Things that should break. Things that should not. The beginnings of a list.


The mantel above my fireplace was always off limits growing up. Crossed off by invisible caution tape that could only be seen through the eyes of a child. A row of clay storyteller dolls, made by the pueblo people of New Mexico, lined the mantel. My mother’s beloved collection.

A storyteller shattered one afternoon. The little babies broke from her back and the children, once contently listening to their mother’s story, cried to be molded back into her lap. I don’t recall how it happened. The details are irrelevant. What I can remember is the hot glue, the attempt to piece back together a part of my mother’s history, and the strange revelation that came from staring at the disfigured storyteller with globs of glue stuck in its sad cracks: Some things were never made to be broken.

We should be so careful in becoming experts of the things in life that should and should not be broken. We can be very quick to say that a promise should never be broken, and I fully agree with that. We might gesture that eggs certainly are made to be broken and that bones can take the breaks because eventually they strengthen and renew themselves. But hearts? Ah, hearts are entities that we immediately assume belong under the list of things meant never to be broken.

But then why can we hear a symphony of broken hearts that ropes around the entire world? I can imagine what it would be like to sit atop the heavens and look down on the world.  One might grow numb to hearing a never ending succession of cracks and snaps, some as loud as thunder. Hearing Hearts Break And Being Helpless To The Matter.

Why, if hearts were not made to be broken, do we feel them break all the time?

I recently sat across from a friend with a broken heart. I could look directly into her eyes and see it. The pain. The sorrow. The nights and days of sadness that take their toll. And what she said to me was something more profound than anything I have heard lately. “It is good that I have this broken heart. You have had one before and I need to feel it too, so then one day I am able to teach someone about it. I will be able to say that I know how they felt.

Broken. We never let this word hold hands with adjectives like “necessary” or, God forbid, “beautiful.” But I dare say that it can be beautiful to be broken. We might not see it at first, when our world seems hollowed out and our days long for their usual purpose, but admitting our brokenness is one of the most humane acts in this world. We open ourselves up to learning from others who have felt similar pain. We encounter strangers and new people who understand. We spend time with those who promise not to go at our hearts with a glue stick but little by little we give them permission to use pieces of tape, to begin bringing our heart back to one solid state.

Perhaps a broken heart, when put back together, will never look the same again. But what would life really be if we always walked around with the same exact heart? One that never changed, never cracked, never lost parts of itself?

It is after we have starved a little that we understand fullness in our bellies. After we have thirsted for so long do we finally understand what it means to be quenched. Only after we have missed the touch of another’s embrace for such a long time do we fully appreciate being wrapped in their arms once more. Sometimes it is after our hearts break that we understand what it really means to be whole.

17 thoughts on “Things that should break. Things that should not. The beginnings of a list.

  1. I’m dealing with being broken right now and I know it makes me stronger in the end. But, this is the second broken heart I’ve had in 2 years…it doesn’t get better, but I’m hopeful that all this pain will one day lead me to happiness.

  2. This was beautiful. Personally, I’ve never dealt with the broken heart that comes from a romantic relationship. Or the broken heart of death. But I have had my heart broken so many times by my own father and it’s an awful feeling, but I’ve become a stronger woman because (and in spite of) it.

    There’s someone in my life who is dealing with a broken heart. And everytime she seems to have picked up the pieces and started living again, something happens and it breaks her heart all over again. It’s tough to watch but she’s a strong woman and all I can do is give her support & love, to show her I care.

    Thanks for this!

    1. Always happy to be there Stephany.

      And I know exactly how you mean of the ways in which our heart can break.. It does not only have to be from a lost love or death of a loved one. I never really stopped to think of how common broken hearts are until I sat down to write this post.

      Thanks for the insight.

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  3. I think that the beauty of broken hearts is that sometimes they heal in a way that’s stronger and more complete, but they’re also more raw and sensitive. And you’re right; the brokenness helps us appreciate the wholeness when it comes.

  4. I really enjoyed this post. Broken hearts can be unbearable, but you have to be able to see beyond the pain and look to the future. If you dwell too long in your pain you end up only causing yourself more hurt in the long run. Broken hearts shape the way we love, but we can’t let the fear of a broken heart control the way we love or if we choose to open ourselves to love at all.

    This could be the lamest thing I’ve done in a while but I’m actually going to quote Butters from Southpark on a broken heart:

    “Well, yeah, and I’m sad. But at the same time, I’m really happy that something can make me feel that sad. It makes me feel alive, you know? It makes me feel human. The only way I could feel this sad now is if I felt something really good before, so I have to take the bad with the good. So I guess what I’m feeling is like a beautiful sadness.”

    1. Thanks! And you know what, I believe Butters was totally appropriate for your comment. It fit perfectly with the idea I was seeking to get across. Hm, I have never watched the show before but I was actually nicknamed after Butters back in high school for being so gullible. But I never knew he was so profound in his words.

      Thanks for this.

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  5. Oh I definitely agree with this post! It reminds me of a quote I heard once, that we haven’t really lived life until we’ve had a broken heart.

    After experiencing a broken heart and knowing that it didn’t, in fact, kill me…I am glad to have gone through all the tragic events that I have. Sometimes it’s hard to know how good you have it until you know how bad you can have it.

  6. Hannah, you’re an amazing writer. This post… speaks to me. Speaks to my present self, my past self who has had her heart broken more times than she cares to admit. It’s all there, but I agree with your friend. Having your heartbroken is never ideal but it’s important to be able to understand how others feel, how to connect with someone going through this, to be able to teach them.

    I know I couldn’t handle sitting atop the world listening to all the broken hearts and pleas. Would surely be too painful.

    1. So good to hear from you Nora and thank you for the kind words. It means so much to be complimented for my writing style, you have no idea. And I agree… I too would be unable to listen to all the heartbreak in the world.. I would rather stay down here and do my best to try to mend some hearts. Have a good easter!

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  7. This is so, so true.

    Naturally, everyone would want to avoid having their heart broken, but I don’t think you can avoid it. Ever. You just have to learn how to “keep it together”.

  8. I LOVE this post – I think it’s absolutely beautiful!

    And from the perspective of someone who has had their heart completely ravaged, I can honestly say, that the one thing that made it easier to heal was believing that it would make me stronger, wiser and more beautiful. It was hard but it was worth it; the broken heart and the lessons it taught me were (and are) lessons that I couldn’t have gotten any other way, and they have been priceless to me.

    Your wisdom is far beyond your years – you’re going to take this world by the horns!

    🙂

    1. Ah thank you Carolina! That really made my day to read that… I really do hope that I find a way to speak to the world..

      And I know the feeling you are talking about.. Isn’t it funny how before we experience a broken heart we hear all these cliches like a broken heart will make you stronger and then when we actually encounter it we want to scream at the people who keep telling us this…. It is only until after we repair the damage or are on the road to recovery do we realize that it is true… Hearts do heal and often more completely than we expected.

      Have a fabulous Easter.

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  9. This is gorgeous…sometimes I feel like I’m always broken, but I try to remember that I’m not broken, I’m healing. I was nodding right along when you said broken is beautiful-I couldn’t agree more.

    And Sangria ANY TIME! 🙂

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