The strangest part about being someone who regularly writes about relationships is that people actually assume you know stuff about relationships. (Really, it’s like the blind leading the blind here. I thought that was painfully obvious?)
So, when someone asked me this summer “What are your tips for getting over a bad breakup?” I actually had to think about it. I tried to think back to the last time I broke up with someone (6 months before my 25th birthday) and what I had done to move forward. I had visions of dramatic hair style changes, lots of vodka, weekend benders, random make-out sessions and long days spent laying out in the sun by my apartment complex’s pool. Oh, did I mention vodka?
Now that I’m actually in this exact predicament, I still don’t have any concrete answers. In the past, the guys I dated usually did me a solid and broke up with me or made it incredibly easy for me to walk away from them by doing something horrible like sleeping with another girl or peeing in my friend’s car… or something else that was so ridiculous, so atrocious my only option was to say “I’d be fucking insane to stick around for any more of this shit!” before fleeing the scene. Until a month and a half ago, I’ve never had to break up with someone that I loved, who I had a life with for 6 years, someone who is one of the good guys. I’ve never broken up with someone not because of some horrible reason but instead, simply because I knew deep down it was the right thing to do for both of us. I’ve never had to move out of my home I built with someone else and start over. Up until about 4 years ago I had never even lived with a man. I’ve never had to do any of these things and doing it all has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
Everything just feels different now.
I haven’t gone out and purchased manic panic hair dye, or gone on a bender where I drank so much that I’ve thrown up in my co-worker’s sink. I have no desire to do any of these things… and thank god! The cast of Jersey Shore has already fulfilled the world quota of highly functioning alcoholics with bad hair. The reason everything feels so different is because for the first time, I am experiencing the aftermath of a break-up as an actual adult.
I’m still figuring this all out but here is a short list of some things that have helped me (as told through photos of Betty Draper)
1. Let yourself feel it. If you’re feeling sad, angry, lost – allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling. Acknowledge it, have your moment & then move on. Everything you are feeling at this moment will in time pass.
2. Spend time with friends! This has always been a big thing for me. I’m really lucky that my best friend lives here and we’ve been able to hang out lots since I’ve been home. I honestly don’t know what I would do without her. However, a few weeks ago when she wasn’t around, I started to feel lonely. I’m actually proud of myself – instead of moping, I reached out to a bunch of people I used to go to school with. I’ve been catching up with people I haven’t hung out with in years and it’s been really great. My social life is actually quite busy right now….in my hometown…who would have thought.
3. Go to counseling. I started seeing a counselor a few weeks ago and it’s SERIOUSLY THE BEST THING EVER. It’s really nice to sit down and talk to someone about your life without any judgment. My friends are wonderful but sometimes you need someone who doesn’t know you to call you on your shit. I just started going but I already feel a lot calmer.4. Take Care of yourself. In the past I thought this just meant getting a hair-cut, a pedicure and buying a whole bunch of new underwear. Although all of those things are great and do help to a certain extent, it’s also important to do the big stuff. When I got to my Mom’s place my feet hurt, my back hurt, my teeth needed cleaning – my body was basically a mess. Now, most of my mornings start with some kind of doctor’s appointment. I’m finally doing all of those long overdue things. For the first time in a long time, my body isn’t in constant pain.
5. Spend time working on you. In addition to what I’ve mentioned above, I’ve also made a huge to-do list of everything I want to accomplish from now through to January. I’ve divided it into three sections body/mind, career & personal development. I’ve already crossed off a few of the items which makes me feel really good. At the end of the week instead of taking stock of everything I didn’t do, I write a list of all the good things that happened during the week. The list is always longer than I expect it will be (and no, my therapist didn’t suggest I do this – I actually came up with this on my own.)
6. Allow yourself to do that “One Crazy Thing.” When my room-mate separated from her husband she purchased a brand new TV, another friend booked a crazy all-inclusive tropical vacation, some people get botox. I haven’t done any of these things. Since everything has happened, I’ve got a haircut and bought two shirts – things I would have done anyways. Total damage: $150 tops. Not exactly crazy. I keep waiting for my “crazy moment.” It finally happened on Friday night. I went with my parents to my Dad’s friend’s place to hang out with a couple of their old friends from university. We had BC Salmon, BC Wine and (in true BC fashion) for dessert my Dad’s friend brought out a fat joint of BC Weed.
“It’s government issued. Medical grade. Want some?”
This scenario really isn’t that unusual. Growing up, there was always someone you knew whose parents had a stash of “Dad’s Surfer Weed”. It’s practically like having a wine cellar on the West Coast. My parents both declined the joint as it was being passed around. When the joint reached me, I looked at both of my parents and said,
“What the hell!”
I inhaled deeply and after years of not doing this, it actually felt kind of nice in the moment. To just say “fuck it” and do something anyways even if it’s a bit crazy.When we got in the car to go home, I said to my Dad:
“I know you probably didn’t want to see me do that but I’m 31 and going through big life changes…it’s about time I did something weird. Now I can say that I have”
“Are you stoned? Was the weed… uh, good?”
“I’m fine Dad. Let’s just go home”
(Even though my parents didn’t indulge, I think my Dad caught a bit of a contact high. I haven’t seen him laugh like he did on Friday…in years. I think that was my favorite part of the whole night)
My life is not all sunshine & rainbows & getting massages while listening to new-age music – I’ve also had my share of moments where everything just feels uncertain. All I’m saying is that doing these things have helped me – even if it was just to be able to simultaneously add and cross off “smoke pot with my parents” to my life list.
What helps you get through a break-up?