I don’t know about you but I’d rather breakdance barefoot on broken glass than be rejected by the only person I want and desire. And yeah, I’m serious. The pain of losing the one you desire, the shame of being rejected, the self-doubt that sets in when you’ve been denied, they all teach you how emotional pain can feel far worse than physical pain. And I’m not speaking metaphorically. I would gladly do bloody backspins before suffering heartbreak. The shitty thing is… we rarely get to choose.
I was once skateboarding down a super-steep hill in San Francisco when my board started to shake from speed-wobbles. Since I was going faster than cars were driving, when I finally crashed I shoved my hands down just as I hit the pavement. I thought I’d brace against the impact and then roll. Instead, my hands stuck to the blacktop, I slid the length of numerous parked cars, and I sanded off all the skin from both hands. When I stopped sliding, my hands were smoking. I’m not kidding. Real smoke. That hurt like a motherfucker. Took weeks before I could use my hands again. But I learned a broken body eventually heals. However, a broken heart… feels like it’ll never be whole again. Just like with my skinless smoking hands, I speak from experience.
Recently, a woman I’d fallen for, she told me we have no future together. Ours was a long distance relationship- an affectionate friendship. And when I say long distance, there’s an ocean and a continent between us. I’m such a naïve romantic I thought we could overcome such distance. We had the internet to help us. I believed love conquers all. But I learned it can’t conquer the doubts of the one you love.
When she told me she didn’t want do the long distance thing there really wasn’t anything I could say. I offered to visit or move there to be with her. She felt if I relocated, the pressure would be unnatural, and she’d feel guilty if things didn’t work out. I didn’t understand this line of thinking. I still don’t. But I don’t blame her. I have to accept my heart knows what it wants while hers is unsure. And now, I must find a way to move on. After many long nights, lots of cussing and trips to the beach to let waves wash over me and wipe away my sadness, I wrote out this list. If you’re dealing with heartbreak, it should help you, too.
1. Don’t Consider Your Loss… Think Of It As Their Loss
When another person makes it clear they don’t want to be with you how else can you feel other than rejected? But this doesn’t mean it’s your loss. That’s looking at the wrong side of the kiss. Rather than focus on how you don’t get to know the softness of their lips. Remember they also miss out on the fullness of yours. And when you see it as their loss and not yours, it helps you maintain your confidence. Too often we focus on what we’re missing. But the one who walked away also misses out on something. You. That’s their mistake. Feel bad for them. Pity their loss. If you can see it that way you keep your value and maintain your confidence. Just because they don’t want you doesn’t mean you’re unworthy or unlovable.
2. Accept The Fact You Have No Control Over Outcomes
This one’s a little more difficult. You may feel tempted to do things to change the outcome. You may think you can win their heart if you just slightly change who and how you are when you’re around them, or maybe act or dress like someone they find more attractive, or perhaps somehow you can make them jealous, or maybe you can seduce them and romantically overwhelm them with the irresistibility of you. But let me tell you, none of that shit will work. You can’t force things to happen. If you try, all you end up doing is looking desperate. And no one likes desperate. It’s unattractive. It casts a glaring spotlight on your fear you won’t get what you want. It shows how you’re willing to go to ridiculous lengths to be with the one you want. It suggests you don’t believe it will happen, and that you’re willing to do dumb shit to control the outcome. Instead, of playing games, accept you have no control over other people, no control over situations, and the only thing you can control is… yourself.
3. Never Forget… ABC (Always Be Cool)
Which brings us to the best thing you can do. Be cool like Fonzi. You know how The Fonz never acted emotionally stupid? He was unflappable. You have to be cool with what’s happened. This will feel impossible. But if you remember #1 and #2, it gets easier with each passing day. So during those times when you want to send them a text message, or “like” a Facebook status update, or you want to retweet something they posted, or maybe even call them up and “just check in,” all of these would be motivated by the idea they’ll see how funny/compatible/perfect for each other you are… so just don’t. Remind yourself. ABC. Always Be Cool. Fonzi wouldn’t drunk text someone. He knows it’s their loss. And that’s your new job. Keep your cool.
4. Allow Yourself Moments to Be Sad (But Don’t Feel Sorry For Yourself)
Now, unlike an imaginary character like The Fonz, you’ll have moments of weakness, moments of sadness, moments when tears wet your cheeks and there’s not much you can do to stop them. Don’t even try. There’s nothing wrong with crying, there’s nothing wrong with being sad. The only danger is when you let those feelings linger too long. Give yourself moments, days, maybe even weeks of sadness. But eventually, if you continue to dwell on your sadness, you’re just feeling sorry for yourself. And if you need some perspective take a trip down to any burn center or trauma unit whenever you want or need an undeniable reminder of why you shouldn’t feel sorry for yourself.
5. Distract Yourself
If you’re having trouble, forgetting about the one you lost, the best thing to do is distract yourself. Visit people who do care about you. Spend time with folks who bring you joy. Take up a new hobby. Find a new passion. Try something you’ve always been curious about but have yet to ever do. If you have the time and money, travel. If you don’t have the time and money, then let literature and films carry you away. Especially, things that make you laugh. Treat comedy like medicine and when the blues pay you a visit, let laughter be your antidote. Watch old favorites and seek out new funny films as well. The key is not to dwell on you, your past, or your lost future. Distract yourself with positivity. Laughter, like truth, will set you free.
6. Stop Beating Yourself Up
Another key to fighting the temptation to dwell on how you feel is to stop beating yourself up. It’s not your fault. Sometimes we don’t get what we want. That’s just how it goes. So accept this sad piece of wisdom and recognize there probably wasn’t anything you could’ve done differently. But for the sake of argument, let’s say there was. Well, there’s nothing you can do about it now. So let it go. Unless you have a time machine, all you can do is learn from the past. You can’t fix it.
7. Give Up The Idea It Might Work Out Eventually
Another thing that’s super-important is you’ll need to give up the idea things might work out, eventually. Yes, none of us knows what will happen in the future. But that doesn’t mean you should use that as an argument to hold out hope. Maybe the one who got away will realize what they’re missing and come back, but don’t hang on to such a silly life preserver of hope. Start swimming. Focus on right now. They’re gone. So act like they’re gone and don’t wait for them to come back. If for some reason they do come back, let it be a pleasant surprise. In the meantime, live your life.
8. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
You may find in your darkest moments you’re comparing yourself to others, and their happiness feels like knives between your ribs and darts stabbing you in your eyes. We all love to compare ourselves to others, but just don’t. You never know how others really feel. You think you can see how unfair life is, how another couple is just so goddamn happy, and how they have the perfect life and it’s just so horribly unfair. But you never know. Maybe driving home, a month from now, one of the people in that perfectly happy couple is killed by a drunk driver. And the survivor is left to mourn. Don’t assume anything. And don’t compare yourself. It’s a waste of your time.
9. Don’t Be Embarrassed… Be Proud
You may feel pathetic or pitiful, that you’re obviously an unlovable loser. But you’re not. You’re just unlucky. Don’t be embarrassed because you put your heart out there and someone else said, “No thanks.” Be proud you were willing to love. There are far too many people in this world who will never be as brave as you were. And those people have almost zero chance of ever knowing love because they’re not trying and failing. You may have failed this time, but anyone who’s ever wanted anything in this world most likely had their share of disappointments and setbacks. So be proud you risked your heart. And get ready to do it again… that’s the only way you’ll find real and lasting love. Don’t pull a Bogey in “Casablanca” and shut your heart off from the world, in the hopes that it never gets broken again. It took a team of screenwriters to get his character, Rick, to open his heart back up. You don’t have that luxury. Just be proud of yourself and keep trying. Love is worth a little pain along the way.
10. Trust Your Future Will Surprise You… And Move On
Finally, here’s one other piece of advice from Hollywood. William Goldman, the screenwriter who gave us “The Princess Bride” and a number of other great movies, is often quoted for saying a great truth about Hollywood, but it applies to life in general. “Nobody Knows Anything.” These three little words hold so much wisdom. And you, my friend, may think you know how things will turn out, or what to expect in your future, or that you know what you’ve learned from your past, but then one little event occurs or a realization surfaces that proves everything you thought you knew is wrong.
Have faith in the great weirdness of life and trust your future will surprise you. Let the promise of that premise help you to move on. Don’t wait for the future to happen. You still have to get out there and do things to find the love and happiness you deserve. But trust that you never know what tomorrow holds in its hands. And move with eager and open eyes towards the rising sun of a new dawn and perhaps, you’ll get lucky. The future will always surprise you. Sometimes, it’s shitty and you’ll find heartbreak waiting around the bend. Other times, the surprise is more wonderful than you could have designed it.
Wesley Snipes said always bet on black.
I’m here to remind you to always bet on the great weirdness of life.
Just stay open to love.