SparkNotes Blog

Real Talk: I was Heartbroken and It Really, Really Hurt. Here’s How I Survived.

I signed onto write this piece because I’ve been heartbroken. Like really, really, Emma, it’s time to move on, how can you seriously still be hung up on that dude, watched all of Buffy in two months, still talked about him a lot two, three, four years later, still can’t really be in touch with him kind of heartbroken. And then I realized, though I had survived, and, yes, even gotten over it, that I wasn’t sure whether having been so heartbroken made me at all qualified to give all of you tips. The truth is, I don’t really know how I got through it. And I still don’t feel like I got through it very well or very gracefully. But I did. And you will, too. And I’ll try my best to help you do that.

So, briefly, a recap of the tragic romance: he was my first love, we’d been together for nearly two years in college, and, when he dumped me, I felt totally blindsided. That was probably why it was so hard. I was still busy envisioning our future children, our life post-grad in California, while he had been thinking, apparently for months, about ending our relationship. And worst of all, though he swore he never cheated on me, he started dating another girl IMMEDIATELY afterward. Ugh. The following weeks were the most miserable in my life. I sobbed myself to sleep every night for awhile. And it got embarrassing: friends want to be there for you, but, you know, after a certain point, you just feel like the downer.

Ok—moving on—what got me through it?

1. Chocolate. Specifically the dark chocolate with hazelnuts Ritter’s Sportsbars. Whoever thinks it’s unhealthy/bad to eat your feelings has clearly never been heartbroken.

2. Poetry. Err, reading it, yes, sort of, but mostly writing it. When I couldn’t sleep (crying, etc), I would write. Mostly really cliché stuff about my broken heart. But, hey, everyone has to start somewhere. I’m a poet now and it’s great and honestly, if my boyfriend hadn’t dumped me, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now, writing poems for $$$ (grad school!!), nor would I then have met my husband (grad school!!). I hated hearing this when I was still heartbroken, but I do think it’s true: everything happens for a reason.

3. Video chat. I had great friends around me, but I needed/wanted to talk to as many people as possible about what had happened to me and video was the next best thing to in-person. Also, sometimes, when there was no one to talk to, I’d film myself venting. Sometimes I’d email it off to a friend, but sometimes I just felt better putting my thoughts and feelings out into the universe.

4. Buffy, Downton Abbey, Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion, period dramas, late shows… TV is the best for break-ups. It’s totally mindless and your mind needs to stop running a loop of the break-up scene.

5. Sleeping. See above.

6. His new girlfriend. I mean, I was FURIOUS, but at least I couldn’t daydream about us getting back together as long as he was dating someone younger and with bigger boobs.

7. Schoolwork. We broke up just before the summer, but when I got back in the fall, for my senior year, I just threw myself into my writing and my classes in a way I hadn’t before—in a way I couldn’t, dating him. It meant I wrote a killer thesis.

8. Time. Yup. You can’t speed it up. (Though you can sleep through it—see 5.)

9. Someone else. At New Year’s, eight months after we broke up, I met Someone Else. Yes, I had been dating “other people” since (this is supposed to help—I don’t know if it does), but I hadn’t yet met Someone Else. He was older, wiser, funny. He wore ties to work every day. He was in a different city, but we talked on the phone, texted and emailed every day. I visited a few times. When I moved to his city after graduation, we started dating. We dated for a couple of years. We’re still friends.

Hang in there. It gets better. You will meet someone else.

How did you survive a break-up?