It’s not all hearts and flowers this week. Of course we know that many hundreds of thousands of happy couples will be celebrating Cupid’s Day, but what about those who are currently feeling a little sore?
Here’s some deeply honest reflections from a guest author, accomplished illustrator, Emma Cowlam:
LOVE – Forever Hanging By A Thread

Tell me what you’re feeling,  I can take the pain , Tell me that you mean it,  That you won’t leave again.
Tell me what your heart wants,  Such a simple thing,  My heart is like paper,  Yours is like a flame.
I can’t make you see,  If you don’t by now,  I’ll get through these chains,  Some how,  Some how.
Take it if you want it,  I’m so tired I just don’t care,  Can’t you see how much you hurt me?  It’s like I wasn’t there.

Lyrics by Ray La Montagne’s ’Such A Simple Thing’.
(**Ray, who has an uncanny ability to put feelings into words)

I’ve been procrastinating for days over whether or not to write this, but after a lot of (over)thinking, I’ve concluded I can only live life honestly.

On the surface, it could be easy for me to appear to be living a life bountiful with fashionable fun. Indeed, in many respects this is the case, but equally I don’t claim to possess a superpower, immunising me from the not-so-good stuff.

I wish! I’m just as real and emotionally multi-layered as the next person, and I’m simply doing the best I can while essentially winging it though life.

We’re all doing this, right?

I could conveniently cop out of what’s going on in my offline life and I could dream up a post spouting on positively about something or other.

However, to do that doesn’t sit well with my conscience, given people who follow my illustrated life contact me to express their enjoyment of my chatty work-life commentary and how they’re inspired by the way I’m purposefully shaping my journey.

I wish with all my broken heart I could share an enchanting illustration, inspired from a place of love.

Sadly, I can’t romanticise  about my life this Valentine’s Day.

A few months back, my heart broke. There is no nice way to gloss over this painful truth. Trust me, I’ve tried.

To be clear, this is not a sob story and although there have been (many) tears, there hasn’t been wallowing in self-pity. Being a victim is not a good look. For anyone. Ever.

After the initial shock and inevitable rollercoaster ride of deeply uncomfortable emotions, survival mode kicked in, I busied myself in the studio channelling the emotional energy positively, and spent every other second of my spare time embraced in the constant love and support of friends.

I’ve always known I’m surrounded by a global tribe of amazing people but never more clearly have I seen this truth than during those early days and weeks (and still now).

Whether I was in London or across the pond in Manhattan with my favourite New Yorkers, I was endlessly buoyed-up. I choose people who choose me.

I won’t delve into the nitty-gritty details of how I fell irreversibly in love and the subsequent heartache. I’m honest, but I don’t fancy bearing my soul too much in public!

I will though, share a little of what I learned during my time trapped in love-loss hell.

I know I’m still not fully out of this unpleasant ‘holding pen’ yet, and I’m still hovering on the sidelines of happiness, but I’ve learned even if time doesn’t heal heartbreak, it does soften it. This gives me hope.

Maybe the pearls of wisdom I’ve picked up along the way will help anyone who is experiencing a difficult time of late.

I’ve come to realise love is a funny thing. A  simple hello can lead to a million things and ultimately, love is a virus. It can happen to anyone at any time.

It’s strange how you can live for so long not knowing someone existed and then all of a sudden you need this stranger all the time.

You look at this person and hope they will stay forever, you start to believe in miracles and when you’re not together, missing them becomes involuntary. It’s not logic, it’s love. In a society where we glorify ‘busyness’, people continually yearn for time to slow down, but when you realise you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible. The irony!

There is so much self-learning to come from love, and even more from lost love.

After all, it’s said that the best lessons come from the worst of times.  It’s natural when a relationship fractures and the duo-world you’ve come to inhabit crumbles before your eyes, to question and re-evaluate your life, searching for what happens next.

In the midst of dealing with disappointment, you cry more tears than you ever knew you had inside you and you endure the sadness of grieving someone who’s still alive.

In the beginning it’s good to sit with your emotions for a bit, but there comes a time for you to accept the situation and let it be. Force nothing and let go of what should be happening, and live what is actually happening. Learn to love where you are at, right now, and even if you feel weak, act strong.

Then you have to dig deep and find the courage to say goodbye to ‘maybes’ and to burn bridges to stop you from crossing them again.

You can’t hold on to someone who wants to leave. It’s hard to accept but some people are better left in your past, no matter how much you want them in your future

Wish your former flame all the very best for their future, be endlessly thankful for the happy times you shared and the memories you made together while acting with dignity and grace at all times. Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting, it means choosing not to take any negative energy into the future.

Even in the most testing of times nothing is always all bad and there will be smidgens of good somewhere. Look around and appreciate what you do still have, nothing will be the same in a year.

Given that your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship in your life it’s of upmost importance, for the sake of your future self, that you take positive steps of action.

The wound might not be your fault but your healing is your responsibility, and you’ve got to be fearless enough to give yourself the love you are no longer receiving. You are your’s before you are anyone else’s.

Remember to have less worry and more faith and know not all changes are positive in the beginning.

You give life to what you give energy to, so be led by your dreams as when you become radically yourself, you become magnetic.

Don’t overthink. It’s a pointless art of creating problems that don’t exist.

Focus on whatever it is you love and make a clear and decisive choice to liberate yourself from suffering. The things that excite you are not random, they are connected to your purpose, so follow them.

Constancy counts, so ask yourself regularly if what you are doing on a daily basis support the life you are trying to create. How you spend your days is how you live your life. Start off knowing nothing can stop you, there will be ups and downs, but new habits equal a new life.

The past can’t be erased, and the time can’t be returned so don’t look at the relationship and its subsequent breakdown as pointless. It’s not a waste of time if you were able to learn something, and instead of asking why it didn’t work out, ask yourself what beauty you will create in the space they no longer occupy.

Take it day by day and don’t look for closure, look for openings, and know your current situation is not your final destination.

Sometimes things fall apart so better things can fall together. Let time pass and know better is coming, so take your time to cleanse your heart while trusting in the timing of your life a little bit.

At the end of the day, to love takes great courage and I’ve learned the best and only thing to always do is to tell someone how you feel, because opportunities are lost in the blink of an eye, but regret can last a lifetime. Take the risk of love again, life’s too short to be anything but happy.

Someone, somewhere, is searching for you among everyone they meet.

Emma Cowlam is an award winning fashion illustrator with a prestigious international client list. Emma’s Journal chronicles her transatlantic life in design between London and New York.