“But I loved him!”
“I know you did,” my friend patted me reassuringly on the back.
I was a few days into a very necessary break up. After a year of miscommunication, restaurant storm outs, ugly snot crying arguments and long teary phone conversations, it was over. He had pulled the pin.
I was dumped.
Two days later, I emerged from the wreckage; sleep deprived, manic, distraught and powerless. I needed to get my shit together. I needed reinforcements.
They came in the form of two of my closest friends, whom on arrival, found me sobbing, binge watching “Grey’s Anatomy” and drinking wine from a cask, all whilst riding an exercise bike. Hopelessly ill-equipped in the skills of overcoming heartbreak, this was my attempt to move on. (FYI:exercise and alcohol don’t mix well, but “Grey’s Anatomy” is at least 20% more entertaining.)
When it came to being dumped, it was fair to say I lacked the decorum of some of my more sophisticated counterparts. There was no it was for the best, we’ll still remain friends insight in my post break up brain – far from it. The heartbreak had led the ‘regular me’ to pack up shop and go on retreat, leaving in substitute a desperate, self–loathing doppelgänger, completely devoid of common sense or dignity.
Let’s just say I have committed a multitude of stupid, embarrassing, downright dangerous things in a post break up frame of mind; I shan’t elaborate (for fear of being prosecuted) but will instead, summarise for you in a hashtag… #1000softextmsgscyberstalkingregularstalkingcatfishingclimbinguptwostorybalconyinheels
Thankfully (hopefully), those days are behind me. But having survived a number of torturous break ups in my twenties, I had, by bad break up number three, learnt a few strategies to get me through those tough weeks (or months) that followed.
Without further introduction, here is what I’m sure is a very psychologically irresponsible set of ‘steps’ designed to help the hapless losers like me through the devastation of a break up.
MY 5 STEP ‘GETTING YOUR SHIT TOGETHER’ PROGRAM
Numb yourself with alcohol. There’s nothing worse than being stone cold sober when grappling with the realisation that you’ve been ditched.
Treat yourself with something you enjoy drinking, and put it in a pretty glass, so you feel like less of an alcoholic, and more of a social ‘party girl/guy’, just kicking back in their pjs.
Don’t listen to the teetotallers and overly concerned do-gooders – this is a vital step on your road to recovery. Just assure them that you haven’t fallen down a black (label) hole – it’s a temporary and necessary anesthetic.
If your friendly liquor store assistant starts referring to you as a ‘local’ (like mine did), maybe start to cut back on the booze a little (or at least rotate between a few different stores).
You will need to stop drinking eventually, but for those initial stages, give yourself license to get a little bit hammered.
2. GET TALKING
Gather your friends, and bore them to death with obsessive dissection and analysis of your failed relationship.
Let your friends tell you how beautiful/amazing/worthwhile you are and how there is someone more intelligent/kind/attractive out there for you.
Be a little self-absorbed: avoid friends that talk more than they listen, and most definitely avoid people who are blissfully in love and like to talk about it. Keep those arseholes at an arms-length.
3. GET WATCHING
Escape your problems by immersing yourself in the magical world of television (sigh). Find a TV series that you love and binge watch it from beginning to end.
Try to choose one with a ‘down on their luck’ protagonist that fights their way back. Never underestimate a well-crafted montage to inspire you; just ask the girl that starts a health kick every time she sees a “Biggest Loser” advert (only to drop it by next ad break).
Let yourself become fully invested in the characters and their journey; why deal with your own heart ache when you can deal with someone else’s (Oh Carrie, move on! Big is a dick!)?
But be warned, this kind of compulsive viewing can have risks attached; when you start dreaming about shooting bad guys, like I did five seasons into “The Sopranos”, it’s probably time to move on to the next step.
You’ve been hibernating in drunk TV land long enough – It’s time for a makeover! (Cue inspirational music). Be like that girl in almost every rom com/teen film/trashy TV series, that blossoms from an ugly (because Katherine Heigl with brown hair and glasses is a beast!), frumpy loser into a sexy, ready-for-anything bombshell. Or at least just a better version of that drunk couch potato from the day before. I recommend whatever gives you the quickest satisfaction; hair, make up, outfit, diet (boo!)…
Even if you feel like your heart has been pulled out and stomped on, at least you can fake it a little by looking your best, if for no one other reason than admiring your own satisfied reflection in the mirror.
5. GET ATTENTION
Go out dancing with your friends. If there’s a place in this world for lingering stares and tacky pick-up lines, it’s here – for all the recently dumped out there who have forgotten that somebody, somewhere might find them attractive.
A compliment goes along way when you feel as worthwhile and interesting as a wet flannel. But be careful not to fall hard and fast for the first loser that throws your self-esteem a life line. That kind of ‘attention’ will only lead to more self-loathing (and “Grey’s Anatomy”).
The best ‘attention’ I received post break up, was from an elderly lady at the supermarket. She placed her hand gently on my arm and said, “You look lovely in that dress.” Her unexpected kindness was exactly what my wounded heart required.
It would be nice if we could edit our post break up recovery into 4 minutes and a montage like they do on TV. If we could make the transition from ‘heart broken’ to ‘hopeful’ in the same time it takes to play whatever catchy pop song they use as a backing track. But we can’t – the pain is unavoidable, we have to navigate through it and eventually ‘get our shit together’, so we can feel ourselves again (or maybe even a little bit better off for it).
BY BROOKE KLAASSEN