I’ve gone through several breakups now. The first one was in 8th grade, when my middle school boyfriend sat me down on a stoop around the corner from school and said, this is just not working. It was devastating in every way possible. I limped home and collapsed on my mom’s bedroom floor and as I sobbed, she rubbed my back and said, oh honey, it’s just puppy love. My mom has given me some of the best, most wise advice I have ever received and I seek her guidance weekly (ok, maybe daily), but that was not her best. (C’mon Mom, what were you thinking, downplaying my true love like that?!)
This time around, I did something that kind of surprised me: instead of curling into myself to watch Bridesmaids and eat hot, buttered pasta (the only thing I want when my heart is crushed), I sought out the company of friends. I filled my days with socializing, to the point where I actually started to feel like a social butterfly. And, at the end of each day, I would go home and write down all the things that my insanely genius friends would say and do, because their tidbits of wisdom made me feel so much better.
Send them a poem/essay/book that helped you through a tough time. A few friends (and readers, thank you!) did this, and I found it SO comforting to read a poem or article that I knew offered them solace during a tough time. It just takes you out of yourself, even for 5 minutes, and lets you focus on something entirely unrelated to your sad thoughts.
Say the usual things. “You’ll get through this,” “One day you’ll feel much better than you do today,“, “It’s his loss,” even just “I’m so sorry,” are common phrases that you might feel kind of silly or useless saying, but honestly, hearing it over and over again did really ease the pain, and I never ever felt like saying, I know that already, because in that post-breakup funk, you need to hear those things constantly to really remind yourself that it’s true.
Gently force a “girls night.” Don’t force it if she’s still crying on her kitchen floor. But when she’s feeling a little better, plant the seed, and then routinely return to the idea, until she’s gone from shaking her head no to shrugging her shoulders. My friend J did this for me recently, and although I wanted to back out last minute, I forced myself to go and ended up having a blast. It’s hugely helpful and liberating to realize that having fun is still something you can joyfully do, even while recovering from heartbreak.
Crack jokes. Bad jokes. Good jokes. Inappropriate jokes. It all helps.
Check in. Right after the breakup, my sweet friend S would text me every morning saying, “how are you doing today, love?” It was SO awesome to have those texts waiting for me when I glanced at my phone. I felt such support and company from my friends even while I was sitting at home alone, and that was huge.
Tell them why you love them. One night, I was having dinner with my friend and she just laid it all out there. This is why you’re awesome, she said. Boom boom boom boom. I died a little inside. It’s really easy to second guess your awesomeness during a breakup, even if you constantly remind yourself that it’s not you…..honestly, it’s a moment I will remember forever.
Lastly, I think one thing to keep in mind is that your goal shouldn’t be to cheer up your friend, because they’re miserable and nothing you say is going to make them leap off the couch and exclaim, “hot damn, I’m all better now!” It’s simply to be there for the person. A few people said, “I don’t know what to say to make you feel better,” and I always said, “just hanging out with you is making me feel better.” And it was true! Don’t feel pressured to fix her, just hang with her.
There you have it! Would you add anything? I am so lucky to have my friends, you guys are the best!