Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2013-04-08

Lean into the Discomfort and Breathe: 10 Strategies for Moving Through Grief and Loss in the Wake of a Break-Up

I love to match make for my friends, and occasionally this comes in the form of me logging into someone’s OK Cupid account while we’re hanging out and soliciting people for them. It’s often a lot easier to hit on someone if your friend is doing it for you.

One of my besties let me loose on her iPad and OKC profile last Fall and reported that she ended up getting a few dates from my efforts. Ironically, one of these dates ended up talking random shit about me to my friend. This date said she didn’t like “Bevin or Sarah Jenny,” another party promoter friend of mine, because we “seem happier than normal,” in a way that was about maybe we didn’t deserve to be happy all the time. (My friend, of course, stood up for me and isn’t going out with this girl again. When the date was informed that Bevin was the reason they were even on the date the girl about died.)

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Me and Sarah Jenny in November. I want to point out that SJ and I are both fat femmes who promote parties but we’re really different people and don’t look much alike. I want to believe this girl didn’t say we’re “happier than normal” because we’re both fat and maybe don’t deserve to be happy because of that. I think being happy in a society that tells you that you should hate yourself is a radical act.

I take this (and most) criticism from people who don’t know me with a giant grain of salt. This statement says more about the person than it does about me.

I’m sure a lot of people perceive me to be very happy, perhaps event “happier than normal.” Most people who are not my close friends or even my acquaintances only have a really limited view of my experience. On my blog and in public I tend to focus on the positive, joyful things about my life. That’s a choice I make to live in a positive framework. But, please do not mistake that I am living a happy 24/7 lifestyle because that is far from the case.

Right now, for example, I feel like dead flowers in a vase. My resting state is sort of wilted and sad. The person I had been keeping company* with for a few months in an intensely connected, spiritual, sexual, emotional, intellectual powerhouse kind of way broke up with me two weeks ago. I am heartbroken and focused on healing. My creativity has been sapped and I’m back in a familiar yet different place of heartbreak.** I contain a lot of conflicting emotions at once, which is a hard place to be in because it can feel like a war is going on. I love her and want her to be following her path which, right now, excludes a relationship. I also love us and want to fight for us.

In helping other heartbroken and healing folks out there, I made a list of strategies I am using right now to get through when the only way out is through. My friend Elisabeth told me last week, on a particularly bad day when I listened to too much Taylor Swift (she helps until she hurts), “Lean into the discomfort and breathe.” Much easier said than done, but I know it can be done because I am actually doing it right now.

I am also using things that have been helpful from the Heartbreak MFA post I wrote in 2010 and from Zoe’s Break-up Survival Guide that she wrote in 2007. At least all of this collective pain is turning into a break-up survival treasure trove.

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At Rebel Cupcake/Sweet Fox Mariah Carey tribute last week. Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

1. Remind yourself that Feelings are temporary and Feelings aren’t facts.
I know feelings are temporary. I know this from a strong belief but also I know this because I am living Feelings on about a six hour cycle. If I feel really shitty right now probably in about six hours I’ll feel less shitty or differently shitty.

2. Be in the present moment.
When I can get into the present moment fully, I can sometimes distract myself. And sometimes I just really let loose and have a lot of fun, dance with my whole body or engage in a full gut laugh, or a full experience of art. But those in between times are a killer and the sadness seeps in.

I never knew how to “be in the present moment” (which sort of sounds like new age hooey, but it really works) until I practiced it. Here’s a beginner trick. Look around where you are and do an inventory of noticing things. Like when I’m walking/traveling my Feelings are the most dominant so I try to check in with my surroundings. “Look, there’s a cute bird,” “Look there’s a place where the wires look like they spell a lyric to a Bruce Springsteen song,” “OMG that sunset is painting the sky full pink and orange how beautiful.”

3. Stick to the plan even when you don’t feel like it.
Making sure I have plans outside the house with at least one other human and at least once a day has been crucial. I work for myself by myself, my beloved roommate has been on tour this whole time, so I can get really lonely, especially because of that void left by the person you used to talk to multiple times a day. Even though sometimes these plans outside the house involve a lot of internalized kicking and screaming, faking it till I make it often means I end up having a great time and usually/almost forget about my heartbreak for several minutes at a time.

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During the entire performance at Rebel Cupcake last week I felt elated. I realized during the second act, “Good lord I haven’t felt bummed out in over a half hour!”

4. Name your feelings.
I’ve learned that Feelings just need attention sometimes in order to move through them. Being okay if I can’t name them at the moment and maybe just getting into the quality of the feelings. “Sucky” and “bummed” totally suffice in this category.

5. Take excellent care of yourself.
Going to the gym, doing all of the regular self-care work I usually do but treating it like my job is crucial right now. I actually have a really hard time eating when I’m emotionally distraught and I’ve been scheduling meals out with friends a bunch so that I can distract myself enough to eat. And at home I make sure I have V8 and smoothies and vitamins so I can just get something in there even when I don’t feel like eating.

Have you ever written out a list of what it means to take excellent care of yourself? Maybe now is a good time to start.

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The genius of Shane Shane. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

6. Doing whatever spiritual work makes sense to you.
I’m a really spiritual person, so much of these things fall into my regular self care, but some are special things that might fall into “treat yo self.”

Here’s a list of spiritual activities that help me:

Prayer
Meditation
Tarot reading
Astrological reading
Past life reading
Yoga
Meeting with a spiritual group
Doing rituals by myself or with a group***
Attending or listening to services (I don’t belong to a religion but appreciate spiritual wisdom in many forms and listen to services via TV or podcast by folks who preach positivity)
Going out to sit in nature and watch birds, the ocean, the trees or whatever
Gratitude lists (there is so much to be grateful for)

Tarot reading with Jacqueline. #babestagram #lesbianteabasket
Jacqueline reached out to me upon hearing about my break-up to offer her tarot services. We met up at Teany and now are blossoming a new friendship! Also it really helped me sort through my stuff.

7. Feel your feelings right now. Be a liberated hot mess.
There’s a lot of empowerment from feeling your feelings as they come. I’ve been crying a lot, wherever whenever, just to let it out, and thus have added to my old lady chic by stuffing tissues in my bra, every pocket and keeping my fancy hankies in all my handbags. I already did that hanky thing, it’s just more diligent.)

I’ve been very honest about my feelings to everyone. Obviously I’m a social butterfly, but the thing about me is that I cannot stand small talk. I also know how empowering it is to be honest about how you are and so I just let people know. Sometimes I soften the blow by making a joke out of it. (“This is my lot in life as a lesbian.”) But even though I soften it being real about my experiences helps me get through it. Authenticity is a very important value to me.

I’ve learned stuffing my feelings as a coping mechanism, hiding from them or doing that classic escapism, rebounding, just makes me have to feel them worse later. Feeling shitty comes with a late penalty. I’d rather just get the grief over with.

Sometimes I feel a little bashful about how sad and needy I am right now, but I know I have people who are safe spaces for it. Spunky has done a lot of watching me cry on google video chat when there’s nothing more to say. (Also, though I am wary about being an energy suck, I actually got a great compliment from someone about how positive I am being in my grief.)

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I was sitting like this eating with my friend Bridget before the party started and Hana walked in and said, “All I can see is tits and barbeque.” Tits deep in BBQ is one of my favorite things to be.

Reaching out for help has been great for me, and letting people who have capacity to lend an ear, text, dinner out come to me has been really successful. Using facebook filters has been a great way to all-call for this. Also, it’s nice to get sympathy from people (and I got a lot of sweet, supportive comments on the “I’m going through a break-up I can’t stop crying” post). That first day when I couldn’t go more than a few minutes without crying, my eyes were so puffy I could barely see, I was supposed to go to a dinner party. I debated going (especially since my ex had been invited so there would be all those weird “She was supposed to be here” realizations) but then I realized that this group of people is part of a spiritual work group I’m in, they support me, and if I had to keep running to the bathroom during Seder to cry they would get it. It turned out that it was a perfect distraction, and I didn’t have to worry about “sparkling” with these women, I could just bring my sad self.

It’s incredibly amazing how, if you learn how to receive, times of heartbreak can really show you how loved you are.

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Moment of woo before Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

8. Doing new things with your appearance.
I rarely wear my hair “flat” to my head because I like big hair. But I’m just trying a new thing because new things while I’m feeling intense discomfort help me feel better. And also there’s a lot of empowerment in reclaiming your body after a break-up. I am vaguely considering going all the way blonde.

9. Proceeding with unconditional love.
I used to play the victim role big time in my break-ups. Learning to acknowledge my loss without vilifying a person in it is a new experience for me. I am hurting, that is my truth. She can’t be in a relationship, that is her truth. I learned a lot from this relationship, including what it is like to really experience unconditional love and conflict from a loving place. I want that to be our experience in a transition place from sweethearts to whatever we’re going to end up being, whether that’s friends or Boston Friends**** or just people who were very connected once but don’t really interact anymore.

This is very difficult work, unconditional love. Especially when that’s not always modeled well, in families, in past relationships, even in the media. How often do you see exes who remain friends in popular culture? How often is it complicated? (Also, as an aside, I think we can all agree that Rayna and Deacon on Nashville are totally Boston Friends.)

My friend Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha told me today, “I hope you are being sweet to yourself and opening your heart to transformation.” That’s what I’m intending to do with this break-up. Transforming myself through love. I think with love all things are possible, even hope from a really sad place.

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10. Throwing yourself into a big art project.
This was mentioned in a previous break-up post, but this time around I’m combining my love for traveling in the wake of a break-up (my last one had me heading out on a cross country road trip two weeks later) and my love for consumptive art projects to get through loss. My friends Sarah Jenny and Avory of Hey Queen asked me to produce the decor for the “Queens of the Road” themed party this weekend the day after my sweetheart broke up with me. I thought it was a very serendipitous call to action and I’m knee-deep in hot glue, maps and glitter getting ready for this upcoming weekend.

*Our actual relationship status. Our previous relationship status was “dating or whatever” after I said, less than a month into it, “If we’re still dating or whatever this summer I want to go…”

**It’s sort of crazy how much I can open myself up to loving even more after every heartbreak! And then I feel hurt again when it’s over in a new and different, yet somewhat familiar way. It is a comfort to remember I got over this before, in bigger and worse break-ups, therefore I know there will be gifts waiting for me on the other end.

***A ritual I did recently, after I pulled a tarot card that told me I needed to exfoliate, was to rub my skin with oil, soak during a long, meditative bath, then took great fist fulls of epsom salt and scrubbed my skin invoking newness into my life. I rinsed off and smoothed it all out with lotion.

****My new friend Jacqueline gave me that expression for “More than Friends.”

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This is my “Know Your Own Strength” tattoo. Photo by Kelsey Dickey. Tattoo by Jason June. New year’s intention by me.

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2011-11-09

New Episodes of the Lesbian Tea Basket

My friend Fae stopped by today and mentioned she hadn’t seen a new Lesbian Tea Basket recently and I realized it’s because I haven’t posted them to my blog! How negligent.

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Me doing an Outfit of the Day photo in what Leslie deems a “classic model pose.”

Darlings, cozy up to your computers and watch two sorta bummed episodes. I have mentioned previously that my job of three years is ending (second layoff in 3 years–where are the small business bail outs, Obama!?!) and quite suddenly last week my relationship of four months ended. Ironically right after I bought a box of tea, so it’s tea associated.

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Leslie’s version of this pose.

My life is no stranger to upheaval these last few years. Lately I have been sad and feeling my feelings about these unexpected transitions but I also am ultimately hopeful. I’ve also decided to use this precious time while I’m looking for a new day job to take off on a post-layoff, post-break-up road trip. Opening my arms wide to beautiful adventure, seeing all the many dear friends I am so lucky to have scattered across this country and spending a few days in Palm Springs with my gorgeous Grandmother.

Grandmother and Me and Macy

I’m going to do some research for my memoir about my step-mom (with a more in-depth trip to come, hopefully with funding and a documentary camera). I am going to see the Grand Canyon for the first time, hang out in Austin and Atlanta and enjoy life with renewed vigor.

My dog Macy is coming along with me and it is all falling together really well. The Heartbreak MFA suggests throwing yourself into a big art project and this road trip feels like that art project.

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Leslie says this is the “classic fashion blogger” pose. On one leg and staring down at the ground like you’re looking at a puppy.

I’m sure there will be more Lesbian Tea Basketing, but in the meantime please enjoy these newish episodes from this past month!

Lesbian Tea Basket #15: Consolation Tea

Lesbian Tea Basket #16: Lipton’s Herbal Ginger Tea and Sunbeam’s Electric Tea Kettle

I highly recommend this electric tea kettle.

2011-07-26

Hey Brooklyn! August 11th Rebel Cupcake Sad Songs Say So Much!

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I really love sad songs. It’s fun and indulgent to listen to a tragic torch song. I’m a super glass half-full Pollyanna optimist, but I do acknowledge that sometimes queers get so caught up in the “We have to show how happy we are all the time” act and sometimes it’s just plain hard to live a marginalized identity. It’s really lonely sometimes. Especially for those of us who maybe don’t have families around the holidays or who date emotionally absent folks.

With this in mind I curated a sad songs Rebel Cupcake. I’m not afraid to go there at a dance party cabaret. I tapped my pal Kit Yan, amazing slam poet, who is about to give up his crown to the successor Mr. Transman on August 28th at Murray Hill’s pageant. Kit knows how to write a heartbreaker of a poem. He’s also doing a kickstarter pre-sale of his new album, check him out and support queer art!

The infamous Taylor Black is a really talented singer and guitar player and knows the plight of the tragic homosexual.

And to top it all off, Miss Mary Wanna returns with a sad burlesque number. I just told her “Work it out onstage, girl.” I can’t wait to see what she comes up with!

After the show we’ll dance to songs about heartbreak!

I’ll be back from my sojourn in the woods and I might sing an off-key version of Vision of Love if the mood feels right. More info on the show here!

Remember to get on the texty texty list to get in for $5!

2010-10-28

I’ll Just Say Fare Thee Well: The Myth of “Getting Closure”

I was at the Miss LEZ pageant, at the last intermission prior to the winner being announced, passing out fliers for Rebel Cupcake and generally being proud of how well Miss Rebel Cupcake was doing in the pageant. In this euphoric, flask of bourbon in my handbag sort of state, I ran into a couple of friends. One of them said, “Last week you wrote on your twitter ‘I’m going to need to create my own closure.’ I have a friend who has been struggling with a break-up for over a year and I repeated that to her and it really helped.” That comment made me so happy I almost cried.

Me at Rebel Cupcake: Halloween Heartbreak with the winner of Miss LEZ, repping Rebel Cupcake, Drae Campbell and Becca Blackwell who was a contestant with me in Miss LEZ last year. Dress: Re/Dress. Shoes, 3 1/2″ leather peep toes by Fitzwell via Zappos. Necklace & earring set: gift from a dear friend.

You might have noticed a little blog silence going on for a while. I find it really hard to write sometimes when I’m going through a lot of emotional upheaval. I like to write from a place of having a grasp on things and there’s nothing like having the rug pulled out from under you to make you feel like you don’t have a grasp on anything. That’s what happened five weeks ago, the details of which are still a little too fresh and muddled to explain. So, you know, I throw myself into my other work that doesn’t require me to feel like I have a grasp or whatever.

If there’s anything to come out of this pain I’m glad it’s helping people. I like living out loud in that way and my art is often my expression of the experience of living and loving as a queer fat femme/party promoter/shop girl/lawyer/performer/aspiring talk show host in this world. Lately expressing in soundbites like twitter and tumblr is what I’ve been able to do.

I believe the idea of “getting closure” is a myth. I think we idealize “getting closure” where you meet your ex at a neutral coffee shop and share lattes like you’re in an early 90s episode of Friends and you talk about your relationship and get all of those answers you are really missing that will help you tidy everything up like you fold your sweaters and put them away for the summer.

Emotions are messy and crazy. You have no control over the other person and what they’re going to say to you. Sometimes they won’t “give” you anything (as I’m experiencing now) or they’ll just do or say the same unsatisfying shit that lead to your break-up in the first place. Zoe’s Break-Up Survival Guide says (the gist of) “Try not to worry about how or why, try accepting that it is.” Learn your new normal. But, I think, unless you’re in the best possible break-up working in out in couples therapy or something, you won’t be able to just walk away and say “that was all neatly packaged, it feels closed.”

I mean, maybe there are couples out there who communicate SO WELL that they’re able to actually have closure and a satisfying break-up and to them I say kudos. But my twitter comment about creating my own closure had as much to do with what I’m going through now as it is poring over my previous break-ups (as I tend to do while heartbroken).

I had an ex-lover pass away this summer–there is no further closure I’m ever going to get from her. I really had always fantasized that at some point we’d be across the aisle from each other at our best friends’ wedding and we’d salvage a tender friendship out of our brief courtship. Any closure I get from my relationship with Luscious is going to be from working through my process, as it actually cannot come from her.

I think there are certain aspects of relationships that can see some tangible closure. One time I had an ex who owed me a bunch of money and I didn’t let it go. For years I watched friends walk away from top surgery loans and laptop loans of thousands of dollars to scoundrel exes or just plain sad exes. They did this because they just wanted a clean break and to not worry about it. For me it was important to close that element of my relationship. Plus, my electricity got shut off because he left this huge debt on our electric bill and the company rolled it over onto my new account and I had to come up with the money on my own, which was really hard at the time.

Self-advocacy is really difficult to do for yourself, especially when emotions are involved. But I kept at it, with letters and copies of joint bills and the bitter recollection of that week of living with candles for lights and no internet. And then I finally got checks every other week until it was paid off. I settled for slightly less than what I thought his debt was, but it was worth it to get it all done.

So I had financial closure but it still took months and even years to work through the emotions of our break-up and the closure I needed. I’ve got three years of perspective now and I still can only guess why or how. The damage of being cheated on, being broken up with in an email with no face to face conversation and all of that took a lot of work on my own terms.

Some closure won’t come until you start dating again. I wondered if I could ever love again as hard as I loved him. And it turns out I did and I can.


Me & my friend Berlin saying hi to his GF/my friend Ally who was in Portland. Berlin is the Ethical Butcher. Go to his classes & dinners!

Sometimes it helps me to write letters. I don’t like cutting people out of my life who did something horrible to me without explaining in plain language just exactly why I won’t ever speak to them again. Once someone lied to me so much I wrote her a letter detailing the 21 lies I had caught her in. I gave it to her and I’m certain that she managed to distort her reality around the contents to make it feel okay for her. But that letter helped me to create the peace I needed in order for me to walk away. The key is in sending it with no expectation as to the response.

One time I actually received great closure from an ex. A year after we broke up we ran into each other on campus and I smiled at her. She sent me an email with great accountability and apologies. At the time I couldn’t see it as the great closure it was, but three years later I re-read it and I was like “Wow, that was really great accountability.” But it wasn’t closure for me at the time because I wasn’t in a place to see it as closure.

Wanting closure is really hard. But the thing is, you have the power to make it happen for yourself in the way that works best for you. Break-ups are a selfish time period, where you stop looking at the us, mourn the pretty picture of the us you were creating and work on yourself. There’s so much possibility in your own closure.

Sometimes you’re not going to “get” closure at all because parts of our emotional histories are sagas and can’t be wrapped up like winter sweaters. My heartbreak feels like part of a bigger saga right now, so I’m not even working on closure. What I’m trying to do instead is turn my pain into the opportunity to create the solid base inside myself where an emotional event as jarring as what I just went through doesn’t make me feel like I don’t have a grasp on anything. I’m developing the tools to stay peaceful and strong as other things blow around me.


Like one of those inflatable bop bags from the 80s that you punch and they float right back up to upright.

Things are going to get better and most of the time I believe it. And those times I don’t believe it I have the tools to call a BFF and ask them to tell me everything is going to get better. And I have art to express what I’m going through. And I have you, my sweet and wonderful readers, reminding me that expressing my pain is helping you, too. And 2,000 hits a week reminding me you’re still out there wanting to know what I’ve got going on!


9021-homo from Rebel Cupcake! All photos from RC by Nogga Schwartz.

2010-09-20

Heartbreak MFA: Additions to the Break Up Survival Guide

One of the most amazing things about being an artist is that people tell me all the time how art I’ve created or produced has been really important to them in times of trouble and strife. Many times I hear “I have been going through a really terrible break-up and Episode 2 of your podcast really helped me out.” I’ve also heard more than a few times about how Zoe’s Break-Up Survival Guide has been passed around like a water cooler article to friends in need.

I’m so glad these resources exist, especially in light of the huge break-up they came out of for me.

Having (yet another) friend need this list this weekend prompted me to add a few updates. I share them with you below.

1. You already have all the tools you need to get through this.

It’s true, Dorothy.

Dorothy

Remind yourself of this every moment you feel desperate. Nowadays I can use the benchmark of “my fiance cheated on me for 8 months” or “I got laid off after 5 years with the same firm” as a way in which to gain the perspective I need to keep moving. I survived those things, I know I can survive whatever else comes my way.

As queers, fat people, people of color, women, gender non-conforming folks, etc… we have been put through the paces so much by society, our familes and ourselves, we are already survivors. Hell, the fact that I made it through my teens without succeeding at suicide is a testament to an inherent survival instinct that I attribute to being very blessed and watched over.

I will say that knowing that I have the tools to deal with heartbreak is sometimes cold comfort. At this point, almost three years since my ended engagement and having dated some women who have fucked with my heart big time, I feel like I have a Master’s Degree in Heartbreak. I’ve been through this, I know I’ll get through this again and live to love again. My heart doesn’t always know that, though. Having the gentle reminder from my brain is helpful.

2. Get co-defriendant with someone.

In the first few weeks of my big break-up I really needed help knowing what to do because the terrible echo of pain so consumed me. It was nice having a friend I could call on a moment’s notice and bring my shih tzu and an overnight bag and have somewhere to be that wasn’t my empty house, or have plans to go out or whatever I felt up to at the moment. When you designate a Captain Distraction, it’s especially nice because you will likely feel so different from moment to moment it’s hard to keep yourself abreast with your feelings, let alone your myriad friends. So if you have someone who has a lot of emotional and time availability see if they’re up to be your life raft for a little while.

3. Create community around your break-up.

When I was going through my big break-up I made a special filter on the blog community I was in of other people who were dealing with big break-ups around the same time. It was really comforting to know I wasn’t alone in the pain, to hear their process and to exchange mix cds. It was also interesting to notice our different benchmarks, how rebounding affected people and how their recovery was so varied. Maybe now you might do a twitter feed or facebook filter or just have a group email list.

I also threw a big New Year’s Eve party/ritual that year for me and 10 friends where we burned letters to our exes. It was nice to get to do that as a community.

4. Take lots of hot pictures of yourself.

If you have the cash, I suggest seeking out a queer photographer home girl like Molly at Fat Bottom Boudoir or Sophie of Shameless Photography. They know how to shoot you looking your best (in any body) and will help you reclaim your body and sexuality.

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If you don’t have the cash, get a bestie, go to the MAC counter, get a free makeover. Then go to the Torrid dressing rooms or some other place full of hot fat girl clothes and try things on that are impossibly sexy with shoes that are ridiculously tall and take photos of each other.*

Use these hot pictures as new profile photos on Facebook. Looking hot is great revenge. It’s like a photo affirmation.

Advice Column

5. Throw yourself into a big art project.

My mom gave me this advice when I was crying on the phone to her during Thanksgiving. Thus, FemmeCast was born. It was a huge project (and continues to be, anyone know a good audio editor?) but being able to do something productive with my pain was totally helpful. It gave me something else to talk about and something else to think about during my worst moments.

Do you have something percolating you’ve always wanted to do? Just start.

6. Rebounding is a terrible idea.

Zoe told me when I was having my rebound that you end up having to “deal with that shit PLUS interest.” She’s totally right, too. Rebounding feels great. Why feel the heartbreak when you can focus on the joy of new love and not see any of the other red flags about how bad of an idea it is to date that person? I used to be queen rebound and I can attest it just makes things harder in the long run. Your gunk gets all jammed up and it takes a lot longer to sort through it. It also puts a lot more pressure on the new relationship to be the big savior for the heartbreak that came before.

There is no ibuprophin for heartache. It’s just through it. Rebounding is like creating a migraine out of a bad headache.

7. QVC.

I used to turn on QVC in the background whenever I was home alone to make me feel less lonely. A few months later I got a roommate, which definitely helped more. But if you’re walking around a newly empty house, QVC is nonstop enthusiastic chatter and it helps to drown out the terribles.

8. Heartbreak is an opportunity to learn about yourself.

I got a great email from my friend Genne after the disastrous rebound from my big break-up ended that began with the sentence “I don’t want to say that your picker is broken but…” and included some really great thoughtful questions to ask myself and work through in my recovery. Now, at the time I was a little taken aback at the idea that I was responsible for bringing in the inappropriate people in my life but I did see what she was saying.

My artist’s life coach Lynnee Breedlove said something similar to me during our last session. There is a reason you bring the people into your life when you do. If you can work through the reasons they’re in your life and what you can learn from the experience, it only makes you a more attuned to how to pick the next time around. And just like taking a hot photo for your facebook or creating some amazing art, it’s all about taking the time you need to create something beautiful out of your pain.

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I hope these nuggets are helpful to some of y’all out there. Comment with your favorite heartbreak tip below and one random commenter will get a copy of a break-up cd mixed by me. I’ll pick at midnight EST on September 27, 2010.

And while we’re on theme, the next Rebel Cupcake is heartbreak themed. Lots of danceable heartbreak songs and halloween costumes!

*Always be kind to your shop girls and if they ask you to stop taking pictures be nice about it. For $10 an hour no one wants to have to tell you about store policies, so they’re doing it because they have to. Also always hang up your clothes neatly and right side out on the hangers.

2010-07-05

In Memory of Luscious

I found out a couple of weeks ago that a former sweetheart of mine passed away. It was very sudden. We do not know why (beyond knowing that it was not foul play), nor do we know if we will find out why.

I have been in a lot of shock and denial about it. I also believe that the stories that are hardest to tell are the most important to share, so I thought I would put down my thoughts and remembrances.

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Photo courtesy of Tanja Tiziana.

I met Luscious in 2005 at the NOLOSE conference. I always thought she was cute and regularly flirted with her, to no great reciprocation (she was incredibly shy in that way). I also always thought she was in an open relationship. Thanks to her erroneous Facebook status.

For New Year’s Eve 2008/9 I went on a girls’ road trip to Toronto to visit friends and eat our way though town. I thought it would be fun to proposition her for a casual make-out, which I did in a clever and carefully worded email sent a week before we left town. She said yes and proposed a night to hang out. She was a very talented chef and came in on her day off to the restaurant she worked at (Disgraceland–fabulous name). She cooked us an insanely amazing meal of fried chicken, poutine, fried okra, mac & cheese, corn dogs, fried green tomatoes… The gravy on the poutine remains the best I’ve ever had.

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After much stalling and making me wait patiently (not my strong suit), she finally kissed me and we made a date for New Year’s Eve. We began our affair all night that night and had instantaneously intense chemistry. That first night I remember her sitting up on the bed and coming up behind her to put my arms around her. She leaned into my chest and said “I feel so safe with you.” That is one of the most treasured compliments I’ve ever gotten from a lover.

We began texting fast and furious the days following my departure. We had a marathon phone conversation where she moved furniture so she could get cell reception to talk to me. She invited me back and being both impetuous and impatient, I decided to drive back up 10 days after leaving the last time.

We checked into love island and had an amazing time. She drove me around Toronto in the winter, showed me her favorite spot in the city, someplace right on the lake where she could sit and look at the city skyline and think, or talk to her BFF, Arun. I got to hang out a lot with Arun, who at the time was beginning to court my BFF, Zoe.

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Arun (next to Luscious on the right, also Gigi and Kaleb are pictured) remains one of my favorite people.

We loved many of the same movies, Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias were top choices. So we curled up to watch them on her bed-like concoction instead of a couch, which she called her “Flatress” and was more of an entity than it was a piece of furniture. She cooked me an incredible brunch. She complained in a facebook status update once that she wanted someone else to cook for her, so as a surprise for her I took a turn in the kitchen in lingerie and heels, making her muffins and bacon with brown sugar.

I met a few of her wonderful friends, but mostly we stayed on love island. She sent me home with cupcakes she bought for me from her vegan, gluten-free baker friends (they were seriously better cupcakes than I’ve had in NYC) and deviled eggs she made for my road trip.

One time she texted me “All I have to offer is my good palate, strong hands and big heart.” She had so much more to offer than that, but those were her most noticeable characteristics. She didn’t always speak up in big social groups, but she was incredibly giving to me in terms of intimacy. We talked a lot from the heart.

She was so kind. Even to people who weren’t particularly kind to her. One time we were in the grocery store, I was down the aisle a ways and this small child walked up to her and told her she was fat. I forget what Luscious said to the child but it was one of the most sweet and generous teachable moment responses I’ve ever witnessed.

She gave me one of my favorite cds, Dance Yourself to Death, who are her friends. I listened to it nonstop in my car for months.

On my next visit she curled up with me on the Flatress and showed me all of her photo albums, through her childhood and teen years. She was heart-open about so many things with me. She drove me to see places that were important to her history in Toronto and outside. She always held my arm when we were walking outside because she knew the ice terrified me. We had incredible sex.

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The problem with long distance is that it only works if the parties have compatible communication styles and abilities. She sort of dropped me suddenly, without warning. It was really devastating to go from a deep intimacy and fairly constant contact to next to no communication. About a month after our last visit and the sudden lack of communication we exchanged a couple of emails, but I still never really understood what she was doing or her intentions, and we came to no resolution because she never could tell me what she wanted from me or “us”.

I went back and re-read some of my journals from that time. I had forgotten how heartbroken I was over Luscious for quite some time. Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” on repeat heartbroken. Couldn’t stop talking about it for months heartbroken.

Though I still felt very sweetly towards her, as a matter of self-preservation I kept some distance and we mostly communicated through Facebook comments and status likes. I was always pumping Zoe for updates on Luscious when she would return from visiting her boyfriend in Toronto.

I emailed her in December when I found out she was having gastric bypass surgery. I know it can be really isolating and hard to make decisions about weight-loss (especially surgery) when you are in a fat activist community and I wanted her to know I was available to talk and supported her doing what she needed to for her own bodily self-determination. I also secretly wanted to open the door for communication otherwise.

I saw her again at the NOLOSE Conference in Oakland the weekend before she died. I went up to her and gave her a big hug and kiss on the cheek. We didn’t really talk beyond small talk though. It was hard to figure out what to say. We shared a lot of stolen glances, and the look on her face when I was on stage on Saturday night is something I’ll never forget.

I know right now I am feeling very confused, devastated, and needy. It feels so weird since I don’t live in her town and wasn’t an active part in her life. We were Facebook “likers”. In this day and age of Facebook and social networking it feels weird and hard that she has a Facebook account. It seems weird that I got a notice that she liked my status update on Saturday and then moments (?) later she was gone. It seems weird and also awesome that her Facebook page is now a memorial site for people to post about her.

It also feels weird to grieve someone who I was so intimate with, but who was no longer a current person in my life. I feel really grateful that many of my friends reached out to me when they found out. One of whom is my friend Kristyn, who also had former lovers die suddenly (multiple within a year) and she met up with me to talk about it. She said this really beautiful thing to me, the gist of which is the following.

As sex positive queers, it is really important to acknowledge that sharing your body with someone is a really sacred act. And even if you’re no longer sharing your heart and body with someone any longer, when they leave this earth there is still part of you that goes. It is really important to recognize that it is a significant and distinct loss.

At this point I am just trying to feel it. The first day I had some time alone after I found out I spent the day writing, working and listening to Brokeback Mountain soundtrack. I cried a lot and got it together to go to Rebel Cupcake. I dedicated the show and the party to her–a fat positive queer dance party with lots of good seating was exactly her jam. No one there knew her but it felt like something I could do for me. I am still finding ways to honor her and my grief day by day. Leah Lakshmi told me the night I found out “Shark, do the best you can to just feel your feelings.”

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She was really important to me and still is. I still thought about her every day. I hope that whatever happened that she wasn’t scared. I hope that she is someplace looking over us, and smiling.

2009-04-02

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.

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