As far as I can tell the worst part of this whole thing has been the unpredictable nature of my mood. I will go entire days feeling invincible only to have a line from a song I’ve been listening to all day long send me into a fifteen minute sob session. Then, just as quickly, I go back to feeling fine. I have to wonder if this is what it feels like to be bipolar. It certainly feels like some form of insanity, especially during the low moments. Regardless, I’m still fervently believing that each day gets a bit easier. I’m still holding onto the idea that there is a linear progress to this mess. How straight that line is, I can’t really say. But I’ve been trying to think of ways to quantify my progress, which is ridiculous since I’m operating at an 80-20 ratio of emotion to logic. Emotions cannot be quantified, but it sure as hell makes me feel better if I can pretend otherwise. I thought about tracking how many times I cry, how many times I think about him, how many times I feel the bottom of my stomach fall out, how many times I feel like hurling because I’m so sad. All of these things sound completely psychotic, thus my insanity diagnosis. Then I thought about the progress: How often I see friends, how often I do things that make me happy, how many times I’m able to pull a mental u-turn, or how many times I’m able to cancel the pity party. Again, this is impossible since I’m far too close to the situation to assess it objectively.
Tossing all of this aside, I’ve compiled my own list for how to survive the first two weeks after a breakup Ashley-style.
- After making the decision, listen to Taylor Swift songs for approximately two days. Do this in the shower when nobody else is home and you have the opportunity to interrupt Last Kiss with terrifying sounds you’ve never previously heard come from yourself.
- Since you will have virtually no appetite, nutrition will be a nuisance. You’ll feel the affects of hunger – the dizziness, empty bile-bubbling feelings, the headaches, and general feeling of lethargy – but you will have no desire to eat anything. This includes your beloved carbs, gooey caramel and chocolate bars, ice cream sundaes, as well as the salads you’ve been eating in an attempt to lose a few pounds. I recommend drinking a lot of fruit protein smoothies by Naked and Bolthouse Farms. Since you don’t even have to chew, these are ideal for the days when you’d rather be in bed than sitting in a cubicle.
- Listen to Somebody that I Used to Know at least 300 times in a period of 72 hours. Claim to enjoy the entire album after two or three obligatory listens, then plug in your headphones, abandon any sense of self-respect, and put the song on repeat. Hey, at least nobody has to know about this. At least until you advertise it on your blog like a real genius.
- Sing karaoke. Don’t feel like you have to go by yourself. Agree to sing My Heart Will Go On with two girlfriends, and Dancing Queen as a duet. This may require you drink four 7&7s. Apparently you will also close the night with Losing My Religion, have only a vague memory of that and laugh about it when you pick up your car the next day. Promise yourself and friends that you will sing Rich Girl next week by yourself.
- When things are just too much to think about, turn to Grey’s Anatomy. You’re in luck since Netflix has the first seven seasons. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, you can watch McDreamy and McSteamy do their surgical thing, wonder how Cristina’s hair has so much volume, and decide Meredith looks best with bangs. Be sure to wear sweats and cuddle up in fuzzy blankets. Forget that one of the blankets is one that his mother gave you for Christmas two years ago.
- Go to bars with friends on and be reminded of the fact that the only men who approach you are 40-somethings in pleated pants. Decide that men your own age are children who sometimes wear men’s clothing. After reminding yourself that you are single and the “I have a boyfriend” line is no longer valid, adopt your own dating mission statement that eliminates the possibility of you wasting time with boys who are afraid to ask you to dinner: “If you don’t know how to pursue me, I’m not interested in you.”
- Expand your breakup music collection to include Fiona Apple, Lykke Li, Ingrid Michaelson, Lily Allen, Kate Nash, the entire new Norah Jones album, and one Cake song. Do not include Adele since her music requires you to be drinking from a bottle of red wine while weeping. Seriously, it’s obnoxious and you will not let yourself sink to that level.
- Make it official by throwing away his clothes and dying your hair one night. That same night, decide to be a fearless bombshell and go to a party on your own and rock that red lipstick look you’ve always wanted. Enjoy yourself. See friends you haven’t in a while. Realize the elation that comes when you’re not tethered. Do your best to savor that feeling. You’ll need it when you’re feeling lonely.
- Buy a new journal. Your old one chronicles the entire relationship, but it’s far to painful to actually put pen to paper and describe how it all came to an end. So get a new journal, or at least tell yourself to, one that will allow you to write about your new life as a single twenty-something.
- Go to your cousin’s wedding. Realize that family members will want to ask questions or offer words of support. Tell them through watery eyes that you don’t want to talk about it. Run into the bathroom when Norah Jones’s Come Away with Me is played. Allow yourself only to let a few tears fall. Return to the dance floor only to cry when a Bee Gees song is played. Tell your dad you want to go home. Realize the next day that it’s kind of hilarious that disco makes you cry.
I can’t guarantee recovery if you follow these steps, but I do know that for all intents and purposes, this will ensure your survival. You will not crumble and waste away and you will live to see another day.