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No matter what anyone
says or tells you, the thing about breaking up with someone is that you have to
feast upon your actual heartbreak long before you can ever turn your back on
it. People want to feel good about things as quickly as possible, especially in
this era of ultra-swift information, but that crap doesn’t fly with matters of
Sometimes I think that’s turning out to be a huge problem for us
collectively, as humans and all. There is no fast track to healing heart break;
there’s no Viagra for those ultimate blues, man. You wake up one day and
realize that a love affair is over and the first thing you want to do is tap a
single key on your laptop or pop some magic pill or whatever, you want to
fast-forward everything about your existence weeks or months or even a year or
so, just so you can get on with being cool with living again, you know?
Unlike so much of
life these days, there’s no one-stop website where you can sort out your
shattered-ness all at once. You have to be shattered. What happen to me in
the wake of my separation from my wife/my best friend/the mother of my three
young kids wasn’t anything really special or magical or anything like that. I
moved into my mom’s house for a spell and laid on the guest room twin bed
staring at the ceiling tiles, totally confused and lost, just like I was
supposed to do. But I didn’t let that shit wash over me for long. It felt way
too dangerous, too risky to me.
I needed to face
facts as quickly as possible and in order to do that, I very quickly set myself
up with a few things that I thought my help me get through the worst goddamn
days I have ever known. Now, in case you think this is about to turn into some
kind of up-my-own-butt New Age-y Facebook feed crap like "How to Kill
Heartbreak with Hot Yoga and Meditation at Your Work Desk!," think again, my
friend. I have no right or business telling you a damn thing about what or how
you should handle your own personal blues should they happen to befall you. (I
hope they don’t, by the way). Yet, I can share with you a few things that
helped me, or at least that I think helped me to hold myself back from toppling
over the roaring falls down onto the rocks if you know what I mean.
Anyways, here’s a
small list, a couple things that made me happy when happiness was flicking me
the finger everywhere I went. I know these things helped me through some rough
times. Maybe they can help you too someday.
Exercise: I don’t really care if you exercise all
the time or not. The fact of the matter is, when you end up on the other side
of a love affair and everything is busted in your hands, there are new and
foreign waves of energy blowing through your system from the moment you say
goodbye. And a lot of that energy is the bad kind, the sort that whips up out
of your guts like one of those big city gusts you turn a corner and get plowed
by. So you need to have a way to syphon a bunch of that stuff out of you, ASAP.
I’m not saying that your old workout routine won’t be of service to you here,
but at the same time: yes, I am.
Switch things up. Switch everything up.
What I ended up doing
is this. I stopped running my 5 miles on a treadmill at the gym. And I quit my
little prissy loop through the machines down there, too. In fact, I just
stopped going to the gym altogether. No reason why, really. I just felt like it
reminded me of a time when I was "him," when I was "then." And I needed to be "me" and I need to be that "now." I started looking around online at hardcore
exercise routines and started out as slow as I could, pushing and punishing
myself in my own bedroom/my mom’s guest room. I used some yard sale dumbbells
and I used the carpet on the floor—I didn’t have a mat yet (I do now, they are
quite nice)—and every single day, I broke my ass for at least an hour. I put
on this station that plays jazz (listen to whatever you
want, it doesn’t matter) and I lost myself in my own world of exercising. No
mirrored walls, no hard bodies on the elliptical to distract me or make me feel
like a fat bag of ass.
Within two months I’d
lost 20 pounds, and with four months I’d lost 50. I felt strong again and good
about myself. I felt a little attractive even, instead of feeling like I’d felt
the past few years, which was this odd lame acceptance of the fact that I was
married and that it was okay for married guys to become huge and out-of-shape
because it was an American tradition.
I quit eating bad
food and started eating a lot of salad Nicoise. Eat what you want, but remember
if you eat like you used to eat then you will be dragging a big part of your
past around with you like an anchor. Switch things up. Switch everything up.
Books: If you’re a big reader, that’s actually
pretty cool. I like that. If you’re not, I don’t understand why, but it’s not
too late for you, especially if you are hurting. That may sound condescending
of me, but who cares? This is my article, yo. I love books but in the wake of
breaking up with my wife, I found myself struggling with wanting to read. I just
felt drained and sad and I wanted that magic bullet of a book. I ended up
starting a bunch of pretty good novels just to put them down after a few
chapters because my head wasn’t into it. And then, one day, I picked up a book
that was unlike anything I had ever really tried to read before. It was called The Heart of the Buddha’s Teachings by
Thich Naht Hahn. Now that book changed my life forever, but that’s a whole
other article or whatever.
My point to you is
this: once again, as with the exercise thing, I drastically switched things up
from my usual pattern of operation and that made all the difference to me.
Instead of trying to chase a few more novels down, I picked up something
totally foreign to my expected taste. Basically, I broke out of my little
personal shell and THAT was a huge step forward for me. So if you’re a fiction
person, maybe hunt down some non-fiction or something. Read a goddamn
cookbook! It may change everything. And if you’re not a reader, what better time
to turn on a dime? Read a book. Any book. Go to the bookstore and walk up to
the counter and just tell the person that you want to read the last best thing
that they read. Then go home and read a few pages during the time you’d usually
being doing something that I can almost guarantee you isn’t as helpful towards
heartbreak relief as that book will be to you, somehow.
Friends: I suck at friends. I am the worst
friend in the world. I really am. Or at least I was. I don’t know why, but I
was. I think I was in a hole for a long time, and that my domesticated coma was
just a continuation of a long, strange journey I had been on ever since I was a
teenage pothead. I am pretty bright and creative and empathetic and slightly
interesting, I think, and yet I have struggled to maintain the desire to
maintain friendships for most of my adult life.
But, I’ll tell you
this much: I let go of a lot of my reservations after I split with my wife. I
had too. For the first time ever, I needed friends so badly and I didn’t really
have any waiting in the wings. Or so I thought. You’d be surprised how many
incredible humans have an interest in you and your well-being, man. I had one
friend who I like a lot who helped me in ways I can’t even describe, taking my
panicked calls at 7 in the morning, offering me advice and support when he could
have easily let me land out on his voicemail strip.
And beyond him, a lot
of people reached out to me in cyberspace. And I mean a freaking lot. People I
know and many I don’t. I had communications with a whole slew of folks who just
wanted me to know that they had had their own hearts broken too once upon a
time, and that I was going to be okay. I consider them all friends now even if
I may never meet most of them. They are my Human Army, knights of spectacular
ranges in age and sex and backgrounds all united by the inspiring fact that
they took a minute or three to give a damn about a stranger when they found out
what was up in his life.
And from here on out,
I want to be like them. There’s power in it, people. There’s strength and honor
in simply saying to another living person:
“Hey, let me tell you
about my pain, buddy. And how I had to feast upon it once a while back. And how
much it hurt. And how much I know it hurts you now.”