Love is a merciless cycle with more white knights and horses’ asses than a mall carousel. And there’s no getting off. We woo, become two, screw…and someone says “we’re through.” A heart is broken. Tweet and Repeat. When soaring high amid the heart-shaped clouds of Cupid’s fleeting bliss, the heart pays no mind to Newton’s Law of Physics. But once the “gravity” of a breakup hits us, we have no choice but to free fall and come crashing down on Newton’s grim prediction… “What goes up must come down.” If only we didn’t have to “come down” on a bed of meticulously filed, dagger sharp nails piercing not only the heart, but our entire body…one gut-wrenching teardrop at a time. Turning us into a human shish kabob all too eager to throw ourselves onto a flaming grill and end our bleeding heart misery. Supposedly, the pain we feel is only heartache. But in actuality, the pain of a broken heart hurts everywhere. Does it not? When the object of our affection personally digs a great divide into the heart we’ve given them, we feel physical pain. Inexplicable pain that no amount of “There’s lots of fish in the sea” or “That jerk didn’t deserve you” band-aids can cover up. We’re “stuck on” the ex.
Screw the band-aid! Anyone up for a tirade?
A broken heart leaves us coiled up in the fetal position crying hopelessly, cursing Stupid Cupid, and threatening to shove that magically sharpened arrow up his virginal baby smooth bare tuckus. Rejection has a tendency to breed cynicism, no? But baring the fangs of our inner cynic is a human knee-jerk reaction to the security breach of our too-vulnerable heart. And usually the only retaliation we get. The heart is our lifeline. It pumps life into our body. Broken heart, broken body. And our body feels that break mentally, emotionally, AND physically.
So yes, love hurts!
Scientists studied party-pooping participants who were recently dumped, so the pain was fresh and frenzied. The lucky lotto winners had their brains picked apart and studied by modern technology. Brain activity was monitored while enduring physical pain from being burned with a hot probe. And then again while enduring emotional pain from gazing upon a picture of the ex and regaling the experimenter with the low-down on how they were dumped.
FUN and FUN!
Though beneficial for the furthering of science, the details of the study beg the question:
WTF did these poor souls get paid for their participation? Enough to pay for fallout therapy or just enough to drown the pain in Jose Cuervo, pass out, and send Jose packing down the porcelain throne? First class ac’commode’ations.
Poor souls aside…what they found was that our brains don’t discriminate based on race, sex, religion, hypocrisy, emotional dismemberment, or a slashing from Jack the Ripper. When it comes to pain, the human brain is all-encompassing. These studies show that intense emotional pain activates the same neural pathways in our brains as physical pain. So whether we suffer emotional or physical misery, our brains can’t differentiate. We simply feel pain. No wonder a broken heart is so crushing and debilitating. We don’t know if we’ve been dumped off or bumped off.
Nor do we care.
So why doesn’t the brain distinguish between emotional and physical pain? Because evolutionarily speaking, being alone is bad for business. Experts suggest that we evolved to feel actual pain at separation to prevent our demise. Many, many years ago, we were roaming the predatory wild and needed to avoid becoming an all-u-can-eat buffet for beastly, dragon-breath patrons. In order to survive, we needed a buddy…a partner…a more appetizing distraction to enable our getaway, just in case a patron is doubly ravenous. Being alone was dangerous. So our brains evolved to send physical warnings to our bodies when we found ourselves all alone in the world. Warnings in the form of pain. Ouch!
This is why we suffer so much when rejected…not only by a lover, but by our peers as well. We know that as long as we fit in and blend in, we’re a shoo-in for survival. We have an innate animal instinct to survive. At all costs. So when we find ourselves staring down the barrel of rejection with our one and only’s finger on the trigger, we hurt as if we’ve taken the literal bullet. The realized risk of solitude and slaughter triggers a primitive fear that manifests itself as physical pain. Our minds have convinced our bodies that rejection is more like dissection. When cast aside, our protective layers are peeled away and our vulnerable insides picked away. So, like every good romance story perpetuates, Together…GOOD…Alone…BAD! There’s an old adage: “The best way to get over an old love is to find a new one.” Out with old…in with the new. Once we find a new love, we have a partner to brave the wilds with. We’re no longer alone…no longer at risk. We are two! Over you.
All is good.
But in true cyclic form, and as Newton predicted, we’ll inevitably come crashing down and feel the physical pain of rejection once again.
And when we do…we can drown our pain at the end of lonely street at Heartbreak Hotel, where the hearts bleed and the tears flow. Or…we can claim that vacancy at the Bates Motel, where the showers beckon…and the psychos bludgeon. We won’t know the difference…apparently. Pain is pain…to the brain.
Love is Hell!
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” ~ Winston Churchill