“Wow…you’re really good at breakups,” I said to my roomie who was 1 week out of a serious relationship. “I mean…you’re super mature.”
Despite the fact that the break up was still raw, Rooms was holding it down with a poker face. She was heading to kick boxing. She was cooking an impressively elaborate meal just for herself. She was making plans with friends. She wasn’t calling him. Or texting him at 3 am. Or bawling in her bedroom after discovering a pair of his socks balled up under her bed. She wasn’t waking up in his bed. Or his friend’s beds.
What I am getting at here is that I am really REALLY really bad at breakups. Terrible at them. In the 7th grade I broke up with my first basement make-out buddy, who I really really liked. A lot. I was devastated about it. As devastated as you can be when you’re 12. I wanted to get back together so hard. So what did I do? I made him cry on the bus in front of all of his friends by teasing him about his learning disability. And then I made out with his brother. I was a total peach.
While my antics have improved mildly over the last 15 years (I am not such a bitch), I still suck at breakups when it comes to harnessing emotional integrity. WTF does that mean? It means I get really sloppy.
I hang on too long thinking about what was or what could be “if only.” But that’s dumb. It’s like putting a fluffy head of kale in the fridge, watching it wilt and wither and finally turn into a pool of slimey green sludge while you refuse to clean it out because “it used to be so beautiful,” or “But I was gonna make such a lovely salad.” Shit is dumb, and also insane.
My last big breakup, which happened in early 2011, went over pretty well. We respected one another, there was no name calling, no hate sex. I was really proud of myself. However, after some more recent emotional demolition, I now understand why I handled my last breakup with relative ease. There were 500 miles between us. I was generally over the relationship before I ended it, because I had been thinking about ending it for about 6 months before I did. We had grown apart. I was no longer in love at the time of the split. Also, he didn’t have any brothers.
I have written on here before about how to avoid acting like an insane person post breakup. But what about actually getting THROUGH it? I mean, I could act like all of my shit is together when I am in public, acing deadlines and smiling, but it really won’t help me if I spend my 20 minute commute to and from work sobbing.
So here is the idiot’s guide to surviving a breakup. Because I am trying to be better at it. And maybe you are too.
- Allow indulgence, but not over indulgence. It’s cool to go buy some new shoes or get yourself a cupcake. But don’t blow your whole paycheck on fourteen new pairs of shoes, eat a whole cake and then look at yourself in the mirror asking why you feel so bloated and unattractive and HOW are you going to make rent? Give yourself some leeway, but don’t go nuts. Nuts are not attractive, anyway.
- Keep an eye on the emo parade. I am the queen of nostalgic sadism. It is not healthy. Don’t pour through photos or mementos and make yourself more miserable. But do allow yourself to be somewhat miserable. “Fake it til you make it” doesn’t work with breakups, it just allows you to bottle up all your emotions until you are unable to keep them down any longer and shower your next partner with a spew of projectile feeling vomit that they really had nothing to do with in the first place.
Allow yourself to have a good cry or several good cries. Make yourself an extra emo breakup play list and spend a few hours with it on repeat. But then put your shit together, man! Don’t cry in the bathroom at work. Don’t cry in the cubicle at work. Don’t text your coworker and say “OMGGGG I JUST BROKE UP WITH MY BOYFRIEND PLEASE BRING ME A LATTE.” (Well, maybe do that…). Because breaking up sucks, but so does getting fired for being a mess. Messes are not professional.
- Try not to do anything that will make you feel bad about yourself. Try to avoid emotional eating, too-soon casual sex, taking out your frustration on people who are just trying to be nice, or anything else that will make me generally ashamed of myself. I mean. YOU of yourself. We are taking about you. Not me.
- Social media check. I wrote in my Don’t Be Crazy post that you shouldn’t blast your anger all over social media. But mainly I focused on the way you would appear to others. But a bigger reason you shouldn’t do this extends beyond how you look. It will legitimately make you more miserable in the long run, and will most definitely embarrass you later when you get over it and realize there is now a photo of your mascara streaked face with an artful filter and Taking Back Sunday lyrics immortalized on the World Wide Web.
You should probably stop following your ex on Instagram for a while, and if they still follow you, resist the urge to Instagram you with some hot bar dude accompanied by #DTF. If you’re feeling lonely, and want some validation from strangers and old classmates, instead plastering every one of your social network with emo Bright Eyes lyrics, ask your Twitter followers to help you out, like so:
- Sweat. I am a fitness junkie, I will admit. But gym bunny or couch potato, if there is ever a time to get into exercise, it is right after a split. Exercise creates endorphins, which help ease depression. Also, working out improves your confidence and when you’re recently burned, any extra iota of confidence is a self esteem boon. Plus, fitness–unlike a tequila tasting or your ex’s Facebook–is a productive distraction.
I have found a good work out helps to harden my resolve. I might wake up listless and mopey, but somewhere around mile 3 of my run, as I am cruising along to Beyonce, I start feeling like a bad bitch who doesn’t need anyone else to make her feel good. Maybe it’s just because the music I listen to when I work out is uplifting, and the music I listen to when I am sitting alone in my bedroom is depressing as shit, but either way, I always have a more positive outlook and a more concrete sense of self when I am sweating. Also my ass looks better. So that cant hurt.
- Pick up old hobbies. Relationships take a lot of work and time. Sometimes, without realizing it, we spend so much time dedicating ourselves to our partner that we end up having less time to do things we once loved. It is often inevitable when you’re shifting your schedule to make room for someone else that you have less time to do what you love solo. These sacrifices often go unnoticed; Who wouldn’t prefer sunday snuggles to sunday Crossfit sessions? Did you used to rock climb? Paint with water colors? Volunteer? Has it been 8 months since you made it to your 8 am Saturday morning yoga class? Do you have a half-finished fan fiction novel floating around your hard drive? Get back into whatever made you thrive the last time you were flying solo. And the next time you’re in a relationship, try not to lose sight of the things that made you feel like…well…you. Now excuse me as I re-learn how to play my ukulele…
The Lusty Vegan is a lifestyle and sex column focusing on living and loving as a twenty-something year old vegan. More rants from Zoe Eisenberg can be found at www.sexytofu.com. Follow her on Twitter @Sexytofublog.