By Matt Stone
It was the fall of 2010. I came home limping from a men’s softball game – one of my rare appearances out of the house and wearing something besides my pajamas at the time, to a girl sniffling and wiping her eyes out on the patio. “Matt, you are the funniest, smartest, best-looking son of a gun I ever met. But I don’t think I’m in love with you anymore.”
Okay, maybe I embellished a little bit on that quote.
It was sudden, out of the blue, and stung. The great Matt Stone, savior of the universe, king of the impossible… dumped? This couldn’t be.
I was completely heartbroken and devastated that this mediocre relationship had comed to a halt, and I did what any human does in a situation like this – I immediately transformed this uninspiring, nearly-sexless, stale, oppressive, competitive, and at times nasty relationship into a tragic love story in my head. Oh my darling, my love, why hath thou forsaken me?
You know how it goes right? That person that you wake up to every morning who makes you feel like a piece of soggy bread, looks kind of good but not really, is fun to spend time with sort of, and, for all practical purposes, is basically the person you consult with when choosing a Netflix movie to watch and little else… As soon that person dumps you they are instantly Romeo, Juliet, Harold, Maude… Your relationship is something out of a fairy tale as well. Of course, the first love scene I think of is Mick walking on top of people’s heads to get to Sue in an NYC subway to get to each other. “Tell heem don leave. She’s not gon marry Richard!” (second being Catarina and Arturo of course… “Tell my mother I’ll call her! Aaah!”)
Yes, that’s right. When something is taken away from us unexpectedly, without us having a say in it, our minds have a tendency to distort reality – making things out to be a lot more positive and wonderful than they really were, in turn making your present life feel flooded with loss. And that brings us to what should be the first step that anyone takes when trying to deal with the stress, loss, hurt, and turmoil of a breakup…
1. Harness the power of negative thinking.
It’s too cliche to just “think positive.” Your mind will resist it anyway. It’s only easy to be positive when you are happy! Negative thinking is much easier in this situation. Sit down, with some paper and a pen ideally, and write ALL the things you didn’t like about the relationship in excruciating detail. It shouldn’t be hard. The day or maybe even the hour before you received the crushing news that you were being dumped you were probably thinking about it. It was the breakup that caused amnesia. Just go back and remember all the things that you secretly and not-so-secretly bitched about. When I went through this exercise I kept going and going with negatives for hours - all the way down to things as specific as hating the bed we slept on, until I was laughing about my initial “I just… can’t… go… on” reaction to the breakup.
It won’t take long before you stop romanticizing your relationship and the person you had it with, and you start feeling a sense of RELIEF come over you. You daydreamed about the many things you could be doing with your life if it wasn’t for your relationship for years. You’ve just been released from prison! It’s your big second chance to reinvent yourself, and your life, in alignment with what you really want to be and do. It’s great. It’s like finding out a low-carb diet wasn’t the answer to all your health problems and that you can, in fact, go ahead and have a toasted English muffin smothered with strawberry preserves for breakfast instead of your 927th consecutive egg breakfast. After all, diet are like girlfriends.
Once you’ve stopped having delusional thoughts about how perfect your relationship was, it’s time to start thinking about new possibilities and realities for your life that you haven’t visited in a long while. You could move to a new place (I moved right by the beach). You could work on a new career. You could spend time with your friends and family. You could travel. Regardless of the situation, how much money you do or don’t have and so forth, new beginnings are new beginnings. They are exciting. Plus, the best aspect of it all is that you can touch whomever’s pee-pee that you like. It doesn’t take seeing too many hot assess to start seeing the opportunity that your failed relationship has left “behind.” I scored me one of those girls Rick James sings about only 4-5 months after the breakup.
3. Fantasize about OPPP
Yep, there’s no better coping mechanism for a breakup than intently thinking about other people’s private parts. Hey, since we are humans and our minds distort reality so well, why not have delusional romantic fantasies about someone else to replace the delusional romantic fantasies you are having about the departed?
Anyway, I could go on entertaining down that avenue for quite some time. There are two main points to this post, and they are no joke…
The first is that our minds and emotions are pretty silly, and I think most people take them far too seriously. Our minds bounce around all over the damn place from one irrational state to another – sometimes overly positive, hopeful, and excited about life, at other times irrationally negative, fearful, angry, and sad. That’s part of being human and is TOTALLY OKAY. But we don’t have to be so freakin’ reactionary to our temporary, fleeting emotional states. I mean seriously, how many times have you felt life as you know it could not go on but were laughing a half hour later? The bottom line is that our minds play tricks on us in a sense, with our emotions hopping around trying to keep up. When you have strong emotions about something, try to think some neutralizing thoughts for crying out loud (pun, yes!) instead of contuining to create a 50-car pileup of all the horrible things in life at once. Being back in a balanced, serene, peaceful, and neutral state is usually only a few perspective-altering thoughts away.
The second reason I wrote this post is that stresses like breakups, divorce, lost loved ones, and countless other NORMAL human experiences can undermine our health like nothing else can (assuming you’re eating enough of course). If you truly let yourself believe that a breakup was a horrible thing, and keep believing that your life was great and then was savagely torn away from you, you will forever live with low-grade stress weighing your whole body and mind down in a very real and significant physiological way. Cry, wail, moan, groan, scream, and stomp for a while sure. That actually helps to dissipate stressful emotions. But don’t continue on for months and years tricking yourself into thinking that this breakup was a catastrophic event in your life with no upside. A breakup is an opportunity. It takes away a few things we liked, sure, but it brings us new things and experiences and people and later feels like no big whoop.
Hopefully this post will speed you along towards reaching the ‘no big whoop’ phase. For health/happiness.