1. Things will feel normal—until they don’t.
The pain comes in waves. You’ll go about your day and have moments of joy and laughter. You’ll make tea and still enjoy cheese. You’ll dance and sing. Then you’ll remember or want to text them. The waves get weaker with time, but they will still knock you down.
2. You’ll feel like you’re made of tissue paper.
You’ll feel incredibly soft and transparent. The grocery store feels like an extremely vulnerable place akin to walking through an auditorium in the nude. Your sadness feels palpable, a sign on the dirty wrinkled pajama top you haven’t changed in 2 days. If the 1% milk is gone or the cashier is rude, there is an 87% chance you will cry.
3. Music is the worst (and the best).
Those albums and singles about breakups you once sang along to now seem to be written about you. A single line will destroy you, even in an upbeat song or track you know and love. There are more love/hate singles than you could imagine and the radio is an unsafe place for weeks. Some playlists will remain sacred on your iPod, and eventually you’ll find a ‘breakup song’ that distracts you or speaks perfectly to your situation. This song will carry you through.
4. You’ll dread running into mutual acquaintances.
The prospect of having to talk about it with anyone sucks. Having to tell Mark from your first post-grad job at the frozen yogurt shop is crippling. Bring Kleenex everywhere. Lie if you have to. “He’s fine” and “I’m good” work just as well as the truth. You don’t owe them anything, and they’ll figure it out on Facebook eventually.
5. Social media is kryptonite.
OK, to be fair, I was prepared for this one. You’ll cycle between avoiding it like the plague and obsessively stalking. Signs of life are appreciated but tormenting. You’ll find a way to fabricate suspect activity out of a ‘like.’
6. Desires evaporate (or explode).
Talking, sex, eating, and drinking all lose their appeal. Eating seems like an unnecessary action and that bottle of wine suddenly looks like it’s branded ‘Tear Jerker’. Until you eat a bag of chips. Like, the entire bag of chips.
7. The waves of pain will turn into a droning tone.
After being knocked down, you’ll stand up. You’ll carry on, but with a slow, deep, droning pain that seems to take up residence in different parts of you. The neck, stomach, and throat seem to be best suited to it. You’ll feel normal in so many ways but it will be present. Sometimes it will get louder and be hard to ignore.
8. You will connect with people in new ways.
It becomes easy to tell people you meet about the breakup. They don’t know you or your ex. They will sympathize and even share their own stories. Their experiences will give you hope and make you feel like less of a leper. You will feel connected through your vulnerability and grateful for their words.
9. There are no rules.
You’ll realize that all the numbers, timelines, and guidelines for moving on, dating, and relationships are fabricated. Your situation is unique. Your needs are your own. The only true guide is your intuition and feeling. If it feels right and you feel ready and safe, don’t hesitate. Do what you need to in order to heal, grow, and move forward.
10. You will feel incredibly loved.
In addition to feeling broken, sad, and lonely you will feel loved, supported, and special. Your friends and family will understand. They will check up on you and assure you that you have a lot to offer. They will say things that make you smile and make you realize that other people know you well, too. It will feel like your birthday, only sad and horrible and genuine.