Mama, can I die from a broken heart?  Moving on after a breakup.

Age old question that has been asked by women all over the world after a breakup.  Let me just say, I think the answer is yes.  The good news is, we get to be the ones to decide if we let the grief and betrayal take over our heart, brain and body, or if we will allow ourselves to feel our emotions and move on.

It was May 16, 2014 and I was at work.  It was the day of the first supervised visit after my daughter’s pediatrician had opened a CPS investigation after my ex had taken my 2 year old to the ER and wouldn’t tell me or the pediatrician anything about the visit to the ER.  (It’s a long and personal story, here’s the Reader’s Digest version.)  So supervised visits were ordered pending the investigation.  I was working at a Senior Living home and had just returned from an excursion taking the seniors to lunch.  As I parked the small bus I was driving I looked at my watch and realized it was 3:17pm.  The supervised visit started 17 minutes prior.  And then my heart took over and did something it never had before.  My heart was racing so fast!  I was getting light headed and scared.  I was afraid I was going to pass out in the bus and die and no one would find me.  I literally had never felt that scared of dying, like it actually might happen.  I managed to walk inside, and thankfully the nurse was right inside the front door.  I asked her to take my pulse because I felt like my heart was going way too fast.  She tried to take it manually but it was too fast.  She put the automatic blood pressure cuff on me and got an error message because it was too high.  She had me lay down, afraid I was going to pass out and called 911.  Paramedics arrived a few minutes later.  In the ambulance, on the way to the hospital they gave me medication to stop and then restart my heart.  I was having what is called a tachycardia event, which can be very dangerous if they don’t get it to stop soon enough.  By the time they gave me the medication and got my heart rate under control my toes had turned blue because my body had stopped sending blood to them because it was having a hard time keeping up with the fast rhythm and needed to conserve energy to keep me alive.  I was kept overnight and then allowed to return home, with instructions to avoid stress and follow up with a cardiologist.  Sure, sure, avoid stress.  I was in the middle of a messy divorce and there was an active CPS investigation on my soon-to-be-ex.  WHAT?!?  Avoiding stress was out of the question.  The real question was how do I keep myself from dying?

The second time I had a tachycardia event, I was leaving the courthouse after a hearing to ultimately dismiss the CPS investigation.  What it boiled down to was a temper tantrum from my kids’ dad refusing to communicate.  He was told in no uncertain terms that he better grow up and learn to communicate and stop wasting time in court over such stupid things.  I stayed strong through the whole day in court.  But as I was walking out the weight of the whole situation was just too much and my heart couldn’t stop again.  This time I sat in my car and didn’t want to call 911.  It was too much to imagine having to deal with this, with him, for the rest of my life.  I wasn’t suicidal, but in the moment it felt ok to just let my heart stop.  Thankfully after a few minutes, that felt like an eternity, my heart rate slowed and I drove myself to the hospital.  Surgery was scheduled for a month later, July 15, 2014.  I had an ablation to basically kill the tiny part of my heart that kept misfiring and getting stuck in the rapid loop.  

My sister drove me to the surgery and stayed with me all evening until I was discharged.  She was an angel.  But let me tell you, heart surgery, while you are awake is basically the worst thing ever.  They had to keep me awake, and bonus points, couldn’t give me any anxiety meds, because they needed to get inside my heart, poke around until they started a tachycardia and then catarize that little part of my heart.  Once that was completed they could give me medication to help calm my nerves.  I have never felt so vulnerable and exposed as I did that day, on that operating table.  I was lying on the table, and after they inserted tubes and wires into my leg, the doctor went to the other side of the room and did the surgery via a computer that was operating the instruments inside me.  My saving grace was my anesthesiologist.  He was sitting beside me the whole time.  His only job was to make sure that I couldn’t feel any pain and watch over my vital signs.  I was sobbing uncontrollably and he asked if there was anything he could do.  I asked him to simply hold my hand.  And so he held my hand and didn’t let go until they wheeled me back to my recovery room where my sister was waiting.  I hadn’t felt comforted by someone’s touch in probably a year or more.  And in that moment of feeling totally alone, having someone simply hold my hand, I believe, was as healing as the surgery itself. He also helped turn on music for me to listen to to help calm me.  Music has huge healing powers!  I’ve added below a few songs I love to listen to when my heart is feeling broken like this.  

Ladies, let me tell you, what I learned from this more than anything, was that my body knows.  It has a deep knowing.  I had spent years ignoring and explaining away my gut feelings.  I shamed myself to stay where I wasn’t loved.  After the surgery I started working really hard with my therapist to relearn how to trust my gut.  To learn how to love myself and trust myself in a way I never had before.  No more giving into others because I was worried about what others thought.  No more making myself small to make others comfortable.  I trusted my gut and moved forward.

This I believe is the cure for a broken heart.  It is trusting your own gut.  And after you trust yourself, you move forward and take action on those feelings.  YOU have a deep, wise, inner self.  She is SO WISE!  She KNOWS deep in herself what really can’t be “known” by facts alone.  That’s ok. Trust this knowing. Trust your gut.  She has only one purpose, to keep you safe. Your job is your own safety and your own happiness. You aren’t responsible for others’ feelings.  If you feel like you are dying from a broken heart, you are not alone!!  And you haven’t done anything wrong.  This is simply the result of ignoring your inner self.  And the good news is, it’s never too late to go back and trust that voice and take action.  Do it before you get to the point where your heart is really failing like mine did.  You can start today to take action and change the trajectory of your life.  NOTHING in this world is too much to handle!  You’ve got this!

If you are having suicidal thoughts and need help, don’t wait.  Call 800-273-8255 or Text HOME to 741741.  There is hope and healing ahead.

As always, these are my thoughts and my thoughts alone.  This is written from my perspective and is not meant to represent both sides of the story.  My ex may feel this is an inaccurate description of the event, and I respect his right to his own opinion.  If he is upset with how I have written this I will simply say, if someone wants me to write a better story, they should have behaved better.  And if he has a problem with it he is more than welcome to start his own blog and write whatever he wants.  Names have not been used on purpose.  My stories, nor the life coaching I do, ever replace a trained and licensed therapist and I recommend everyone find a therapist they love.  You can start your search at

Songs I Love:
Tell your heart to beat again-Danny Gokey
Get up off the bathroom Floor-Maddie & Tae
Easy on Me-Adele
Die from a Broken Heart-Maddie & Tae
Tin Man-Miranda Lambert
Unfinished Songs-Celine Dion
A Little Bit Stronger-Sara Evans
Me Against the World-Superchick
Message to Myself-Melissa Etheridge
Is There Life Out There-Reba McEntire
Hope in Front of Me-Danny Gokey

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Kendra Last Avatar

My name is Kendra Last

I’m a life coach and author of the book Journaling to Recovery: A Reference Guide to Healing from Betrayal Trauma. I have been working in the betrayal recovery world for almost a decade. I’ve been there, and I will help you let go of the pain of the past, help you recognize your own inner beauty and strength, and help you learn to celebrate yourself again.

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