More...

Imagine a box.

It’s sturdy and strong, just like it should be.

Imagine that your relationship was like that box.

Sturdy and strong, and bright with hope.

You’re both giving 100% of yourselves, working in sync to make it great.

For a while, you’re really, really happy.

Nothing can go wrong.

Till it does.


It starts small.

A little thing here, another little thing there.

You realize that something isn’t quite right, and you try to solve it by ramping up your 100% to 150%.

But the problem starts growing bigger.

And bigger.

Till it fills that box.

And somehow, you find yourself pushed all the way out.

You try to get back in, but there’s no space for you in the box while the problem exists.

And that’s how I found myself, on the outside looking in.

But that’s exactly what you realize you have to do, because when you push on to 200%, you’re just left deflating on the floor.

So slowly.. painfully.. you face the reality of it.

The reality where plans which once held so much happiness and joy are gone.

The reality where someone you hoped would walk side by side with you into the unknown is no longer there.

Loss can do certain things to the soul.

The worst times are at night, when you’re alone with your thoughts.

It starts with numbness, followed by disbelief.

Then comes the crushing pain.

Red hot, it curls around your entire being till it settles right around your heart, tight and heavy at the same time.

It’s a strange feeling when it hurts to even breathe.

Morning finds you waking up to a very scary and lonely world, and you wish you could hide away forever with your little ball of pain.

But life stubbornly decides to still move on.

It’s funny how everyone goes through breakups and knows exactly how painful they were, but yet can be surprisingly dismissive when it came to someone else’s.

“It’s not about meeting anyone!” I wanted to yell back.

What I really needed at that time was for friends to just listen, and not try to fix me.

Most of all, I needed them to not say “let me know if you need anything”, even though I knew it was well intended.

I did need anything and everything, I really did.

But when making it through each day takes up every bit of energy you have, sometimes even dialling a number becomes too much.

And because I was feeling so vulnerable, I couldn’t stand the guilt of being a burden to anyone, so reaching out for help was just.. hard.

I guess that’s how I ended up listening to a lot of sad songs alone, including an embarrassing amount of Adele and Taylor Swift.

If I could give any advice to my past broken-hearted self now, it would be to do away with the sad songs.

They kinda make you go from this:

To this:

After one particular devastating breakup with an ex I shall call Ben, I was doing a lot of crying myself raw, missing meals and torturing myself with replays of memories long gone.

There came a point where I realized I had to get some sort of a grip.

It was either that or slowly starve to death on my bed, and I really didn’t want “Heartbroken Sad Sod” engraved on my tombstone.

So I forced myself to squash my little ball of pain down and opened the door to get some takeout.

However, going outside seemed to also have its challenges.

It feels like you’ve completely made no progress at all when you pass by something that remotely reminds you of your ex.

It hits you like a tidal wave, and you’re suddenly overloaded with so many feelings that you just need to stop for a second and breathe.

It was an unassuming spot by a pond that triggered my memory-induced sad spell.

During a bad storm some months ago, Ben had lovingly sheltered me with his umbrella right there. I remembered how cold everything was, the warmth of his arms and how safe I felt, and it really really hurt that he would no longer be there to do it anymore.

I was struggling to reel all my emotions back in when I noticed an older gentleman sitting nearby. He was dressed casually and was taking pellets from a packet to feed to some fish in the pond.

Every time he tossed food into the water, he would smile.

Seeing him there, quietly getting joy from such a simple act, made me realise that he would be associating this place with happiness, not pain.

Here was someone who was just sitting there, with no clue how others felt about the place, giving out all these happy, contented vibes.

Suddenly I didn’t feel so bad anymore. Suddenly all my emotions kind of just gave way to a sense of curious awareness.

Because, when you put it into perspective, a place is just a place really.

What it means to people is entirely within their heads.

Which is a good thing, because at that time that meant that I could also change the memories to something that wouldn’t make me so sad anymore.

How?

By making new ones.


After that realization, it became startlingly clear to me that I needed to go do something for myself.

Something to make me feel more in control, more ready to face life head on.

I really liked to scuba dive, and was certified for the sport a few years ago. I thought it was a good opportunity to take the Advanced course, and see some aquatic wildlife again.

So I booked a trip to Bali and two weeks later found myself on a very rocky boat headed to a little island off the coast, idly wondering how many times I’d bumped my head in the last 10 minutes.

My little ball of pain still lingered like a dull ache in my chest, but for the first time since the breakup, I was genuinely excited.

Jumping into the ocean felt completely surreal, even more so when, quite unexpectedly, I spotted my first turtle.

It was just sitting there, as chill as fuck and so stupidly pleased with everything.

That turtle made me giggle, which, considering that I was 100 feet underwater, was a bit of a feat, but I achieved it nonetheless.

It was at this point where it hit me.

I wasn’t thinking of Ben.

I wasn’t in pain.

I was just laughing at a turtle whose personality I had totally made up in my head.

That was it. This moment.

This moment was completely mine. And from this moment, I could make more moments mine and be completely in control of them.

The “Eureka!“ effect was overwhelming.

Excitedly, I tried to communicate this to the turtle, but somehow the message didn’t get across, and after a while I noticed that my diving instructors and the other students were looking at me strangely.

It was a rather awkward ride back to shore, but so incredibly worth it.

It was a rather awkward ride back to shore, but so incredibly worth it.

I hadn’t exactly realized it at that time, but what I was experiencing were the effects of self-love. Because I had done something for myself, and truly enjoyed doing it, I had given myself the rare gift of well, me.

I picture self-love as having a plushie version of yourself around.

A little worn, a little creepy, but definitely huggable.

The more you take care of it, the more lovable you make it.

Sooner or later, you will discover, in astonishment, that your heart has gotten a lot lighter, and the coils of pain that once gripped it have long fallen away.

And just like the turtle, you find yourself being free again.

So for right now, it’s fine if you’re not where you want to be just yet.

Heck, with my latest heartbreak so fresh in my mind, I’M not where I want to be just yet either.

But as long as you keep loving the heck out of that plush doll, as cheesy as it sounds, there is going to be hope.

And with that self-awareness, kinda like climbing out of an apocalyptic sea war with your turtle companions, you will be able to find the courage to look determinedly into the future and say to yourself:

“I’m not OK right now, but I will be.”


P.S. EXCLUSIVE BONUS!

Download my FREE Step by Step Checklist on How to Immediately Heal Your Broken Heart Like a Mofo, based off my comic, + other Freebies!

Just click below to download!

About the Author

Hi, I'm Cherlyn. I'm a grief coach and I help people get through painful breakups and divorces through comics. All about self-love and letting go.

  • Mihika Jindal

    Hi Cheryl. I tried downloading the bonus pack primarily to be able to write to you on the mail but was unable to. Tried to take the 30-day healing course too and that lead me to en error page too.
    Ummm… my heart-ache is slightly off. I have been in love with this guy for more than a decade now. And this period includes us being real good friends, then dating for 20 months, him cheating on me, a real ugly break-up, being absolutely out of touch for abut four-years, then getting back in touch and hitting off like nothing went wrong. I love him to bits and can take the world for him and he loves me back. More than he has ever loved anything, he claims. The problem is that he doesn’t want to commit to be with me for real. On the other hand, my parents are desperate to get me married (I am a 26, soon turning 27 year old INDIAN and they get crazy by this time here) and in this entire feat, I got engaged to a guy last year in May and called it off in October – some bit because we had major compatibility issues, and some bit that I end up wanting this guy I love in everyone and fail everytime. So I am not really miserable, as I was after we broke up, (that was suicidal) but its a roadblock for me. And I have an eternal hope that things will work out for us.
    I was wondering if you’d have some advice to offer.

    PS – there are multiple other layers to the story (I am all set to write a memoir). It’d be great to connect with you.
    PPS – YOU ARE AWESOME. THAT COMIC WAS FANTASTIC

    • Hey Mihika, I’m sorry, to be able to get the bonus pack or purchase my healing course, you will need to have javascript enabled. If you would like to email me here: hihappyness@gmail.com, we can get that settled.

      Unfortunately, this man will cheat on you again. See, if he really wanted to be with you, he would have married you by now, after knowing you for so long. The thing is, and this will be very painful to read: He doesn’t want to commit to you because he wants to sleep with other people.

      And you will continue being a pain over this man who can’t see how wonderful you are.

      If you would like more detailed advice, you can purchase a consultation session with me, and again, you can email me here: hihappyness@gmail.com

  • Rima

    Funny how I just found out about this site thru Designtaxi, just in time I finally made up my mind to go separate ways with my husband.. I know he’s been keeping secrets eversince we had our first child and since we got married he still keeps cheating on me. Though I never have evidence but it shows through his body language and the way he reacts violently if every time I accuse him of cheating, it’s just so obvious why he’s so defensive coz I know he’s gulity. Well why do i know, coz before we had a relationship with each other a long time ago, he also cheated on his exgirlfriend, and he’s also doing the same violent reaction/ too defensive behavior..So as the saying goes ‘once a cheater, always a cheater’..So now I think I’ve made the right decision.. I’m glad I’ve found your site , really need these theraphy 😉

    • Hi Rima, so sorry to reply so late! That was an amazingly brave thing you did. It’s so hard to leave, and live with such a betrayal.

      I do go into a lot more about cheating and the reasons why people cheat in my course and my coaching, so if you do ever need it, feel free to enquire. =) My email is hihappyness@gmail.com. =)

  • Thank you for this. It has been a year since I lost someone very dear to me and I’m still struggling. I’ve gone through some pretty bad and hard and horrible things in my life, from war to jail, and had difficult breakups before of course. This – losing her – is by far the worst, without a doubt. She was such an angel in every way and I’m still reminded of her dozens of times a day, like some lovesick sap that’s never seen a girl before. 🙂

    Anyway, very cute and touching cartoon, loved it and shared it.

  • Aaron

    This is such a beautiful comic strip. It helped me a lot and i’m sure it will help many more broken people out there. Thank you Cherlyn for sharing your journey of self discovery to the world =D Cheers.

    • No problem Aaron! I am very glad it helped you! If you like, there is a FREE course on healing a heartbreak, but only for mailing listees. So if you would like to sign up, just let me know!

    • CLoy

      It’s been forever. I keep thinking I’ve healed and then a song or a smile or a laugh will remind me of him and what we used to have, what we could have now. Does the pain ever go away completely?

      • When you find an even better relationship with someone else, you will know exactly why your relationship had to end.

        And I find that most of the time, people hang on to the past because they are in disbelief that they will ever find someone that special again. To tell you the truth, the only way to get past that is to work on yourself. Get spiritual. Get whole. Get happy. Learn your life lessons and learn to let go.

        And after that, learn from the experts. Here’s link to my favorite dating coach: Evan Marc Katz at https://www.stepstohappyness.com/evanmarckatz

        Hopefully he will be able to help you as much as he has been able to help thousands of other women find love. His advice has personally helped my own clients find love, I know, because they told me. =)

  • MaX

    Inspirational. Charming. I can’t find the right word.

    Life is a one way path. And when that path go through the caverns of heartbreak (which are dark, deep and painful) we may think that there is no hope for us. The rest of our path is going to be that painful forever. We get engulfed by sadness.

    This comic is about keep moving on that situations. A realistic approach of the deep heart pain and how to, step by step, look for the lost inner peace knowing that we will find it. We still don’t know when or how, but we are going to find it. We are going to be just fine!

    Thank you Cherlyn. Honestly.

    • Hey Max, no problem! And thank you very much! I hope you’ll be just fine. =)

  • MgCrOl

    this is the best example anyone can get about breakups, im still trying to move on, she wanted to be friends after 6 years of relationship, but having your ex as a friend and knowing that she has someone new after 2 months of breaking its just pure BS (sorry) , i am grateful that i found your website and the comic, i’ve been writing my story all over the internet trying to get all that pain and memories out of my system, hopefully i can become a stronger man and learn from this experience no matter how painful it is right now, THANK YOU

    • Hey, as a rule, DO NOT be friends with your ex after a breakup. The reason why she wanted to be friends is because she still wants all of your benefits without the responsibility, and to be honest, it’s more of a guilt thing.. you can still “have” her in your life, just not in the way you want.

      You need this time of space, peace and quiet, to work on you and pick up the pieces of your heart. I have a free mini-course on healing a heartbreak available on my site, let me know if you would like to join in!

      • mgcrol

        I would appreciate that mini course, my relationship was different from all others, but it was the best one I had, I was 23 she was 30, so u can imagine, I just don’t want to forget her and all the good things, she was the best woman in my life, and I didn’t do anything wrong to her, I just took a lot of time to move with her and that maybe pissued her off after 6 years but I had to finish my master degree, thank you for reading this. I appreciate it

  • Lakshmi Gopal

    Thank you.

    • No problem! And glad you liked it!

  • Vinita M

    Hi Cherlyn. I won’t go into the details of how and when and why the relationship I was in ended, because frankly I just don’t think that’s important anymore; all I want to do is say thank you. I was told by the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with that “I can’t choose you”. It’s been 5 months, and it’s been really tough.
    When you spoke about the dive, you say that you had a moment of realisation after spotting the chill af turtle, that that was probably the first time you were thinking of something other than Ben; and how awesome and liberating that was. I’m slowly starting to find those moments in my life, and even though not a day goes by when he doesn’t unceremoniously pop back into my head or in my dreams, I’m slowly becoming more and more fearless about making my own memories, and doing nice things just for myself.
    The reason I’m writing to you is, today was one of those bad days – a day when I replayed too many memories in my head, a day when i missed him, while conveniently forgetting the betrayal, a day when I wished I could turn back time and try and keep things the way they were. Reading your comic made me feel a whole lot better, and helped me get my mojo back. So, thank you very much.

  • Pingback: The Benevolent Fairy Godmother | chumii()

  • LilBlossom

    OMG. This hit home so hard. My soon to be ex husband is currently in the other room, sleeping on the couch. He’s openly dating a woman who I thought was a friend. He has started treating me like I’m worthless and stupid. I was trying so hard to fix what was wrong, but when it wasn’t anything about me that was wrong, there was no way of fixing it. I don’t often break down and cry, but this just had all the emotions that I’ve been shoving to the corner of my heart bubbling up.

    I’ve been going full steam ahead since May, to prove to myself, to him, to the world, that I am not stupid or worthless. And I’m hitting the wall tonight. I’m just so tired. So, so, tired. I want him gone, so I can heal. But he won’t move out until the divorce is over.

    And now, I need to pick up myself, and get the tears dried up, before I face the kids.

    • Hey there, I am so so sorry about the pain you are going through. No one should ever have to deal with this.

      I have a free, hilarious mini-course on healing a heartbreak that might help, over here: https://www.stepstohappyness.com/hbbminicourse

      Why don’t you join me, and please, hit “reply” to the first email and ask me any one question about what happened. I daresay that I might be able to help you feel a little better.

  • Joe

    Hi Cherlyn. Your personal story resonated with me due to it’s long distance nature, if I’m reading into it right? I spent a year getting to know a beautiful girl from Canada (I’m UK) through time we spent with online gaming. We became close but then for whatever reason she decided to give things another go with her much more local ex. Over a few months this destroyed me, I resorted to anti-depressants, counselling, and couldn’t continue with my college course.

    A couple months after that… She came back to me. We had still kept some very slight communication, ‘merry christmas’ and ‘happy birthday’ about sums it up. I think I had all but gotten over her, but wanted to be her friend–Guess I’d missed her. Within a month of hanging out online again however, it became apparent she had ditched the ex for good. A little more time passed and one night we just wound up confessing love for each other.
    I was much happier, we both were, we ‘made it official’ shortly after that event.

    Half a year goes by, making the best of our online relationship. We had one notable blip for a couple of weeks, all because some guy had asked her out at a social gathering and ‘she wanted to say yes’ but didn’t. The long distance was getting to her. She gave words to the effect of wanting to break up. Wanted a ‘normal relationship’. But after a week or two she concluded she was only feeling worse trying to cut me out her life. We patched things up, continued as we had been.
    I felt secure and happy enough with what we had, even after that, to arrange a 3-month visit to her–Simply put, she worked, I didn’t.

    The flight went ahead, she was a little ‘scared’ but the fact I was so sure we’d be fine meeting in person won her over. And I was right. Every day was wonderful, we got intimate quickly and it felt natural, ‘normal’ as she might say. When it was getting close for my time to leave, we even mutually agreed to get my return date changed – to stay another 3 months (The maximum you can stay as a visitor).

    Of course, eventually I still had to leave. The one thing that made me feel ok to walk away at the airport were her words ‘This is the first time of many’.– We would be together again, and me flying back to the UK was not a breakup. Everything was very positive in the outlook. She would get her passport and visit me for a week or two before the year was out…. That was only 3 months ago. Nothing during my stay made me think not to trust her words and her feelings.

    She did get her passport… But after about two months apart, she started to act more distant, not want to video call much, and so on. It became very apparent, and I had to weed it out of her that something was wrong. She said things like she hated the relationship, the distance. Said she wasn’t feeling the same as before or during my visit. This evolved into ‘I know the way to fix this is to make steps for you to come live here (canada) but I’m not ready to commit to that’. And then one time, and perhaps most painful to me ‘I don’t see myself with you forever–So this had to happen sooner or later.’– As if she had always seen this coming.

    And of course came other sentiments like she ‘hates her job’ and ‘isn’t happy with her life’. Suddenly I was no help or comfort. I was just making it worse for her. First she painted it as ‘wanting a break’ but I was unable to just stop communicating entirely. And supposedly because I wouldn’t stop ‘yelling at her’ she now wanted a full on breakup instead–Childishly placing blame on me for her quitter attitude, because after everything, I had a hard time giving her 100% no-talk space.

    She’s now blocked and ignored me for coming on a month. And I’ve only gotten worse as the deafening silence goes on. I guess sometimes I hope she will see that being rid of me doesn’t instantly make her life great again.
    I’ve wished for death several times in my fits of frustration, confusion, and upset. Yet I still love her, and only wish she had spoke up instead of internalising all this upset she obviously felt, until it wrecked what I thought was a very real and solid love. The reasons just don’t feel concrete. and even she admits that if I was still living with her, or was nearby, she wouldn’t be doing this.

    I remember her saying one time during my visit– “I might go a little crazy when you leave, and you’ll have to be my rock”. I have tried so hard to be just that. But I feel like nothing I do or say can reach her anymore. I can deal with her issues and bad patches, real love isn’t woohoo happy days 100%, I know this. I’ve told her I’m not sure I’d even give up unless she explicitly tells me to. I honestly think considering how hard she works and that I had to leave, she might be into a bout of depression, given the amount of times she kept telling me “I’m a wall of numbness lately”.

    Despite our ups and downs, I have loved her without a doubt, with all I had. I’m a guy that’s still finding my feet, living-wise, but she was an inspiration to start doing better…. And I had started… Just as all this shit hit the fan.

    This is a very long comment but I guess I had to try and draw out the unique circumstances somewhat. If anyone reads… Thanks for listening. This girl has been very special to me for nearly 3 whole years, and the thought of not hearing from her ever again… Or having to watch somebody else be with her. It is killing me off literally.

    • Hey Joe! Could you email me at cherlyn@stepstohappyness.com? I will answer your comment there personally, because I want you to keep that email! I daresay that I might be able to help you feel a little better.

      • Joe

        Sure. I had considered that given the novel-length comment, just wasn’t sure of the address.