in my house anyway. So, still carrying a world of fear on my shoulders, I came to realise that I wasn’t looking for a Cindy but a new – and healthier – love.
“Emotional availability should function like a trip in every sense of the word. You need to open yourself up to new experiences, be willing to try anything (or almost anything), leave your fears behind, and above all else… just let yourself be free. I don’t know who said love isn’t a destination, it’s a journey (it was probably Aerosmith or astrologer Susan Miller or maybe I just made it up myself), but anyway, if you’re ready to get back in the love game, using one of these three strategies is a good way to start.”
Visit New Places
“In the words of Terry Patchett, ‘Why do you go away? So you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.’ There’s nothing more therapeutic than a trip. Whether it’s to Bali or your best friend’s house. Travelling helps you get back to yourself, reconnect with what’s important, and remember the little things that make you happy. It’s also good for meeting new people, because who knows, you might just end up meeting the love of your life at a concert or something.”
Visit New People
“This is the part where I say there’s no truth to the expression, ‘the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else’. Some lovers are right and some lovers are wrong. You should look at meeting new people as a trip in and of itself: one that could end badly, one that could be short and sweet, or – if the planets align, and if Jesus, Mary and Beyonce bless it – one that could transcend. Exploring new bodies is fine as long as it’s not an excuse for not dealing with the pain, and not a form of escapism.”
“Visiting yourself means trying not to betray yourself and connecting with what makes you, you.”
From YOU ALWAYS CHANGE THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE (For Another Love or Another Life) by Amalia Andrade, published by Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2017, 2019 by Amalia Andrade Arango
Find more words of wisdom, illustrations and recipes from Amalia in her book You Always Change the Love of Your Life (For Another Love or Another Life).
Image credits: Amalia Andrade
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