- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 3, 2009

“What becomes of the brokenhearted who had love that’s now departed? I know I’ve got to find some kind of peace of mind, baby … ”

Forty-three years ago when the late Jimmy Ruffin first sang those words, folks everywhere started humming the popular tune as they sought solace and a cure for heartbreak. Today’s heartbreak songs include more angry lyrics such as “I bust the windows out of your car.”

D.C. native, Melanie Shorts, 24, who defines herself as a “student of love’s pain,” wasn’t even born in 1966 when Mr. Ruffin’s hit exploded on the Billboard charts, but it didn’t take long for her to find out - after an abusive seven-year relationship with her high school sweetheart - that love hurts.

Not to be undone, though, Ms. Shorts is transforming her hurting into healing for herself and others.

Last month, Ms. Shorts launched a nonprofit organization, Heartfelt Healing, before a packed room of once and now-heartbroken women at the Busboys and Poets restaurant in the bustling U Street corridor of the District.

The catchy title of the Nov. 12 workshop attended primarily by younger women was “Did you want to bust the windows out of his car?” But she warns against acts of violence.

Ms. Short says Heartfelt Healing is dedicated to empowering women to live through and beyond the end of a relationship. Her book, “Loving Me After Heartbreak,” chronicles her own heartbreak and healing. She also wants to help other women realize and enhance their self worth.

“There is a thin line between loving the relationship and loving yourself,” Ms. Shorts said.

Subsequently, the LovingMeAfterHeartbreak.com Web site was created to increase and invite candid, nonjudgmental communication between women and young girls, who are experiencing heartbreak, and to give them a venue to share experiences, release pain and even console or counsel one another on the way to healing.

Ms. Shorts plans to expand Heartfelt Healing into other ventures such as workshops and conferences, according to her Web site.

Shena Boyd, 26, who endured mental and physical abuse from her former boyfriend, who she describes as awful and who once threw rocks at her, attended elementary school with Ms. Shorts. Ms. Boyd considers her “a big inspiration, my mentor, and a wonderful woman with an excellent heart who encourages you to have self-esteem.”

Although Ms. Shorts‘ boyfriend was physically abusive, disrespectful and reduced her self-esteem to its lowest point, she says, “He was very cute, and I loved him so much.”

Years later, however, she is still baffled why she stayed with him even after he took someone else to his senior prom. That was the same senior prom for which Ms. Shorts bought his shoes. He later told her she was too young to go to the prom. To deal with her depression after their breakup, Ms. Shorts said she sought refuge in nightclubs, all-night parties, daylong naps and meaningless sexual relationships with men.

Yet, through the fog, aches and pains, she said she somehow managed to graduate from high school, earn two college degrees and write a book about her heartbreak and healing.

“I’m surprised I finished school!” she said. She received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Trinity College in the District and a master’s degree in public administration and international development from Howard University

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