Heartache Wounds: "The Alexei Shoe"

Lately, the walk back home from the metro has been dreadful because it gives me too much time to let my mind wander. I roll my eyes and think: How could I let myself believe he actually loved me?

My second attempt at a relationship and after 8 months, I’m heartbroken. I don’t know whether to cry anymore (I’m so tired of crying at this point) or to be angry. I can feel my face get warm as I’m choking back tears of frustration. I feel sorry for myself. Then suddenly, I tell myself: Whatever, Fran. Just get over it. It’s been 3 months now. GET. OVER. IT!

I’m walking faster now with my head down as I quickly walk past the other pedestrians. So today, I’ll finish my reading assignment and then get started on…(my mind drifts)…I just can’t believe I invested that much time in the relationship, and it’s over already! I mean, did I make a mistake in ending it?

I’m so confused right now. There’s a pit of butterflies in my stomach and I have that sensation to throw up. Stop, Fran. Stop thinking about it. He emotionally abused you. You were right to get out. It’s going to be OK…right??

Suddenly, I’m running up the hill to turn onto my street. Finish the reading assignment, then start the...the…

I feel my heart racing. My throat is getting tighter by the millisecond and my body feels cold. Oh my God. Am I having a panic attack?!

I can’t breathe. I stop and look up to try to grasp fresh air, but the sky is spinning fast. What if he was right? What if it was my fault? Maybe I should have let him…What, what if…What did I do?!

I grab my chest as I approach the top of the hill and lean against the fence of the neighbor’s house. I can feel my knees collapsing under me as my palms slide down the fence. Why? Why now? Why this? I’m crying uncontrollably and don’t notice the neighbor coming out to grab her mail.

“Oh no, dear,” she says as she walks calmly over to me. “What’s wrong?” She can tell I’m having a hard time breathing between sobs, so she starts patting my back and fanning me with her mail. “Shhh….calm down, now. Whatever it is, it’s not the end of the world. Heck, I’ve been through worse than you and I’m still alive!” I let out what seems to be a giggle-cry. “It’s complicated,” I tell her.

She looks at me and shakes her head. “Uh huh, it’s complicated alright.” She points to a tree on the side walk. “You see that tree over there? You see that big hole in the trunk? It looks like the tree’s been hurt; like it has a wound that doesn’t belong there. But, look at how the squirrels are climbing in and out of that hole. They’ve made it their home.” She taps my shoulder and continues, “One day, you’re going to be just like that tree. Every trouble that has wounded your heart will one day be someone’s hiding place. Others will find refuge and healing in your wounds. When you look at it that way, the heartbreak ain’t that bad, is it?” I looked at her surprisingly, and she just smiled.  


When we take a trip down memory lane, many of us see a lot of hurt and pain. Others see difficult and traumatic instances in their lives they never wish to remember or experience again. No matter who we are, what we look like, or how much money we have, we all encounter difficult periods in our lives. Who are we fooling – we’ve all experienced heartache in one way or another. Life has punched some of us in the stomach so hard, we didn’t even think we’d make it this far.

But, look at you - you’re a survivor! And, yes, you still have a long way to go, but let’s celebrate the fact that you’ve made it this far!! Everything you’ve been through was an opportunity presented to make you stronger and wiser. Every challenge that is yet to come your way is also an opportunity to make you a better person, not just for yourself, but for others.

So the next time something or someone breaks your heart, remember that there’s someone else out there that needs you to be strong. That “someone” needs you to take the pain for a little while so that when you cross paths, they’ll know they are not alone; they can find healing in your story and refuge in your wounds.


Each post is named after a pair of "fictitious" (for now) shoes. For this post, I chose the name "Alexei," which means strong, warrior, gift.