Read an Excerpt
Girls' Guide to Surviving a Break-Up
Is it really a breakup?
This quiz can be helpful, but mostly it is a good way for you to distract yourself when you might otherwise be out keying your ex-boyfriend's car. It may make you feel better to see if your breakup is really legitimate.
Has the man in question ever asked you on a date?
If the answer is NO: I have a friend who imagines herself into relationships. I think the clinical term for it is erotomania. The more colloquial term for it is ridiculous, and this kind of behavior is guaranteed to make your friends want to change their phone numbers. If you have never been asked out by the person you feel is breaking up with you, you should seek professional help and fast. It is appropriate to feel disappointment when someone you are interested in does not seem interested in youyeah, it hurts that he's started going out with someone else or never returned your callbut you are not in the throes of a breakup.
If the answer is YES: Read on.
Have you slept with him?
This is a tricky question.
If the answer is YES, but it turned out to be a one-night stand: If it feels like a big deal, first of all relax. Everyone, everyone, makes a few mistakes. Fire off a nasty note to the women whowrote The Rules and take a bubble bath. You didn't do anything wrong. It's not your fault that he turned out to be a total jerk. How were you to know? As a male friend pointed out to me, if a guy really likes you, he won't care that you slept with him right away. You are not in a breakup. I'm not saying that it's a great idea to sleep with a guy right away, but you never know where the chips are going to fall. Cheer up. You have a lot of company.
If the answer is YES, often: Read on.
If the answer is NO but you have been together for more than a month: Are you Amish? Read on.
If the answer is NO and you have known him for less than a month: An expensive haircutincluding sexy highlightsand a few evenings out with your girlfriends talking about how guys suck should take care of the problem. If it doesn't, again you may want to seek professional help.
Were you together more than three months?
Three months may seem arbitrary. Of course, every relationship progresses at different speeds.
If the answer is NO: Most likely you are not really going through breakup hell. However, there are five fairly reasonable exceptions.
Exception #1: You knew your ex for a long time before you started going out.
Exception #2: You had the immediate feeling that this was the love of your life and you never wavered from that feeling during the time, albeit brief, that you were together.
Exception #3: All of your friends are in relationships and the thought of being alone again is extra-unbearable.
Exception #4: This breakup has brought back the trauma of aprevious breakup that you are still grieving over and you just need a little extra guidance.
Exception #5: You are an exquisitely sensitive individual who finds the loss of any relationship heart-wrenching (i.e., you wept uncontrollably when your mailman moved to a new route).
If any of these apply: Read on.
If the answer is YES: Read on.
Did you live together?
Honey, if the answer is YES, definitely read on.
At this point, I have loosely defined what constitutes a real breakup and what just requires a cocktail and some shopping. For those of you still on board, let's get down to business.
I. the first few days:
part one: MANAGING THE CRISIS
From the first moment that you have the wind knocked out of you by hearing in one way or another that the relationship is over, you must ruthlessly prioritize doing as little as possible. By that I mean you must accept that you are in shock and that you should expect nothing from yourself other than to keep breathing. Even that may seem like a stretch, but you can do it.
More than likely the breakup and the devastation you feelwere not anticipated. That's okay. Alert other people to the fact that for forty-eight to seventy-two hours nothing is about the most that they can expect from you, though not necessarily in those words. Take a half hour as soon as possible to clear the decks for two to three days so that you can fall apart with some dignityand privacy.
IF YOU LIVE TOGETHER
While you may feel completely powerless at the moment of the breakup, keep in mind that your ex is more than likely feeling some guilt about upsetting you so. You must swiftly make use of this guilt to secure whatever you feel is going to be the most comfortable living arrangement for you for the next few days. You cannot enter the first hideous but necessary phase of a breakup until you are in a comfortable place away from your ex, so keep it quasi together for a few minutes to get this out of the way.
You may want to stay in your mutual abode. This has the added benefit of buying you some time to mark your name with a sharpie on as many of the joint acquisitions and CDs as you would like. When someone breaks up with you, it is more than reasonable to ask him to stay at a friend's or a parent's for a week, so even if your ex doesn't get this right away, know that you are well within your rights. If your ex is anything like the men I know, and you are crying, he will either want to go to bed with you or get the hell away from you. Do NOT sleep with him. It will not make you feel any better and it won't undo the breakup.
Once you have told him that he has to stay elsewhere for a little while, do not follow him around while he gets ready; do not hover. Be clear that you don't want to hear from him for afew days and that he may under no circumstances drop by. If you are feeling extremely untrusting and/or bitchy, you can ask him to give you his keys to the apartmenthe probably will. Then give him exactly twenty minutes to gather what he will need and sequester yourself in another room and call a friend.
Of course, you may not want to stay at the place where you two lived together. You may feel oppressed by the reminders of your life together. If you are going to split, do it quickly. Do not drag your ass around moping. If you forget stuff, you can always borrow from whomever you are staying with. It's mature to let your ex know where you are going in case he needs to reach you in an emergency, i.e., the house burns down. You can tell him, but it's also wise to let him know that you would prefer he doesn't call you. You will contact him when you are ready. If you are feeling so pissed that you don't want to tell him where you are going, that's fine too. He has forfeited all rights to keep tabs on you.
This mostly comes up if you live together, though some people share pets without living together. Common sense dictates that, with rare exception, if the pet belonged to one of you coming into the relationship, it should leave the relationship with that person, even if it now feels as if the pet belongs to both of you. With a mutually acquired pet, if he has broken up with you, etiquette dictates that the choice is yours. So if you feel that having the pet around is going to make you feel better, keep it and say that in a month you will be willing to discuss a more joint arrangement. Don't leave the door open for a lot of contact around the pet anytime soon and don't use the pet as an excuse for contact. You need some time to start feeling betterbefore you are in touch and certainly before you make any kind of permanent decisions about the pet. Of course, if you always hated the dog because it slobbered, or the cat because it shed, or the lizard just because, make him take it no matter how inconvenient it is for him.
You may worry that the pet will miss your ex. Don't. Remember that you are a little sensitive and emotional right now. Your pet will be getting a lot of love from you and will be happy giving you a lot of love. Keep in mind that your pet is not a person and, while sensitive, will make the best of the situation. Especially if you are the child of divorced parents, know clearly that your pet is not going through what you went through back then.
After her boyfriend left, my friend Hannah called me, crying, about how their dog, Rocco, was upset. Maybe Rocco was a little upset. Hannah sure was. Give yourself and your friends a break and try not to project too much of your own sadness onto the pet. I have never ever encountered a pet that didn't weather a breakup just fine. In hindsight, Rocco never had it better because Hannah started letting Rocco sleep on the bed and was home from work for a week snuggling with him.
WORK, OR GETTING OUT OF IT
Unless you are among the very lucky or very unlucky, you have a job. If your boss or your clients are cool, you can tell them that you and so-and-so are over and you need a few days to get yourself together. Be careful here. Most bosses and most clients are not cool, even though they pretend to be. Revealing any vulnerability may come back to haunt you later. If in doubt, lying is best.
Isn't this worse than a cold?
The best lie is, of course, calling in sick. You probably sound like shit anyway from crying. Take advantage of that and leave people voice mails, letting them know that you won't be in the next day. You will have bought yourself a day to call the next night and say you are still not feeling well and you'll keep them posted. If you decide to answer the phone during this period, be sure to sound as if you are dying.
To make matters easier, here are two really solid illnesses that can creep up on you unexpectedly and have unfortunate consequences but don't cause too much alarm. Pick your story and stick to it.
The flu. This is a particularly useful choice if it happens to be fall or winter (and you don't live in the tropics). People spend those seasons chatting about how "it" is going around, and often the local media even gets in on the act. Why not you? I like this one because it's contagious and involves vomiting. As a result, people, even bosses, do not want you around. Be sure to complain of fever and chills.
Food poisoning. This one lends itself most effectively to the spring and summer when you and others are more likely to be eating shellfish. Scallops, lobster, and shrimp are easy scapegoats. For those of you well known already to be allergic to shellfish, undercooked chicken and pork can come through in a pinch. Real food poisoning leaves you, at best, in a heap on your bathroom floor next to the toilet, not knowing which end of you is going to explode next. This choice means, of course, that no one but no one wants you to make an appearance in the office.
You have a few other lying options if you have used up all your sick days. If it's a Friday or a Thursday night and you need to get out of only one day of work, one of the following will do.
A parent/sibling/close friend has thrown out her back and you are going to have to spend the day with her and take her to the doctor. It's not a great excuse, but it actually happened to me. Be sure to mention muscle relaxants and painkillers like Vicodin or Percoset.
In many places, having your car break down can be prohibitive to working. This is good. Be careful, however, not to use this excuse too often because eventually it makes you look like a schmo. Be particularly careful if your job involves driving because overuse of this excuse could lead to unemployment.
If you have the most heartless boss or clients and you have taken a bunch of sick days or vacation recently, you may have to deliver a more dramatic excuse. Remember to stay focused on the fact that you need a few days off and do not use this situation as an opportunity to see if you really are a good actress. The following suggestions are to be used only as a last resort.
Funeral time. Death in the family or of someone close to you. This is hideous. On the other hand, it could certainly buy you a whole week out of the office. Be careful to pick a person who is close enough to you that your life would be unhinged by his or her death but also distant enough that your office has never heard of this person. Never ever ever pick someone real.This is guaranteed to bring you bad vibes and can also be awkward when that person calls your office in the future.
Diagnosis of terminal illness. Not yours, dummy! Again, this is to be used only in extreme circumstances. The ill friend/family member has asked to stay with you for a few days. What could you say? Don't get caught up in any conversations focusing on what a brave and compassionate friend/relative you are. We both know the truth.
No Getting Out of It
Unfortunately, there are times when work cannot be avoided. Maybe you have an important presentation with colleagues from out of town, maybe you are a wedding planner and it's the big day. Whatever it is, denial of the breakup is the best way to go. Thank your now-ex for his input and get away from him so you can try to pretend he's just out of town. In the case of a presentation, make sure that you have everything you are going to say written down. With an event, come armed with to-do lists. Just focus on getting the work done so you can then move on to your breakdown. Keep in mind that it's fine if you do a lousy job. One bad performance will not in the long run ruin your career. When the work is done, do whatever you need to do to have a few days to yourself. If you need help, refer to the above suggestions.
This may not make you feel better right now, but there is a minuscule silver lining to the "have to work" scenario. It will come back to serve you later in the "anger" phase because you will have solid facts to support your theory that your ex is an ass. Anyone who breaks up with you during a work crunch surely sucks.
FRIENDS: REACHING OUT
As I've said, it's essential to get in touch with one or several close friends immediately. It is wise to call someone who is a very tolerant listener because you are not ready to have a real conversation just yet. For now, skip calling anyone who is going to lecture you on how he or she knew this would happen, or on how much of a jerk your ex was, or both. It is also best to call someone who won't mind if you are incapable of stringing together complete sentences, or if you are mostly just sobbing and dry heaving. If there isn't anyone this angelic in your circle of close friends, make your best choice. Also, if you can't reach the person you want to talk to, leave her a message to call you and then move on to calling other friends to keep yourself busy until your top choice calls you back. One important note, when leaving messages on friends' answering machines or if you are crying when you first get friends on the phone: However badly you are doing, try to croak out the words "broke up." Not to say that you are not in a serious crisis, but you don't want your friends to worry that a loved one has died, even if it feels a little that way.
Talking to friends is the very best tool you have in your own recovery, and you should make use of them and their love for you. You would do the same for them (if you wouldn't before, you will in the future), so do not feel bashful. They are sad that you are sad and they want to help you feel better. Ask them where they will be so that if you are a wreck you know where to find them. Check out the availability of several friends so you will almost always have someone to call and needn't rely on one person who, even if you are her favorite person in the whole world, probably has a few things that she needs to do. Take apiece of paper and write down when and where you can reach people for the next couple of days.
You may want to ask a friend to come and stay with you for a few days. If you do this, keep in mind that you should still keep up contact with a few other friends so the friend who is staying with you has time to do whatever she has to do (like go to work, perhaps) and stay sane so she can help you the best she can.
You may have decided to go stay at a friend's house. Bring your phone card or indicate that you will need to make a bunch of calls and ask if it is all right for you to pay her back later. No doubt this is fine with her. Again, it's good to stay in touch with other people while you are at your friend's house so she has time to take a shower, do laundry, and keep her life together. You don't want your friends to feel as if their lives are unraveling as well or they will not be very helpful to you.
A week should be enough time visiting a friend or having one stay with you to be able to function, at least in zombie-mode, on your own again.
PARENTS: HOW TO HANDLE?
Obviously, if you are estranged from your parents, or if they are abusive, leave them out of this. It is unlikely that someone who has disappointed you your whole life is suddenly going to come through for you right now, and you don't want to expose yourself to any additional hurt.
If your instinct is to call your parents right away, that is probably the right thing for you to do. Keep in mind that you may not be able to control how bad you sound, so here are a few things to consider before you pick up the phone.
Why Are You Calling Them?
You just want to tell them.
You may want to wait until you feel you can keep it together for the duration of the call. At least wait until you can get out a few complete sentences. Your parents, like most parents, are even more invested in you than your friends are. They care more, and your pain really is their pain. You don't want to panic them more than you are willing to involve them in your sadness. What I mean is this: If you call your parents when hysterical, you cannot expect them to be cool when you don't return their calls for a few days. You will have to take or return their calls relatively promptly, and you will have to keep them posted on how you are doing. If you don't, they may show up at your doorstep, and they would be right to do so. Do you really want them to race over and take you home and tuck you into your childhood bed? If this doesn't sound ideal, watch how despondent you sound when talking to them. Either way, I think it is good to let them know which friends you are in touch with, if you will be going to stay with any friends, or if you will have any friends staying with you. Remember, even though your ex broke up with you, and you are feeling horrible, this is not an opportunity to torment your parents unnecessarily.
You want to go "home."
If you feel that the best place for you to stay for a few days is with your parents, it probably is. It's a good idea to call and let them know what happened and that you are coming home. It's also a good idea, even if this doesn't ring totally true just yet, to say something like "for a few days" or "for the weekend." You want them to know that even though you sound like hell, you know that you will eventually get on with your life. In short, you want them to be prepared to let you leave their houseagain and go back to being a "grown-up" when you say you are ready.
A Cautionary Note
Even parents who are prone to being judgmental are probably capable of behaving appropriately for a few days when you are miserable. But if you think there is a chance that your parents are going to use the fact that you had your heart broken, probably by someone they didn't think was worthy of you, as an indictment of your bad judgment and your inability to function in the world as an adult, keep contact to a minimum. You shouldn't, and are not able to, defend your life right now. Wait until you've got your strength back. Also, if there is the remotest chance that your parents are going to take his side or try to blame you for the breakup, STAY AWAY. Sure, they may be worried that you have just broken up with the only gainfully employed man you've ever brought around and they just want you to be happy, etc., etc. Whatever their reasons, they are not going to give you the support you need right now.
If your siblings are abusive or judgmental, stay away from them during this time. If your siblings are crazy, this is also sound advice. My friend Josie would call her older brother Will, crying, every time someone broke up with her. Will would invariably race out, track the miscreant down, and punch him out. It was one thing when we were in high school, but it's not that funny anymore. Josie has spent a bunch of money on bail that could better have been used for massages, if she'd only called her brother when she was feeling less upset.
If you are lucky, siblings are like a cross between friends andparents. This means that you can generally count on them to be really cool and supportive. They are happy to hang out on the phone or pick up a six-pack and come over on a dime. This is great. The only thing to be careful about is that, a little like your parents, they are deeply affected by seeing you unhappy. They will want to be kept abreast of how you are doing and may get more protective of you in the future than you want them to be. Again, while it is probably a good idea to lean on them at this time, you may want to drop hints indicating that you know you will be feeling better soon and the like.
part two: FALLING APART SAFELY
Now that we have squared away how to get some peace and quiet for yourself, and whom to contact and how, let's move on to the brass tacks of dealing with an initial breakup. You are not yet ready to do a lot of loving things for yourself that will make you feel better and help you inch back toward your prebreakup level of self-esteem or better. You are probably feeling self-destructive. That's normal. This section is about passing some time safely.
DRUGS AND ALCOHOL
You know your limits better than I do, but we both know that your judgment probably isn't at its best right now. For myself, having several cocktails a few nights in a row in the wake of a breakup has been perfectly fine, even great. For you, this might be reckless or worse. So I'm outlining some don'ts and some general ideas that I hope will make you pause and think if you are making decisions about drugs and alcohol use.
Whatever choices you make, remember that it is completely normal for you to be in a lot of pain right now. Also keep in mind that in order to get through the pain, you have to feel it. This is NOTthank godan active process. Your brain is at work processing and accepting your heartbreak even as you are lying on the couch crying. But if you numb your brain with mind-altering substances for the next month, it won't perform its usual functions and you won't get any closer to feeling better.
Don't get behind the wheel of a car unless you are stone-cold sober. Even then, you are probably tired and blurry-eyed, so I recommend having someone else who is not in the middle of personal trauma chauffeur you around for a little while. Or take a cab.
Don't take any drugs that have sketchy origins. You don't know what is really in there. You could be risking your life here. I can't say it firmly enough. This is totally unacceptable under any circumstances.
Don't take any drugs you haven't tried before. This is not the time for experimenting.
Don't take more than the recommended doses of any prescription drugs or any over-the-counter medicine you have around. As with any serious thoughts of suicide, if you feel yourself heading this way, take action NOW. You need to get professional help right away (see appendix). This is not the time to concern yourself with what other people might think or whether you yourself hold the ignorant belief that getting professional help makes you "crazy" or any less of a person. It doesn't matter. The most important thing is that when you arefeeling horrible, you get yourself help. You will find later that it means that you are brave and smart and love yourself.
Don't take any drugs if you have a history of drug abuse. You know this better than I do. Don't take any drugs when you are alone.
The Hard Stuff
Obviously there are a lot of different drugs out there that do different things. You may do none of them. You may do some of them but would never ever touch others. You may have tried many of them. What I'm saying is this: Don't do them now. What felt good when you were feeling good will most likely feel dramatically different when you are feeling terrible. And by different, I mean completely fking horrible, horrible when you are on the drug, horrible when you are coming down, and potentially horrible for days after. If you have drugs around and you are concerned about taking them, give them away ASAP or literally flush them down the toilet immediately.
Don't drive if you've had anything to drink, and probably don't drive anyway.
Don't drink if you are a recovering alcoholic. Call your sponsor. You know this better than I do.
Don't drink more than you usually do when alone. It can be dangerous.
Don't mix your drinks. It's just never a good call.
For many reasons, even if you are not much of a drinker, you may feel moved to tie one on under the circumstances. Justkeep in mind that your body isn't used to it. You will get the spins and very likely throw up. Even if you are a regular drinker, if you consume more alcohol than usual, you are going to get sick. I recommend not exceeding what you might do on any old Saturday night. You don't want to make yourself feel worse than you do ordinarily.
Unless you have a history of eating disorders, there is probably very little that you can do on this front in forty-eight to seventy-two hours that is going to make much difference down the road.
When I am feeling incredibly hurt, I can barely eat. Normally I eat plenty, so if I'm consuming only Cool Whip and cigarettes for a few days, I don't worry about it. My appetite has never failed to come back when I am feeling better. But there are limits. If you haven't eaten anything for more than twenty-four hours, try to eat something. I find it best to force myself to eat a piece of toast or some pretzels. It doesn't really matter, but you don't want to eat so little that you start to make yourself feel light-headed and faint. If you are coming up on forty-eight hours and you still can't get yourself to eat something, you need to tell someone and get help.
While you don't want to make yourself feel sicker than you probably already do, feel free to indulge yourself in any cravings you have. One friend of mine likes to eat cartons of chocolate frozen yogurt out of the containers while sobbing. Myfriend Samantha's favorite man-hating meal is liverwurst and Swiss with tons of mustard. It doesn't matter. Eat whatever you want. Two or three days of it isn't going to affect your weight in the long run. Remember, takeout can be your best friend during this time of need.
You've been crying. Maybe you've been drinking. Maybe you are extremely hungover. Any which way, you should drink some water. Extreme dehydration probably isn't a serious concern, but even low-level dehydration will make you feel worse than you already do. Also your skin and hair need water to look their best. Do yourself a tiny little favor and drink a few glasses of water every day.
If you are not a smoker: This is a bit dicey. I've seen several friends smoke a few or many cigarettes during the first few days of a breakup and drop it easily when they are feeling better. You know yourself better than I do. I will caution you that when I was nineteen, I had never smoked until my boyfriend dumped me while I was staying with him in Washington, DC. I had only one friend there, and she was having some serious problems of her own and was never around. It seemed comforting to have a few smokes. It reminded me of my girlfriends who were away for the summer. It's been twelve years now and I still haven't quit. It's not that I don't love smoking, but we all know that it's horrible for you. If you indulge during this time, try not to let it go on for more than a week because you could end up spending the next decade smelling like an ashtray.
If you have recently quit: God, love you. I know it's rough, but if you can avoid starting again, you will be your own personal hero. If you do start, promise yourself that you have exactly one week to smoke and don't break that promise. He's just not worth destroying your tremendous accomplishment. If you are a smoker: Smoke on, baby. This is not the time to quit, and a few extra cartons aren't going to make it or break it with lung cancer. Sure, quitting could be in your nearish future, but another few weeks of smoking probably won't make any difference. If you decide, because you are superhuman, that you want to quit now, get help doing it because it's hard enough even without already feeling like hell.
You may be one of those intimidating people who have to exercise every day and have been doing so for decades. In that case, you (a) frighten me and (b) should probably go sweat it out. But if you don't think you can handle it, that's totally cool too. A few days of skipping the gym won't make the slightest difference in the scheme of life or, more important, to your fine physique. If you are not prone to working out regularly, do not even think about forcing yourself to start now unless you are bizarrely moved to, as in an out-of-body experience. It can't hurt, but keep in mind that you are in a "no-pressure" zone.
You may use manila envelopes at work, but did you realize how handy they can be in a breakup?
Find everything that he's given you, or that belongs to him,or that reminds you of him, and put it in a manila envelope with his name written on it. This includes letters, printed out E-mails (if you have a lot of E-mails from him on your computer and aren't ready to lose them forever, print them out and then delete them all so you won't have to see them whenever you go to check your mail), photos, mix tapes, slim volumes of poetry. This process ensures that every time you turn around you won't see his face and also means, if you are as thorough as I am, that you won't be innocently going about your moping and stumble across that "love postcard" he wrote you when he was on vacation with his family in Florida. Then take everything that doesn't fit in a manila envelope, including that snuggly sweater, his boxers, the Kiss albums, and put it all in a garbage bag. Then shove the garbage bag in the back of a closet.
I find this activity extremely helpful, and it also helps pass the time. Of course, it can be a tad more challenging if you lived together. Obviously that hideous sofa will not easily fit in the envelope and you will need to plan some trips to the dump with your brother and his pickup.
You have now successfully ex-boyfriend-proofed your place. If you are like me, this means that you can now breathe a little easier.
Imagine a place that is a safe happy place for you. It can be your grandmother's attic where you used to play with your cousin. It can be your fantasy of a thatched hut on a tropical beach as the sun is setting. Now, how does it smell? What is there besides you? A hammock, a quilt, a piña colada? Get acquainted with this place. And then go there in your mind whenever you startfeeling panicky or overwhelmed with grief. Go there when you are sitting on the subway, when you are in a crowded elevator, when you are at home alone and feel as if you are falling apart. Stay there in your mind until you feel a little better.
Now pick your favorite place in your home. For me, it would have to be the bathroom with the bathtub running. For you, it might be sitting in your favorite chair by the window. And then decide that this is your safety zone. That means that when you go to that place, things are all right, things are going to get better. Nothing bad happens to you in that place. The next time you start feeling really bad, go to your safety zone. As many a late night infomercial will tell you, it's amazing how you can get yourself to feel better by using the power of your own mind.
Lying in bed in a fetal position. Sometimes you've just got to do nothing and be a miserable wretch. Try not to spend more than one complete day doing this. After twenty-four hours of said behavior, you should try to mix it up a little.
Walking ... for five minutes. You may not feel ready to get out of the house, but a superbrief walk around the block and a little fresh air might be a manageable break from sobbing on the couch. Be sure to go incognitoa hat and sunglasses will do.
Movies. You may not feel up for going to the movies, but at least it's dark in there so no one can see your puffy eyes and red nose. Also, going to the movies during the day pretty much guarantees that you won't run into anyone you know since they are toiling at the office. (Sunglasses in theater optional.)
If you don't have a VCR or DVD, I feel for you. You shouldtry to get your hands on one right away. Forcing yourself to watch and possibly cry through movies is very therapeutic. Of course, avoid movies that are going to remind you of him and make you feel even worse. Anything tragic and all serious dramas are out. This is not the time to see if Kramer vs. Kramer was as harsh as you remember. Stupid comedies are good and so are golden oldies.
Watch my recommended movies from the list on the next page, watch some other movies. It doesn't really matter. Just force yourself to sit through a few movies, and inevitably time goes by.
TV. It is essential to watch a lot of TVespecially bad TVwhen you feel that the bottom has fallen out.
More than likely, you are not capable of doing much beyond what I've suggested in this chapter during the first few days following a breakup. If you feel you can do more, you are doing better than me and all my friends and you can move ahead to the suggestions in the next chapter. If you can't, don't worry. The complete emotional turmoil of what you are going through right now will pass. My friend Hannah, when she was really bottoming out, said to me that she wished she could just be in a coma for a month. But she and I both knew that being in a coma wouldn't really help. She would wake up from it as tortured as she was when she conked out. You just have to live through these dark days. That's it. And if you can just hold on, you will feel better despite yourself.
Top 5 Movies to Distract You
1. Airplane: This is one of the funniest movies of all time. Whether you speak jive or not, it's sure to crack at least a smile.
2. Nine to Five: The only problem with this classic is that the theme song is so infectious you may never get it out of your head. The combination of Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin is pure joy.
3. Private Benjamin: Who can resist Goldie Hawn's goofy charm? And, as my friend Emily pointed out, you may have it bad but at least you don't have Captain Doreen Lewis breathing down your neck.
4. The Thin Man: This is one of my favorite movies of all time. The only old-fashioned thing about it is the extraordinary amount of booze consumed by Nick and Nora Charles. William Powell and Myrna Loy are perfect in this dynamite combination of comedy and mystery. You won't find wittier dialogue anywhere.
5. Fletch: Yeah, you've forgotten about this treasure because you've probably forgotten that Chevy Chase was ever funny. But he was, and nowhere was he funnier than here. Check it out.
Top 5 TV Shows to Distract You
1. Magnum, PI: It was great then, and nothing has changed. That's because it's all reruns.
2. Charlie's Angels: Not the movie, silly! Yeah, they're somewhere inside your TV in reruns. Find them. Whatever trio you tap into, remember that the girls are your friends.
3. Friends and Seinfeld: Not my personal favorites, but everyone else likes them so maybe you do too. I think collectively they are on about seventeen times a day, so if you can use your remote control you should be able to watch them.
4. Ally McBeal: I am not a big fan of this show, but if your mind is not already numb from pain, this should do the trick. Also, Ally is always getting dumped.
5. Sex and the City: I watch this show and I like it a lot. My brother thinks it's offensive to women. As I pointed out, however, not half as offensive to women as when he sleeps with them and doesn't call them again. Anyway, it's about four broads with a taste for expensive accessories, doing trendy things in New York, who are chronically dealing with breakups. There's at least one breakup per episode. But it's smart and lighthearted. If you don't have premium cable, this may be the time to spend that $12.95 per month.
THE GIRL' GUIDE TO SURVIVING A BREAKUP. Copyright © 2003 by Delphine Hirsh. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York. N.Y. 10010.