End of Relationship “To Do” List


(Listen to a reading of the essay featuring an extended conversation with David K. about heartbreak, companionship, and TRUE LOVE. (You know what we had was real baby. Babe? Boo? Bae? Are you out there? Please come back. I’m definitely not sad.) Click the picture above, or press this link to access the audio: End of Relationship “To Do” List (SoundCloud Link)

“End of Relationship “To Do” List” (iTunes Link)

I made a list of things to do after a relationship ends. I am by no means an expert and any part of this list may be ignored, scrutinized, or promptly discarded.

End of Relationship “To Do” List

1) Feel the Feelings

This one is gonna happen whether you like it or not. The feelings are gonna suck. You’ll feel rejected and alone. You’ll feel a sadness in your gut that is continuously amplified by the slow expanse of time. Yes. Time slows and pain sits. Your body (not just physically but also mentally) is acclimating to a life without the stimulation provided by him (or her). The text messages, the calls, the hanging out…Its all over. Biologically, your brain is detoxing from a lack of dopamine. The hit of happiness it has grown accustom to is no longer being delivered. Emotionally, you’re heart is grasping to make sense of fate. Intelectually, you’re attempting to craft a narrative to explain what went wrong and why you’re alone. All of this stuff is happening, and it will continue to happen, so its very important that you feel the feelings and then…

2) Call Your Mom

This one is mega important. You gotta call your mom. And if you don’t have a mom, call your grandma. If you don’t have a grandma, call me and we’ll figure out who you should call. For real. Now that the feelings have been felt, its time to process. Its time to vocalize the confusion. Its time to accept that what is happening is real and that life isn’t fair. Its time to experience catharsis from the emotional turmoil you’ve experienced. Its time to be told that everything is going to be ok. And moms are great at that. So call your mom and then…

3) Take a Nap

This one is very important. And its not as easy as it sounds because you’re not going to fall fast asleep. And, you will most likely have responsibilities that need attending to. So, we’ll come back to this. Until then…

4) Show the Fuck Up

You’re in the belly of the beast. Painful emotions and sordid memories are attacking you from all angles. The beautiful sunny day is just a blast of UV sadness: a reminder of what could have been. The job you need to go to is a million miles away. And, you haven’t showered in two days. You’ve been surviving on a diet of peanut butter and saltine crackers (if you’ve even eaten at all) and, you have to go to work. Work itself is a pressure cooker of meaningless tasks and obligations. If you think time is slow now, wait till you get to work. Its gonna be shitty. Thats why you need to remember: You’re a god damned champion. A hero. You’re Frodo trudging towards mount doom. You’re Katniss Everdeen volunteering for The Hunger Games. You’re Princess Leah right after her home planet of Aldaraan gets blown up and everyone she’s ever loved is dead. You’re Rocky Balboa training to fight Apollo Creed even though you know you’re not gonna win. But you’ll survive the fight. You’ll go the distance. Because you’re a champion, and champions show the fuck up.

5) Take a Nap 

Good. You showed up. And you’re gonna keep showing up. Because remember: You’re a god damned champion. And champions need rest. Now is the chance to fast forward some time. Let your brain creep closer to homeostasis, reconfiguring its dopamine levels to adjust to a new reality. When you wake up, there will be no messages or calls from your significant other. You wont wake up excited or hopeful. You won’t wake up inspired or motivated. You wont jump out of bed with passion to greet the new day, but thats ok, because you’re getting stronger. You’re getting better. Your bed is a cocoon that is morphing a mere mortal into a champion. And when the thoughts get too much, when memories overwhelm your sleepless eyes, you’ll open them. You’ll look at your surroundings and realize: “I’m going to be OK”. So turn on the Netflix and…

6) Watch a Ted Talk 

While cocooning, your body, heart, and mind is reforming itself to become a better, stronger version of yourself. In your current reality, everything is grey. You sense no hope, only pain. It feels like it will last forever. You’ve even begun to believe that no one has experienced the depths of despair quite like you have…

But you’re wrong.

Men and Women just like us have experienced, and conquered, what we now endure. Its important to learn from their experience. For some, it was the loss of a child. The death of a fiancee. For others, it was the trauma of war. Losing comrades in the heat of battle. There are plenty of talks about heartbreak, but they may be difficult to digest right now. So pick a story that interests you. Pick a Ted Talk about Aliens, Philosophy, or David Blain. Pick a talk that resonates with your curiosity and snuggle deeper into your cocoon. And when you wake up- go outside, pick up the phone, and…

7) Call Your Friends

You need to receive some love. You may feel like they wont understand, or you’re taking up their time, but the truth is: they’re part of your team. They want to help. Thats why they are your friends. They see “you” in a way you’ll never be able to. We wont be able to explain, or make sense of what has happened, but we’ll listen. We’ll sit with you. And we’ll invite you places even though all you want to do is lay around and be sad. So we’ll let you lay around and be sad. And we’ll stay to remind you that- Yes. You’re a god damned champion. We’ll get through this together. And, we’ll know exactly what to do…

8) Watch a Movie

Storytelling teaches us something. It commandeers our consciousness with pure imagination. A world of wonder and possibility. A sensory experience of sight, sound, and emotion. What a good film does, in its finest form, is alleviate the self-contained perspective of our individual reality. It opens our mind to a different way of looking at things. It shows us that we’re not alone. That all great heroes must confront a challenge. And its magnified, dramatized, and extreme. Its “Full Metal Jacket” exploring the human psychology of boys becoming men and playing soldier. Its “Schindlers List” describing one mans journey to make a difference during the gravest of circumstances. Its “Sunshine” sending a group of astrophysicists on a mission to reignite the sun and save the planet. Its every protagonist that is drawn to action. They answer the call. They face the darkness. And, they learn something. They conquer their fears, and their demons, to emerge as heroes. And the really, truly great films leave us motivated. They show us that we can be always be better, that there is always room to improve. So…

9) Go Eat Something and Get a Pump In

Now that you’re showing up, cocooning, and watching movies, its finally time to eat something. Up until now, you’ve survived on a diet of saltine crackers, peanut butter, and pizza rolls. Over the last few days, you’ve eaten several bars of dark chocolate and an entire box of “Chips Ahoy Chew Chocolate Chip Cookies” (microwaved for ultimate pleasure.) Now, you have permission to start moving towards more solid foods (like Chinese take out or pizza) and begin thinking about exercising. You don’t have to do it yet, but you should also start thinking about going to the grocery store. A champion wont be able to evolve while eating a diet of dunkaroos and pizza dough. And since things are getting easier (your dopamine levels are acclimating and your mind is being fed with stories of bravery) its time to start engaging endorphins and building up some serotonin. And that means you need to start getting a pump in on the reg. Throw some shorts on and start running. Lift heavy stuff and then put it back down. Listen to music that urges you forward. Run for the future, lean into the light. A hero has begun to emerge from her cocoon with a new path to follow. A new life to explore. And now that your diet is getting better, exercise is happening, and your continuing to show the fuck up…your curiosity will begin to spark. You’ll go places you’ve never been and meet people you’d have never guessed to know. Opportunities and experiences will appear on your life’s path. And you’ll walk through them. Because you’re a champion and now, you’ve got a mission…

10) Do Something to Make Someone’s Life Better

Give something back. Tell us what you’ve learned. Create something, share something, or help someone. Do something that makes a difference. Do something scary. Be a friend, a mentor, or a master. Take your experience and carry it with you. Affect people positively from the heart. Open up and know that none of us are invincible and every person is facing a battle we know nothing about. And now that we’re heroes, the worlds gonna need us.

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