I was 16 when I first picked up a copy of “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” to try and figure out why the guy that I liked wasn’t texting me back. I couldn’t understand that someone who chased me for months, said they really liked me, kissed me, and as soon as I confessed I liked him too, disappeared. It was later on that same year the movie “He’s Just Not That Into You” came out and things started to click into place. He just wasn’t that into me.
When I was 20, it happened again. The exact same cycle I put myself in before. This time with bigger repercussions—a broken heart. Something that I never thought would happen to me. I was too protective of my heart, I thought. No one was going to break it. I wouldn’t allow it, until one day they did. I honestly don’t know how it happened. The warning signs were there from the beginning but I chose to ignore them because he was sweet, charming, attractive, and quite a good kisser. And I was young, naive, and wanting someone to like me. Then, kiss, bang, boom. A broken heart.
The thing about the self help books that I turned to is that none of them told you how to mend a broken heart. Yes, they explained the “10 Signs A Guy Isn’t Interested” or “5 Ways To Make Him Jealous and Wanting You Back,” but there was no listicle on the “10 Things To Do To Fall Out of Love With Someone” or “5 Ways To Stop Eating Ice Cream and Heal Your Broken Heart Quick.” They never tell you the one thing that is true in all heartbreak: how hard it is to get over someone. They tell you all these things you should be doing—working out to get that revenge bod, sleeping with someone else, finding a hobby, anything really to get your mind off them—but they don’t explain what to do when all you’d rather be doing is wearing joggers, eating pint after pint of Ben and Jerry’s, and watching Bridget Jones on repeat wondering if anyone would really love you like Mark Darcy.
I’ve tried a variety of ways of falling out of love—mainly drinking copious amounts of coffee, throwing myself into work, and avoiding any mention of the one that got away. Any mention at all. For me, it was a coping mechanism and probably not the best one, but after a month of his name not being uttered, it got a little bit easier. You almost forget about them. Until you see them in line at the grocery store while you have your hair in a not-cute messy bun, no makeup, and wondering why the universe does this to you. Then you have to rewind and redo all the progress you made before.
There’s no checklist of how to mend a broken heart. If there were and people could get over a break up in “5 Easy Steps,” would it be worth it? Was the relationship really that meaningful if there was such a quick fix? Would we cling to that list throughout the relationship and never really commit to that person because we know what could possibly happen?
I’ve always been the type of person looking for the exit. I know exactly how many rows behind me and in front of me there are to the exit doors. I can find the escape, the loophole, the way out of any given situation and how to not get myself hurt in the process. But, what’s the fun in that? When I finally allowed myself to be vulnerable and open up, it was exciting and scary and wonderful and horrifying and all those things rolled into one. It was everything I hated and longed for. And looking back on the end and the goodbye and the months that followed where I was wallowing in this strange pain, when there was an emptiness in my stomach, and I constantly felt like I was outside of myself, I wouldn’t trade those days. I wouldn’t want a checklist of items that I needed to fulfill before my I was well and truly moved on. I learned what I could take on. I learned about myself. I rediscovered my identity. That piece I’ve been missing for far too long.
The thing about falling out of love is that it takes time, it takes screaming your lungs out, crying so hard your body hurts, laughing until you can’t take it anymore, eating too much, drinking too much, sleeping with the wrong people, sleeping with the right people, swiping right on Tinder, deleting Tinder, breaking your phone, deleting social media, waking up at 3am and not being able to fall back asleep, calling them, texting them, regretting everything and regretting nothing. It takes whatever it takes. It takes you however long it takes. It takes you opening your eyes one day and thinking, “holy shit, I’m okay.”