How to Mend a Broken Heart: The Real Time Version

The day before before D broke up with me, I found myself reading this post on my friend Sarah’s blog–titled “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?”

(Sometimes, by the way, my womanly instincts are so trustworthy it scares me.)

Sarah is very smart and articulate, and she has lots of very smart and articulate readers who comment–making that post a true trove of wisdom and insight that I dare not rival.

However, I happen to have a broken–or at least severely ripped–heart at the moment. (Sorry to break this news–I’m as shocked as you.)

And already, I am thick into the realm of post-breakup copage. Not to suggest that I’m managing this with any superior sort of intelligence or grace, but, as of yet, I haven’t completely crumbled.

Here, my friends, is a loose list of what I’ve been doing–and what, perhaps, I might suggest for anyone whose heart is similarly, unexpectedly, broken:

(Note: Like most lists, this one is incomplete. I reserve the right to update it in future posts periodically–one thing I know about breakups is that they take more than three days to get over.)

1. Crying in public. Last week, my sister-in-law sent me a link to this essay , from the New York Times website, about the unique urban experience of public tears: both having and witnessing. She sent it to me because the writing is great, which it is. But the writer focuses on the fascination that public crying provokes–not the interaction or support. But when a hot young thing (female, but still) approached me, all red-eyed and wet-faced, in the yoga changing room (pre-class, before such signs could be taken for sweat), bearing a hug and kind words, I felt a sweet taste of much-needed comfort and warmth. Recommend. (Note: this incident did not, obviously, occur in New York–but it did happen to involve two New Yorkers. Discuss.)

2. Crying in private. You will not make friends, and you may scare your (quite easily spooked) mutt, but you must do it. A lot. She will get over it, and so, eventually, will you.

3. Eating fatty meats, and acting a little ridiculous. Hours after the incident, my two roommates and dear girlfriends, S and N, took me out for a plate of Korean BBQ. This has long been something of a tradition for S and me: whenever one of us feels any sort of vulnerable, we go out and stuff ourselves with grilled meat. It helps. Afterwards, S demanded to buy a round of “nasty” shots, and pair it with some “nasty” television. Not having a tv (or, really, the ability to produce said libation) we proceeded to the nearest bar, where we sabotaged our collective chances with the adorable bartender in order to demand that he turn on The Bachelorette. Despite the objections of the less attractive, less accommodating bar patrons, he complied. And thus, my romantic difficulties began to pale.

4. Sweating. Somehow, I managed to lose a boyfriend and a working car in the same week. Meaning, each morning, I have spent 90 minutes in severe heat, contorting my body into unreasonable and uncomfortable positions and, immediately afterwards, used same body to haul myself (along with my vintage-Schwinn-that-weights-almost-as-much-as-me), in slightly less severe heat, up the most obnoxious hill in Albuquerque. There’s nothing quite like anger to help pound those pedals.

5. Speaking of which, feeling angry. Ask anyone who’s been hurt (aka, anyone): the pain is easier to bear when there’s someone to blame. I adore D, and this isn’t his blog so I won’t get into the details of his decision (at least, not now), but I will say this: the man made a stupid choice. He had something good (me) that he could’ve held onto (at least for a while), and he let it go. For this, and only this, I feel furious. That, also, helps.

6. Drinking a lot of lattes, and, generally, doing exactly what I feel like. Normally, I get my “treat” drink, an Iced Decaf Soy Latte, approximately once a month. Now, I’m having at least two daily. I’ve worn the same shorts for three days. I haven’t washed my hair. Yesterday, I thought nothing of spending $7 for beer at a baseball game. Tomorrow, I’m going to buy myself an extremely overpriced sports bra. Hey, getting dumped is awesome!

7. Acting a little bit reckless. This was among the many pearls of wisdom that S has provided in the past few days. Immediately post-breakup, I felt the compelling urge to contact an ex. (Well,  more of a friend than an ex these days, but still: he’s someone with strong sway on my emotional state.) I wrote a text. I didn’t send it. “S is going to tell me not to,” I told N, as we took a walk around the neighborhood before S got home. But, walking to dinner, when I asked her, she didn’t. “I think this is a time when you can act a little bit reckless,” she said. “It’s kind of what you have to do.” Thrilled to receive her permission, I sent. He called. I felt better.

8. Talking to people who love me a lot, a lot. Especially those with goofy senses of humor.  My brother J was clearly very fond of D, but when I told him of the breakup, this is what he said: “Good riddance! I never liked that guy anyhow. I mean, he was from Texas. And so skinny!”

9. Thinking about why I’m really sad. Another of S’s gems was this: “Often, after a breakup, the loss we feel isn’t the relationship so much as the expectations we had for it.” So true. And if I’m really honest with myself, I’m more sad about losing the relationship than I am about losing D. And that says something. Something that leads, lastly, to this:

10. Telling myself things I need to hear. For example: D is a great guy. And I’m sure he could have made me happy. But I’m also sure that someone else can–and will–make me happier.


Filed under Love Life

18 responses to “How to Mend a Broken Heart: The Real Time Version

  1. Jos

    Elizabeth, here’s what I have to say about this: You started having typos when you were in love. (Seriously, I was always fascinated by the fact that you never had a single typo! I even have typos on Twitter…) And wow, you are such a writer! So, better without typos is all I’m saying.

    You are funny and gorgeous and I am excited for that day in the future when you start having typos again, but for now I will enjoy, no I will LOVE you typo-free. I am cheersing you now though while it all still sucks…xo

  2. Great list! I do want to add one more item involving eggs. And as Socrates himself once said, “Elizabeth Tannen is wise and wonderful!”

  3. Suz

    Damn, we really did ruin our chances with that bartender didn’t we. HELAS! 🙂
    Yay for sports bras.
    Yay for grilled meats.
    Yay for being permissive! (Not to be confused with promiscuous!)

  4. Oh you girls! I know, too bad bout that bartender. But as we have lately learned, ahem, perhaps not the best demographic for us to target 🙂 Yay post-breakup indulgences and wonderful, supportive girlfriends!

  5. B

    Is it weird if I do #6 and #7 all the time anyway? I think they should be on the list for essential joys of life…and p.s. glad to have you back! Sorry it’s in a shitty way, but still…

  6. j

    this really is an awesome list! the other day the doggies i’m watching were all up in arms and then came over and licked my face while i wailed for a bit. seems like you may have come out on top in this breakup….i mean, you got you and he didn’t. ps- you should start going to “body combat” at defined fitness. the other day, while we all punched the air of the floor intensely and rhythmically, the teacher demanded to know, “IS HE BLEEDING YET?!!!!” today she praised us for our anger. something you might want to add to the list.

  7. j

    sorry, speaking of typos (i really liked that comment by the way), i meant, “the air above the floor.”

  8. Jenny Krause-Gay

    I’m sorry for your crappy week, Liz. But you’ll be just fine especially since you have the crazy and awesome S to be by your side among other gfs. Also you did say, “But I will say this: the man made a stupid choice. He had something good (me) that he could’ve held onto (at least for a while), and he let it go. For this, and only this, I feel furious.” I’d be worried if he took your self esteem away too. So, just keep your self esteem up and feel amazing being you. Ookay, ok ambien is taking affect?…. coherence will be long gone soon enough. More later.
    Take care, doll.

  9. He did have something good, and I’m glad you see it. Keep reminding yourself of that.

  10. David K.

    I haven’t posted a comment in a long time. As a loyal reader of your blog, I must say I’m so sorry to hear about the breakup.

  11. Kearns

    Funny, I had noticed the typos too and thought, “that’s not like Lizzie” but didn’t relate it to being in love. In fact I thought, oh good she’s human and can make typos like the rest of us.
    No relationship is for naught; you’ve grown in ways you may not even know yet. So the good Lizzie’s gonna be even better for the next lucky fellow.

  12. abbey

    Thinking of you ET! You are so awesome.

    • Thanks everyone all for the very sweet and supportive replies! Who needs a boyfriend when you have such loving friends and readers!? I hope that I have grown, that I will continue to be typo-free, and that I have managed to hang on to some self-esteem…more on all that coming soon!

  13. Kathlene Audette

    Sorry to hear! Keep your friends close and do whatever you need to make you feel better. Here’s an essay I really liked which helped me feel better about my own dating trials and tribulations:

  14. Thanks Kathleen–I may have read that piece years ago when it first came out but it felt so good to reread it now! Thanks for reminding me!

  15. Great list. Like the grilled meats.

    Crying in public is sometimes the only way to find out who’s in your court. I ended up ( to my deep embarrassment) crying in the locker room at the Y a few weeks ago to a woman 30 years my senior (!) who I barely knew, who proved wise and tough and compassionate and I would never have discovered any of that had I not been unable to control myself. Now I have a new friend.

    Hang in there. D’s an ass and someone amazing will come along and scoop you up and you’ll think “D who?” There are days I actually forget the name of my wretched ex-husband. Yay!

    • Thanks for the support. I love that you forget your ex-husband’s name, and that you found a new friend through a public display of emotion! I just had coffee the other day with the woman who comforted me, and honestly feel like she was meant to enter my life at this moment! For the record, though, D is most certainly not an ass: just a little foolish, in my (humble, objective) opinion 🙂

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