An Existentialist's Survival Guide to Recovering From Heartbreak: 6 Wonderful Ideas to Help You After a Break-Up

An Existentialist’s Survival Guide to Recovering from Heartbreak: 6 Wonderful Ideas to Help You After a Break-Up

If you have an ounce of human in you—and, believe me, some of us do—you’ll probably experience some form of heartbreak at some point in your life. Ever since I was a teenager madly in love with the girl next door, I have been prone to experiencing all forms of emotional distress. Over the years—and they are nearing three decades—I have discovered ways of dealing with all things heartbreak-related. (If I ever die from heart disease, it’ll almost certainly be Takotsubo’s cardiomyopathy.) So the following suggestions are based on my life experience. I present them to the reader with the hope that you, too, may survive to witness another romance, as I have. (The incurable romantic in me hopes for more such romances to come—hell, at least let me write another poem!)

1. Try “The Mikheyev Potion” for Restless Nights: Alcohol, Tylenol, and Benadryl

After I get “the news” (whichever form it may come in; often times, the worst is “cold shoulder,” which I have dubbed “ignoring bliss” in my more younger and vulnerable years), I usually end up sleeping poorly. In fact, to quote a Hawk Nelson song, I “sleep all day, gonna stay up all night.” To be completely honest: I never considered medicating myself in my more vulnerable years. I guess I thought that I could deal with anything and everything. But as I grew older—and as the world became a more distant place—I realized something profound: alcohol has all kinds of wonderful uses. I remember a time, not too long ago, when I was working full-time and finishing my undergraduate degree at Whitworth University. I let some girl get the best of me without taking care of myself. At the time, I had to wake up around six in the morning to study Hebrew. In addition to this, the night before, I’d only come home from the hospital around eleven in the evening. Once the shower and meal were thrown in, I was going to sleep past midnight. And if you’re any good at math, then you would know that I was maybe getting five to six hours of sleep per night. But now I had “girl problems.” And this meant virtually no sleep. I couldn’t possibly function as a nurse at the hospital the following day without getting sleep. So sleep became a huge issue in my life. I purchased a SleepNumber M7 mattress (with all the fancy remote controls and such) with the hopes that this would solve my problem. It did, and it didn’t. It was an excellent bed, but I couldn’t sleep. So I went through all kinds of different sleeping medications with the hopes that they would solve my problem. Some worked all right; some didn’t. In the end, I developed what works pretty well for me. I call it “the Mikheyev potion.”

I essentially believe in the power of the “synergistic effect” (that is, I believe in what others have called “stacking”); I combine multiple medications in relatively “low doses.” While every individual is different—and this will certainly not work for everybody—I combine alcohol (half a bottle of wine, preferably chardonnay), a thousand (1000) milligrams of Tylenol, and fifty (50) milligrams of Benadryl.

Prior to the recent scientific studies that only came out this year, I recognized that, in addition to pain relief, Tylenol actually dulled emotions. And boy did I need that.

I also drink a bottle of Gatorade prior to going to bed—as the Benadryl and alcohol will make you relatively thirsty halfway through your good night’s rest. And so, cheers to good sleep!

2. Rewrite Your “Narrative”

I recommend rewriting your life’s narrative. If you are anything like me, then you probably spend a lot of time daydreaming and writing a narrative for your life. When in love, you probably include the other person, attempting to see if your life together would look wonderful. Once the Other is out of the picture—as a break-up would imply—you must begin rewriting your narrative. I suggest rewriting the narrative as soon as possible. Don’t wait.

3. Probably Forego the “Rebound” and, Instead, Talk to Friends

This point is certainly commonsensical. Some prefer hitting up a “rebound” practically immediately (which works for you, the sufferer, but is also an unethical move; to invoke Kantian ethics, you are using the person, i.e., the rebound, mostly as a means to an end without treating them as a subject of their own reality [as you are mostly treating them as an object, which is not a good thing]). Instead of rebounds, I prefer the more ethical alternative: talk about your break-up with your friends, be they male or female. I also suggest being as honest as possible about both yours and the Other’s failures (that is, don’t entirely demonize the other person) when discussing the relationship.

4. Okay, Demonize A Little

Disregard the previous point somewhat: it’s okay to demonize the other person, if only a little bit. (I am invoking Kierkegaard’s “teleological suspension of the ethical” here.) While it is not entirely ethical to badmouth anyone, if you are on the verge of committing suicide, I recommend demonizing (if that’s what it’s going to take for you to make it out alive). I don’t recommend this in the long run, but I do okay it for short-term purposes. Talk shit about the Other for a week or two—and then move the fuck on. (However, I would also like to point out that if you choose this route, please be conscientious of the fact that the Other is merely human—they are not perfect.)

5. Create a Break-Up Soundtrack

People who don’t like music are usually soulless. If you are experiencing heartbreak, I assume you have a soul—and that’s why you need music. I prefer doing something entirely erratic when it comes to my choice of music: I listen to everything. I usually tend to oscillate between very dark music and very upbeat music. Here’s a sample of my recent playlist:

  1. “Shattered” by O.A.R.
  2. “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” by Mike Posner
  3. “Nuvole Bianche” by Ludovico Einaudi
  4. “Wildest Dreams” by Taylor Swift
  5. “Gravity Lies” by Red
  6. “It’s Your Move” by Josh Kelley
  7. “It Is What It Is” by Lifehouse
  8. “Jenny” by Nothing More
  9. “I Will Not Bow” by Breaking Benjamin
  10. “Gravity” by Papa Roach
  11. “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World
  12. “Paperthin Hymn” by Anberlin

Often times, I find walking in nature and listening to music to be a relatively soothing experience. In fact, I recommend getting away from people—at some point—and simply walking. You’d be surprised how many problems one can literally walk from.

6. Distract Yourself: Go Out and Read a Boring Book

Distraction has always served its purposes. I prefer to either watch a movie—preferably in a theater—or read a book. I don’t mind watching horrors after a break-up; they usually function as excellent distractors. In addition, excellent reading material may be something very easy, like The Little Prince, or something intellectually stimulating, like Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. As a general rule of thumb, anything by Søren Kierkegaard is usually good when feeling depressed—he is so depressed, he makes your life look amazing.

Concluding Remarks

This guide was written from an existentialist’s point of view. What that means is the following: as an existentialist, I know how hard it is for us not to remain hopeful and optimistic. You’re probably yelling “What?” Yes, I did just say “hopeful” and “optimistic.” This is actually deduced from the idea that human beings are, as Kierkegaard reminds us, “a becoming.” Since we all are always changing, it makes us—who are cognizant of this fact—remain very hopeful. When a girl turns me down, I’m often times reluctant to call it quits. After all, she’s just “a becoming”—that is, she’ll come around. One of these days she’ll figure out what she’s missing out on, right? Being aware of this fluidity to life makes us, inherently, resilient. It also makes us prone to delusions of change. The other person is not required to change. They probably will change their mind at some point, but it may not be “soon” or even “ever.” (I once had a girl apologize for how she treated me in her teenage years after she had gotten married, had a child, and had grown the fuck up. The apology came almost a decade too late. But it did come. And it no longer mattered.) The point I am trying to make is this: it’s okay for us to sit back and watch others make foolish decisions. We all do that. We all make mistakes. And, hell, it sucks when you love someone and they fuck up. I know it does. But maybe that’s life? Maybe we’re all here just to be good people, try to make things work with others, and try to be as forgiving as possible when things don’t go our way.

Written by: Moses Y. Mikheyev

bored

This Was Written to Prevent You From Being Bored: 7 Reasons Why Your Life is Interesting; Or, An Ode To Women

Søren Kierkegaard once wrote, “People with experience maintain that proceeding from a basic principle is supposed to be very reasonable; I yield to them and proceed from the basic principle that all people are boring. Or is there anyone who would be boring enough to contradict me in this regard?”[1] I accept Kierkegaard’s challenge, and so take the contrary position: I will be arguing against Kierkegaard’s categorically universal claim “all people.” In my humble opinion, “most people are bores.” I reserve the right to call myself—and a few limited individuals—quite interesting people. I, perhaps, may be a bit pretentious when I say that I am certainly a degree removed from “the bores.” And is there anything wrong with my saying so? As ostentatious as my remarks sound, I, in the most un-humble of manners, beg to differ.

Even on the most boring of days—one which most “bores” would find hugely entertaining—I never cease to surprise myself. Maybe I am closest to boredom when boring people surround me; it is only then that I begin truly contemplating the following thoughts. I think of publishing writings titled something akin to: “On the Ethics of Boredom; Or, How to Be Bored Ethically.” Perhaps something like “The Philosophy of Excitement: How To Wet Your Pants Even While Bored” would serve as delicious entertainment on the most boring of days for a fellow human being struggling to make ends meet. After all, even that bore, Blaise Pascal, managed to dissertate on boredom. “Human beings are so unhappy that they would be bored even if they had no reason for boredom, simply because of their nature. They are so vain that with thousands of legitimate reasons for boredom the slightest thing like tapping a billiard ball with a cue is enough to distract them.”[2]

Take today, for example. Hell, one could even begin with this week. And, while we are at it, let’s just describe the past two weeks. I’ve met swarms of bores. Allow me to indulge myself—and, perhaps, your voyeuristic tendencies would allow you to double-dip in my indulgences. I was smack dab in the middle of Seattle, and all sorts of boring people surrounded me. Some were bored independently—they sat there twitching on their own, possibly undergoing a seizure, while intently gazing at the wonderful artwork being projected from iPhone to eye; others were bored en masse—they twitched together, pulsating to the hypnotic bleedings of TV screens in synch with one another. Some were bored in the most idealistic of manners: they sat absolutely still and drank their (probably) alcoholic beverage. (Well, maybe I’m wrong here: “beverage” should certainly be plural.) Some were so bored they were out chasing Pokémon. And who could blame them? I would be chasing Pokémon too had people chasing Pokémon not surrounded me. So, naturally, I sat back and watched “the Games.” But don’t get too excited: I was bored almost instantly, so I began writing about them. (What else does one do when one is—like everyone else—participating in the act of boredom?)

And amidst the hustle and bustle of boring beings, I eyed a few interesting creatures: women. (This prompted me to forget all about them.) When women are beautiful, a good antidote to male boredom they can be. On my most boring of days—an event that does not occur that often—I go to a coffee shop to write and people watch. But I single-handedly and categorically ignore males. They are too boring to observe for aesthetic purposes.

Women secretly despise me because they know that I know that they are all bores. I go on dates sometimes with this one girl. She’s got two un-boring traits about her: she can hold a discussion with me about virtually anything, and she has beautiful, beautiful blue eyes. If she didn’t have eyes, I’d find her utterly boring. Sometimes I catch myself going on dates with her just to look into her eyes. I’m sure she doesn’t even know it because I’m very tenuous like that. And if she does know, who cares? She probably likes looking into my eyes too. Or maybe she just likes being looked at? I don’t know. I never claimed to specialize in the psychology of women…

Allow me to pontificate still more. I find all women to be utterly boring. I mean, on a scale of 1-10—actually, I prefer not to go there. But on a serious note, men are the least boring conversationalists. My favorite discussions have taken place in the presence of other males. I probably should have been born Ludwig Wittgenstein. And gay. Very gay. But here I am, a very straight male bored with females. Let’s sample a few of the most intellectually satisfying discussions I have ever had. I won’t mention any names, but if I did, they’d all be masculine.

But men are bores too. They talk abstract nonsense all day long. They pretend to know what the hell “the ethics of care” are even when they don’t. They even attempt to write novels that exploit and elaborate upon female psychology. Please! Leo Tolstoy was a man. And Anna Karenina—I hate to break it to you—was a character created by a dude. Enjoy it all you want, fellows, but the girl you’re all drooling over is really “a dude.” And maybe we’re all secretly homosexual anyway…

I like beautiful women for several reasons. In fact, if I must confess, I’d say women are the most beautiful when they are most like themselves. I’ve met some charming debutantes in my life, and all of them have inspired me; that is, they have distracted me from my own self-inflicted boredom.

How many men have inspired me? Nada. Women? All of them. I find women to be singularly beautiful. This means that women are, naturally, the very epitome of beauty. We probably cannot talk about beauty as a Platonic ideal without resorting to a foundational principle, and that very principle is reduced to the female body.

I like beautiful women for several reasons. (Did I already say that?)

First, beautiful women remind us bored males that Platonic ideals probably exist—that is, beautiful women are the very embodiment of Forms (with a capital “f”); they serve as Platonism incarnate, reminding us, males, that philosophy is real. Very real.

Second, beautiful women are distracting. Has anyone read Song of Solomon? Allow me to plagiarize my own work. In the Song of Solomon verse 1:9 reads: “To a mare among the chariots of Pharaoh have I likened you, my darling!” Most people probably read that and react with a “What the hell is he talking about?!” And that’s a very fair reaction. However, the Hebrew poet actually recognized a singular and universal truth; it is to that truth that I now turn my attention. Robert Alter writes regarding this passage:

“Pharaoh’s chariots were drawn by stallions, but the military stratagem alluded to has been clearly understood by commentators as far back as the classical Midrashim: a mare in heat, let loose among chariotry, could transform well-drawn battle lines into a chaos of wildly plunging stallions…The lover speaks out of a keen awareness of the power of figurative language to break open closed frames of reference and make us see things with a shock of new recognition… [T]he sexual attraction she exerts also has an almost violent power to drive males to distraction, as the equine military image powerfully suggests.”[3]

Maybe not all women would enjoy being likened to a mare in heat, but I could think of several Kim Kardashian wannabes. And, personally, I find the Hebraic poetry here quite romantic. But maybe I’m being too much of a male.The truth? Women are distraction par excellence.

Third, beautiful women are always—first and foremost—women. While the adjective may try to annihilate the noun’s place of chief prominence, it serves mostly as a sort of subordinate clause in the phrase “beautiful women”—for even I know that it is “women” here that functions as the main point of departure. Women are, naturally, more beautiful when they are least like men. Because men are brute beasts—and nobody wants to be a man anyhow. The word “women” carries with it a sort of mysterious aura. In the word we meet all the women we have ever encountered. The word reminds us of all the wonderful ladies we have ever met. In particular, the singular “woman” carries the weight of the more universal, plural “women.” It is in her that we meet all of them. (God, how I wish English had a third person feminine plural pronoun—something akin to the Hebrew הֵן!) In the singular woman, we encounter all of the “shes,” all of the “hers,” all of the heartbreaks, romances, and feminine universals we have observed throughout life. So whenever I think of her—or of women in general—I always find the word to be a vast ocean of verbs, adjectives, participles, and conjunctions that I cannot but feel helpless in.

And, finally—if there is such a thing as “finality,” which I emphatically reject—I have one last observation to remark upon. (It’s not my “last,” but let’s pretend it is.) Women are so much better than men. For one, they are genetically predestined to play mind-games. (And that, in and of itself, is a wonderful and delightful distraction from my mind-numbing boredom.) Males, such as myself, read novels and so train ourselves to be weird and strange—“eccentric,” in this case, perhaps. But these traits I have developed, not inherited. Second, women are extremely loyal creatures once you endow them with all things beautiful—be it words of affection or something of a romantic nature. Strange how words have such ethical repercussions!

And there you have it: I have refrained from being bored. I am least bored when I am alone, being surrounded by beautiful women.

And, honestly—allow us, that is, you and I, to have a moment of truth—how many of you read my writing out of sheer boredom? That, right there, is the irony.

(But it is I who had the aesthetic element pleasurably bestowed upon me, not you.)

As for the “7 Reasons Why Your Life is Interesting” part, I have one word: oh please. (It’s actually two words, but who’s counting, right?)

Give me a break, your life is boring. Go out there and be bored en masse with “the bores.”

 

Written by: Moses Y. Mikheyev

When I’m not bored, I can be found writing my thesis in the philosophy of language and religion at Emory University. 

 

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or, Part I, trans. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), 285.

[2] Blaise Pascal, Pensées and Other Writings, trans. Honor Levi (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 47.

[3] Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Poetry (New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1985), 193.

abyss

A Religious Abyss: A Poem

Love’s pain a virtue

That you don’t want to miss

Her eyes a culture

A religious abyss

 

There’s a light in this town

Where she only glows

The keys are locked out

And her secrets not known

 

I’m always wandering

So near and so far

She’s deaf to pondering

How close is my heart?

 

I walk in shadows

Where the light is my grave

She says she can’t go

Where the night is my day

 

My eerie romance

Leaves nothing to bare

Bones all exposed

Silhouettes running scared

 

This town is haunted

With fragments of her

My mind is wandering

My heart is allured

 

My mouth it waters

At the sight of her dress

Her sex skin hollers

Marry the “con” to the “fess”

 

Her eyes are pearls

That fell from the sky

Comets unfurl

Where wool meets the dye

 

Touch, taste and lipstick

She wears on her cheek

I am a misfit

Could I sneak your peek?

 

I’ll talk my way in

Right through closed doors

Your makeup wears sin

Like Juliet and Romeo

 

My words make her novels

Where she is the saint

I am the sinner

From birth to the grave

 

Let’s shelter our passions!

Let’s make them our home!

Drown math by fractions

Where partial is whole

 

Hang on, dear innocence!

We’ve got nothing to lose

My eyes are no hypocrites

No way in hell she’s a ruse

 

Slow down the night

Before we get started

Her backed-up smiles

Souls of the departed

 

I hope to taste her

To spill a wet kiss

Those eyes a culture

A religious abyss…

 

Written by: Moses Y. Mikheyev

Dedicated to: a muse, a yet-to-be-determined—a non-existent entity, inspiring the pseudo-romantic poems of a flailing poet on the verge of The Verge Itself, writing with the last drops of dropping blood, which flows from the veins of a Spanish Armada, that had sunken—deep, deep, deep—within the bowls of a boisterous ocean…For what else does one write? On behalf of whom does one breathe? One cannot breathe underwater anyhow. Perhaps one only writes when one has already died a deep, deep, deep death.