Guest Post: Zoe’s Break-up Survival Guide

My mantra for the next few days is “Talk to me after the Fat Girl Flea Market.” I’m the Captain this year, which means I’m doing hundreds of hours of community service to make sure there is money to put on the next NOLOSE conference. If you’re anywhere near NYC this weekend, we have tons of handbags and shoes and plus size clothes. I am a shopaholic but I think even I will need a break from clothing for at least a few days.

In that vein, I am turning to a couple of guest posts. This one comes as a frequent request and I’m pleased to have it available in text form. Please give it up for my BFF, Consiglierie, and the person I can call after a nightmare about my ex (last night! 16 months after it all went down!) who reminds me “This is just an anxiety dream, you’re doing okay.”

–Bevin

When FemmeCast was just getting started, Bevin decided to do an episode about breakups and she asked me to share with listeners my tips for getting over a broken heart. As, at the time, the self-described “Queen of Heartbreak,” I felt well qualified to address this issue.

You see, I had been through three pretty devastating breakups and had learned a lot about heartbreak and how to get oneself through in ways that not only left one wiser and more self-aware afterward but with a little style and grace as well. Then, in April of 2007 I had the breakup to end all breakups and I needed every last resource I had to make it through what would be a long and hard journey through Heartbreak Land. It was during that time I essentially put together what would become something of a patented breakup strategy: a 30-point list of tips on how to make it through.

Shortly after my terrible breakup, no less than three of my besties had awful, devastating and shocking breakups of their own and I was able to pass this list along to them as well.

Since the original air date of Femme-Cast Episode 2, a number of folks have told me how helpful the ideas contained in my list were and a few asked me if I had a written copy. Sadly, after I read that list for broadcast, I threw out my notes. However, just this week a friend going through a very sad breakup of her own made the same inquiry and when I told her I didn’t have a written copy, she transcribed them herself and sent them to me. For this blog entry, I’ve made a few notes next to the original tips in a few places.

And so Bevin and I present them here for you should you ever need them. We encourage you to leave comments with tips of your own so that other readers might benefit from your ideas as well.

Speaking of benefiting from the ideas of others, while without question my friends and therapist helped inform this list in many, many ways, I can say that specific credit is due to media Femme-Cast media correspondent Naima Lowe for numbers 17, 23 and 24.

Thus, without further ado, I present my 30 point breakup strategy.

xoxo,
Zoë Femmetastica

1. Body modification. I interpret this broadly and feel that this can involve anything from a tattoo or piercing to a new haircut.
2. Retail therapy. There are clear dangers here but my belief is that if you have the money saved or the room on your credit card and you can afford to do a little shopping, buy yourself a few nice things that will help you feel better. This can be anything from a movie ticket to a new pair of shoes to a vacation.
3. Cross days off the calendar: It’s a good material marker of the fact that, day by day, you’re getting through.
4. Sob when you feel like it. Don’t hold your feelings in. Doing so will just cause you more trouble later on.
5. Make a variety of mixes: angry, sad, vengeful, take me back, the full gamut.
6. Journal like a motherfucker.
7. Write your ex letters you don’t intend to send expressing everything you wish could have said or wish you could now say to him or her.
8. Pamper yourself with beauty treatments. I personally recommend Lush for this.
9. Call friends when you want to call your ex or are just feeling lonely. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t stay isolated.
10. Don’t listen to those who have timelines for how soon you should be getting over your heartbreak or moving on to a different stage. It’s your process, not theirs.
11. Exercise, even if it’s just taking a walk and getting some fresh air. Do this especially anytime you feel tempted to call, email or facebook stalk your ex. Throw yourself out of the house and move in whatever way you can.
12. Do little letting-go rituals. These can be whatever you want; you can even make them up on the spot.
13. Fill your social calendar but also make time for yourself.
14. Watch TV series on DVD so that you always have something familiar to come home to at night and to occupy yourself with.
15. Be as sad as you need to be whenever you feel sad. There is no need to pretend to be happy in front of your friends or others to make them feel more comfortable with your grief.
16. If your breakup was one that involved a lot of confusion as to what the fuck happened, try not to torture yourself with the question of “why?” You can make up theories, but you have to accept that you’ll never really know why.
17. Make a list for yourself entitled: “The 50 Reasons Why You Just Lost the Best Thing You Ever Could Have Had.”
18. Post this list and other self-help type sayings around your apartment.
19. When you’re ready, pack away all the mementos and artifacts of your relationship. Only keep those things you can’t bear to part with and toss the rest.
20. Know that the constant surprise reminders of your ex will continue for a while, but eventually they do start to fade.
21. Remember the 6-month rule: It really does get better with time.
22. Know that living well is the best revenge.
23. Remember that the ability to be vulnerable is a sign of strength.
24. Even if your learn the terrible news that your ex never really loved you or fell out of love with you, know that you having loved fiercely and with all your heart is, in the end, all that matters.
25. If you’re dealing with a despicable ex, at times you might feel powerless but remember, your ex can’t take anything you don’t give him or her. That is, remember to retain your self composure and grace, even in the face of bullshit. You can always bring the crazy, crying and bitching to your besties later.
26. Never forget you have people in your life who love you.
27. If your ex keeps trying to make inroads into your life or you share common social circles, set all the boundaries you need to be ok and don’t apologize for needing them, to anyone.
28. Do what feels right to you about getting laid. Hook up on Craigslist, go to a sex party, or just stay celibate for a while. It’s your timeline, and don’t feel pressured to do anything other than what feels right for you.
29. Remember the only way out is through.
30. Realize that one of the hardest parts about letting go of a significant relationship is the way in which the letting go can make parts of the self – those parts formed through the daily patterns and rituals of our relationships – seem almost unintelligible after the relationship has ended. Sometimes it’s hard to understand who we are in the world when those aspects that were formed through the daily routine of “we” or even “I in relation to him or her” are now sort of adrift. This part is really hard. It does take time to let go of your life together and that part of yourself that developed in and through the routine of your life with your former partner. But it does get better with time, and we do eventually develop new rituals and senses of self.

Bonus for 2009! If you’re still friends with your ex on any social networking sites, stop that! Unfriend him/her! And for the love of all that is precious in the world, do not read your ex’s blog or cyberstalk him/her. Doing so will just make you feel crazy and gross. Unfriend and then close your browser tab and walk away…

*Also, side note, almost 2 years after her catastrophic break-up, Miss Zoe Femmetastica is in love again. And he’s a really great, amazing 3D magical boy I am ecstatic to have as a boyfriend-in-law. Day by day it really does get better.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. I googled queer breakup last night, because that is what is happening to me, and found your blog post. It is now bookmarked and use your advice. Thank you so much xoxo

  2. i am thankful that staying friends with my exes has never been a problem for me. my ex-husband is the exception, and i was willing even then but he really did turn nasty and mean and ugly-drag-out-the-skeletons custody battle bad.

    there are a lot of great “feel-better” suggestions here that i really like. and making some sort of list of positives that stem from the breakup is one of my favorites, too.

  3. Please give me more information on the 6 month rule. I’ve just gone through my first major break up and am not doing too well.

    The more information I’m armed with… the better

  4. Going through a break up right now and had Miss Z. send me this list. I’ve checked off number one, and now have a new shiny cupcake tattoo, and plans for positive things with friends….the one i find hardest is to make time for myself…but as its fresh and raw right now I’m certain it will get better in time. I’m thankful for resources like this, for friends like Z and for future plans to come to New York and maybe have a chance to meet the femme lovelies of your fair city. I would like to add this one to the list. Travel, get out of the city. I remember my prior break up I made a trip to new york alone, and found myself again. So I’m falling back on that again, because it was what I needed to remember how great company I am, how much I love me, and the space I occupy.

    Thank you,
    Liz

  5. Thanks so much for putting up this transcription!

    I remember hearing it last year and thought there were a lot of wise and creative suggestions in there that are so helpful to read now.

    I am with Cherry on that variation on #17. Though I’m not there yet, it’s a helpful shift. Almost immediately post-break-up, I found I’d written a list called, simply, “Things I can do now,” covering things that were not up for grabs or that I tried/gave up on being able to do in the relationship. Maybe more sad than empowering, but in the face of loss, it is hugely helpful to embrace the good that can come of it.

  6. For #8 (Pamper with beauty products), I concur: LUSH is hard to beat. My personal favorites for healing from heartache are two calming, soothing products: the Butterball (bath bomb) and Catastrophie Cosmetic (blueberry face mask). Those two products and seven seasons of Buffy (see #14, above) have gotten me through many a miserable night in the past.

  7. Oh so many of these were so helpful for me recently. Although I think I’m the one crazy one who always insists on remaining friends with her exes and keeps them on social networking sites. Maybe this is the only way to do it when you and your recent ex were poly – and you are still living together until the end of June – and his new boyfriend, the one he decided was to be his new primary partner instead of you is one of your friends and performance troupe-mates. At least now he’s sleeping at his boyfriend’s house most of the time.

    But anyway. I twisted #17 around and made a list entitled: “Why This Breakup Is the Best Thing to Happen to Me.” That list finally pulled me out of the crying-every-f*cking-day phase. I keep it handy and still refer to it, and keep adding to it. I’m starting, even, to believe it.

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