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

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

  1. Great piece. I hope you get extra readers on this popular subject. What if I enjoy the emotion a heartbreak gives me and I’m kinda proud that a (friendship) break up gave me quite a restless night three years later? I wasn’t so busy as you were, so the thought of it entertained me, I knew I was experiencing something human. Is it ok if I demonize myself?

  2. I think that if by “demonization of self” you mean something along the lines of “I’m not good enough” then I’d say “no” (at least not during the initial period after the break-up). However if you mean something along the lines of “recognizing I’m a flawed human too,” then that seems fine to me. But again, do this maybe a few weeks after the break-up; you don’t need to add anti-depressants on top of all the other issues and things you are going through. I think there’s a time and place for self-criticism and reflection; immediately post-break-up is not that time, in my opinion.

Choose to create a comment on this existential blog...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s