Not even anywhere close to ok.
I compare the feeling to that of someone who only minutes before had their home completely destroyed by a hurricane. They are standing there with the Red Cross blanket draped over their shoulders, turn to the aid worker, and say, “Oh, it’s just a bit of clean up. I’ll go get the vacuum. We can take care of it.” The reality that you just lost everything you own has not settled in yet. By the end of the week the reality of the situation hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m not going to write about the who, what, where, or particulars of the story. Nor am I going to demonize anyone involved. There are no demons in this story, just people making choices, and trying to do the right thing.
In the past few weeks I’ve had time to let my old friends, Sadness & Loneliness, settle in and unpack their bags for a little vacation. Sometimes you have to let them do that or risk breaking down later on in a very inappropriate place (like the middle of a crowded mall at Christmas). As S&L make themselves at home, we have to go through a few phases and stages on our journey to being ok again…
The Crying Stage:
It seems like it won’t ever end. It’s just days and days of straight up sobbing that is ugly and heartbreaking. You wake up, you cry. You cry into your breakfast. You cry off your make-up and have to start again before you say fuck it and don’t even bother. You cry in traffic. You cry so hard the front of your shirt is soaked through and you look like a crazy person. You look like a crazy person so you cry harder, because now you look crazy and why would anyone want you looking like you just rolled into your closet, put on whatever stuck to you, and had a 4 year old put on your make-up? So you go home and lie on your bathroom floor like some kind of heartbreak road kill and hope someone finds you before cats eat your face off.
The “I’m not homeless these are my pajamas” Stage:
This part goes hand in hand with the crying. You break out the most comfortable clothes you own and proceed to wear the crap out of them: Sweatpants, that old Tori Amos concert t-shirt, a sweater about two sizes too big, a college hoodie that has unidentifiable stains (proably Cheetos). Whatever it is, it’s comfy and you are going to wear it until it can stand up on its own from tear and ice cream stains. Your pockets become a magician’s handkerchief trick of Kleenex that you swear you threw away, but there just seem to be MORE.
The Netflix/Hulu Stage:
There you are in your blanket fort with your laptop, hiding from the world and crying, so what better time to pull up Netflix? You’ve never seen Breaking Bad. Oooh, and you missed the last two seasons of Parks and Recreation, what is that crazy Leslie Knope up to these days? What’s this? They added American Horror Story: Coven?? BRING IT. There’s nothing like becoming emotionally invested in the world of make believe to forget all your troubles.
The “Don’t call. I mean it. Put down the phone” Stage:
I have a good friend who describes this stage thusly:
“Aww that’s so sweet that you want to say that. Stop it.”
That’s it. Just, stop it. Of course there are times you can’t, because we all have feelings and they are complicated and hard to control at times. However, if you find yourself sending a plethora of texts, emails, Skypes, letters, homing pigeons, owls, foot soldiers, telegrams, etc…
The “I’m going to get INVOLVED in life” Stage:
You’ve finally stopped crying every five minutes and your good friends have successfully coerced you out of the house for a happy hour. You feel slightly human again. So you think, “This is what I need. I need to be OUT THERE!” You still aren’t sure exactly what “OUT THERE” means, but you’re going to go…out…there. Or something. You sign up for yoga classes, indoor rock climbing, pottery, learn to speak Chinese, take sailing lessons, go skydiving, perfect your Comic Book Store Guy from The Simpsons impression. Maybe you start a blog, everyone does. Or maybe you volunteer at a food bank. Whatever it is, you do it, because it’s better than sitting in a stuffy room eating pizza and crying all day.
The Online Dating Stage:
So you’re out there…why not be all the way out there? You think it can’t be all bad, can it? I compare online dating to shopping a huge sale at a department store. Are you one of those die hard people who dresses in layers, doesn’t need a fitting room, and can spend hours sifting through horrid clothes to find that one perfect piece? Or do you walk in, want to throw up, and leave? I fall in the latter category. Yes, I know, your best friend’s, aunt’s, daughter’s, friend’s, sister found her true love online and you just went to their magical wedding sponsored by Pinterest. To quote Amy Poehler’s amazing book, “Yes Please”,
“Good for her! Not for me.”
and that’s ok.
If it’s for you, then get out there you go-getter! If not, then that’s ok.
The Acceptance Stage:
You wake up one morning and you don’t cry. You fix your breakfast and catch up on current events. Your dog doesn’t have to whine by the door while you try to get your shit together enough to take them on a walk. Maybe your friend sends you a funny Buzzfeed article about penguins falling down. You get to work and actually work, not sit there while your coworkers wonder how you will be arranging your glass animal collection today and if you’re going to awkwardly cry while you update everyone on your work at the lunch meeting. You feel…ok. Not fantastic. Not 100%, but ok.
You get home as Sadness & Loneliness pack up their things, make their goodbyes, and say, “Until next time.”
You wave, “Until next time”, you say and start to move on.
Have you gone through any of these stages after a Breakup? What’s your most epic Netflix Binge? What have you thought you’d never get over– then later realized you actually did?
Be sure to check out Angelle’s Blog— she’s been absent for a while but I’m pretty sure if enough of us gang up and threaten to say mean things about her on the internet, we can probably get her to stick around for a while. Just kidding, don’t be mean. Anyone can be an asshole! Let’s be nice to each other today.
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