Here is Your Handbook for Heartbreak: A Springback Survival Guide for Single Girls When Ice-Cream is Not Enough

Ophelia, oil on canvas, size: 49 x 29 in

Ophelia, oil on canvas, size: 49 x 29 in (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But you know, the most perplexing part of this is, it  I could barely tolerate him upon our first meeting.  And then as fate would have it, the moment I rearranged my thoughts about that, he began to back away.

All of a sudden it was me working to keep him instead of him trying to woo me and win me over.  I mean as if I couldn’t do a thing for myself anymore.  I spent all my free time looking for  ways to make sure he was happy and confident in knowing how much I loved him.  And now I”ve done that, he’s moved on to the next conquest.

Why did he try so hard at the beginning just to let me go like this?

Last week I found myself listening as a friend let go those words in the sauna at the girl’s gym, her eyes rimmed in crimson, tears making rivulets that dripped on her terry cloth dress and neck; meanwhile, as I groped to find the right response, I felt my own sense of longing and loss grabbing at the hem of my heart.  After all, it wasn’t so long ago I had found myself saying such things as well. And in the throes of that full-throated aftershock of agony and insecurity, it also occurred to me

how ill-equipped we mortals be in the face of heartbreak.

It would seem that biology prepares us in oh so many ways to fall in love, but sadly does nothing whatsoever to help us fall out of it.

And so in light of science and lack of knowledge about the actual anatomy and physiology that supports such insanity, here I humbly offer this virtual handbook for heartbreak, something I’ve been trying to do for myself for quite some time as well.

To begin, I thought I would start with a to-do list for you, (but also for her in my groping, I am pretty sure I only said something to make it worse, not better) something printable and easy to carry around in your purse.  Because coping with the loss of love can be exhausting.  Especially when it seems all you can do is obsess  over and over to the point of neglecting the most basic need for sustenance and sleep.

Let alone tend to the needs of a battered and abandoned psyche.

So here it is, something to focus on after the (much needed) first crying spell passes and you start to get some perspective back:

Number one and most important of all:  Let go of the urge to make contact with someone who’s not going to appreciate it and write a love letter to yourself instead.

The fact that you were able to open your heart to him like a rose in winter speaks volumes about the way you view the world in general.  And chances are you didn’t break that mold on him either.  You are a bundle of love and cuddles no matter where you go or who you meet.  There are a bazillion creatures out there who appreciate that trait in a person, from the homeless guy you bought that sandwich for to the baby bird you scooped up off the ground and climbed that tree to put her back.

You are the embodiment of love and kindness.  And what’s not to cherish about that?

Time to pull your petals close to keep your heart safe from someone who doesn’t love himself enough to open up to you. .. so that later you’ll be able to open them again for someone who loves you just the way you are, unabashed lover of the ones who are hardest to love in the first place.  You touch a lot of lives with that stuff, Honey.  And the world will never forget you for it.

2. Now that you have written that love letter to remind yourself how precious and special you truly are, it’s time to do a bit of triage and bandage-rolling.  Time to focus on helping your heart to heal again.

Make a list of cons to avoid.

Jim Morrison's Mugshot - Florida 1970

Jim Morrison’s Mugshot – Florida 1970 (Photo credit: SongLyrics)

And do it first thing in the morning before the light of day hits the empty dent on the other side of the bed. ..and the tears begin to fall again. (Ordinarily I would suggest a pros column too, but let’s face it.  If you have read this far, it’s a good bet you have that one down ad nauseum.)   The truth is, we already spend a lot of precious reality hours fantasizing and assigning all kinds of unearned adoration to the objects of our infatuations.


Ask yourself the hard questions now and don’t be afraid to let the fritos fall where they may.  Among the beercans and roach clips that your once beloved left lying all over the house as well.

Is it really all that cute when he burps the words to “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” ?   Or is it cuter that  you were able to overlook it and laugh with him. .. the unconditional depth of the way you let yourself open to a dope who didn’t deserve you. .. like a magnolia or a lily of the mountains?

Get real, Girl.  And give credit where credit is due.

3. Now that you have a jumpstart on that process, begin a list of all the things that speak to the awesomeness that is you.  (Again, you’ve already done the list full of nitpicks and magnified flaws and that has just been making things worse, so it’s time to do something different!)  It helps if you can recall some compliments people have lavished on YOU for a change and validate them as authentic and true!

Make a list of advances, flirtations and smiles received!  That attractive younger man who smiled a flirt at you from across the bus today. . .the chivalrous senior citizen who helped you off the sidewalk when you knees buckled from spasms much higher up and the memory of those cruel words from the beercans man. ..and then offered his seat to you. . .and wouldn’t relent until you rested.

4.  Don’t be afraid to get back under the bubbles!  And make it a long and luxurious candle-lit affair.  With the soapiest and softest of sponges and a brand new bar of the most luxurious soap you own.  Lavender is lovely for calming and it helps if you really let it soak into the pores and soothe you.

5. Nourish your poor neglected and grumbling tummy.  After you’ve followed that last item up with some nice silky face cream and moisturizer applied  to each and every adorable inch of yourself, eat a leisurely breakfast in the sexiest, silkiest most prettiest robe and slippers in your lingerie arsenal.

Try to make that sustenance something yummy and healthy so you will feel satiated sans the chemical burn of eating the wrong things.  (Smoothies are nice and easy to make for this and they are also very accommodating to the need to refrain from any kind of food that requires the minorest of mastication. )


smoothie (Photo credit: talkoftomatoes)

 Try this recipe:  Mix 1 cup of plain greek yogurt with 1/2 cup of frozen fruit with a tablespoon of honey and bananna and blend!

6.  Go to work or call a friend and make plans to do something fun!  I know the temptation to stay home and rest some more is hard to resist but what are you resting from if not this newfound loneliness and ache to bond with others, so try to be around people as much as possible!  So much the better if your friends/ co-workers are the kind who make you laugh instead of cry!  (And for heaven’s sake, resist the urge to indulge in the temporary fix of meaningless drunken sex with some guy who just broke the heart of a very nice girl to do it with you!  All you get from that is a walk of shame in rumpled clothes the next morning. ..and a guy who won’t stop texting and checking the like box on every photo you post on facebook!!)

7.  Get some aromatherapy!  Lavender is lovely for calming, but I once had a recommendation for grieving that involved making a concoction of rose and orange oil.  There really is something to this stuff I swear!  And it really does help a lot!

8.  Restrain all urges towards all forms of electronic communication!  Resist that regrettable text message or email by writing a paper letter and then tearing it to shredsYour purse-sized notebook will once again come in handy for those times on line with an i-phone in your pocket!

Don’t forget to use it to record any and all advances and flirtations that get flung your way while you wait!

9.  Make a date with the hairstylist, manicurist, massage therapist, shoe salesman. . .  Let’s face it; it is physical contact you crave in emergency proportions about now and rather than stripping down and dialing 911, you might want to opt instead for the soft lights and soothing music provided while being shampooed and pampered.

10. Fresh air and exercise!  One of the things our bodies just don’t get enough of these days is sunshine and rainbows, but especially if we spend our days inside hunched over a box of puffs.  Walking in the park is good if you can get that, but a stroll around the neighborhood is pretty sweet stuff too.  Be sure to stop and chat with people as you wish.  Make your face into a half smile and breathe deeply if it doesn’t come easily at first.  The more kindness that gets spread around, the more it comes back to you as well.

12.  Find a positive self-love and kindness mantra and try to say it over and over until it manifests.  (There is one you can use from Hinduism to call your soulmate and it goes like this:  Sat Pateem Dehi Para Mesh Vara.)  But anything simple and repetitive will do.  (I once did this one as I walked through tears through the springtime streets in my neighborhood at the time:  “I love the world and the world loves me.”  No kidding when I tell you that as I entered the home stretch I was greeted by a smiling neighbor child who threw his arms into the air and lunged for a hug!  Seriously, I had seen this boy before, but never had he been so openly affectionate towards me!  To this day, whenever I tell that story, I always credit him for being adorable, but also the power of that mantra!  )

13.  Immerse yourself in some kind of creative activity and let your tears fall into the mix until you emerge with something new and beautiful.  (This can be anything from cooking to fingerpainting or just cutting and pasting with glitter and kiddie art supplies from the dollar store.  The main thing is just be child-like and kind to yourself.  Just play!  If you can summon up the voice of someone from your childhood who was loving and supportive and said things like, “My dear that is luminous and splendid!  I just love how that shines under the light of your smile!”  . much the better!

14.  Hug a teddy.  I like Pooh for this one a lot!  (Especially love to keep a copy of the Tao of Pooh at the ready for it’s lovely advice and kindness as well.)

15.  Do something sweet for someone else now that you have all that free time to nurture on your hands:  Something as simple as volunteering to work in your grandmother’s garden or making some chicken soup for a fellow broken-hearted pal!  And just remember:  every good turn deserves another so the payback on this one is heaven!

16.  Close your eyes and imagine yourself in three months time.  Nurturing urges being tended to and the acknowledgement of others being truly beautiful!  A hundred and ninety-five pounds lighter. . .happier

and dressed for success in finding a nice guy who is also capable of giving and receiving the kind of love you have to offer.

Do you miss Mr. Heartbreak From This Day Forward now? 

Well, do you?


Tess Farnham, “Forest for the Trees,” mixed media on raised birch panel, 10″ x 10″ c. 2012

“Forest for the Trees,”  mixed media heartbreak art soon to be released!

Please feel free to add a few more to this list in the comments section!  🙂  We need all the love and support we can get, everyone!


3 responses

  1. Pingback: If You’re Going to Sleep With Someone, Do This First: – West End Singleton

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