Hi! Can share a little about yourself and what you do?
You can call me Emma Lee – I’m best known for my Instagram account, @hiddenheartbreak. It’s an account of cartoons and drawings I create with a focus on love, heartbreak, healing, and reflection.
Can you tell us about a significant heartbreak and how you recovered?
I’ve had many, but probably my most significant was one that I experienced with someone I knew in college. This person held such a powerful draw for me. Not only did we have tons of common interests, but we had also unknowingly grown up a few towns over from each other and found out we frequented many of the same spots as children. Nostalgia is addictive, and I assumed that he felt the same – that there was no one easier to love than a person who had already shared so many of the same experiences. Unfortunately, he did not agree, and it was very hard for me to come to terms with that. The recovery was difficult and very long, but it was then that I learned how important it is to feel your feelings and be honest with yourself about them. I knew I had gotten through heartbreaks before, and that knowledge kept me going through this one, too. I also am definitely a person whose self-worth is directly tied to my productivity and success, so for me it helped to learn new skills and excel at things I already did. Originally, I did it to prove to him that he missed out on something spectacular, but in the end, I realized that I had made myself feel valuable and worthy all on my own.
What are major red flags for you when you start dating someone new?
Lack of communication and openness is a huge one. If I hesitate to text someone because I’m afraid of “coming on too strong,” it’s a sign that they probably aren’t a good person for me. Also, lack of ambition. I consider myself an ambitious person and if I meet someone who isn’t, it’s usually an indicator that we have incompatible life goals.
What are your favorite mood elevators to uplift and inspire you?
Oh gosh, SO many. Music is probably my number one. Music hugely inspires my art and there’s nothing better than hearing a song that empowers you, commiserates with you, soothes you, whatever. My personal favorites are songs that have an upbeat melody with dark or sad lyrics. Something about that combination simultaneously lifts me up and makes me feel understood. I also love cooking and trying new recipes, and I make a point of doing 1-2 new ones a week. I pour myself a glass of wine, put on a podcast and just forget the world for an hour or two. I also love running, photography, and learning (slowly!) to play guitar while I sing.
Do you stay friends with your ex? Unfollow or follow them on social media, etc?
I strongly believe in unfollowing on all social media, and usually I’ll even block them immediately after for a good few months. It’s not always because I’m angry at them, I just know for my own sanity I need a clean break to avoid temptation. I know a lot of people try to make a point of saying that staying friends with an ex is the mature thing to do, but it’s just not my thing. I’m a human and I’m allowed to be angry, or need a break from someone.
Any tips for our users on moving on from heartbreak?
Be honest with yourself. I say this all the time, but your feelings are there for a reason. Feel them! A lot of people try to avoid them and brush them off, but they always come back sooner or later. Let yourself be devastated for a few days, a few weeks, a month, whatever you need. It’s okay to admit to yourself that someone hurt you. Find things that make you happy, or calm, or fulfilled, and do those things. Rely on your support system, whether that means friends, family, or a therapist. After a while, you’ll realize you’ve replaced some of that time mourning your loss with time dedicated to your own happiness. That balance only continues to shift in your favor over time. Finally, remember that there are so many people out there in the same boat as you. You are not alone.