In the first few weeks after a breakup, you’re just made entirely of nerve endings. Everything hurts and makes you sad and mad and elated all at once. My breakup this year coincided with the start of a new job, which was the absolute worst timing, and I do not recommend it.
During a breakup you’re sort of allowed to schlep into the office late, hear a song that reminds you of HIM, and go home sick. The next day you might come in with two breakfasts that you eat at your desk while silently weeping. And people let you do it. They say in the hallways to each other, “poor little duck, going through a breakup”. “That Kate, who we have known for years, she’s very sad; let’s bring her a burrito”.
But I didn’t have this luxury. I had to impress my new workplace, and didn’t want to fail probation due to emotional meltdowns, so I just didn’t mention it. I would cry my makeup off on the way to work and would reapply in the office bathroom. When I passed people in the hallway I put on my happiest smiliest face and complimented their ties or whatever. I was sunny and cheerful and made unfunny but wholesome jokes over cups of coffee.
IT SUCKED. The one thing that got me through was the vision of Winning the Breakup. What’s winning? For me, it’s that you run into your ex a few months after the breakup, and you’re carrying a lot of bags. (The bags indicate good fortune, wealth, and fresh starts; probably a new frock). Your hair and makeup and outfit are perfect, and for some reason he’s got spaghetti bolognese all down his front.
He’s gained weight and you’ve lost it, but only in a healthy way, you’re glowing and you have very long hair that you flick over your shoulder absentmindedly and it waves in the breeze. Or, instead, you have a pixie cut and it makes you just a pile of sharp cheekbones. (Sorry to the girls with bobs, I don’t make the rules. No other hair is acceptable. I say this as a girl with a bob, too. It’s rough.)
He’s disarmed by you, stumbles over his words, and then I think a police officer tells him to fix his shoelaces or something else sort of vaguely socially embarrassing without actual real consequences.
I made a playlist to get me through those weeks where I was focusing on managing to get dressed and show up to work and not give in to the ever-constant urge to cry. I called it “Boom Boom Rah Rah Let’s Go” and it was mostly RuPaul. But the first artist, the patron saint of my breakup, the woman who held me up every day (multiple times a day), was Demi Lovato. ‘Sorry Not Sorry’ was my ANTHEM. I’d strut down the street frowning at everyone, adding “walking boobs first in slow motion” to the breakup fantasy plan.
I played it on repeat.
I googled “Winning the Breakup”, and it turns out, my goals are actually aiming pretty low. Articles suggested in addition to looking like a million bucks, you had to have a supermodel boyfriend picking you up from school a la Stepmom (when you break up with that LOSER who doesn’t even know what snowblowing is). I didn’t have one of those. Other stories talked about how women had immediately gone out and become the CEO of their own business and published a book and bought Cadillacs and things. I felt depressed. Maybe I wasn’t winning at all? Should I be trying harder? I don’t even know where the Cadillac STORE is, let alone own one.
So I asked friends. Many of them shared similar visions – no one mentioned slow-motion boobs specifically; but people said haircuts, weight loss, new loves. And then one friend, Georgie, floored me. She seemed baffled by the question. “I just feel it’s less about winning and more about going on and living your best life. For both parties.” Regardless – get this – regardless, of who dumped who.
She’d found the perfect way to win the breakup, which is to be so kind and pure of heart that you don’t even think about winning.