The Art of Surviving A Break-Up
No two break-ups are exactly alike.
It then follows that no two heartbreaks will ever be exactly the same. Our uniqueness as individuals creates for us distinct ways of experiencing and dealing with pain, much like having a ‘heartbreak fingerprint’, if you will. The intensity, the length of time spent in this grieving process, our coping mechanisms, all depend not only on the quality of the just-ended-relationship, but also on what our personalities are like.
I’m an intense person who leans towards introversion. And though I’m known to have a strong penchant for anything cerebral and live to shred ideas to pieces if only to subject them to over analysis, I also can’t deny a strong emotional side. Yes, I’m a bit of a drama queen, but a ‘closet’ one. That means, when things truly matter to me, I do feel intensely and passionately, although I almost never flaunt such emotions. I won’t deny that I do feed my masochistic tendencies by relishing my sorrow and squeezing as much drama and good writing material out of it as if it were my only source of satiation. In other words, in some twisted way, I feed myself with what has killed me.
So how does someone like me deal with a break-up? I have one word for you: Cinemafy. I’ve survived a soul-shattering break-up essentially by making it as Hollywood-like as I could. You know how in movies the heartbroken person (most likely a woman) first reaches rock-bottom before finding redemption? Aren’t there always scenes where she first falls into a coma-like state while feeding herself with nothing but junk food, feels crappy and looks unkempt, and then moves into self-discovery mode by walking (yes, it’s always walking or running with great background music) all over town? That’s pretty much how I did it.
At the time, I lived in an apartment and would only go home to my parents’ house on weekends. Since I had no energy to cook, I lived off of the glorious P&P combo-- Pizza and Pepsi. I took long walks by my lonesome after work amidst old trees and dared myself to do this even at nighttime. I know this might sound stupid now considering I really could’ve been mugged, but at that time, it was as if all that mattered was for me to test my limits and push beyond all of my comfort zones. I was angry and broken and wanted to see if changing myself would also mean ridding my self of the love I felt for my ex.
I spent hours in bed looking at the ceiling while in a semi-catatonic state, rewinding events and conversations in my head, trying to make sense of it all.
I watched Bridget Jones’ Diary, over and over until I practically memorized the lines and spoke with a British accent. Heck, I WAS Bridget Jones! Remember that first scene where she was wearing her pajamas as she lip-synched to All By Myself? Yes, that was me.
I also drank vodka, but since I was (or am) a wuss, I only drank it mixed and very mildly.
I listened to Ella Fitzgerald as I felt completely wasted, not with alcohol, drugs or nicotine, but with grief and over-analysis.
I wrote in my journal. A LOT.
I cried and prayed and begged. And then I slept.
I forced myself to go out with friends to have some distraction. It didn’t take long for me to realize that going out wasn’t always a great idea because I only ended up even more depressed and psychotic as I felt like killing every couple I saw walking past me. The agony was worse if I saw interracial couples. (The "ex" is British). It could've easily turned into a Linda Blair-spinning-head scene from The Exorcist. I knew I had to be very careful because out there was an emotional landmine.
Image: Torback Harper via Flickr
Finally, I figured I needed to leave the country for a short vacation and time abroad to further distract and convince myself that there’s so much out there to look forward to and discover about myself. (Don’t you think this was verySabrina-ish?...the remake with Julia Ormond, not the Audrey Hepburn original). Unfortunately, I ended up torturing my best friend, with whom I flew for approximately 20 hours, by talking about my ex and our intense love affair, non-stop! I can imagine that she was probably thinking that it would’ve been far more pleasurable to jump off of the plane than hear one more bit of my reminiscing.
So, yes. I did a movie-worthy post-break-up journey and I don't regret any moment of it. I felt the depth of my pain while feeling like a movie star. I paid attention to my self-discovery and healing, while imagining that it was a magical and glamorous experience. You might as well have fun while you try to pick up and put together your heart's jagged shards. Create soundtracks, come up with cheesy lines, and choose your inspiration characters. Most importantly, plan for a happy ending. Sometimes the main characters get back together, but sometimes they don't. But in any movie, the best and most memorable endings are those where the characters dared to go deeper into self-discovery, ending up feeling more self-assured, enlightened and evolved. That's real triumph. That's the real key to surviving a break-up.
How did you survive yours?