How A Broken Heart Killed The Romantic In Me

I was still trapped by the idea of a white picket fence, and I couldn't find my way out.

sad woman wearing sunglasses holding flowers cottonbro studio / Pexels

At sixteen, I believed my best friend and I would one day live side by side. Our gorgeous families separated only by dreamy white picket fences. A romantic suburban euphoria.

By the time I was nineteen, I graduated to believing I had found the love of my life. And, of course, there was only one such love in the world.

One perfect match for two destined hearts.

Because true love is a fairy tale for those who are fortunate enough to find it. And nothing intensifies it more than youth. Certainly, those who stumble upon it young have found the real thing.


I was a rose-colored glasses, the cup is half-full, idealist, optimist, romantic, dreamer. (Did I miss any positive euphemisms? Because if I did, you can add them to the list.) I believed in fables, myths, and legends.

I believed it was possible for ordinary life to be extraordinary. Spoiler alert: it didn’t turn out that way.

How A Broken Heart Killed The Romantic In MePhoto: Rene Asmussen / Pexels


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My relationship with the love of my life ended. Call it a relationship over, call it a breakup, call it divorce. Call it what you will. Labels are unimportant.

A broken heart is a broken heart. And a broken girl is a broken girl.

A Pollyanna who thought her man would fight for her, but who attached herself to a selfish and cowardly boy incapable of seeing outside of himself. Let alone the pristine white fences surrounding him. Or the obvious winning numbers on his lottery ticket.

But the rosy girl persisted as much as the man-boy faltered. And when it was over, the emotion he lacked, she gave into. Lump in throat, lips pursed, gut-wrenching, it can’t be true reality. It was over.


Cry with your girlfriends, wine and whine alone, sob-stained sheets, and the rest of the relationship resume facts.

I went through the motions. I took down the “Fairy tales do come true” sign, I removed the couple pictures from our bedroom, and the “kiss each other goodnight” ceramic. I tried desperately to accept love and life had turned on this Pollyanna.



Still, I resisted the truth. Deep down I still wanted to believe in sugar and spice, and everything nice. I wanted to believe in relationship miracles.


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It wasn’t just about my husband. It was the disbanding of all things "me" and letting go of white picket fences is hard. Especially when you have been constructing them since childhood and planted pretty hydrangea-filled gardens around them.

I had a lot of relationship housecleaning to do — much more than the two aforementioned signs.

My whole life was a positive billboard, one quickly turning into an overt lie. I was a "feel-good" love "happy words" girl. And they were plastered all over my crumbling suburban castle.

I remember the day my friend Annie first came to my house. She walked into my dining room and said, “Oh, you’re one of those kinda people!”


It became a joke between us because Annie made it pretty clear she hated those kinda people, but was willing to give me a special exception hall pass. Only reinforcing I could one day drag her to the "light side."

Yet I still resisted the truth — at least, in the years I was fighting to save my marriage.

How A Broken Heart Killed The Romantic In MePhoto: Daniel Xavier / Pexels


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How do you walk away from the love of your life, your best friend, your partner in crime, your husband? And how had he found it so easy to do? I was still trapped by the white picket fence, I couldn’t find my way out.

Then one fateful day, my friend said, “You know, there’s more than one person in the world for us.”

Blasphemy! Shut your mouth. Cover my ears! It’s absolutely not true! You’re hurting my heart! Taking the “P” out of Pollyanna. The “R” outta Romantic. My life is over. I will never love again. I lost my fairy tale.


It mattered not how she tried to rally me. To convince me. I rejected it. My body was held captive by my eternally young heart.

I had lost my chance at love. A broken heart had killed the romantic in me.

A world where there was more than one heart in exchange for another was one I rejected. It meant love was not a fairy tale. It meant love existed beyond sixteen. Beyond nineteen. Beyond picket fences. Beyond romantic lotteries. Beyond only one heart for one heart.


How A Broken Heart Killed The Romantic In MePhoto: Wesley Davi / Pexels

But it does.

There truly is more than one person in the world for us. And we won’t find them... until we realize labels are unimportant. Love is love.

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Colleen Sheehy Orme is a national relationship columnist, journalist, and former business columnist. Her bylines have appeared on The Good Men Project, Scary Mommy, NewsBreak, Medium, MSN, Yahoo, and MamaMia, where she writes about relationships, parenting, and divorce.