Illustrations by Ramya Kannabiran Tella.
In the world of emotions heartbreak is a celebrity. Everyone knows it by name and knows its reputation even without ever meeting it. So much so that it is fairly common for people to say, “I am too scared of heartbreak so I have decided to avoid this whole love business altogether.” But things don’t quite work that way. Romance sometimes comes knocking even if you weren’t looking and heartbreak is always a painful, crushing possibility.
But the dark cloud of heartbreak has one silver lining: it is as old as time, so human beings have acquired many, many gharelu nuske in this department.
Sure you don’t want to hire a loudspeaker, stand on the road outside your ex’s colony and tell everyone what they did to you. On the other hand don’t expect to be superchill and be dancing at your ex’s shaadi either. It’s ok to cry and even have thoda bahut melodrama – in safe spaces, Agents!
You have been crying for a week. It may take you two more weeks or it may take you a whole year. Everyone and every heart has its own break up schedule.
You used to discuss all your feelings with your ex. As hard as it is to hear, your ex is the one person in the whole world who can’t help you in this process. Not because they are horrible but you cannot rage/complain/cry about them to them without creating more confusion (for yourself).
Write letters to your ex on paper and tear them up. Write them on your computer and delete them. Write your complaints, jokes, fears and fantasies. Write that you wish things weren’t over. Don’t write it in your email though. You may not be able to resist the impulse to hit ‘send’. Just writing it will make you feel so much better. You can also shout them out in front of the mirror. It won’t crack.
This is hard and something you need to work at slowly. Don’t let your mind trick you into believing that if you just think of a solid argument, you and your ex can get back together.
You could try avoiding your regular spots because they remind you too much of your ex. That may be hard or impractical. You could actively override those memories with new associations. Try going to a couple of your favourite hangouts with other friends and see how that feels. You don’t have to have an amazing time. You are just taking a step in moving on.
Try a new kind of cold coffee. A Bollywood dance class. A new hairstyle. Get up half an hour earlier and try a new route to work.
While you are still feeling shaky there is a lot of value in keeping 90 percent of your routine the same as before. Eat, walk the dog and go to see your naani on Sundays. You need the comfort of predictability too.
As little as you feel like it, a little exercise will make you feel great. Run madly for one minute in the neighbourhood park and scare the dogs and joggers. Put on headphones and rage-jump all over your (dry) bathroom floor. Buy a swimsuit and get someone to teach you to float in the pool. Never mind swimming.
Unfriend. Unfollow. Log out. Delete all their numbers. Does it feel like you are not cool? Doesn’t matter. You need it right now. Your job right now is to take care of yourself and not continuously remind yourself of your ex.
Make friends with the sad, angry voices inside your head. Listen to them but also remember what you like about yourself. Make lists of things that you like about yourself, things only you can do, ways in which you have helped other people, compliments you have received. Keep these lists. They will feel silly at first but it will help.
Speaking to a stranger, professionally trained to understand what you are going through, is the best thing ever. Especially if you are feeling like a burden on your friends and family because you have discussed it too much and you still fall into an even more depressed state. Or if you are feeling ashamed and have just not discussed it with anyone. Or if your thoughts feel like a muddle. For all kinds of reasons. Find a therapist who suits your schedule and budget and go for one appointment and take it from there. Which brings us to our all-purpose general heartbreak ointment.
That’s all you need to do.
Do you have any tips, suggestions and thoughts from when you were heart-broken? Share them with other sad lovers by writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram. We all need a little help from our friends.