Chapter 1The Aftermath
An A-to-Z Guide to Post -Breakup Mood SwingsWarning:
You will be experiencing fits of page, helpless laughter, and projectile sobbing, often simultaneously.
In the period immediately following a breakup, every emotion in the book will rear its ugly head. One minute you will feel lazy, sleepy, depressed; the next you will feel productive, energetic, euphoric. One minute you will feel like killing your ex in a murderous rage; the next you will feel like eating a big hoagie.
Lest you think that any of these emotions are weird or psychotic, let me assure you that of course they are!
They're also quite normal for someone who's just suffered a breakup.
Here are some of the post-breakup emotions and urges you may experience:A: Anger.
Not only will you be angry at yourself, your ex, and the world at large, you'll also be angry at anyone who smiles at you, tells you to cheer up, or says hello. (Tip:
Avoid Hare Krishnas.)B: Blame.
At first, you'll be tempted to blame yourself for the breakup. Therapists say this is necessary and even healthy, because it makes you feel like you have control over what happens to you. I say forget all that: It's much more fun to blame others. Blaming your ex is, of course, a given. Other good people to blame:
* Your parents.
* Saddam Hussein.
* Howard Stem. And don't forget those old blame standbys
* the greenhouse effect, and
* bad karma. If all else fails,
* blame PMS.C:
The urge to clean.
I'm not talking about your average everyday dusting and sweeping here. I'm talking about a cleaning frenzy.
Not only will you find yourself vacuuming the inside of your file cabinet, you will find yourself vacuuming inside each file folder.
If you have any empty envelopes in your apartment, you will vacuum them out, too.
And this is after
you've cleaned the inside of your mailbox and dusted every book you own, page by page.
Cleaning is therapeutic, true. But I think the real impetus behind the post-breakup cleaning frenzy is the desperate urge to get rid of every single skin flake your ex ever shed in your apartment.D:
At some point, you will feel like drinking yourself silly.
While going on a bender can be self-destructive, it's also an excellent anesthetic. (They don't call it "drowning your sorrows" for nothing.) Remember: Alcohol kills brain cells.
Killing brain cells results in memory loss.
Therefore, if you drink enough alcohol, you will eventually forget that your ex ever existed.Tip:
Don't make drinking too much of a habit, or you will be spending a good portion of your life waiting for aspirin to work.E: Embarrassment.
After anger, this is probably the most common post-breakup emotion. Women I talked to reported feeling "embarrassed that I fell for my ex's lines," "embarrassed that I gushed about him to friends and family," and "embarrassed that I saw the box of tampons in his bathroom and didn't get the clue." Some were mortified about things they did during the actual breakup. "I literally got down on my knees and begged him not to leave me," said one woman. "It kills me to think that his last view of me was so pathetic." Another woman drove by her ex's house at least four times a day. "He lived at the end of a dead-end street, so every time I drove by, I had to do a three-point turn in his driveway," she said. "He finally came out and told me to stop it."F:
You will feel free.
Suddenly, your life will be filled with new options. Any behavior that your boyfriend loathed can now become part of your daily repertoire. Hooray! You can eat cookies in bed! You can eat Chef Boyardee ravioli right out of the can! Wear your rattiest underwear! Play your Saturday Night Fever
album! Let the dishes pile up! Yay! No more pretending that you like his mother! No more little hairs in the bathroom sink! No more empty ice trays!
You will enjoy this newfound freedom for about ten minutes. Then you will burst into tears.G: Guilt.
If you were the one who did the breaking up, you will feel very guilty. Don't let this get you down! Remember, guilt is the basis for all that's good in the world (namely, sex, religion, and Court TV).H: Hunger.
After the breakup, some of your pain may be referred to your stomach, which will respond by screaming, "Feed me! Feed me till I explode!" These screams will be followed by intense cravings for various comfort foods (defined as "processed foods, typically bright orange in color, which are highly unhealthy and therefore incredibly expensive").
I myself have experienced this phenomenon. After one breakup, I wandered through the grocery store in a virtual daze for two whole hours. When I got home and started putting the food away, I thought at first that I'd grabbed someone else's bags by mistake. There were three
boxes of kids' cereal, a jar of Peter Pan peanut butter, two boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese, a jar of Clausen dill pickles, and a jar of Marshmallow Fluff. Yes, Marshmallow Fluff!
Apparently my inner child had done the shopping.
Some women say that they actually lose
their appetite after a breakup. I'd like to smack them, but I don't think I can roll off the couch.I:
You will feel impulsive.
You will hunger for new experiences, especially those that would shock your ex. "Belly dancing class? Sounds great!" "Skydiving? Sure!" "A fullbody tattoo of the Leaning Tower of Pisa? I'm ready!" (Tip:
Stay away from army recruiters while you are in this frame of mind.)Note:
After a breakup, you may also feel ill.
According to one therapist, "Many wounded people experience physical symptoms. Some suffer headaches, sleeplessness, hallucinations, rectal bleeding, and gastrointestinal problems."
To which I reply: Rectal bleeding?!?
Typical causes of post-breakup jealousy:
* Seeing your ex with the woman he dumped you for.
* Seeing your ex enjoying himself with his friends.
* Seeing a guy who looks
like your ex enjoying himself.
* Seeing any couple who looks at all happy.Note:
Breaking up with a guy will not prevent you from feeling jealous. As one woman put it, "When I saw my ex with another woman the week after I broke up with him, I was insanely jealous. I couldn't believe that he could get over me that quickly."K:
You will want to give your ex a knuckle sandwich.
One woman found this urge so overwhelming that she joined a kung fu class
so she could release this negative energy in a safe environment. Then she proceeded to kick the shit
out of her instructor.L:
Lots of people laugh
when they're nervous or upset; it's sort of a survival instinct. After a breakup, the strangest things may set you off. "I'm going to be alone for the rest of my life," you'll be thinking. Suddenly you'll have a vision of your eighty-year-old self buying Depends undergarments, and you'll start laughing so hysterically that nearby strangers will pound you on the back.Tip:
People won't understand that while you may be laughing on the outside, you are actually crying on the inside. Therefore, it might be a good idea to carry a Watchman with you at all times. That way, whenever you're struck by a sudden giggle fit, you can point to the tiny TV screen and pretend that someone on a sitcom just said something funny. Of course, this will probably require lying.M: Memories.
Everything you see and hear for those first few weeks -- Hungry Man TV dinners, Calvin Klein commercials, the Muzak
version of "Muskrat Love"
-- will remind you of your ex. For one woman, it was Teva sandals. "My boyfriend wore them all the time, and I hated
them," she said. "Then, after we broke up, I saw them in a store window. One minute I was fine, and the next minute I was sobbing hysterically." For another woman, it was seeing a guy spit.
"My ex could spit really high in the air and then catch it in his mouth, like Judd Nelson did in The Breakfast Club,"
she said. "He could plan it so that the spit would land on my head no matter where I dodged. It was so cool."Tip:
Whenever warm memories like these come back to you, immediately
replace them with a mental picture of your ex at his most disgusting, stupid, and infuriating (preferably all three). Remember how he grunted while watching the bikini-clad women on Baywatch?
Good. All pleasant thoughts of him should now be flying right out of your head.N:
You will feel like you've reached your nadir,
or lowest point. (Not to be confused with Ralph
Nader.) Then you will feel like taking a nap.O:
You will feel like composing an ode
to your ex. The ode will probably start out polite, but eventually it will degenerate into obscene oaths. Do not mail this ode to your ex!
If writing an ode seems too highbrow, try writing a limerick. Here's one to get you started:
There once was a man from Venus
Who fell in love with his penis.
I wasn't impressed
(It was four inches at best)
And so I said, "Been there, seen this."P: Phobic.
Common post-breakup phobias: androphobia (fear of men); anuptaphobia (fear of being single); genophobia (fear of sex); bromidrosiphobia (fear of body odors, real or imagined). Worst-case scenario: genoandrobromidrosiphobia (fear of having sex with a man who has body odor).Note:
If you ignored my advice and mailed your ode to your ex, you will no doubt be writing a palinode
(in lay terms, a poem retracting something said in an earlier poem).Tip:
If you're looking for something that rhymes with "sorry," try "Mata ...