She sat on a chair in my kitchen while I made brownies, and told me the story of him. Of how they’d fallen in love six years ago, of how he’d walked out on her the week before.
“I was a mess,” she said. “Crying on the floor, begging him not to go.”
“Don’t you think twice about it,” I said. “Heartbreak makes you crazy.”
And I told her about 12 years ago, when my first serious boyfriend told me it was over and I lost my mind. I cried and begged. I screamed and slammed down the phone. I called his mother and drove to his apartment and showed up at his college classes, waiting for him outside. I drove him further and further away and by the end it was all ruined and I was humiliated and exhausted from all the crazy.
And then, two years later, when I’d moved on and recovered my mind, I lost it all over again. I left England with a broken heart. I cried for eight hours on an airplane, and I told the flight attendant I was having a panic attack. And when I got back to North Carolina, I swung like a pendulum, back and forth on the spectrum of sanity. From moments of complete clarity and declarations of Moving On and Waiting for Him to Come Around to midnight phone calls and crazy emails and jogging around the park while sobbing like a maniac. I must’ve had a reputation in my neighbourhood.
“Watch out for that crying girl. She’s a bit of a loose cannon.”
In the midst of it, you scream and cry. You lose the ability to make decisions. You act like a fool, and you know the whole time that the way you’re behaving is the opposite of what will work, of what will make him stay, but there’s nothing you can do about it. When your heart gets broken, your brain does too. Heartbreak makes you crazy.
But there’s hope. (There always is.) After all the cry-driving and night-sobbing and crazy-calling, you come back. You get your head back together and – eventually – your heart back together. And maybe it’s more delicate than it was before. Maybe you feel like you’re walking on a thin layer of glass. But you’re back. And you can do it again, maybe even do it better than you did before.
And eventually, there will be someone who sees your crazy and doesn’t turn away. Someone who sees you tottering near the deep end and walks in your direction, who resists the urge to run and steps in close to you instead.
Then, ten years later, when you’re standing in your kitchen with a girl with a broken heart, and she’s sad and desperate and humiliated, you can see right through her. And you can tell her with complete assurance:
“Don’t you think twice about it…heartbreak makes you crazy, but in the end it makes you sane.”