That which leaves us frees us

All Woman

I do not like eggs and beans, but for seven years I ate eggs and beans every day for breakfast — with plantains to make it bearable. I felt like Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride, trying to figure out how she likes her eggs after four attempts at marriage. I do not like eggs at all.

I was eating eggs and beans because I was in love.

Then love left me. I was heartbroken. I cried for days. I got angry and dug deep for my bitter.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are not immune to heartbreak, but it is important that we all learn how to release feelings of sadness and disappointment in order to move on with our lives.

Although we tend to associate heartbreak with only romantic relationships, one can experience grief from any broken relationship, from loss of a job to friendship, or family. Whatever the colour of your relationship, healing takes time. But I have learnt from experience that holding on to pain and hurt from loss only serves to hurt us more.

Holding on to grief inhibits life flowing through us and sometimes makes us experience feelings of bitterness and anger which serve only to delay our healing. We become slaves to pain.

As we learn to accept life's imperfections, it is important that we learn how to protect our emotional well-being and free ourselves from the pains of our past.

We all deal with grief differently; for me, I allow myself to grieve. Accepting that grieving is normal and is a part of the healing process is an important step towards healing. I remember feeling sad and down for months, until one day my daughter knocked on my door and said, “Really Mommy, you are going to cry for a whole year?” Her question shocked and comforted me at the same time and forced me to snap out of my melancholia.

I was feeling dejected, lonely and angry and as I was losing myself, she was losing her mother. I was focusing so much on the betrayal that I was missing the lesson. Her innocent question allowed me to stop wallowing in self-pity and ask myself, “What is making me feel this way?” I was uncertain. I did not want to share with my friends out of fear of being judged and so I sought professional help.

Speaking to a counsellor allowed me the freedom to express how I was feeling without interruption or judgement and with a clarity that surprised me. As I released my thoughts in his office, I found the answers.

One looming issue was my concern about another failed relationship. I was worried I would not find another life partner after 40. I was concerned that my children would become dysfunctional without a father figure in their everyday space. I was scared to start over.

I learnt to acknowledge these feelings; I also learnt to let them go. I learnt to accept that life is not perfect, but the imperfections are meant to make us stronger. Better.

I started to write, as I needed to make it right for my children and, more importantly, for me. I recorded in my journal all of what I was feeling, all of what I wanted, my disappointments. As I read them back to myself, I recognised the need to let go of past regrets.

Whatever hurt you are feeling, allow yourself to experience real freedom. Accept that healing takes time, and press forward with a better understanding of life.

Friedrich Nietzsche was right — “that which does not kill us makes us stronger”, and that which leaves us, frees us.

Coleen Antoinette is a lover of culture and people. She is currently the Director of Marketing Communications at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. Share your experiences with her at




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