A break-up survival guide
Due to the recent slew of break up threads posted in Basement I decided to write a short guide presenting some of the best ways to cope with the drama, emotional pain and general misery of a break up. And as one of the older members in here (30 next year, God help me) I thought I’d offer some hard earned advice on how best to deal with love lost.
Try and do it gracefully
Ignore the predictable pleb tier commentary; ‘shag her sister’, ‘get some molly’, ‘the best way to get over someone, is to get under someone’, etc. Entering a downward spiral of drugs, alcohol and general degeneracy will not make you feel any better about your breakup. It may alleviate or numb the emotional pain for a few minutes or even hours but it solves nothing and heals less. What it will do is lead to regret, possible addiction and further deterioration of your mental and physical state.
If you feel you’ve been wronged, don’t seek revenge. This will only antagonise and lead to more conflict which in turn will likely lead to you getting hurt further. You don’t need to immediately delete all the photos, burn the letters or throw away the gifts, but the physical removal of items that remind you of your ex is essential at some point. They will only serve to remind you of the past.
Don’t get into slanging matches. Don’t make it too public. There’s no need to screen shot and post those angry exchanges. Yes, we all live on social media now but try and have some dignity; does everyone really need to know everything? And it goes without saying – don’t cut his Day Summit up or post her nudes etc. This will only make you look like a twat. And possibly land you in court!
Focus on yourself…
…rather than your ex. Keep busy, force yourself into a routine and stick to it. If you work out, great; as they say broken hearts make bodybuilders. If you’ve never hit the gym before, start. Physical conditioning is great for self-discipline, improving mental health and goal orientated behaviour. And if you’re already committed to the iron, double down; don’t throw your hard work away because of a break up.
If the gym isn’t your thing, then use your new spare time to pursue a dream or project. Don’t have the funds for it? Work overtime. Don’t have a job? Now’s the time to get one. Use the pain and frustration you feel as fuel. Many a masterpiece has been the result of a broken heart; My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Birthday Letters and Goya’s Black Paintings to name but a few. Will you achieve the artistic heights of the Old Masters? Probably not. But will pouring your creativity and energy into your art help? Almost certainly.
Focus on Others
Just because your special late-night someone has left and let you down, endeavour to not do the same to others. I let my training partner down for weeks on end after my last breakup, not turning up to the gym, not accompanying him on fell runs or climbs. I withdrew and slept 12/13 hours a day and avoided my friends and family. I stopped calling back. I felt as if I was on the precipice.
But then I realised just because I lost someone, others shouldn’t lose me. Don’t let the other important people in your life down, just because someone let you down. Work hard on maintaining friendships and force yourself to be social even if you don’t feel like it. Don’t miss out on those friends’ birthday parties, work gatherings and family meals. The physical eventually becomes emotional. Smile, laugh and actively try and be happy and it will slowly become second nature again.
Whenever you’re struggling, talk to friends, family; hell, post in Basement; there is always someone ready to listen. If you can’t get out of bed for work or if you feel continuously hopeless or suicidal go to a doctor. But recognise that feeling blue is natural and healthy after a break up and in my opinion diving face first into a bottle of SRRIs at the first opportunity isn’t a good idea.
Obviously you need to discern between feeling sad and clinical depression. But it is perfectly normal to feel down for months, even years after a break up. If it begins to severely affect your ability to hold down a normal life and you feel like you’re On The Threshold of Infinity, then go seek professional help.
You First Love Will Feel Like Your Last, And Your Last Your First
You will find someone else. I remember my first breakup at 18; I was inconsolable. I look back and laugh at how little I knew about life, love and relationships. I genuinely thought I was plumbing the depths of despair; little did I know I was barely paddling the shallows.
The hard truth is, if this is your first time you’ve had your heart broke, it almost certainly won’t be the last. And it doesn’t get easier. But you do get stronger. And you are almost certain to meet someone else. Someone who will mean just as much if not more to you. Everything doesn’t happen for a reason. But every does happen because of one.
Use your break up to self-analyse. What did you do wrong? Could you have acted differently? But don’t beat yourself up. Guilt can be soul destroying. And whilst seeing things from another’s perspective is a vital and valuable skill don’t focus too much on trying to get inside your ex’s head. This will invariably only lead to them getting inside yours.
And when you eventually find closure you can begin to look for someone else as a stronger, more mature and ultimately better person.
And if none of the above helps at all…
The Red Pill
On the evening of the 8th of April 1945, Major Anders Lassen (a Danish officer serving in the British Special Boat Section) led a 17 strong patrol to raid the north shore of Lake Comacchio in Italy. No previous reconnaissance had been conducted and the patrol found itself ambushed by the Germans on a road flanked on either side by water.
Anders attacked the first position single-handedly with grenades and killed the four Germans inside destroying both machine-guns. Ignoring the hail of fire from the three other positions (a third had activated from further down the road) he again rushed forward under covering fire and threw grenades into the second position, killing two soldiers and allowing his patrol to take the position.
Anders rallied his patrol which had suffered casualties and again under covering fire raced towards the third enemy position throwing yet more grenades. Upon approach he was mortally wounded but still managed to fling in a last grenade, wounding the occupants and allowing his patrol to take the position.
Anders refused to be evacuated as he believed it would slow his patrols’ retreat and endanger the lives of his men. He died, and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. He was just 24 years old.
Ask yourself honestly; what’s the hardest thing you’ve done today? Got out of bed when the alarm clock went off? An 8 hour shift at a job you hate? A 12 hour shift at a job you hate? A hard session in the gym? Ran up a mountain? History is replete with tales of courage, daring and fortitude that 99.9% of us can barely imagine; Freddie Chapman’s death defying exploits behind enemy lines in Malaya, Shackleton’s torturous polar explorations, Hillary’s ascent of Everest. Hell, even Bannister’s four minute mile required more physical and moral courage than the vast majority of people can muster.
Your heart is broken. The bottom line is; so what? The universe doesn’t care. The stars won’t dull for you. The nightingale still sings for others. Around the world millions of people lie in cancer wards, in specialist burn units, rot in hellish jails and Gulags or etch a pitiful, brutish living scavenging rubbish heaps and discarded coal mines. In comparison to the suffering millions endure on a daily basis a broken fucking heart is a minor blessing.
Place your life within the totality of human experience (that is, the experience of every human being who has ever lived) and you will not come up wanting. And if this sounds tough or unforgiving, good. Your emotional state, your life, your reactions and decisions land squarely on you. The onus is on you. I wallowed for months and months and months in self-pity and regret. And where did it get me? No where. What did it change? Nothing. What good did it do for me or anyone else? None.
I am not saying you shouldn’t feel sad. Grieving is essential to heal. Support is vital, deserved and readily available. But ultimately ownership and salvation lie within. And at some point you just have to get up, burn the fat off your soul and get back out there. Life’s just too precious.
Words by John John
Edited by Daniel Hawksworth