My relationship status is in limbo. Eight days ago I was engaged. Now I don’t know what I am. I’m not single, but I’m certainly feeling a lonesomeness that I haven’t felt in four and half years—it’s traumatizing and weirdly liberating all at once. During the first few days of this new stage of my life, I found it impossible to get out of bed, my bones ached, and I had a strong desire to sleep for the next 100 years. But since then I’ve discovered how to pick myself back up and offer to you 10 tips for surviving the first week of heartbreak.
10. Pop Pills: Obtained legally and under the advisement of your doctor, of course. Let’s face it, the first few days, it’s really hard to conceive of life being worth living. I don’t care if you’re all girl power strong and resilient—heartbreak can knock the wind out of any Calamity Jane. that’s why I can vouch for the effectiveness of a nice, doctor-prescribed dose of anti-depressants and sleeping meds to take the edge off. Sleep your ass off and after a couple deep dreams, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed.
9. Work: No offense, readers, but on Day 1 and Day 2, I could not give a hoot about you or this site. My ability to write, let alone write about sex and relationships, seemed impossible, not to mention the fact that I felt wholly unworthy of commenting on such matters ever again. But on Day 3 I awoke with a renewed sense of purpose. Work can be a distraction during difficult times, yes, but difficult times can also give you a fresh perspective on work. Embrace it!
8. Scream: On Day 6 I went to Gay Night at the Six Flags theme park in New Jersey. Screaming my head off as I rode some seriously insane roller-coasters was incredibly exhilarating and therapeutic. The fact that everyone at the park was gay and there wasn’t a straight male among them to remind me of the source of my heartbreak helped too. As did the cheese fries, especially after five days of not being able to stomach food.
7. Stretch: Personally, I’m not much for working out and the only physical exercise I can really stand is yoga. But this week I realized how much I actually NEED it. This sounds cheesy, but I have heard that your body stores a lot of emotions in your joints and muscles and that’s why you might be inflexible and sore in places—like your hips. Apparently people store a lot of sadness in their hips. So going to yoga has been helpful because DAMN, my hips are sad and it has felt so amazing to release it in a sweaty, exhausting, but fun way. Also, there’s no better revenge than a hot body.
6. Approach Pop Culture Carefully: For the first few days, this pop culture addict couldn’t watch TV, pick up a book, or even consider seeing a movie. The concept of reading about a happy couple in a book, seeing a hot guy on screen, or sniffling over some characters wedding in a movie made me sick to my stomach. But i gradually re-entered the land of the Pop Culture Addicted—I watched “Intervention” and the Food Channel, eventually building up to watching the most recent episode of my beloved “Mad Men” on Day 4. I read magazines and did the crossword until I finally had the urge to reopen my copy of “American Wife” and didn’t get all weepy about the fictional versions of George and Laura Bush. I haven’t gone to the movies yet, but I did watch “Juno” again on Saturday and though I cried when Jennifer Garner got the baby at the end, it felt kind of good.
5. Seek The Advice Of An Older Woman: Having the advice of my mom has been very helpful, but also getting the perspective of a seasoned woman that is NOT related to me has been an eye-opener. Last night my Craigslist friend took me to a dinner party hosted by her twin aunts—both in their late-’50s—who had a lot of wise words for me to consider. “If he is a good man, it’s not worth walking away yet”, “have a time limit”, and “write him a letter” among them. The perspective of someone from Craigslist who has lived a long, fulfilling life, with lots of highs and lows and probably more than a few heartbreaks, but also is not emotionally attached to my own well-being, is just the kind of a outlook I needed to realize that my life is far from over. And that I am fabulous.
4. Put Your “Away” Message Up On AIM & Avoid Social Networking: My worst nightmare is having those friends I don’t talk to very often sending me pings that say, “So, when is the wedding?” It’s not that I want to lie and pretend everything is a-okay, but I’m also not ready to tell many people yet (well, clearly, posting about it on The Frisky shows I’m opening up to the idea), and I certainly don’t want to try to explain the details that I don’t yet understand fully. So I’m on permanent “Away” on AIM. I must seem very busy. Oh and I also deleted the source of my heartbreak from my Craigslist friend’s list—simply because looking at his name was torture.
3. Don’t Drink (Much): Some people, when they break up, go on a major bender. I think this is a terrible idea, as tempting as it may be because nothing makes a broken heart feel worse than a hangover, heart burn, and no one to run out to the deli to buy you a Sprite, Advil, and a bag of jalapeno potato chips. So I’m not drinking (much) for the foreseeable future.
2. Buy Yourself Something Pretty: This tip isn’t as shallow as it sounds. Chances are, if you’re been in a relationship for awhile, you probably have some tokens of love that have become part of your usual “look”. Mine was, obviously, my engagement ring. My hand feels naked—what I miss is that weighted reminder of him on my hand. So I’m going to get myself something that is a weighted reminder of me, myself, and I. It doesn’t have to be much—hell, it could even just be a bouquet of flowers—but it should be something that reminds you that it’s quite alright to love yourself.
1. Lean On Your Friends: They say you discover who your true friends are during a crisis—that is so true. For years my best friend has been my Craigslist boyfriend—not in a co-dependent way, I don’t think, but just in a “when I need to talk, I talk to him"-way—so now that we’re “on a break” [FYI, that “Friends” episode does not really make that phrase any funnier when you’re actually ON a break] I can no longer rely on him for his best friend advice. Suddenly, my friends that I don’t have sex with have really shown me how much they care. Now is not the time to keep your emotions bottled up. Your true friends are the ones who will let you bawl your eyes out, not offer advice unless you ask for it, bring you Sour Patch Kids because they’re your favorite candy, and will call to check on you three times a day.