When your heart gets kicked in the balls, what do you do?

How to negotiate the impact

Anastasia Sukhanov
Human Parts
3 min readJun 27, 2024


Image: Wellcome Images, operated by Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom

You lay there, preferably on a surface that can serve as a tear sponge and watch the flashbacks. They come in like waves, consistently, but with unforeseen magnitude. You lay there wanting to ask a question that begins with ‘why’ and ends with you losing the remainder of your verbal skills. All that’s left is the gibberish of torment.

You lay there and stare at the chat screen until your closest human appears as “online,” because this is now the highest degree of intimacy available to you.

You lay there until you fall into a shallow exhausted sleep and wake up not remembering for a few blissful seconds. You pay for it dearly with a discovery of a new shade of ache.

You lay there in the numb silence that rolls in to replace acute pain. Your friends give advice and console you, but you can’t hear, as if separated from them by a soundproof glass window of a recording studio.

You lay there and think which songs are now off-limits, then immediately play them to make sure you can still feel the pain through the numbness. Suffering becomes the only metric of being alive.

You start putting slipcovers over the furniture of your life — reject new encounters, archive laughter, put silliness on pause. Staring into the mirror of memory you question every single mutual occurrence — noting, or imagining, new tones of voice, new meanings. Where there was joy, you see symptoms. Noting is all you can do at this stage — you haven’t yet earned the right to enter vast valley of sadness.

This right lies on the other side of open-heart surgery you must perform soberly on yourself, placing the smithereens of your relationship into the ocean of rumination. Words you started to overuse, items of clothing that stand for rites of relationship passage, the app you never thought you’d have on your phone, scars that tell stories of shared adventures, new recipes, old posters, secret emojis, subscription log-ins, entire cities. These broken off pieces start off sharp, hurting with every move, reminding you of the way you, both of you, used to be. But like broken glass in the sea, they get smoothed out and come back to you as an amusing token of the past, a harmless treasure with a distant origin.

This is when you start a new paragraph, patting yourself on the back for having yet again performed the miracle of letting in, letting be, and letting go of things.

Then one day you get up and discover, as if truly for the first time, that a sunset sky has the capacity to take your breath away, and freshly brewed tea is much better than the tepid liquid you’ve been drinking lately. It might take days, months, dozens of hours in therapy, an unexpected pet acquisition or maybe just one deafening realisation.

Your heart is now as healed as it is bruised, and you’re ready for the free fall again.