How do you Handle a Broken Heart?

Everyone deals with a break up differently, but one thing’s almost always the same.  People going through break ups display odd behavior and some do crazy things they’d never do otherwise.  Therapists actually have a name for erratic behavior caused by the stress and trauma of a break up: “coping mechanisms.”

When I was going through my divorce, I took to cleaning my house obsessively (anyone who’s been to my house lately can see I’m clearly over that phase, by the way), drinking red wine and dialing my girlfriends, crying in the shower, and  buying True Religion jeans.

Here are some ways that others handled their break-ups:

Becky was happily living with her husband of five years when he decided he didn’t want to be married anymore and moved to another country. Becky was beyond devastated. She told me she never left her apartment for the first three months. Then she did something unbelievable. She went on tour with her favorite band, Guns N’ Roses. For four months, she followed the band around the country, scalping tickets to the show and partying with other Guns N’ Roses fans. She told me it was the best experience she ever had, and that it really helped her heal.

Carol was married for 10 years and when it ended, she threw herself an extravagant divorce party. She invited 10 women to go downtown in a limo (of course) and bar hop all over the city.

Sue was married for almost 30 years. She handled her divorce with a two week trip to Israel. She also ran her first marathon.

After her split with the man whom she spent 22 years, Carrie began seeing a guy who was 18 years younger than her. They dated for almost three years.

When Paul’s wife of 10 years passed away, he went on a dating spree. 25 dates in 2 months. He says he just wanted to meet women and have fun. “And did you?” I asked him. He said it was a temporary fix, and that yes, it helped, but only time can heal his pain and loss.

I think that people do all kinds of things to try to cope with the sadness, the emptiness and the trauma of the end of something. When I went through it, I did some really stupid things, things that made me not recognize myself, things I’m not particularly proud of. But, I also did some things that were really great and healthy for me.  The one coming to mind most is the novel I wrote that year, “I’ve Got Issues”  to be published when I have the guts to publish it.  

When it comes to a break-up, here are the things you need to watch out for:

1. Alcohol abuse. People who are separated are more susceptible to addictions, so watch the drinking. And DO NOT drink and drive.

2. Getting into a relationship just to have someone. I’m constantly wondering why people jump right into another relationship after theirs ends. People, do you know how to be by yourself for two minutes??!

3. Depression. If you feel you are slipping into unhealthy habits, like sitting home crying all the time, or obsessive compulsive behavior (which is linked to depression) go get help. Even those who aren’t big fans of therapy should try it, just temporarily.

4. Anger. Manage it. There’s so much hurt and so many bad feelings during a break up. Recognize and admit the anger and deal with it in a positive manner, like working out or going to therapy, or even venting to friends and family-close friends and family-not the whole town. Don’t call or text or email your soon-to-be ex hateful and mean things. If you feel them, write them down, just don’t send anything!

Good things to do during a break up:

1. Eat healthy. A diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, protein, whole grains and NO SUGAR can truly make a difference in how you feel. And look!

2. Work out! I remember feeling so down and depressed and I would call my sister and she would say, “Go to the gym. NOW! Right this minute! You will feel so much better afterward.” And she was always right.

3. Pursue friendships with both men and women. Not just for dating purposes, but to have as friends and acquaintances. Nothing bad can ever come of meeting someone new. They can almost always enrich your life in one way or another.

4. Admit the mistakes you made in the relationship and forgive yourself. Love yourself and try to be the best person, the best mom (or dad), the best friend you can be. A break up isn’t always a bad thing.  It can be your second chance!

By: Jackie Pilossoph

Author of two novels, magazine writer, newspaper columnist and blogger.

Jackie Pilossoph

Jackie Pilossoph is the author of FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE and two other novels. She is also a freelance magazine writer and weekly newspaper columnist. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in Communication from Boston University. She lives in Chicago and is working on her fourth novel.