Why I Chose to Be Sober After my Breakup

I didn’t choose to be sober, actually. It kinda just happened at first. Save for the one night of wine and pizza with a very good friend, I just wasn’t drinking in the evenings. I was too tired when I got home from play rehearsal to stay up long enough to finish a glass of wine. I was too broke to choose to spend money on drinks out at the bar. So being sober kinda stumbled upon me.

But once I realized I wasn’t drinking, I didn’t feel compelled to start. I felt good most of the time. I was processing things and feeling things, and letting it all wash over me and through me. I wasn’t denying anything, I was accepting the reality and not glossing over it.

When I thought back to previous breakups where I spent evenings drinking with girlfriends and drinking alone. I would have a glass of wine a day, which isn’t really qualifying me to a status that people would worry. But a glass of wine a day is enough to start to feel numb. And you could look forward to that numbness. Or, if you knew you needed a good cry, you could pour a slightly bigger glass of wine and watch Love Actually and have a damn good cry. And I felt like those breakups took forever to get through. I dwelled and fixated, and denied the reality of it all. And I used wine to loosen up enough so I could jump back into dating before I was really ready.

Girl friends and not so great beer, what could go wrong?

Girl friends and not so great beer, what could go wrong?

This time, none of that. No nonsense. And I found that when I let myself just feel the feelings, it didn’t last that long. It was bearable. Sure the pain was excruciating for a short while, but then I got to the other side. And it was clear. Like, sun rising across a field of wild, tall grass kind of clear.

I drank tea in the evenings, and coffee all day long. And a lot of water, because I hear that’s really good for you. And I recently started drinking again. I didn’t stay away for long, it wasn’t really my intention to never drink again. And I’m not going to profess amazing changes in the way I notice what alcohol does to my mind and body (except I noticed I actually do have a harder time waking up after having even just one glass of wine).

Two thumbs of for water, and lots of it.

Two thumbs up for water, lots of it.

And it’s funny, because now I am remembering that part of why I got dumped was he wanted to figure things out, one of which was why he was drinking so much again. I hope he figured that out. I genuinely mean that.

I’m not saying I recommend this for everyone as a blanketed cure all for breakups. But for me it was good, it was necessary,  it was exactly what I needed. I can talk through things with a clear head and you know what I am NOT doing this time around? I’m not ruminating and whining. And thank god, because I am no fun to be around when I have something stuck on my mind, especially something that makes me weepy and whiny.

Now that I am past that part of the healing process- no whining, no crying- I can have two glasses of wine and keep my wits about me. I can enjoy happy hour with fresh squeezed orange crushes and not mope! So, I’m heading out to the bar for happy hour tomorrow- who’s buying?

 

Laugh, dammit!

There is nothing more important to the healing process than laughter.

Actually, I have a list of a few things that I would rank as pretty darn important for repairing a broken heart, but I still think that laughter may just be number one.

There is a lot of scientific evidence that supports why laughter is important to your health- it relaxes your body and reduces stress, it boosts your immune system, and it improves your mood. But the mental and emotional benefits that I’m really interested in is that is eases anxiety and enhances emotional resilience- plus it is known to strengthen the bonds between the people laughing together.

Screw science. I know for a fact that when I am laughing I can’t be thinking about missing my relationship or the guy.  And I feel a hell of a lot better.

I lucked out after my breakup. I had agreed to stage manage Dracula for a theater company that I work with. I usually swoop in at the end, right before we go into the production and I run all the technical aspects because that is what I am good at. But this time, I agreed to do the whole shebang from the beginning of the process. And I am so glad I did. I signed on to spend 18-20 hours a week with a group of the silliest people I could have ever asked for. 5 nights a week, I was laughing until my sides hurt and tears streamed out of the corners of my eyes.

Even last night, when I am past the hard part of the breakup and I am well into scabbing over the wounds, one of the actors was reciting his lines as a pirate while we were designing a tiny little hat for another actor to wear- a la Kate Middleton.

Yes, I was lucky to be put into this situation. It’s a lot easier than trying to watch 30 Rock reruns alone in my apartment. Yes, that would have me laughing, but I would still feel alone. So what do you do if you get dumped and you’re not signed up to work on a play? Seek out a group atmosphere that will get you laughing. Here are some ideas:

  • Sign up for an improv or stand up comedy class
  • Take a drawing or painting class where there is a nude model (you can bond with fellow classmates over the awkwardness of it all)
  • Try a dance class- physical activity + laughing over two left feet = lots of endorphins
  • Volunteer at an organization in line with your passion- I volunteer with a radio station because I love music. You would be surprised at how many places would be open to taking a volunteer. Get creative and explore different options.
  • Plan girls nights, or dinner parties with friends, or anything that will get a group of people together that will be low stress and high on fun and silliness.

Here is the trend for you to create your own ideas- group atmosphere, don’t take yourself seriously, approach with an open mind, be open and silly in someplace out of the ordinary routine.  Those are just a few ideas, what would you do if you needed to get a good endorphin high?  Post your ideas below in the comments!

“F*ck this guy!”

I am a big fan of E. Jean Carroll of Elle magazine. The woman dishes out sassy advice to readers with a capital S. I’ve always enjoyed reading her column in Elle magazine, and I am a little ashamed to admit that once in a while I have caught myself asking “What would E. Jean tell me to do right now?”

So I recently read her advice to a guy that wants his ex girlfriend back. She tells him that she fully support the ways that his ex is trying to keep him away and that “girlfriend be all  ‘Fuck this guy!'”

I thought to myself, YES! That’s absolutely right. That is absolutely the attitude adjustment that I have been missing this whole time.

I can do mopey, sad and brokenhearted. What I don’t do very well after a breakup is becoming that sassy gal with an attitude that says “Next!”

What I really connected to in this article was the fact that the breakup conversation is just another breakup cliche. Even when I thought that I had a great breakup this time around, I still got the typical line of “I want to see other people, this is bad timing, blah blah blah.” In the end, there is no such thing as a “good” breakup, maybe it’s just that the breakup gave each of us the space and respect to end a relationship. And the best way for me to keep moving on and NOT look back is to remind myself that he chose to walk away.   Isn’t that the best way to move on? Seriously, it is so freeing and empowering to yell out loud in my car “F*ck this guy!” and know that there are better things ahead of me. There is no guy shortage, there are plenty of them out there!

Oops: Communication Faux Pas

Every single resource you ever look at about getting over a break up says no communication- ever. None. Nada. Zilch. Cut it off.

And I usually completely agree with this. It feels really hard but I know it is for the best. I usually follow it to the letter. Until I feel like I am 110% over it and can handle a friendship. And my test for that is whether or not I feel like lunging for every single cupcake shop and the doors of Taharka Bros ice cream shop if he is dating someone new.  (What can I say, I’m a stress eater.)

This time I didn’t fully listen.  I restrained myself more often than not. But I returned CDs that belonged to him and sent him a DVD that I had in my collection that I didn’t want anymore. (don’t worry, it wasn’t really a re-gift, we had talked about it before the breakup. But, it also felt like a nice “screw you” because it was actually a leftover item from a different ex… so point for me? Maybe? Ok fine, my point cancel out the loss of a point for sending him anything at all) He also had my CDs from a college buddy’s band- irreplaceable and I wanted them back. So I mailed his CDs with a note asking for mine. A month later, a package was left with my landlady. No stamp, it was dropped off. And not to my door, to hers.

I was hurt. Really hurt. And to add insult to injury he gave back the mix cds I made for a road trip we took. I told him he could keep them when we broke up. That hurt, a lot.

So I broke the rule. I really shouldn’t have because when you’re hurt it the worst time to communicate with an ex. So I sent an email and included a line intended to cut a little bit, maybe to even the score. I wrote “Thank’s for dropping them off. Sorry I wasn’t here when you dropped them off, I was gone all weekend.” Yes, low blow because I was really hoping his imagination would run wild. Truth? I was housesitting.

And the reason I feel worse is that he didn’t respond. So he is either the bigger person by staying quiet when he’s hurt, or he really doesn’t care. So, there.

I’m not quite ready to hear he has a new girlfriend (whether it’s true or not). I’m getting closer to that point, and I have made a lot of progress to get over the relationship and the residual feelings. But obviously, I’m not ready to be friends if I’m still reaching for the low blow.

Two steps forward, one step back.

When have you said something to an ex that you wish you could take back? How do you know when you are over the relationship?

Tip: Do something creative

 

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    I have a great appreciation for people that make good art- and I define art as anything that is done with passion, excitement and expression. Many people can express themselves through mediums that don’t involve musical notes or a paintbrush. An accountant that puts his soul into his work is making art. So when I see someone is such full expression as Asli of the Tontons, I am in awe. This woman felt the music from the tips of her toes all the way to the ends of her fro, and each movement she made was layered into an expression of the music. It was captivating. Listening to just the music alone doesn’t do her performance total justice.

     It reminded me of something that accidentally worked in my favor during the breakup. I was dumped on the exact same day that I was beginning rehearsals for a play I was stage managing. This was my return to stage managing from the beginning of the rehearsal process instead of coming in to run only the technical aspects as it was about to go into production. I enjoy stage managing and I haven’t done it in a while because I couldn’t fully commit to doing my best work. I never want to be a part of something that I feel like I am giving a half-assed effort. I knew I was going to be committed to this show about 4 hours a night for 5 days a week. 

   Yes, everyone tells you to be busy and to stay distracted. This isn’t really new advice, and that isn’t what I wanted to share. I want to share the importance of having something that you can be passionate about, something that you can express yourself fully in and put your soul into. It helped that this was a group of talented people, who all respected and helped each other’s talents to be used, and we all created something that we were proud of. 
    Stage management is an art to me. There is a way to do it really, really well. And that is what I strive for, I work really hard to do a good job and to make it all seem effortless. That is art. There is something to be said for working really hard at something that speaks to your soul and working to make it seem like it comes easily to you. And then you find something in the end that you have created as an expression of something that is inside you and you can be proud of that.

     Elizabeth Gilbert once spoke about the art of writing. She talked about it being something that is inside of you that you are letting out. What is inside of you that needs to come out? Something that would pour out of you like there has been a hole cracked in a dam. Burst the dam, let it pour forth into whatever you have inside you. Is there something that you have always wanted to do, but were afraid to? The time after a breakup is the time to explore something new, the time that you get a free pass to do whatever you want. Even if it doesn’t work out, you can just shrug it off and blame the breakup.

 

Single and Starting Over

I find that I have spent enough time as a single gal. As a single gal, I get some experience dealing with breakups. Each one is hard for its own reasons, and some are easier than others. But I think I nailed it last time. (Jeez, nailed it? What am I thinking? Who says they nailed a breakup, and what exactly does that mean? Stick with me, I’ll explain.) I’ve had my heart broken, and I’ve held onto the relationship long after it was over, and I’ve cried and broken my own heart thousands of times thinking that he’ll come back and change his mind. I’m emotionally driven and a hopeless romantic. I am also a picky dater, I don’t keep men around that I am not fully invested in. So when I keep a guy around it’s because I really like the guy. So, when I went through my last breakup I was devastated, sad, and heartbroken but I healed faster than I ever have. I feel like I had somewhat of a system that got me through.

     I’d like to share that here. I know I am not alone when it comes to dating and breakups. I know we all suffer, and sometimes community and a safe space is what we need to feel better. I will share what I have gone through and some of the tips I followed. I’d like to hear your story too. I care about what you’re going through because I believe as human beings we are all connected and what I go through relates to what you go through and vice versa. I do care, and I will listen so your story gets heard. 

    In the coming days, I will share my story about what happened in my breakup and how I dealt to get over it. So I ask you, what’s your breakup story? I’m here to listen. Image