breakups, Endings

Processing Pain

I’m starting to understand and appreciate that situations, such as breakups, loss, etc – can act like catalysts. Painful as they may...

Written by Amy C · 1 min read >
Processing Pain - Heart Hackers Club -  - Psychedelic trance

Some say that pain of the heart is the worst kind to experience. There is no surgery, no medicine, no band-aid that will truly minimize the suffering. That dull, chronic pain feels like it is with you every where you go. It’s at the core of your thoughts, it haunts you right before you go to sleep – it feels  attached as if it is a part of you.

Most people do not process their emotional pain. In our society where we place value on the ability to move forward and move fast, we don’t take the time and effort it takes to process pain, in order to heal it. That pain remains in the body, developing deeper and deeper roots – affecting one’s way of seeing life and dealing with life. We try our very hardest to get out of a state of suffering immediately, because we associate that “bad feeling” with weakness and inefficiency. So we tranquilize our  pain, we numb it, we escape it -we do everything to avoid feeling it.

But that feeling wants and needs to be felt, and will have its way with you one way or another. Either it slowly poisons you until your soul eventually dies, or it comes out with ten times the force and trauma later on, when some future event triggers you and rips open the wound.

I’ve had to learn how to be with that uncomfortable feeling of pain and honor my feelings instead of resisting them. It’s been challenging to say the least. It feels like I’m stuck in the same place, having the same questions and inner dialogue. In those moments I feel fed up and angry with myself that I have to repeat the same episode of crying and confusion, like it’s some twisted version of Groundhog Day. Sometimes I force myself to stop the feeling and return to acting strong and capable. Sometimes, I give myself permission to just be present with what stirs up, and be gentle with myself. The former is the hardest to do. Often, I psycho-analyse the heck out of my feelings and have a hard time deciphering if it’s the situation that is stirring up the pain, or other deep-rooted childhood stuff.

I’m starting to understand and appreciate that situations, such as breakups, loss, etc – can act like catalysts. The pain felt is one part fresh from the experience and the other parts are from old wounds that were never fully healed. Painful as they may be, they are opportunities in disguise, that give you the chance to rewrite the stories we attach to past events that ultimately shape our perception of reality.  When I see suffering in such a light, I understand that it is not a state of “good” or “bad” – it just is. It is part of being alive, of being human and part of the beauty of the experience of life.

Photo credit: Simon Pais

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Written by Amy C
Amy Chan is the Founder of Renew Breakup Bootcamp, a retreat that takes a scientific and spiritual approach to healing the heart. Marie Claire calls her "A relationship expert whose work is like that of a scientific Carrie Bradshaw" and her company has been featured across national media including Good Morning America, Vogue, Glamour, Nightline along with the front page of The New York Times. Her book, Breakup Bootcamp - The Science of Rewiring Your Heart, published by Harper Collins, will be released Fall 2020. Profile

15 Replies to “Processing Pain”

  1. Dear Amy,
    Sometimes, a lot of the emotional pain and depression is not due to external circumstances but serious psychological chemical imbalances. I’m not suggesting you see a doctor because I do not know your situation very well, but i can tell you from experience that a trained therapist can help you cope with life’s difficulties. I myself have experienced emotional trauma which slowly ate my desire to enjoy life. By talking honestly and opening up to someone i trust, i felt my emotional body heal itself along with partaking in some anger release modalities. I also started taking 5htp (you can order them on Puritan.com) which is a natural remedy to boost serotonin and it has made a world of a difference. I take it everyday and find myself feeling less anxious and more hopeful. I never like to band aide a problem by taking supplements or drugs, but if it helps get through the day, why not?

  2. Hello Amy,

    Thank you for being so honest with your feelings. Your stories often have me bawling my eyes out…because your pain is so palpable. So many of us can relate to what you’re going through and we sympathize.

    I know that a lot of the time, people avoid dealing with pain by using addictive substances or becoming involved in destructive behaviours. What I have discovered in my own pain is that we HAVE to go through that process. Even if we can’t do it alone, we are surrounded by loving and supportive friends and family. Therapy can also be very helpful. However, it is best to start dealing with it as soon as possible so that the healing process can begin. We can choose to bury or mask our pain now, but it will catch up with us later.

    Sometimes we can’t believe that the person we loved and gave so much to could turn out to be so cruel, destructive and manipulative. The silver lining is that now we know (not that this realization makes us feel any better). You often ask yourself why or how you didn’t see who they truly are. But I know that when you’re in the situation, you can’t see the forest for the trees (as the saying goes). Deceitful people also know how to hide their deeds very well.

    But I know that because of what I went through, I am a stronger, more aware and more appreciative person. I have built better relationships with friends and family and am very grateful for that. I am also grateful for the rediscovery of myself…which I had lost along the way. I know that I am definitely better off not having such a destructive force in my life. Sometimes what we hold so dear to us is detrimental to us in the long run, and is actually blocking our blessings and causing us not to see or reach our true potential. We are often blinded by the false picture THEY have painted.

    Things can only get better my dear, and I trust that you know many of us are rooting for you. We love your articles and wish you many wonderful blessings and much success in whatever you do.

  3. How do you go about processing those pains??
    I just found out that my boyfriend has been deceiving me for about a year now. Due to circumstances we have a long distance relationship. He lives in Utah and I had to move to So. California to help my mother out due to her health problems, after having lived together for 6 years.
    I then found out I had breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy 15 months ago, with all the chemo treatments and health problems that go along with that. During those times he was supportive (long distance) and helped me out quite a lot paying my bills through access he had to my checking accounts. So I naturally thought that he still loved me as I did him. However…………
    I should have seen it coming but I was blind and deaf to the changes in him over the months. I am the main account holder thru our aol accounts and two weeks ago, because of a lot of suspiscions, I changed his password and accessed his email account. It opened my eyes to all the going ons AND found out that he had been actively pursuing some other women.
    When I approached him about it, and some scathing emails, he remained dead quiet and would not respond at all.
    So where do I go from here???? Yes, I stupidly still care for him, why don’t ask, perhaps because of the kindness I know that can be in him
    Help please, I am at my wits end.
    Thank you

  4. Hi Barb,

    Thank you for sharing your story. It seems like you’ve really been through a lot of challenges in the last while. You have managed to make it through one of the hardest things in life – tending and caring for a sick family member and you’ve also conquered your own health issues too. I hope you pat yourself on the back for that – it takes incredible strength and resilience to continue standing after such an experience.

    I’m sorry to hear that you’ve discovered that your partner has betrayed your trust. I know much it shakes your reality and makes you question everything in life when the person you trusted so much and loved with all your heart betrays you. It’s an awful feeling. It is completely normal to still care for him and love him – because love doesn’t just disappear because someone did something that hurt your feelings.

    His response of stonewalling (going dead silent and not dealing with it), is unfortunately, a response that many take when they do not know how to process their emotion. Hopefully, since some time has passed, you two can have a conversation as rational adults. Accusing, blaming, screaming never works for anyone – it’s really an attempt to release the anger and pain, which ultimately, doesn’t really work at the end.

    I hope you two can talk and discover what happened and why. It would be a good opportunity for the both of you to express your feelings. Having compassion for the person who hurt you is extremely difficult – I have really struggled with that myself – but it only helps you and your healing. Sometimes, these situations can help a couple grow. It forces both people to get real and honest with their feelings, struggles and think about their actions, wants and needs instead of going on cruise control. Sometimes, these things are a wake up call.

    But sometimes, the damage is so deep that it’s irreparable. And if that is the case, my advice to you is to allow yourself to feel every emotion that comes up. The pain, the sadness, the anger, the hope for the future, the darkness and the light. Don’t wallow in it, but don’t shut it out. Do things for you and start nurturing yourself fully. Be around community – this is extremely important, because the instinct we have in distress is often to isolate ourselves, which only furthers the sadness and disconnection.

    And just know, you are strong and resilient. You’ve been through a lot and have managed to keep standing…you’ll be able to get through this too. As much as it hurts, it’s a learning and growing experience for you. It’s been almost a year since my breakup and one of the hardest experiences I’ve endured in my life – and I look at myself today, and it’s as if I’m looking at a new person. I’ve learned so much about what is important in life, my values and who I want to surround myself with. I know that in order to attract a healthy love in my life, I myself, must be healthy. And I’m getting there and that gives me hope.

    Sending you light and love.


  5. Amy,

    I found your blog at a very interesting time in my life. I found it the day that I broke up with my boyfriend of five years, after finding out many things that had been hidden from me over the years. Reading your posts gave me the strength I needed to finally end it. I always thought that if things ever ended with us, I wouldn’t be able to function and would never be able to move on and be happy again. Now, about a month later, I feel stronger than I have in a long time. I have found strength to process the pain in many unusual places, one of them being this blog. It has been a huge help to me find other people who can relate to me right now, as well as reading many, many articles/blogs about relationships and break ups. This helped me realize how very unhealthy the relationship was all along; it’s true what they say about hindsight being 20/20. I hope to continue to gain more strength and happiness as the days go by but what I really want to say to you is thank you. I appreciate you openly sharing your struggles more than you know. I hope that you are able to take some solace in knowing that you are helping others, and I know that your heart will heal as time goes on. Some day you will look back on this experience and understand exactly why it happened. Again, thank you.


  6. Wow, A – thank you for such a heartfelt message. Sometimes I ask myself before publishing something if I’m letting the world know too much, and it’s frightening, because being open means to be vulnerable. But I write because there are readers just like you. And if I can help just one person feel a little less alone in their experience and emotions and feel a little inspired, then to me, that is success.

    Readers like you are what keep me going. So, thank you…

  7. Dear Amy –

    You really are Fabulous! Thank you so much for sharing yourself with your words. I’m going through some things right now, and your words definitely help.

    Thank you!

    Another Amy

  8. I commend you for the risks you take in your writing. But sometimes, a one-liner can get the message across. Here’s one of my favorites.

    “the first step to living the life you want, is leaving the life you don’t want”

    (source unknow ~ somewhere on the inner net)

  9. really great article. very true in so many ways. heart break is they hardest things I have ever gone through but dealing with the pain and sitting with the feeling is better than ignoring it. It’ll get you eventually.

  10. I dont know, it has been 4yrs, and living in another state, and yet I still experience the anger, the betrayal, and wonder why it still hurts. My relationship of 28 yrs married and 5 years of dating equalling 35 years together still hits a pit in my stomach when I realize that I still hurt.I don’ know if a small part of me will ever move on , and be able to leave him completely behind. The divorce has been in process for almost four years. I just hope that when all is said and done, this little part of me will get past it. The hard part the relationship of all those years, still feels like I’ve cut a body part, considered him family a like to your sister, etc; who was always suppose to be there? tough to get past that in it self.

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