When we first discussed putting this breakups episode together--and I can't remember whose idea it was but I know it wasn't mine--I was a little nervous...Outside of funny dating disaster stories like the infamous Tickle Monster, my love life tends to be on lock. No social media posts about him. No public declarations that we're together. I even select my poetry to avoid matching how I feel that day so that people can't assume my posts are reflective of life...how was I supposed to open up about things I keep to myself?
Episode 5 dealt with cheating, breakups, social media, and how you can get over a breakup. Is it possible to be friends with an ex? Should we? What about if there are no feelings leftover?
It turned out to be one of my favorite episodes.
Namely, because none of us agreed on a thing.
We talked a lot about healing...how breakups can be interruptors of life on a seismic level, and how it can be tough to rebuild after a devastating blow like that. It occurred to me after Nehal's cheating story and upon reflection with my own experiences that when you love someone, you truly do give them the power to break you. And the way they do that, whether it's cheating or an unexpected breakup or whatever else...it leaves an impression that a person can carry for the rest of their lives. Think about Nehal's story. She was a teenager. It's been nearly ten years later and the impact of her actions is one that she still takes into relationships with her.
And on the concept of healing...I wrote the post below (with a few tweaks) about 9 months ago and I hope it helps any of you going through it.
You know exactly what I'm talking about when I say everyone has had a heartbreak legend will be written about. Tell me you didn't think of that one guy/girl who shattered you. The opportunity that passed you by. The road not taken.
The one you thought of even more when you tried to drink it away (and possibly drunk texted. No judgment.)
The one you tearfully told your friends, your parents, your cousins, your hair stylist, the neighbor, the mailman and the sweet retail girl at Express--who was just trying to help you choose a pair of revenge jeans--about.
The one you wrote pages of anger about (and possibly to) so s/he could know exactly what s/he did wrong and could take responsibility (Rachel Green...I feel you, girl!).
Jokes aside, it's a garbage place to be. I mean...dating is hard enough nowadays. Call me a dinosaur if you want, but dating apps have a lot to do with it. It's easy in a world of instant gratification to swipe left or right and decide in a millisecond whether someone is worth pursuing. And more than that, the consistent quest for something better is at our fingertips. The options happen to be available, unlike when our parents were younger. Jobs, volunteering, significant others--hell, even Seamless--all at our fingertips when we want it.
But here you are...you found your penguin or lobster or whatever else animal is out there that mates exclusively. You have won the romantic lottery. Suddenly, your social media posts aren't of you looking wistfully at the horizon but looking at them...maybe with a sweet little caption or quote about life was never the same after you met them. Every love song has a person associated with it. You are no longer the dateless guest at a wedding because YOU HAVE BECOME THE PERSON WITH A PERSON.
And then it's over.
Talk about a buzzkill.
So, in my wise wisdom and from insight gained watching friends go through their own heartache...here are some things that won't necessarily heal your heartbreak but will hopefully support you through it.
1) It really isn't you. It really is them.
Being cruel after a breakup is a choice. The way you break up with someone--face to face or over the phone, clearly and communicatively--versus an email or text or whatever passive means exists out there now...it's all cowardly and if you've experienced it, I'm really sorry. If you've done it, I hope you do better next time. The bravery and dignity with which you handle someone else's heart is a mark of your character. Hold yourself to that standard--and just as importantly, hold others to it too.
You, beautiful one, do not need to give someone a second chance who has already proven it is in their build to treat you as a lesser human being. You are officially off the hook for blaming yourself. Go and set yourself free. It's them, not you.
2) The world keeps spinning.
How many days have you spent wanting the world to stop while you deal with your many, many feelings? "I JUST NEED A DAY OFF TO GET IT TOGETHER!" you want to scream, but let's be honest...a day off isn't going to fix this and the world keeps turning despite your many pleas that it stop.
But with that comes a little optimism if you let yourself see it...there's a little beauty in the idea that the sun keeps rising and the planet continues on with their lives. Everyone has been in your shoes...and somehow, things kept moving on. Which means that this horrible phase of pain is also transient. As the universal spin continues, so too shall you and your life.
3) Wallow. Then make the decision to get up.
You know how Bambi took tried to take his first steps and fell a couple times? You'll get up when you're ready. But determination is a significant part of survival. You'll have your rough days but the beginning comes with the decision to get up, and move forward. You don't have to throw yourself into anything you aren't ready for...but scheduling some laughter time with your friends, trying something new and throwing yourself into life? At the very least, you have some experiences worth remembering. They may even be wonderful distractions. But try...try to put yourself back into a normal routine of some sort.
4) Gain something. For the long haul. For you.
Almost all of my guy friends have told me that they've made career moves during a break up. Many of my girl friends agree. By not being impulsive, but throwing themselves into a work project, home project, drastic change, or investment, they have gained something for themselves. They have found a long-term satisfaction in the loss, and it'll make them proud. A little piece of light in a dark place--and sometimes, when you think back on the heartache, you remember the accomplishment as a beacon, rather than the breakup.
5) I'm going to have a serious moment here. Be gentle with yourself.
I tell friends that all the time on their quests for perfection--people will always fall short. Me, you, your family, our friends. There is always forward progress. Backwards steps also exist. Sometimes, it's okay to sleep off a weekend because it's easier than facing reality. It's okay to have a night with a bottle of wine, thinking about the job opportunity you passed up.
It's okay to fall. It's okay to wallow. It's okay to feel sad, sorry and sentimental.
Just don't make it a permanent home. You deserve better than living in misery.
Are these methods fail-proof? Nope. If I had the art of getting over a letdown mastered, I'd be a millionaire who probably didn't need a blog or a podcast to begin with. But everyone needs a first step...a place to start. Maybe you've found yours.