Lesley Garner
Lesley Garner
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Seven Steps to Mend
a Broken Heart
Seven Steps to Change
your Life

This archive contains some of the other pieces that I have written that I am still pleased with. I hope you enjoy them.

Seven Steps to Mend a Broken Heart
Daily Telegraph, February 13th 2007

Dear Lesley,
I am a single man in my forties who was engaged to a 35 year old lady for five years and had been friends with her before that. Completely out of the blue she told me that the spark had gone and she no longer loved me. I am in complete shock. Subsequently, as I suspected, I found it was because there was someone else involved. How do I get over the hurt and betrayal of the trust I once felt in this person. How do I move on? Tony

Dear Tony, what perfect timing, not for your break-up, for which I am very sorry, but for your letter. It so happens that Daily Telegraph readers have been sending me their tips on how to mend a broken heart, moved by the story of Caroline, the victim of an office romance gone wrong. Caroline, like you, wrote to me from the depths of her sense of devastation and betrayal and, like you, was wondering how long it would take to recover.

I expect you have noticed, because you are sensitive on the subject of love at the moment, that tomorrow is Valentine's Day. What better date on which to encourage the broken-hearted to love again. Thanks to my analysis of the stories you have been sending me I can recommend to you the Lifeclass Seven Step Broken Heart Recovery Programme.

Step One: The Blow.

Tony's lover says she no longer loves him. Caroline's lover admits he is still with his former girlfriend. Tracy realises she no longer loves her husband and leaves him. Anna's lover, for whom she had thrown caution and a marriage to the winds, trotted out the old trite excuses I'm not worthy of you..it's me, not you..." Whatever. It's over.

Step Two: The Devastation.

Neil's wife left him after 25 years of what "I thought had been a very happy marriage. Our separation came as a total shock. My total misery when she left cannot be exaggerated. For a while I was lost in misery and in fact I was very close to committing suicide and I would certainly have done it were it not for the support of my children and the fact that my wife would have inherited everything."
Tony can't stop crying. His heart, and his sense of trust, are destroyed. Amanda, who had already left her husband for the coup de foudre of her lover, went a bit mad and started incessantly phoning and stalking him. "Initially I went on Prozac, started counselling, cried a lot on my own and to friends and went back to my long-suffering husband who loved and forgave me." The Devastation is hell and the abandonment is made worse by the sense of betrayal and loss of a glorious future. Once you¹ve stopped crying you come to:

Step Three: The Reaction.

It is normal, as Trudy testifies, to go through "a period of absolute grief and mourning for what had been." Where you have been badly betrayed the grief is twisted. Rage, revenge, denial, demonisation of the beloved - this is the triumph of unreason. Amanda, bad girl, who was her lover¹s boss, reacted by firing him. Lawyers are used as battering rams. Letters and clothes get burned. Don't linger here any longer than you need to and avoid it if you can. Reaction is always bad. Proactivity is so much better, but before you can get there you need to pass through:

Stage Four: The Inward Search for Meaning.

After the first round of tears, the questions. Why you? Why him? Why her? What went wrong? What is wrong with you? Hours, weeks, even months, and, if you are not very self-disciplined, even years of agonised self-analysis await you. Self-awareness is a good thing and proof that you have learned from a bitter experience. Books can help. Amanda recommends ³ a wonderful book by Doris Lessing, called ³Love, again." I recommend, of course, my own book, "Everything I've Ever Learned about Love." Wallowing in prolonged and agonised self-analysis is a bad thing and will drive you and your friends mad. They may not like to tell you, so I will. Put a limit on it. Move on, with calm deliberation to:

Stage Five: The Forward Look.

Take yourself in hand as though you were your best and wisest friend. You could cram your diary with distracting activities. Things that take you out of yourself can be good. However, I like Trudy's more grounded approach too. "I'm really glad I didn¹t meet someone straight after my divorce because I would not have had the experiences I have had. There was a huge empty crevasse in my life but I didn¹t consciously fill it. I just set about savouring every moment, hoping to make the very best of life."
Linda, having learned that "I tended to pin my happiness on whether there was a man in my life validating me" gradually realised that "having a full social life, learning new things and opening your mind to other untied and untested experiences is very life-enhancing. Making mistakes is fine as long as you don't go on repeating the same ones ­ that's just madness." Once you've got a sense of a world beyond your own broken heart you are ready for:

Stage Six: The Outward Search for Meaning.

If you get this right it's almost worth having your heart broken. Behind you is one person, before you is the world and a fresh start. "The truth is," says Amanda, "if you have been truly wounded it will never go away completely but you move on, make new relationships in a different circle."" Four years after my disastrous love affair," says Linda, "I had grown immeasurably. I had taken up a new job, began a public service role that I'd always aspired to but never tackled and been to places I thought were beyond my reach."
" I have a full life now," agrees Trudy, "with a busy social circle which I have made for myself. At potentially emotional times like Valentine's Day I go out and buy myself a huge bouquet of lilies and last Christmas I worked as a volunteer in a homeless hostel which was one of the most humbling and rewarding experiences of my life. Wonderful things can happen if we have the stillness and quietness to see them." People who have learned to renew and reframe themselves are ready for :

Stage Seven: The Whole Hearted Self.

"Do I have a happy ending?" asks Linda. "Well, naturally. Through my initial scattergun approach to socialising I developed a close circle of good friends who introduced me to a man who really love and values me. Reader, I married him."
Neil advertised in Kindred Spirits in the Daily Telegraph, receiving 28 replies. "I answered all of them and went to dinner with several. When I met Belinda we sold our houses and were married a year later. Since then my life has been wonderful. We have both had experiences we find it difficult to talk about but communication is absolutely vital to the success of any relationship and my wife and I are entirely open about how we feel. Please tell your correspondents that there is life after separation and divorce, even in your sixties. I have never been so happy."
And even without romance there is happiness. "We all have so much love to give", writes Linda, "and until and unless we find the one person, there are so many ways in which to give our love. We simply have to find what works for us and go out there and do it." I couldn't agree more. Happy Valentine's Day.

If you liked this piece, you would enjoy my book, "Everything I've Ever Learned about Love"

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