Life Lessons, Poetry

How To Die of a Broken Heart

Some women are half
empty vessels, allowing
any man to dilute
and fill them. Unaware
that they can never be safe
in his unsteady palms.
He will spill you both.
©Assumpta Ozua 2016

Last night I watched How To Die of a Broken Heart by Femi Martin. Ever since Femi mentioned this project on Facebook about two years ago, my interest was piqued. After many failed attempts, a couple of purchased (and subsequently given away) tickets, a drive across London beset with traffic, resulting in the abandonment of my car and a quarter mile powerwalk/jog to the theatre… I finally got to see it.

It was worth the persistence.

In short:

“Heartbreak changed Femi Martin’s body and her life forever. In this honest and funny show, she draws on neuroscience and her own experiences of failed relationships to illuminate both the beauties and the dangers of loving someone.”

Photo: Benji Reid


Femi’s performance was moving. In fact, I found everything about the one-woman show to be really poignant. It took me back to [the first time] where (at 19), heartbreak induced such physical pain, I wondered if I was having a cardiac episode. I remembered the same feeling again at 22 – albeit slightly less severe but painful nonetheless.

Friends have called me ‘brave’ for being so honest in my poetry but writing a whole show about painful matters of the heart is another thing entirely. That, is bravery. In any case “every time I get my heart broken I become a better poet.” – Anthon Anaxagorou

Back to present day, I vividly recall a time when my singleness was considered my fault. As though I could date myself? The fact that the sort of man these meddlers well-meaning individuals expected me to entertain and eventually marry either did not like me like that, were already in relationships or didn’t exist in my immediate circle at the time was neither here nor there.

I was too picky, too independent, too intelligent, too ambitious, too intimidating… I kid you not (I’m 5″2 and smile a lot, I’m not sure how intimidating that makes me?) but all of these are ‘negative’ attributes I have been accused of embodying / projecting over the years.

Did I cry about it at some point? Of course I did, I’m not made of stone and I’ve been a bridesmaid more times than I care to count right now and that comes with its own stigma (more about that another day)
Did I pray about it? Definitely.
Did I moan and play the ‘what’s wrong me?’ game? Yep, did that too.

But, while people hoped, wished, crossed-fingers, fasted and prayed for my single soul – throwing the occasional lecture in for good measure, I kept doing the things I loved. I kept learning, growing and becoming a more awesome version of myself.

I met new people constantly. No one can say I didn’t try – I can be pretty sociable when I want to be. When a guy comes to talk to me, I’m not the girl who shuts you down. Irrespective of whether I’m attracted to you (unless I’m in a rush or you were vulgar / rude / creepy), I engage in polite conversation because I have a genuine interest in people.

I was incredulous when my friend ‘Jane’ (that’s not her real name) called me picky. My response: “Jane, you’ve met some of the people I’ve been on dates with and I’m clearly not picky enough!” (This is not to deride the men in question, we just weren’t for one another).

As Chimamanda Adechie says: “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important…”

But it’s not. Marriage is significant to me but so are happiness, working hard and leaving a legacy to be proud of. With regards to relationships, I believe will happen when they’re meant to. And unless you’re dating a murderer or suffer a freak heart attack after being dumped, heartbreak won’t actually kill you. Sure it hurts…a lot! But what it should do is teach you.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana. Or to phrase it a little differently, if you do not learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it.

11 thoughts on “How To Die of a Broken Heart”

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