‘Could happen to anyone,’ said Holly Golightly* in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. ‘Quite frequently does.’ And this time, dear readers, it happened to me. I spent quite a long time (11 weeks and two days but who’s counting?) deliberating whether or not I should put my thoughts on ‘The Not-So-Great Break Up Of 2012’ to paper, or blog as the case may be (is it too soon, is it too painful, is it therapeutic, is it disrespectful, is it too personal, does anyone actually give a toss?) and in the end, here I am. Miss W Ibiza, newly single for the first time in a long time and all of a sudden feeling a just little too close for comfort to being the ‘Carrie Bradshaw of Ibiza’ that so many people like to compare me to. Ouch.
But in the interest of keeping my blog interesting, I’ve decided to wear my heart on my sleeve from now on. So without any further ado, let me let you in on the 33 things I learned from my break up in Ibiza. And please let them be a lesson to you. Break ups suck. Avoid them like the plague unless absolutely necessary.
1. Breaking up in Ibiza is like breaking up in a small village. Everyone knows you, everyone knows him and everyone has an opinion. The island seems to shrink to the size of Es Vedra and you’re (dreading) bound to run into each other sooner rather than later, especially when you share the same social circle and musical taste… damn you Richie Hawtin! Thankfully our local clubs are just a wee bit bigger than those in small villages…
2. Praise the fashion gods, I can wear as many leopard print clothes and as much sticky lipgloss as I want! And yes, dear ex-BF, you may interpret this to also mean you can wear that leather shirt to your heart’s content.
3. Whoever coined the term heartache had it all wrong. It’s more like a constant brainache from overusing/overthinking/overanalysing everything that could have/should have/would have happened. Although to be fair, you also regularly wake up in the middle of the night feeling like someone has stabbed you through the chest with a rusty blunt knife, twisted it sideways and then pulled it out again. Regardless of whether it’s a heart or brain ache, neither can be cured with a Nurofen + (or three – I should know, I tried). Boring cliché alert: apparently time heals these kinds of wounds. I’m still waiting.
4. Do not operate any machinery (heavy or otherwise) after a break up. Within the first seven days following my break up, I broke a phone, my laptop died and I had a car accident. I hardly think this is a coincidence… and shelling out 1000€ on a new computer that I’d saved to spend on a (now non-existent) romantic holiday getaway hurt even more than the bumps and bruises from the crash!
5. The more you focus on avoiding someone, the more energy you actually focus towards them. It’s exhausting, I tell you, with your own personal entourage and paparazzi (aka Facebook friends) reporting on where your ex is currently eating/drinking/thinking/sleeping all the time – I imagine it’s what it must feel like to be in a celebrity break up and waking up and reading the gossip magazines in the morning. On a smaller scale of course!
6. Talking to yourself is totally acceptable. Anywhere, anytime. Move along folks, nothing to see (or hear) here…
7. Falling out of love is a grossly misunderstood concept – it’s more like crashing to earth from a space dive without a parachute. I realise now, having finally been through said trauma that perhaps in the past I never really, truly understood the genuine pain of a break up and may not have been suitably sympathetic to any friends going through the experience. Please let me take this opportunity to apologise if so, and let me assure you, Karma has gotten me back on your behalf because I have suffered!
9. Break ups make other people uncomfortable. They don’t know what to say or do around you, and some even avoid you. I will admit I was prone to bouts of random crying and temper tantrums so I can’t say I blame them. This period passes and your friendships resume normal service after about roughly six weeks.
10. Watching Sex and the City on repeat does nothing to restore your faith in the opposite sex. Just saying. This applies for both girls and guys.
11. The future never existed. We all know you can’t change the past but once you’ve broken up, it’s almost impossible to stop thinking about what could have been. For example, since my break up I have imagined my (sigh: our) wedding (Marchesa dress, YSL shoes, vintage diamond), thought of children’s names for the fictional little ones (Edie, Alice and Jack) and decorated our imaginary holiday apartment in Paris in my mind (vintage Chanel chic). Bad idea. Bad, bad, bad! 27 different kinds of bad!
12. I don’t like hugs. I don’t like sympathy. Or kind words. But sometimes, despite all your protests, well-meaning friends should just force these things on you (thank you… you know who you are).
13. Speaking of those well-meaning friends, don’t let them pressure you to socialise if you don’t feel up to it. It just ends in tears. Yours. In public. And that’s just not attractive. Hibernation is good and (another cliché alert) spending time on your own is all part of the dull, boring, healing process.
14. Your ex CANNOT read your mind. Sometimes this is a good thing (when you are imagining inflicting excruciating pain upon them) and other times perhaps not so good (when you want to tell them you miss them and feel like patching things up).
15. Your ex CAN read your Facebook updates (well, until he, ahem, unfriends you or you block him of course), as can the rest of your mutual friends, so keep them short, sweet and impersonal for the first few months. There’s nothing worse than seeing a newly broken up couple engaging in social media warfare where both parties are trying to prove they have a more fabulous and fun-filled life than the other. Trust me. Been there, done that.
16. It’s good to spend time with people who didn’t know you as a couple. Refreshing in fact. You can spend entire evenings without mentioning your ex-other-half’s name, without comparing situations to your newly defunct coupled life and having to get into deep and meaningful conversations over the dinner table – in fact, you can even pretend that they didn’t ever exist. But be aware, later on you’ll get home and feel totally guilty for this and probably break down and cry.
17. [PAY ATTENTION HERE FOLKS] Someone, somewhere is going through something much worse than you. So keep it real.
18. You finally understand the appeal of that overplayed Gotye song.
19. Make yourself a bubble. A place where you feel totally cocooned, happy, protected, safe. Mine involved a lot of precision colour coordinating my wardrobe, eating all meals in bed and watching Disney movies while slightly drunk. No judgement. It was ace.
20. Speaking of bubbles, a little trick I have invented every time I get the urge to call my ex-BF is to imagine a giant speech bubble above his head, filled with quotes (sometimes his, sometimes mine) that I can’t write here. But feel free to insert your own. It works!
21. The first time you have to correct yourself and say ‘my ex-boyfriend’ rather than ‘my boyfriend’ feels like a slap in the face.
22. The first time you hear news of them with someone else feels like taking a bullet. There’s no emotional Kevlar to prepare or protect you from that.
23. Men and women – and I say this based on a lot of research, discussion and experience – recover from break ups at totally different speeds. While you’re still at home Googling ‘5 stages of grief’ and working out whether you’ve made the transition from denial to anger, there’s a fairly solid chance he’s transitioned to level 47 on his latest Xbox game while simultaneously dating someone new. That unwritten three-month ‘we-might-still-work-it-out grace period’ us girls have in our heads? Yep, it’s totally in our heads. Deal with it.
24. Reading your star signs – and his – to seek some kind of answers is just plain stupid. Excuse me for a minute while I go and ask Jonathan Cainer why.
25. Nothing, absolutely nothing, makes you feel better than the unconditional love of your pets. Although the secret satisfaction of knowing there’s no allergic ex-BF to get mad about them rolling all over your pillows and bedsheets comes a pretty close second.
26. Break ups make you very, very selfish for a period of time. But that period has a used-by date that you need to be aware of. So use it as your get-out-of work/play/housework/responsibilities free card wisely, because one day (sooner than you think) it just doesn’t cut the mustard any more.
27. Learn from your favourite TV characters. My theory is, if it happened on TV, then it must have happened to someone, somewhere in real life (with the exception of True Blood of course – right?) and you can learn from your favourite movie or TV character’s experiences. Ross and Rachel, Buffy and Angel, Seth and Summer, Carrie and Big, Chuck and Blair, Romeo and Juliet… erm, that last suicidal duo aside, it’s totally satisfying to compare yourself to the big and small screen couples… and the best part is, they can never talk back to you!
28. You think you don’t want your friends to take sides. But you secretly do. Only if it’s yours of course.
29. Listening to your friends talk about meeting hot/cool/amazing new guys is akin to slitting your wrists. Even though you’re happy for them on the inside (I promise, really I am!), you’d just been imagining yourself as a super cool gang of girlfriends strutting through Ibiza town like the island version of Sex and the… whoa hold on a minute there! Not gonna happen. Go forth, meet hot guys. Please! Then introduce me to their friends.
30. You can’t change a person. And by that person, I mean me. I have spent a lot of time thinking, wondering, soul searching, basically dementing myself to see if I could have been pushier, the jealous type, a bossy boots, more demanding, less laidback, more emotional… blah blah blah, to have avoided the break up situation. But I couldn’t have… though I’m sure I can learn from some mistakes.
31. Music is the answer. In the beginning, all you hear are the hauntingly beautiful minor keys in your favourite songs, and are reminded of certain places, memories and times by certain songs. It seems unbearable, like you’ll never be able to listen to music again. But then one day, when you least expect it, you find yourself tapping your feet and nodding your head at your desk (thank YOU Dan Ghenacia!) and all of a sudden… there’s a light at the end of the musical tunnel!
32. There’s no such thing as a break up diet. The one thing that gave me hope (well, shallow, materialistic hope but hey, at least I had something to cling onto) was the idea that I may shrivel away to a size 0 due to my extreme broken heart completely taking away my appetite, making me supermodel-esque when ready to emerge from my period of mourning. The reality however, was that while the metaphoric empty feeling in your stomach comes and goes, sadly, the literal hunger needs sating. Enter carbonara, red wine and chocolate. You see the ironic cycle?
33. [NOTE TO SELF] Writing is really therapeutic. But being bitter is ugly. So always re-read anything you write – especially if in a text message at 3am and after three bottles of white wine (umm, sorry about that time ex-BF), even if you do have to squint your eyes. And on that note, I’m off to meet my book publisher!
*OK, so dear Audrey wasn’t talking about break ups when she uttered that famous line, she was talking about being woken up by her mistakenly rung doorbell but you have to admit, on a scale of one to break up, it’s almost as bad!