Penelope Grundle is a life coach, New York Times best-selling author and twice-Editor of Australian Vogue. She is also NUPSA’s resident advice columnist, in accordance with the terms of her Community Service Order (Crimes [Sentencing Procedure] Act 1999).


 

Namaste, children of the stars! How are you travelling? I, unfortunately, have been under the weather of late; I recently attended a shamanic retreat in Mexico with Reese Witherspoon (and all the usual entheogens), during which I lapsed quite heavily into the spirit realm and contracted a nasty virus on my way out. ‘Ghost flu’ is ghastly business, as I’m sure you’re aware. I’ve been in bed for days, and my totem animals have been entirely unhelpful. So has Reese, for that matter.

Still – while I l lay here, coughing up ectoplasm and ranting in the tongues of my ancestors, I remain ever committed to your happiness, my darlings. So long as you have questions, I shall answer them here, with loving care.

 

Dear Penny,

I need your advice. My lover has left me and my heart is broken. How do I heal myself so I can carry on?

Sincerely,

Unwanted and Crying

 

Dear Unwanted,

First, know that you are not at all unwanted – though heartbreak will always make us feel that way, for a time. When I discovered my first husband, Jean-Luc, was having a torrid affair with our live-in chef, I too felt isolated and alone (although there were six other live-in staff around me at all times). For thirteen days and fourteen nights, I wept bitter tears of betrayal, forgoing all sleep and sustenance. Then, I set fire to most of his belongings and invoked the goddess Rhamnousia, neither of which I would necessarily recommend here.

Years later, though, when my second husband bumbled his way into adultery (as he did with most things), I was wiser and more philosophical in my response. By then, I’d started to uncover the true nature of the cosmos – the great, wondrous tapestry of it all, and the meaning buried in every choice, every consequence, every connection, every granule of our lives. I knew that there was something to learn here, something to be gleaned from his actions, that would assist me on the road ahead. Though I had lost a friend and lover, I had gained something infinitely more valuable: knowledge. Self-realisation.

Life, you see, is a journey with uncertain destination. We buck and swerve at every turn, either fearing for the future or clutching at the past as it fades to the horizon. We think of loss – heartbreak, grief, failure or dissolution – only as something to be avoided, for just another week, another day, another hour. We do not savour loss, nor properly examine it. We do not appreciate the strength and tenacity it fosters, or the wisdom it provides.

And so, dear heart, my best advice is to reflect on how you are feeling right now, as difficult as that may seem. Sadness is a loyal companion throughout our lives, equal to happiness; speak to it, and listen to what it has to tell you. I do not know your heart, but if you listen, I suspect its words will be these: “You are here. You are alive, and there is strength within you – a cord of iron that nothing in this world can break. The wound is deep and the pain severe, but they will surely heal; time and perseverance will achieve it. I will mend myself, beat by beat, and grow stronger in the mending.”

You ask me how you can heal yourself and move on, but the answer is in the question. You will heal yourself as you move on – not forgetting your pain or avoiding your sadness, but by claiming them, accepting them, understanding them. You will emerge wiser and more resilient, and when you love again, it will be in ever more complex and satisfying ways. Like any of us, you are a creature composed of joy and despair, in equal measure. Love them both.

And as for your lover: whether that coward wants you or not is immaterial. The only love and approval you ever need is your own. All your happiness – all you are and all you have yet to become – starts here.

 

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