Writing Poetry as Therapy for a Broken Heart

I think it’s fair to say that I am not alone in experiencing the dread and pain that comes with a broken heart. While a lot of people turn to chocolate, movies, best friends, or alcohol to help them cope (healthily and unhealthily), I have to say what has worked best for me during heartbreaks is writing poetry.

I will admit to writing terribly sappy “he was the one and now I am forever alone in sadness” poetry and then burning said poetry because it was too awful to read after I had written it, but after the initial pain of a breakup I still find that some of my suppressed feelings, that I have convinced myself are gone, resurface when I work on poetry unrelated to my own past pain.

Take this untitled piece I wrote with the idea of a first date going nowhere (still untitled):

His bouquet of oaths fades
to withered branches
waning as time passes
into dried sticks
and potpourri.
Decay perfumes the air
while his promises are forgotten.

Read and reread the poem and I think you will agree, the image of a first date fading to nothing is really not apparent but hurt feelings towards a partner or ex partner for broken promises is the more obvious theme of the poem. When I wrote the poem, I was not picturing my past, my past relationships, or any feelings I harbored over past breakups yet there they are.

I shared this poem in a poetry circle and I got the same feedback – anger, hurt, pain, and an ended relationship all came forward as themes in my work. I didn’t even realize those threads were forefront in until my peers pointed them out to me.

Does this mean that any poetry I write will be forever tainted by personal heartbreak? I think not, but everything I write is going to have some of me in there, and writing about a failed first date and having my own feelings flow forth isn’t a defeat in my mind. Rather, it is a way of me becoming in touch with feelings I’ve been hiding from myself so I can deal with them, within my writing and within my life as well.

So if you are like me and have had your heart busted at some point in your life and find that heartbreak leaks into your work – use it as a tool and write through your feelings. You may be amazed at some of the things you write down, not just that you’re feeling them but how relieved you feel when you express them poetically.

I am personally very proud of the above poem and have edited it, worked it, and made it into something I want to seek publication on – if only I can nail down that title. You might surprise yourself too with what beautiful poetry comes out.

– Amanda Riggle


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