Breaking Through Vs. Breaking Free

What’s the difference between breaking through vs. breaking free? A lifetime of difference. Here’s how to reach your breakfree: 

I recently realized I had more healing to do. Sometimes, you don’t know the pain is still hiding deep inside, until something triggers you – decades later – and all that hurt rears its ugly head again. 

Just when I think I’ve healed every aching part of me, God hands me another challenge to remind me: My healing journey is never truly done. So it got me thinking. How do I know when I’m breaking through the pain … versus breaking free from the pain? 

Are You Breaking Through Or Breaking Free? 

When Pain Rears Its Ugly Head

Even though my divorce was amicable, and I walked away with a lifelong friendship and partnership, it still brought up some pain I thought had been healed years ago. As I reflect on my marriage now, I realize I was never fully aware of how much pain I was holding onto. 

Today I can recognize that I’d just learned to cope really well. I was doing just enough of the work to repair the marriage and move forward with our family. And I had breakthroughs that allowed me to keep going. I was moving through the pain – but I wasn’t breaking free from the pain. 

More specifically, I was holding on to anger. Yes, it was anger that was justified, as I had been hurt and lied to. I called it righteous anger

But as I grieved our marriage, I also learned the truth: When I expressed that anger and rage, there was nothing righteous about it. It had turned into resentment that was only stealing my own happiness. It wasn’t serving me.  And it was definitely not healing me. 

Instead, it was a reminder that I’m still on my healing journey. I’m human, and I have human moments. That being said, I knew it was time to stop focusing on the past and start owning what’s still possible for me, my relationship with my kids’ father, and my family. 

I was ready to learn the difference between breaking through and breaking free 

Breaking Through

I’m no stranger to tragedy. I’ve dealt with loss and pain my entire life. 

To some degree, I think I’ve learned to hold my breath as I got through things, to throw up the walls and strengthen my outer defenses – just to make it to the other side of my pain one more time. But the moment I’m triggered, or when I allow myself to truly relax, an old wound shows itself. And I’m reminded there’s always more to reveal to myself about myself. 

That moment – that’s the breakthrough. But the breakthrough doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll process through the pain and release it. 

That’s the breakfree

And the breakfree is a choice

Breaking Free

Even in the moments when I walk away knowing I’ve been hurt or created hurt, I know I always have the choice to heal. It may not be the easy thing. It may not happen overnight. But I have the choice. 

For me, it always starts with self-love. If I can see myself through the lens of love and compassion, then I can recognize what’s not serving me without losing control to an emotional response. I can return to my foundation: I believe I was designed by my creator to be joyful. I was hard-wired to operate out of love.

So in the moments of my humanness, I choose to remember that – and to not look for the justification or the excuses. I choose to see an opportunity to dig deeper and heal more. Every time, I choose to recommit to my healing journey. 

You see, breaking free starts with the choice to take a close look at myself, in all my humanity, and decide not to judge it but to embrace it. It’s the choice to say thank you for letting me see where I still have pain. 

It’s the commitment to remain grateful that I’ve received valuable wisdom, creative power and personal growth from everything I have been through – even though it was painful to process. 

And I do it all because, with each moment of honesty, I’m taking one more step in alignment with what I desire: the breakfree

The Bottom Line 

The breakthrough is what I’m able to discern from my painful experiences. 

The breakfree is what comes from putting those learnings into continual practice. 

And the difference can be summed up in one word: choice.

Freedom is what I want – so it’s also what I choose. 

When I have the choice to break down, break through or break free, I choose to break free.