This week’s posts have been about love, inspired by Valentines Day and all it brings to the table. It has been fun sifting through love songs and making mushy cards. I genuinely enjoy some good old-fashioned sap every now and then.
The thing about celebrating love, though, is that for every lover out there is an equally broken heart. You’ve been there. Maybe it was simply a fifth grade romance gone sour or maybe it was a 7 year relationship that just couldn’t work itself out. Regardless, a moment of silence for heartbreak…because without it, we’re all just a bunch of dopes who don’t know any better.
A few months ago a friend came to me, her heart ripped right out of her chest. Without giving away her identity, I’ll say this: A long, long relationship had ended; one that was supposed to be destiny, one that was headed to the alter. The dress had been purchased, the date had been set, and then, just like that, it was over.
She came to me knowing I had been there, too. We spoke on the phone. We met for coffee. I let her cry and I even cried a little too, because the feeling of loneliness is worse than death. You wish you were dead. Actually you wish they were dead, because the deliberate choice of saying goodbye is too much to bear.
Soon after this conversation, my friend told me she didn’t know if she would ever recover. She’d been missing work, skipping meals, and falling quickly into depression.
And so I wrote her a letter.
Yesterday she called me and said I should share it for love and marriage week, because out of all the Valentines out there–half of them will probably end in tears and a bottle of vodka. Her words.
A few lines and words have been omitted and tweaked to protect her privacy.
You are hurting. Not just in your heart, but in your body. Your chest is tight and it’s hard to breathe. Everything seems weird and wrong; the news, your mom, the radio DJ. They are all just going on with life, unaffected, while you are walking around in a body you don’t recognize. When was the last time it was just you? It’s been so long.
The last thing you want to hear is “just move on” and “forget him” and all that garbage about other fish in the sea. You don’t want the other fish in the sea. You don’t want to think about blind dates and having to dress up and order salads for dinner. (God, the endless salads!) You don’t want to start over. Where are you supposed to meet people anyways? The bar? Church? Both sound just awful. In fact, the thought of being with someone else, or worse–him with someone else, sends a gut wrenching stab through your belly. It’s unthinkable. Don’t even think it.
I know it’s tempting to react by doing something spontaneous or even dangerous. You want to flee the country, shave your head, quit your job. You want to make a statement and let him (and everyone else) know that you aren’t the girl he thought you were.
I know it’s tempting, but it’s probably a bad idea. Here are some other bad ideas.
Absolutely do not:
1) Write him a 10 page love letter on Valentines Day and then stick it under his door at 3 in the morning.
2) Email everyone in his family explaining why you should still be together.
3) Buy a puppy you can’t take care of with 400 dollars you don’t have because maybe that will make you feel better.
4) Make him a scrapbook of your life together and then leave it on his porch with yet another letter about how sorry he’ll be.
5) Pretend to be in a car accident so that he’ll think “I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT HER” and take you back.
6) Go on blind dates only to end up talking about how sad you are.
Full disclosure: I did all of these things and it did not work. It only made them worse. Granted, I was under the influence of a few substances for most of them–but you get the point, which brings me to my next point–stop drinking.
Bottom line: Don’t call him, don’t text him, don’t send him emails or letters or e-cards. Don’t go to his work or talk to his mom. Do not do any of these things because, believe me, ten years later you will still feel like an idiot.
Instead, here are some things you should be doing:
Cry. Cry for up to an hour a day and let that be it. When you feel the tears coming, say to yourself “this is my allotted time to cry” and then let it all out. Think about your last kiss, the last time you said I Love You, the last time everything was right. Think about his sister and how you won’t be exchanging Christmas gifts this year. Think about his old blue shirt. Think about it all and let yourself feel that soul stabbing awful that makes you want to die, but then let that be it. Dry your eyes, splash some water on your face, and distract yourself for the rest of the day. You can cry again tomorrow.
Stay Busy. Schedule lunch dates, phone dates, manicures, pedicures, library stops, trips to the gym, anything to keep your mind from heading south. DO NOT GO OUT ON ACTUAL DATES WITH MEN. Stick with your girlfriends. Perk: you don’t have to order a salad.
Write It Down. Write him the meanest, nastiest, saddest, most pathetically adoring letter in the history of letters and then BURN EVERY SCRAP. Do not, under any circumstance, send it to him or anyone else. Do not save it to your computer. Do not print it and hang it on your refrigerator. Write it out, read it over, and then DESTROY IT. Trust me.
Talk It Out. Talk to your mom. Talk to your friends and your sister who’s gone through the same thing. Do not talk to anyone who is also close to him. Do not talk to your friend who is an alcoholic and can’t get her own life together. Do not talk to your cousin who is just as sad. Talk to someone who has their head on straight and can listen without criticizing or interjecting too much about their own life. Talk to someone who will allow you to wallow but also encourage you to grow. Talk to someone who says, “tell me more” and “it’s okay to cry.”
Most of all, realize It Will Get Better.
In one of my lowest of lows I called my friend Jon who had, at one point, been broken up with by his fiance. We went out to lunch and he looked straight into my eyes and said, “This is hard, but I promise you one thing–it will get better.”
I will never forget that moment because that’s when I realized I would survive. I was looking at a survivor and he was okay. He had moved on. He wasn’t bitter or angry or lovesick. He was respectful of what they’d had together and I’m here to tell you the same thing, it will get better.
A year from now you will look back at where you are today and realize how much you’ve changed. You’ll realize that even though you may always miss the memory of him, you can let him go.
Deep breaths. One day at at time.