Start with a super-sad song. One you’ve played over and over before, but never fully wept to. Put it on loudly and sit somewhere you usually don’t. The carpet. The bath. The filthy kitchen floor.
Then, grab something comforting. Chocolate, biscuits, wine, all of the above. Consume them while staring blankly into space, imagining that somewhere someone else is doing the same. Feel the weight and pain of all the shattering hearts that exist on the same planet.
If you’ve got good friends, they might try and rally round you. Be prickly and rude to them until eventually they leave you alone.
Cry some more.
Wonder why none of your friends are talking to you. Hate yourself a bit. Turn up the song and eat some more biscuits.
Phone your mum. Tell her about that thing which happened at work, and how well it’s all going. When she asks how you are, say ‘fine.’
Fuck someone inappropriate. Someone you don’t really fancy or never truly liked. Suck down the disappointment as you expend breath and power you can’t believe you have on someone you know isn’t worth it.
Masturbate, frequently, over the things you used to do when you were with the one you loved.
Go to their facebook page.
Cry. Block them. Cry.
Biscuits. Wine. Cry.
Swap your facebook profile photo for one in which you’re smiling, and when your friends ‘like’ it, cry harder.
Post a vague status that says ‘anyone fancy the pub?’ and delete it straight away, because you’re not quite ready for the pub yet and it’s Tuesday so no one will come.
Lie face-down on the carpet heaving ugly sobs that make your face red and your nose run. Crush your arms up close to your chest to try and relieve the dull ache of pain.
Wonder if you’ll feel like this forever. Picture a future in which all you have to look forward to is a brand new packet of biscuits and the pleasurable ‘pop’ as you uncork some more wine. When you’ve reached your self-pity peak, look stoically into the middle distance and resolve never to love again, because love hurts and you hate the hurt, and the joy is never worth the sorrow.
Pour out every bitter, miserable thought until your page is drenched in pity, and each sentence makes you well up more and your chest hurt and your gut ache for sobbing.
Then sleep. Then repeat. For weeks.
Wake up one morning and feel a bit lighter. Attempt a smile and realise it works. Brush your teeth, shower, and dress up in clothes that make you feel good. Step out of the house on a high, realising this is the end of the end, and the better part will start soon – the re-discovery of fun and love and happiness.
Spot someone on the bus who looks just like them.
Cry. Wine. Biscuits.
Realise that from now until the day you die his name and face and the way he used to fuck you will be burnt deeply into your memory. And every time something bumps up against those memories they’ll flash, just briefly, with that same agony.
Then remind yourself that’s just not the case. You’ll get over it. You’ve done it before and you’ll do it again. Even if this time it’s harder.
Text your friends. Facebook your friends. Email your Mum. Tell them what you should have said before: ‘I am not fine.’
Keep telling them, and telling yourself, that it’s OK to not be fine.
How do you get over heartbreak?
I’m not telling you how to get over heartbreak. I’m telling you that I suck at it. Individually, we can come up with strategies and plans to get over heartbreak – little nuggets of knowledge that may make it easier. Text your friends, chat to your mum. If you’re me, remind yourself of all the times you did appalling things, and why you deserve to feel this way. Watch doomsday films so you can get your tears out at the dramatic parts so it doesn’t feel like you’re crying over you.
But it’s never going to get easy, and that’s OK. From the first time your heart is broken to that moment last week when it shattered again, none of us can be experts. We can just deal with it in our own unique ways.
So I cling on, and cry, and eat biscuits.
And then one day I stop crying.
This morning I did a chat on Woman’s Hour chat about teenage heartbreak (about 20 minutes in, I’m ‘Sarah’). It kicked this off a bit because I wanted to work out exactly what it was that helped me get over my first ever heartbreak. The answer is: a whole bunch of things, my mum, my friends, and biscuits. I know it’s not an awesome clickbaity answer, but most proper answers aren’t.