The Island Theory Of Heartbreak
Have you heard of the “Island Theory” when it comes to getting your heart broken, dealing with a separation or a divorce? It was created by this bald yet handsome guy who’s wife up and left one day. A year or so later people started contacting him, people who were going through the exact same shit storm and after explaining it to them I, I mean, he found that it helped put what they were about to go through in perspective.
Here you have it:
The One Day Stronger Island Theory
You used to live on an island; maybe you lived there for a year, maybe 25 years. It had good parts and bad parts, but it was home. It was familiar and had a lot of great memories.
One day you woke up and you’d been unceremoniously kicked you off the island. Yep, you were tied up, shoved in a boat and rowed about fifty yards offshore where you were dumped into the water. Hell, maybe they said you weren’t ever welcome there in the first place. Doesn’t matter what they say or what they do anymore, you’re in the water now and that’s all that really matters.
Your only choice is to swim for a new island that people keep telling you exists – an island where everything is OK. You’ve heard about this mythical place, but you can’t yet see it in the distance. You can’t even see the outline of it. You think it’s probably bullshit and that you’re going to die. Every day you literally feel like you’re going to drown in pain and sorrow at any moment. I know, I was a collegiate swimmer and water polo player and thought I was going to drown every day too.
The first half-mile of the swim is hell. The waves are huge, there are sharks, jellyfish, birds crap on you, it’s pure hell. You’re starving but can’t eat, are exhausted but can’t sleep, and even if you do manage to pass out for a few minutes at night you cruelly dream you’re safely back on your home island…only to get woken up by swallowing seawater and start throwing up in your new reality.
But you keep swimming…
And it’s still hell. Aaaaaand it’s STILL hell. Sometimes you get out into some clear water, but then there’s a thunderstorm. Sometimes the storms pass, and the current washes you back to where you were three days before and you have to go through the whole ordeal again. You feel like it will never end and the crying will never abate. I cried every day for months after my wife left, every single day. It was like my entire body was one giant tear duct.
After what seems like an eternity, a piece of emotional driftwood floats by and you cling on to it. Maybe it’s a new friend (stay away from the opposite sex), maybe it’s a job change or something else you can hang your hat on. You finally get more than two hours of sleep, maybe catch a fish and eat it. Your life is still hell, but the worst of it, the feeling that you’re literally dying all day long starts to ease up. These are beautiful days and you’ll be eternally grateful when they arrive.
Sometimes friends come by in a rowboat and take you out to dinner or to a movie. You get to sit with them, eat, and forget about your troubles for a while. They may teach you a thing or two. You may forget about your swim for a bit until they leave and you have to get back in the water. You come here to One Day Stronger and learn not only how to swim, but also become open to the possibility the home island wasn’t all that it seemed. That maybe your life wasn’t the dream you thought it was.
Most importantly you realize that there are a lot of skills about water navigation that you thought you knew but you really didn’t.
So you study, and you learn, and you make keeping your head above water a daily practice. You read books, watch videos, make your body strong in the gym, eat well, and let the pain teach you about yourself.
Little by little the waters calm down, the skies clear up, you’re in better shape from the swimming. You’ve befriended a dolphin and some seagulls. Life’s ok again. You’ve got food, a new sweet log to hang out on, and have a feeling that you may just make it.
Storms, rogue waves, the occasional hungry shark…
And then it happens. You see a glimmer of an outline. Just the slightest bit. Is it an island? Is it real? Is it a mirage or just denial? And then it disappears.
So you do what you know has worked thus far, you keep swimming, and swimming, and dealing with what the ocean throws at you. You accept the pain, the garbage in the water, the pollution, and the hurt that it all causes you. Whatever comes your way, you deal with it in the moment. None of it will make sense, and none of it has to. You just keep moving forward and growing.
Eventually, that mythical new island that you’ve heard about starts to come back into focus. You see it. It is real. There are happy people on it. Maybe your ex is on it and they’ve done all of the work you have, and they’re sorry for being such an a-hole and leaving. Maybe they’re not, but that’s ok because the best part about the island isn’t the other people on it – it’s the you who crawls up on the shore.
The you that’s lived through hell and survived. The you that is now fluent in sign language and makes world-class sushi – plus infinitely more. The you that has been expanded beyond anything thought possible before. The you who has inevitably been changed by the experience and can never go back to being the old you that lived on the original island.
When you realize the new you that you’ve become, it makes all the swimming worth it.
Congratulations friend, you’re one fucking day stronger and I’m proud of you.
Big man hug,