: 23 October 2013

I’m Heartbroken, Here’s How I’m Surviving

My heart is broken.
One of the people that I love most in this world has cut off contact from me. And at times it feels as though I can barely breathe.

This person is my brother. Never in a million years would I have thought that something like this could happen to us. But it did. It is happening.

The interesting thing about my relationships with my brothers (I have three) is that there has never been much drama between us. I mean, we’ve had our normal sibling bickering and such, but nothing noteworthy. We rarely fight and we’ve always said “I love you” with ease. My care for them (and their’s for me) has been a given for as long as I can remember.

So how is it possible to go from that to this? How can you love someone so purely, only to have him exit your life in a flash?

These are the questions that make us shake our heads in utter disbelief. The answers just aren’t there.

And yet, it happens. I imagine it happens a lot. Relationships bottom-out and regardless of the love that exists, things fall apart.

In my discomfort, my mind desperately tries to find an answer to the equation that my heart tells me is impossible.

Where did I go so wrong?
How could I have done better?
Was I that horrible?
What details am I missing?

I think and think and think, but never fall upon an answer that brings me any peace.

In the worst of moments, my ego grabs ahold of the darkest explanation of all, “Because the problem is you, Shelly. Didn’t you know that you were so awful?” No one should have to stay in that territory too long. It’s just too damn dark.

Luckily, the larger part of me knows that this isn’t true. It’s just not.

Not about me. Not about you. Not about any of us. None of us is so awful that we are undeserving of love.

In my mind, this scenario isn’t about he said/she said or who’s right and wrong. Those are just stupid details that, when you get down to it, don’t mean a thing.

I’m not saying that as people, we should discount the ways we hurt one another, or be in denial about how our actions impact our relationships. For a relationship to be functional, both people have to take responsibility for how they affect one other. It won’t work any other way.

But I also believe that at a point, none of that really matters. It just doesn’t. All that matters is the love.

That’s it. Just the love.

My life is centered around learning how to evolve as a human being. I believe that relationships launch us into becoming fuller, more-loving people. While I don’t know why this particular scenario is happening the way that it is, I know that it is happening, and that means there is a lesson in there for me.

The lesson is always about love.

How can I continue to love, even though I feel so hurt?
How can I continue to love, even though I feel so angry?
How do I set boundaries that are appropriate and self-loving?
How do I feel my feelings, without be overtaken by them?
How do I continue to believe in love, even though it’s hard to feel it in this moment?

The answers to these questions are the edges of growth that I am pushing as we speak. And let me tell you, I am growing.

The unfortunate thing about growth is that it rarely happens unless you’re really compelled to do it. What I mean is, unless s#*t hits the fan, you’ll continue to sit pretty. But as soon as things get so bad that you can’t ignore them anymore, suddenly you have no other choice but to dig deep and rise to the occasion. In this way, crisis becomes both a blessing and a curse.

When it comes to relationships, here’s what I know for certain: They’re complex. We are complex. Love has a shadow side, and for anyone who has loved deeply, you know that it’s not pretty.

But I also know this: When we’re talking about real love–the love we feel for the people we care the most about, the big L love, the unconditional kind–it cannot be destroyed.

Oh yes, it’s true that it may not be felt in a particular moment. It may be covered-up, or buried, or distant, or unreachable.

But it never, ever dies.

The love I have for my brother is that kind of love. And I know, deep down, that he feels that type of love for me, too. My heart tells me it’s true. It is in this truth that I find peace.

I have been heartbroken more than once, and I can guarantee that it will happen again. If I allow myself to feel love so deeply (for lovers, family, and life), part of the package is experiencing love fall apart. This is the human condition! The key is knowing that unconditional love can weather any storm.

If you have loved and lost, I encourage you to keep reaching deeper into yourself to discover the truth about love. Rise to the occasion. Recognize the love within you is unstoppable. Know that it is a force that withstands all.

Please leave a comment below telling us about the lessons you have learned from love from loss. Thank you.


  1. Kristi on October 24, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Thank you for opening your heart and writing out from your soul. I am sorry you are hurting right now! Here’s a big hug from South Carolina today. (((love)))
    I hope that on the other side of this valley there is a season of joy and comfort for you and your brother. Remind yourself of something I read once from a good author (it was you!): after a bad break, remember that the other person is hurting as much as you, even if it doesn’t seem that way.

    Something I love about life and love is that there is always, always, always a new moment, a new day, and hope for something good. I hope you find that through your writing and everything else – even new things – that can bring you joy and peace.

    • Shelly Bullard on November 9, 2013 at 1:59 am

      Ah, thank you for the reminder that I said that! ;)So much love to you. XO

    • rich on November 13, 2013 at 8:38 pm

      Wow..so sorry..it’s hard to imagine why u 2 aren’t talking being the person u seem to be. God Bless u for sharing…

      • Shelly Bullard on November 13, 2013 at 9:26 pm

        Ah, well, Rich, thank you. Im a human being like the rest of us–flawed and imperfect in many ways. 🙂

  2. Vane on October 24, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Your brother is blessed to have you as a sister, and just as you know it is undying love, he knows it too. This was a very self-less thing to do, and in this emotional mess you might be feeling, its beautiful to see how you can take a step back, look at the pieces, and one by one, put them together. I’ve learned that heartache can bring a full on physical type of pain..you cant eat, or you over eat, you cant breathe, you cant sleep..your body hurts…it’s horrible…but the gain from the pain is something rather amazing. From ashes comes beauty, and when you rise up and pick your litto heart back up, you’re able to find such peace and those growing pains do us well. We hurt, we learn, we conquer. Press on Shelly baby, you’ll make it, you always do :).

    • Shelly Bullard on November 9, 2013 at 1:58 am

      I know, pain brings with it the most beautiful gifts. It’s unbelievable how that happens. Thank you for the message, Vane.

  3. Rachel on October 24, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Thank you for opening up your heart and soul and sharing it with all of us. I appreciate that you are willing to put yourself out there because it reminds me that I am not alone and that we all experience these feelings in our lives. You have a beautiful soul and a passionate heart that allows for you to overcome what is currently happening between you and your brother. Hopefully the time will come when he too realizes the foolishness of this situation and embraces his sister once again. Life is too short and often we allow ourselves to get caught up in our selfish emotional state and make decisions that later we regret. Keep that positive outlook and you will empower yourself and prevail!

    • Shelly Bullard on November 9, 2013 at 1:57 am

      Thank you, Rachel.

  4. Mara on October 24, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Beautiful post Shelly. Wiping tears from my cheeks. Thank you for posting.

    • Shelly Bullard on November 9, 2013 at 1:57 am

      Thank you Mara. Xo

  5. Bradley on October 24, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Let it break and let it die! From death comes life and until it breaks both of you can never taste freedom.As in many relationships goodbye is a blessing and never look back or the weights you have released will come back heavier.Its the universe’s time to fill the void in both of your hearts with understanding! Now let it do what it must do and accept its blessings…

  6. Jennifer on October 24, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Thank you for choosing to be vulnerable and share this with us! It can be a very difficult thing to bring up all those thoughts and feelings again to share. Heartbreaks are difficult, but I’ve felt there’s always something uniquely intense about it when it’s an immediate family member. Fortunately, the universe does have a plan for it and things will heal in time when it is ready.
    Sending much love your way! <3

  7. Cristina on October 24, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Hello Shelly! First of all I want thank you so much for sharing your feelings with us. I got this email when I needed most. You have no idea how much I need to know that I’m not alone in that deep scary heartbroken land. Yesterday I learned that my love just wasn’t enough. And He vanished because he met somebody else. And That hurts, a lot. I have all those same questions that you made yourself. And I truly want still believe in love. That have been my first true love after 7 years. Took me 7 years to let somebody in my life and in my heart. Your blog helped me open up and now with this I know you will also help me get through this and still believe in love.Thank you

    • Shelly Bullard on November 9, 2013 at 1:57 am

      I’m so glad that it spoke to you when you needed it. XO

  8. C.E. on October 24, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Thank you Shelly for being so honest and talking to us about this. I agree with this big truth that you wrote: “The lesson is always about love. This lesson is too”. I would just say to you and to all that have lost (for some time or for good) someone loved: that I have been there, in that place where you think that things will never, ever be ok again; and that, for my surprise, life has showed me that things DO BECOME OK AGAIN, against all odds.And one more thing, and this is something that R. Warren once wrote about, and that has always seemed to be true in my life, and it is that your most meaningful service to others in this life, will come from your deepest wounds; so these, the darkest hours, the most difficult sorrows, can also become the deepest and more genuine sources of true wisdom; the kind of wisdom that we wouldn’t get in any other way… the kind of compassionate heart that we wouldn’t be able to have if it had never been softened by pain. I totally believe that these situations are there not to destroy us, but to take us deeper into our own humanity, and therefore, deeper into the heart of all humanity; how can we give others strenght if we don’t know what it is like to feel completely broken and to stand up again in spite of everything? how can we be there, really there, for someone who is facing a tragedy, if we have never felt just as vulnerable and small as they are in their moment of need?… what you are going through, Shelly, can and will serve a purpuse that is bigger than your own life, it can become later a blessing for all the other lives that you impact through your kindness and through your work… believe it and may that faith comfort your heart. Big hugs from El Salvador, Central America.

    • Shelly Bullard on November 9, 2013 at 1:56 am

      Thank you.

  9. Heather on October 24, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    I can really relate to this. My brother cut me, and subsequently my children, out of his life around the holidays last year. It hurts. A lot. My heart breaks for my children too as they have lost an uncle and an aunt in his wife. He told me I should know what I did and that he wouldn’t tell me what it was. I have no idea what it could be. I do not look forward to the holidays this year. But I still love him, pray for him, hand out his business cards, text him, etc.
    I know this pain well, and I’m sorry that you have to experience it too. Thank you for being vulnerable.

  10. Ana on October 24, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    That was beautiful! Thank You! Love and good vibe from Mexico City!

  11. Lucie on October 24, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Oh Shelly, my heart goes out to you. Thank you for sharing what you’re experiencing – not only do I admire, tremendously, the way you’re moving through this, but it’s as if you wrote this for me too. A few months ago I went through a messy, shocking separation and during that time, found my way to your writing – diving into your posts has been invaluable for me and turned what could have been solely a disaster into a life-changing, heart-opening (but still deeply sad) experience… It’s so, so true that we’ll sit pretty unless the sh*t hits the fan – I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry about that! You’ve helped teach me how to keep my heart open during a time that the old me would have put it on lock down; in fact, I’ve never believed more in unconditional love than I do now. Sending love to you! Lucie x

  12. Ruby on October 24, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    Hi Shelly: Thanks for this article. Much was written here by you and your readers regarding love and loss. Recently, I had an unexpected love affair develop between me and my teacher. We are both helicopter pilots. It ended before it began, really – then he got really mean with me for no apparent reason, and told me “he wanted no futher contact with me.” I read your article just in time, as I refused to despair. I did not call him or bug him or try to continue the relationship in any way, i Just accepted he was in a different place – and I allowed myself the solace to believe that our love was real, and for sure, and that my individual outgoing love for him was real, helped me to release the anquish and just be happy for the love we share(d), whether or not he ever speaks to me again or if he comes back to me. The development of our love was a profound event, and makes all other love relationships in my life seem like the light of a single candle compared to a raging bonfire. I am okay now knowing that our love does exist, just outside space and time and the usual validations of a mutual home, a marriage certificate, mutual friends, etc., and that I wil raise myself higher by holding and unconditional love for him always, no matter what he does or where he goes. My challenge has been to not remain preoccupied with this man as he is doing nothing to build me up, therefore I limit my thoughts to 15 minutes of prayer per day for him and just let myself feel love without thinking about him all the time. For awhile, it was surely like an addiction because I was sad and thinking about the loss part too much; but I worked to change that and I live with him beside me but not hurting me. I hope this makes sense. Thanks so much for all your writing. Love, – Ruby xo

    • Shelly Bullard on November 9, 2013 at 1:55 am

      Thank you for sharing, Ruby. Xo

  13. Deidra on October 24, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    Thank you Shelly. I truly believe that when you speak about your issues your heart feels a little lighter, because you have come to acceptance that there is an issue.I’ve been dealing with some heartbreak as well. I truly think I love this guy because I haven’t felt like this about anyone for a while. We got into a huge fight and really haven’t spoken since. Part of me wants to just move on, but my heart stills feels for him, and your right when you said that when it all comes down to it, the argument doesn’t even matter, I just miss my friend. Thank you again.

    • Shelly Bullard on November 9, 2013 at 1:56 am

      I agree. It is healing to share our truth and suffering. We are in this together. XO

  14. Jon on October 25, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Shelly,Thank you for your beautiful heartfelt words and true vulnerability. I’m sorry for your loss. I’m a recent ‘graduate’ of some EFT work and have embraced the power of vulnerability you so eloquently express in all/most of your writing that I’m grateful to read on a regular basis. Stay the course and know that we’re here for you. — JON

    • Shelly Bullard on November 9, 2013 at 1:54 am

      Thank you so much, Jon. That means a ton!

  15. Glen Smith on October 26, 2013 at 7:14 am

    Shelly,For the most part of my life from 7-14 years my two older brothers never spoke to me for months and years at a time. It was better until I got married at around 30 and they have barely spoken to me in the past 20 years. I have always had intense vulnerability around friendships and found it difficult to make new friends in real life although somewhat easily online.

    The question of how to love when I feel hurt and how to love when I feel rejected is not intuitive but let me take you on a journey. When on an airplane, they demonstrate an oxygen mask dropping from the ceiling and saying that you must give yourself oxygen first, before assisting others. If you don’t then you will surely pass out and help no one. Self compassion is like this. Give yourself compassion, before others.

    I had to learn to give myself ALL of the self compassion and more that I needed first. Then when I healed I have found that I now have an ENDLESS supply of compassion for others that I know will never run out and can be given freely.
    Self Compassion and Self Acceptance are mindfulness techniques that I use. I place my hands over my heart and say this prayer

    “This is a moment of suffering
    And suffering is a part of life experienced by all of humanity
    May I be kind to myself in this moment
    Give myself the compassion that i need
    Let me stay in the moment and accept all parts of me
    Dissolving the illusion of dividedness”

    When I feel the feelings I let them burn and accept them. It tempers my soul. Please try it out – I hope it helps ^^

  16. Freda on October 26, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Shelley. Your courage to share is so noble of you. Your unconditional love for your brother, shows much respect and an inner peace that you can deal with, day by day. Unconditional love is an innate human quality which I feel never ever leaves our conscious souls. It is this innate quality that enables us to forgive and continue loving. (We just need time to heal) For if we didn’t possess this quality, we’d never, ever love again and be recipients of a life filled with misery, depression and sadness and just an empty vessel wasting life away. You’re better than that and are deserving of much love, forever in your life, regardless. I know you love your brother because you share the same DNA. Keep your light of love on and he will return……xo

    • Shelly Bullard on November 9, 2013 at 1:54 am

      Thank you, Freda. XO

  17. Anna on October 27, 2013 at 5:10 am

    My goodness, I feel so blessed to have stumbled upon your post and website. I too have 3 brothers and we were all close growing up. The one I was closest to, stopped talking to the rest of the family, including me, 8 years ago. Without explanation, and with anger and doing what his wife wanted him to do. And not long after my partner at the time had suicided. I was so ashamed that I had done something wrong, and the message from my family was to “shut up and get on with it”, that I am only dealing with the hurt now. So, I empathise with what you are experiencing and you have such lovely awareness and wisdom to support you through it. And yes, when we love so deeply, it certainly hurts. And transforms.

    • Shelly Bullard on November 9, 2013 at 1:53 am

      Thank you so mud for sharing, Anna.

  18. Leo on October 31, 2013 at 5:38 am

    HI Shelly,
    Thank you for your courage and sharing your journey through this. I myself have been stuck in a quandary with my own sibling, in complete confusion. Its like the worst break up ever!! more than any romantic relationship. It sure does hurt. But with siblings there is hope and you are right – unconditional love. <3

    But…. maybe the situation is a building time inbetween… thats what im hoping. that its growing pains, and that we need to update our relationships, reset boundaries, re-establish new ways of being with each other without all our childhood notions mixed up in there. Maybe if both siblings knew it could be easier.

    thank you so much for sharing, you're not alone, and i now know im not either.

    Lots of love to you and your brother.

    • Shelly Bullard on November 1, 2013 at 2:16 am

      Thank you. <3

    • Shelly Bullard on November 9, 2013 at 1:51 am

      Thank you so much Leo. I agree with you.

  19. akshara on November 7, 2013 at 12:38 am

    I am heart broken too. I just let go of my love and I cant explain what I am going through now. Thank you so much Shelly your blog is quite inspiring even with all that pain you still love your brother.I have just one question is it possible that you love someone so immensely and the other person doesn’t feel it?? I always believed that u will feel something for a person only if that person feels the same for you am I wrong??

    • Shelly Bullard on November 9, 2013 at 1:47 am

      People have different capacities to feel into their love. That’s the best answer I’ve got. It’s important to remember if you don’t feel his love, it’s not because the love didn’t exist. Remember that.

Before you dive any deeper...

Hi, I’m Shelly!

I’m a relationship coach, licensed marriage & family therapist, wife, girl mom, world traveler and… a damn good manifesting teacher.

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