Last night the kids were over moving in stuff and we ordered pizza for dinner (hey, I don’t cook on deadline!). And as we were eating we were watching American Idol. Katie Perry was one of the guest singers and as she was up there strutting her stuff I said, “I think she broke Russell’s heart.”
After AI, The Office came on. I don’t watch it like I used to but broken hearts abound. There’s Dwight and what’s her name who has his baby that’s married to the gay senator. Then there’s Andy’s unrequited love for Erin. They all play it off. It’s what we do when our hearts hurt.
It got me to thinking: Heartache comes in all flavors.
There’s the longing heartache that separation causes. Military spouses know this heart ache all too well. How they survive that ache is beyond me. I remember when my husband was in the police academy. It was the longest 20 weeks of my life. It was terrible even though I got to see him on weekends! But I hated being separated from him.
My heart ached the entire 13 weeks I could not see or speak to my son when he was in boot camp.
There is the heartache of watching your child’s heart break. Of watching friendships dissolve and favorite couples split up. There is the heartache of losing a parent, a spouse and the worst heartache of all, losing a child.
There’s unrequited love that slowly squeezes the life from your heart. I still remember the heartache of longing for a boy who didn’t know I existed. Oh, what suffering it was. I walked around dragging my chin on the ground for what was only days but at the time seemed like an eternity.
I’ve had my heart broken a few times. I remember the first crushing blow. I was twelve and had a crush on one of the guys that raced motorcycles with my brother. His name was Billy, he was a few years older than me, and in my eyes he was the be-all end-all. I would literally wait for hours by the phone the Monday after a racing weekend breathlessly waiting for him to call. He never did. I got the message loud and clear when he showed up at a race one weekend with a blonde that I could not compete with on any level. I thought I was going to die of the pain.
But the big life-altering heartbreak came just two years later. Be still my heart, Tony B. He was the neighborhood heartthrob. He was gorgeous and had a reputation that made him gorgeouser. And a super slick black car. I was fourteen and he was seventeen. (my father still doesn’t know about Tony. He would have killed me)
The summer I turned fourteen, Tony picked me! I was dumbfounded and over the moon happy and oh-so-in-love. I would have given him anything! Except that one thing he so desperately tried to sweet talk me out of. And when I refused to go beyond a kiss, his libido looked elsewhere for succor. Come to find out, I was not his only flavor of the week that glorious month we were ‘going steady’. He had picked a lot of other girls too.
How did this naïve girl find out her boyfriend was getting slap happy with her best friend in her bff’s basement? From another one of the girls Tony B was dating while he was dating me. She was jealous! Imagine how I felt being the only one who didn’t know my Adonis was a lying cheating fast-talking son-of-a-bitch rat-bastard that was having sex with my best friend! My best friend who I had shared all of my deepest darkest secrets with! It was a dark day for Karin that day. I still remember the shock, and the soul-shattering pain that followed. That day of infamy was my day of reckoning. It was the day I learned not to trust.
Decades later I still don’t trust easy. My inner circle of friends is small. Microscopic small. That’s on purpose. There is only one person I trust above all others not to hurt me, and that is my husband. I used to have the same confidence in his dad before he passed away. My father-in-law loved me with all his heart and he would rather have shot himself then hurt my feelings.
When I write protagonists who don’t trust, I write from the heart on that issue. In fact, there’s a part of me in every heroine I’ve written. But like the women I write, the ones who have had their hearts broken and their trust shattered, once they work through the pain of it, they muster up the gumption to be brave enough to try again. Sometimes they go kicking and screaming, but they find love and a man they can trust with their heart and their secrets. And oddly enough, my heroines don’t have bff’s. They are all singularly powerful in their own right women.
I learned that don’t trust your bff lesson early and I guess it has subconsciously stuck with me. But in all honesty, I do have two dear dear bff’s who between them know all of my secrets. I have another few who don’t know those secrets because I don’t know if they could handle them. So why rock the boat?
But it’s funny how heartbreak that leads to heartache defines so much of how we proceed with those who come after the trauma. Suffrage has a way of honing a heart so that the next time it doesn’t hurt as much. It hones our instincts and teaches us to listen to our guts. Some people don’t move on from heartbreak. They hold on to it and allow it to hold them back, whether physically or emotionally.
It takes a brave person to love again. To trust again. To expose the gooey center of their vulnerable heart to another person. It’s why I love writing romance. It’s experiencing through my characters that second chance of finding that one person who loves you for you, despite your past, and who at the end of each day will have your back and protect your heart, no matter what.
In BLOODRIGHT, the book out now, I don’t think with the exception of MASTER OF TORMENT and I would have to say JADED as well, have I written such an emotional heart-wrenching story. It makes the discovery of love and the acceptance of it all the more powerful. I loved writing those stories. They were as Rocki calls them ‘gimme’ stories. It was all there, I just took dictation from my characters. Love it when that happens! So see? There is a silver lining to getting your heart ripped out, chopped up and fed to the buzzards if you are brave enough to go look for love again.
So, tell me, if it isn’t too painful, about the first person who broke your heart and how you made the rat bastard/bitch pay! 🙂