1. Rip off the metaphoric Band-Aid.
To be or not to be? To fixate and wallow or pretend it’s all good? Remain Velcroed to a moment in time or painfully yank it away, grating sound of scratchy cling and all, only to leave yourself exposed in the open breeze? Not that you really have a choice. When you have to get over something, it’s due to lack of options. You’re likely not the one in control at this point (another person or the mysterious schemes of life have made the decision for you). And that blows. Kind of like how whipped around you’re about to get in that open wind, without your Band-Aid or Velcro or whatever sticky metaphor you prefer to impart. But… it’s for the best!
Change isn’t only a fact of life – look at puberty, gentrification, and the seasons – it’s usually exciting as it’s happening and pretty sweet in hindsight. By the time the transition is over, we’ve come to terms with the fact there’s no other way things could or should be. Better yet, the present moment, and the always-elusive future, tends to be so much better than the old, wilted, stomped-on past. Keep walking!
2. Channel Axl Rose.
No, don’t go get cornrows, you fool. (Well, just don’t if you’re lily-white and want to feel less so, despite that lame recent L.A. Times article). Don’t date an early-‘90s supermodel with legs up to there (unless you can, and in that case, by all means). Don’t even employ the help of a guy with a massive main of delicate dark curls and a top hat (unless he’s going to be your spiritual butler and help you through this difficult time). All I’m suggesting is listen to Axl’s gloriously shrieking, artfully shrill, wearily impassioned voice on a track from 1991’s Use Your Illusion II.
In “Yesterdays,” Axl asserts yesterday has got nothing for him. Indeed, “some things could be better if we’d all just let them be.” If power ballads aren’t your thing, blasting any thrashing song of free will and personal empowerment certainly won’t slow you down on your path to reclaiming your mojo.
3. Shake it off.
Stop looking for answers why. Sometimes there is no “because.” Life is crazy and nonsensical, with barely even a semblance of rhyme or reason. We don’t know why we’re here in the first place (some will say it’s to comprehend unconditional love, Eleanor Roosevelt will say it’s simply to live it and taste experience, still some will say to have a good time and then get out quick, and then there are those who prefer to allocate that brain space to whether they want Plymouth or Hendrick’s in their next gin martini).
It’s a learning experience, and that’s what matters, even if you never really figure out why the bonehead stopped calling and answering your texts or why this god-awful, unimaginable thing happened to you. Once you shake off the question, you’ll shed the weighty burden of useless, desperate curiosity.
4. Embrace the moment.
Whatever the moment holds, including sadness and anger. They come with the territory, and if you suppress them now, they will only creep up with more gusto later. Feel free to indulge supposed negative emotions when they sneak up on you. That’s not to say languish in your fury and hurt, but revel in it for a few seconds, especially when you’re in the privacy of your own home and not at someone’s birthday party or a family dinner. Yell, cry, weep, scream obscenities, punch a pillow, egg your own apartment – wait, actually, don’t do that last one. I learned the hard way that dried raw eggs are really hard to get out of hardwood floors. Even fantasize about the vengeance you’d exact, if that makes you feel better. But keep in mind the best revenge is enjoying your own life…and, of course, being really, really good-looking.
5. Say, “So what?”
Literally, say it over and over and over again. Consider a dialogue along these lines with yourself:
“My relationship didn’t work out. It’s yet another failure, and now I feel terrible.”
“I have to keep going now, and I really don’t want to. I just want everything to be good.”
“Well, for one thing I’m lonely! And kind of bitter and quite honestly, depressed.”
So what? So what? So what?
Exactly, so nothing. You keep going. The universe doesn’t care, and soon, neither will you. This exercise is helpful in finding, and keeping, perspective.
6. Get out there.
This sounds unfortunate, but often the best antidote to a broken heart is… a date. Nothing will make the ex-love of your life feel like yesterday’s news like a new crush. Slap on some lipstick, put on your best heels (it starts with the shoes, and you’ll want the ones that make you walk with swagger), and receive some attention. Flirt, flaunt, have fun. It’s a risk to put yourself out there, but if it happens to be a good time, it will make you go, “Wait a second. There are so many freaking fish in this sea, from gullies and catfish to sharks and barracudas to marlins and tunas. And I’m a seductive siren.” Something like that.
7. Live it up.
Enlist all the clichés: Get out of your element. Try something new. Find a fresh adventure. Go shopping and treat yourself. Book a vacation. Start a project. Indulge in some “me” time. Do something different. Have a spa day. Think, “What’s next?” Then get excited about it. Life isn’t about the past. It’s about what’s happening right now and what’s about to happen. If your present leaves much to be desired, the best thing you can do is work on making your immediate future as jaw-droppingly sublime as possible.