Six months from now, I was supposed to be getting married and building a family with the man who had promised to love me until the end of our days. A few months back, that relationship fell apart. I was devastated, as was the rest of my family. Promises were broken, trust was shattered.
Questions ran through my head. “Who am I, really? Why did this happen to me? What did I do wrong?” The only way to find the answers was to look closely at my life and do the inner work needed to make it through this challenging time.
Wrapped in uncertainty, I turned to these five books and allowed the words to guide me in understanding, accepting, and slowly mending my broken heart. These reads helped me recognize the supportive relationships in my life, move forward, and see myself in the doorway of a lifelong spiritual journey.
1. “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle
Considered a spiritual guide, the book contains an ancient, practical message — now is all we have and all there will ever be. It leads its readers on a journey toward themselves and the truth of who they truly are by focusing on the present moment. The past is only a series of memories. The future is only a thought.
Tolle says, “When you are fully conscious, you cease to be in conflict.” I noticed I suffer more whenever I look back at the hurtful past or worry about my future. When I remember events in the past – our fights, trips, conversations – my chest tightens from the memories. When I worry about never finding love again, I am filled with dread, imagining a sad life on my own.
The book taught me to stay still, accept and not avoid my emotions, and take deep breaths. Tolle says this is the way to be in touch with the present and discard thoughts that are not real.
When I wash the dishes, talk to a friend, or read a book, I tell myself to be fully present in whatever activity I’m in and let the future take care of itself. This book ingrained in me that worrying about the future is self-sabotage. There is something more important than the future that I desire and the past that I can never change – the now.
2. “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” by Lori Gottlieb
This is a wise, funny, and emotional memoir about the author’s therapy practice. It tells us pain exempts no one — not the successful, not the religious, not those who seem to have it all figured out, and especially not the author, who details a particularly difficult time in her personal and professional life.
Gottlieb says, “If we spend the present trying to fix the past or control the future, we remain stuck in place, in perpetual regret.”
This book was a little tough to read because it touched upon many sensitive personal struggles, such as my inability to appreciate what I have, or my fear of trusting people completely. But this book also told me I am not alone, and there is always a way out of unfortunate life situations.
3. “Finding Your Own North Star” by Martha Beck
This is a transformative nonfiction book that reads like a workbook for the spirit. It tells us about listening to the “internal compass” to find the North Star which points to the life we are meant to be living All we need to do is tune in.
Beck says, “You cannot create a new life without destroying the one you’ve got.”
I let my previous relationship define me — I was a partner, a soon-to-be-wife. I was going to leave for another country and start anew. Now, that identity is gone.
By reading through the stages of change shared by Beck, I found that going through suffering was critical in recalibrating how I live my life. It is normal to go through a period of grief and prolonged moments of loneliness. After giving myself enough time to sift through my emotions and accept reality, I dreamed new dreams again and unearthed a new version of myself.
The still, small voice is just there, ready and available to lead me back home.
4. “All Along You Were Blooming” by Morgan Harper Nichols
This is a lyrical book of illustrated poetry and prose that feels like a warm cup of tea on a cold, rainy night.
Nichols says, “Not everyone is capable of walking with you, but that does not mean you are not worthy of belonging.” It’s a touching reminder that though people have wronged and rejected us, it does not make us unloved.
This meant so much to me. Weeks after we separated, I strongly felt the effect of abandonment, rejection, and isolation. Reading Nichols’ words became a healing balm to my soul, a source of comfort and assurance that things will work out fine.
This book relaxed my breathing, and I found calm and relief. The poems told me that a broken heart can be a blessing. This was hard to believe at first, but now that I’ve started working on my new dreams related to work and family, I know for sure that it is true.
5. “The Path Made Clear” by Oprah Winfrey
This book is a compilation of Winfrey’s essays and interviews. Authors, entrepreneurs, and celebrities share their wisdom, reflecting on years of hardships and success.
“You are not your circumstances. You are your possibilities.” This is Oprah’s message to the students of Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.
This message speaks strongly to me, too. In the past, I’ve experienced loss in many forms. Looking back, these circumstances were just events that passed through my life. They don’t define me and my future.
A broken heart may have gotten you down, but heartbreak is not forever. It only needs time to heal.
These books on being present, listening to our spirit, and rediscovering ourselves are the guidebooks that can help all of us through a difficult time, leaving us with a renewed sense of purpose and stronger love for ourselves.
After my breakup, I thought I would never recover, but just like any situation I’ve been through in the past, the storm passed over time. Suffering is temporary, and I’ve found that the best way to live life every day is to accept it as it is and look at it with deep gratitude.