Our podcast today is with Susan Anderson, M.S.W. Susan is an internationally acknowledged leader in her work with abandonment and heartbreak. I hope you enjoy the interview. Speaking of heartbreak, that is our topic for this week. PNRR is both a personal advice website and a music “show.” Heartbreak is the subject and theme for many recordings in rock ‘n’ roll, country music and other genres. These songs offer support to people when they go through times of breakup, loss, abandonment, disaster, and other personal tragedies. But the condition of heartbreak, while often a transient period in most people’s lives, can lead to more serious psychological and physical problems. We’ve all heard the story of how a beloved spouse of many years dies and the partner passes shortly afterward. Heartbreak can break the fabric of life itself.
Personally, I have experienced heartbreak that led to severe anxiety and depression due to the breakup of my family when I was in my late 30’s and when a love relationship ended five years later. Abandonment is a theme in my family life (as it is for Ike Miller in “Final Shot,”) I will share with you a deeply embodied memory of early abandonment. Both of my parents were Holocaust survivors. I was born in Germany shortly after World War II. In 1949 when I was three years old, my parents emigrated to the U.S. crossing the Atlantic on a ship that had over a thousand refugees from the war. We arrived in Boston Harbor and I was separated from my parents because I had contracted measles on the journey. The medical authories placed me in a hopsital where I stayed for two weeks. I remember my mother leaving me in tears and fright, my shear terror at being left, and then a blackout of the two week period after which a stranger ( a man from the settlement agency) came for me and reunited me with my parents. This event — this sense of being left and without the ability to process its meaning–has always been at the center of my feelings when I’ve encountered loss. The breakup of my marriage and the loss of my relationship subsequent to my divorce are the most powerful examples. Now sixty-four yrears later, I can say that the understanding and tools I’ve learned through my professional work and my personal therapy holds me in good stead when I encounter the devastating feelings of heartbreak not only personally, but with the people who come to me for help.
Perhaps you have a story of heartbreak, abandonment, or loss that you are struggling with. Share it with us. Ask your questions and suggest music you love that supports you through sad times and helps you feel whole again.
We start off our musical set with “Everybody Hurts,” by REM. It is followed by “Unbreak My Heart,” by Toni Braxton, and finally “Crying,” by Roy Orbison.