Europe for the Heartbroken: 7 Perfect Places for Healing from a Broken Heart (3/7)

(This may or may not be based on personal experience.)


Munich is a good place to get drunk to think about two things: letting go and letting live.

After a heartbreak, you can find yourself at a loss to comprehend what just happened. One minute everything seems to be going perfectly; the next minute everything seems to be breaking down, just getting worse and worse no matter how much you try to make things right, and then suddenly…it’s over. And it’s hard to wrap your head around what happened and why it happened — the whole thing just seems so needlessly cruel and unfair and senseless.

A lot of cruel, unfair and senseless stuff have happened in Munich too. It actually feels a bit blasphemous to tie the two things up: heartbreak does pale in comparison to the Holocaust. The orders for the Kristallnacht were issued in Munich. The Dachau concentration camp is only 10 miles away. Imagine being imprisoned, tortured, and gassed just because you happened to have been born into a particular race — as if, before we’re born, we get assigned our race by merit! It just doesn’t make sense and is utterly, utterly heartless.


The fact is, sometimes there’s just no rational explanation for why awful things happen. You can dwell on it — you can keep on saying “I don’t understand,” “what did I do wrong?” — but those questions probably don’t have satisfactory answers anyway. At some point you have to realize that the past won’t change no matter how much you try to make sense of it; you won’t get justice; the world won’t suddenly become right again. If you’re going to make your horrible experience at least count for something, you have to try to disentangle yourself from it, dust yourself up, and move on. Try to let go — not to forget, and not necessarily to forgive either, at least not right away. But just realize there’s nothing you can do about the past; just decide, for your own sake, to get out from the quicksand of grief and anger.

Let go…and let live.

Let live because no one is beyond redemption. Germany, from the rubble of two world wars, has now become a force its erstwhile enemies rely on to do things like bailing out other countries’ economies and putting pressure on Putin. Such are the twists of life. Even the worst people, given a chance, could yet become decent human beings and do good things that perhaps only they can do.

So as nice as it might be to imagine certain people suffering twice (or ten thousand times, we’re not choosy) as much pain as they’ve caused you, the reality is: that still won’t change the past. That still won’t erase the hurt. Their suffering won’t benefit you. Truly. Okay, maybe just a little, but it’s a temporary high. What does last is the peace that you get from eventually saying: ah, forget it.

(Or in the esteemed Hagrid’s words: “Ah, go boil yer heads, both of yeh.” You’ll notice Hagrid didn’t actually boil Aunt Petunia’s and Uncle Vernon’s heads. They weren’t worth it.)


What lasts is the peace that comes from eventually — however grudgingly, as long as it’s sincerely — wishing them well. Acknowledging that while their part in your story has ended, however it ended, their own story goes on. Letting them live that story, however it turns out, while you pursue your own happy ending. Maybe even forgiving them if you feel able to. After all, forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re okay with what they did. Forgiveness just means letting go and not giving them the power to hurt you anymore.


And, yes, Munich is a good place to get drunk. (But please don’t do anything stupid.)

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