I couldn't stand Twitter.
Or listening to music.
Or watching TV.
It just all seemed like so much noise.
Twitter was especially painful - I had to stop myself several times a day from tweeting, "I DON'T GIVE A SHIT!" in response to everything anyone was saying.
(And I mean, it's not like I don't feel like tweeting that on any other normal day. It just felt, you know...stronger)
And music...you know that feeling, after you breakup with someone, when everything reminds you of them? You could be listening to a song from 1992, but somehow it still relates, mostly because when you were 13 you used to listen to that song and daydream about how someday you were going to find that perfect person and then you thought you had found him finally and now you know that you didn't! and so now all the dreams you used to have are now crushed and don't mean anything and you wish you could just travel back in time and tell your 13 year old self that love sucks and they should spend more time learning math instead of dreaming about boys because if we had we would have been so much better off and OH MY GOD I HATE THAT FUCKING SONG NOW!
Yeah. You get it.
So I turned it off.
All of it.
Just turned. It. OFF.
And then...turned it all around.
This is a two-parter.
Part One: Set Yourself Up For Success
Back when I used to work in behavior therapy, we used to have a working principle for developing programs: set 'em up for success. It's easy to reach your goal when you're starting from a place where you already feel successful, rather than starting from the bottom of the mountain and forcing yourself to summit your way up. And based on my relationship coaching and personal experiences, I think that, when it comes to breakups, a few hard and fast rules are key.
And the first one that I believe the most in is this -
Giving myself a squeaky-clean break: a hard and fast detox from communication with - and checking up on - my ex.
It means defriending them on Facebook and unfollowing them on Twitter.
It means deleting the photos of the two of us together from my computer and Facebook (or, at the very least, printing them out and locking them in that box that goes in storage for the next 15 years and then deleting them from my computer and Facebook).
It means deleting their number from my phone.
And it means doing it as fast as possible, and without a safety net (i.e, writing down their number on a Post-It note and putting it at the bottom of a drawer somewhere "just in case".)
It has to happen. I've entertained - and even listened to - every internal argument imaginable when it comes to doing this step. Those arguments always come from that place in our hearts that just doesn't want to let go. That wants the safety net just in case we want to talk. In case they want to talk. In case we get makeovers and lose 20 pounds and move to New York and score fabulous gigs and want them to know how much better our lives are without them!
But here's the thing that I remind myself of whenever I'm tempted to not follow through with this - We broke up. It's over. And I can't fully move on and tackle my new awesome motherfucking life if I'm always checking his Facebook profile late at night, looking for any small sign that he misses me.
Because there's no going back, my friends. There's only going forward.
So clean cuts, kids. That's my rule.
And I get that this rule can't work for everyone. Or at least, not right away. And I get it more now than I ever did - when you live with someone, there's loose ends to tie up and common courtesy that should be extended, etc. And when you have kids...it's even more of a necessity that you remain cordial and polite with your ex.
But what I'm mostly talking about is the door. You know the one...it's the one we want to keep open, just in case. Because every line of communication is also a possibility to us, at this point, and if we keep those open, then they know how to reach us. Then they can easily get in touch with us. Then they can easily tell us what a bunch of assholes they were and how much they've changed and how they can't imagine possibly living for another day without us in their lives.
We want to make it easier for them to change their minds and win us back.
But here's the thing: chances are, whether we broke up with them or they broke up with us (or if it was the unicorn of breakups, the mutually-agreed-upon breaking-up with each other)...we already made it easier for them. Chances are, those last few months together were all us, making it easier. Either we tried to make it easier for them to want to stay, or we tried to make it easier for them to convince us to stay.
And it didn't work. Obviously.
So why are we trying to make it easy on them still?
So stop it. Knock that shit off! Right now, the most important relationship we are in is the one with ourselves. So set yourself up for success and cut that fucking cord.
Every time I've done this for myself, I've tried really hard not to look at it as a loss. And it was tough. It is tough. Unfriending him on Facebook and deleting that number from my phone felt scary for two reasons: First, because there is no going back. Second, because there is no going back.
And it hurts. It fucking hurts! It hurts because it hurts to lose that part of your life, that piece of that connection. It hurts because I was scared he was going to notice and that he was going to be hurt by it.
That is kind of the worst of it, isn't it? That small place in the back of your heart that still throbs when you even think of them being hurt, even a little bit, even at all.
But here's the thing that I have learned from all of past breakups: when I've tried to hold on to the number...when I've tried to hold on to the Facebook friendship...when I've tried to hold on to the pictures or blog address or any other digital safety net...it never made either of us feel better, in the end.
All it did was make me feel worse. (And probably them, too, but we're talking about me right now, so let's focus)
Checking their Facebook in the middle of the night after a sad day...only made me feel worse.
Reading their Twitter feed just to, you know, see what they were up to... only made me feel worse.
Looking at pictures of us I still had on my computer as an effort to "remember the good times" or "prove that he did love me"...only made me feel worse.
Texting him after a drunken night out made me feel better...
...But in the morning, it only made me feel worse (a LOT worse).
And I've never heard a different story from any other girl I've ever known. The number one thing that all of my friends say after they've finally gotten over a breakup is that they wish they would have been the one to cut off contact first, or would have cut off contact right away instead of waiting it out.
Follow your own mantra. Read your written shot of courage. Would the person who wrote that Written Shot of Courage be cool with you obsessing over your ex? Will the person you are five years from now be cool with you Facebook-stalking and drunk-texting your ex?
Nope. Because that chick is waaaay too rad to pull that kind of miserable shit.
That kind of chick would protect herself.
That kind of chick would realize that her ex essentially said, "Hey, on second thought, no thanks... Think I'll try my luck elsewhere" when they broke up, and would conserve her time and energy and self-respect and total fucking foxiness for her own damn self, instead of wasting it on someone who just couldn't get it.
The thing is...you, me, and your cousin over there are all too smart to be leaving ourselves open to more heartbreak and disappointment. We already did all that. And the bottom line for me was this - if I'm going to allow myself the time and energy to process through my feelings...if I'm going to follow my mantra and build a new life for myself...if I'm going to get over this shit the right way...then I need to be able to concentrate on that. And not open myself to any new crap feelings/interactions coming in to that are going to put me right back where I started.
Because right now? It's all about energy. What you're doing with yours, and what kind you're letting yourself come into contact with.
And I don't know about you, but I want the good stuff. I want the good, and I want more of it, because the stuff inside my chest that hurts so badly, and all the time? That's from the bad. And if I'm working as hard as I can to get rid of what I've already got, there is no fucking way I'm letting any more take a flying leap onto the energy pile.
Other things I did to set myself up for success:
That sad-sap playlist? I nested it. I didn't delete it, because it does help every once in a while when I need to just feel what I'm feeling, but it also doesn't help to look at it every time I fire up the portable music machine. So instead I nested it inside another playlist folder so it's there for emergencies, but also not right in front of my face all time. And I highly recommend naming the folder something positive, like, "Recovery Mode" or "Closer To Feeling Fine".
Maybe not that last one...it reminds me too much of an Indigo Girls song (shit)...but you get the idea. The trick is to position and name it so that when you do need it, it reminds you that you're only getting further on down the road instead of regressing.
Then I went hunting for the most upbeat, kickass, this-doesn't-make-me-think-about-anything-except-how-awesome-my-new-life-is songs I could find. No sad sap allowed. Just songs that were new, fresh, and upbeat. Songs by strong chicks and hot men singing about strong chicks.
There's something amazing that happens when you do this: when you fill your iPod with songs that are kickass and fun...it's hard to feel otherwise. And why not have the happy pumping into your ear drums, right? Also, it's one of the cheapest makeovers you can give yourself, and it's an energy shift: listening to a whole bunch of new songs really can make you feel like you're moving on.
Mainly because you are.
I turned the Twitter and Facebook off for about a week or so. I'll tell you more about this in the next part, but it also works into this part, because the reason why I did it was so that I wasn't sabotaging myself by A. Being inundated with other people's sap-happy posts about their boyfriends and husbands and babies B. Seeing something that I just couldn't handle, like a mutual friend's post about being somewhere or doing something that I knew my ex was a part of.
So I just turned it off. Gave myself a break. Took a breather.
And it was awesome.
In the next part I'll tell you more about trying for the good stuff.
Because it's good stuff.
(Get it? I said "good stuff" when I was talking about doing good stuff. HOPE YOU GOT THAT JOKE!)
I think it's evident now that while my heart can broken...my sense of humor cannot be.