Last night, one single Watermelon Margarita and Pornstar Martini in, a friend and I decided that when it comes to relationships, the term “palette cleanser” doesn’t come close to the level of reset needed come the end of a truly bad partnership. Two months, two years – when you’ve been dealing with someone for whom it turns out the word shitstain is a nicety, you need something a little more intense than a fruit tray and a sprig of mint to get you to the next round. And a cleanse isn’t gonna do it either.
Fuck that lemon juice and cayenne pepper – what you you really need, we decided, is emotional Listerine. And because the idea of leaving the emotional recovery process to a rebound is somewhere precariously close to high-risk and deeply nauseating, I’ve been thinking about what perfect combination of controllables would constitute the best emotional Listerine.
Here are my findings:
One: A Word Document / Notebook
This is for the whinging. The rage you’d generally spew at your best friends, the cry-happy moments that come back to you and haunt you and make you wax lyrical when poetry has never been and will never be your strong suit.
It’s just for you. Nobody ever needs to see this guy. You may write in it and never read it again, you might reread it start to finish every time you go to add ten new lines (it me). But I’m a firm believer that the process of mentally getting someone out of your system can manifest in a real, physical way. Pen to paper – fingers to keys – get on it. We can’t all be Stevie Nicks and get a Silver Springs out of our breakups, but a .doc file full of emotional nonsense? That dream we can achieve.
Two: A Real Good Walk
This might take you a while, because not everyone has the best walks at their disposal, and sometimes leaving the room feels impossible two (or ten) days into this process. But my god, THE THINGS A WALK CAN DO FOR YOU. Through your neighborhood, through the neighborhood six blocks over, through a park, through the fucking mall. I’m serious. Get your body moving. Remind your body of the little miracles it – and YOU – are capable of. This will go absolute miles in getting you to the next brain-phase. Walks take you places, man.
You can use the Real Good Walk to call your friends, call your mom, and talk through how you’re managing. Everybody walks their own way. But since you’re reading my advice list, I’m going to go ahead and recommend you leave yourself alone with your thoughts. See what’s around you. And if you must needs have something to occupy your ears and mind, bring along Number Three.
Three: THAT Playlist
Oh, you know the playlist I’m talking about. Or maybe you don’t, in which case, let me educate you.
This is not the playlist that’s going to make you cry. This is the one that’s going to make you run the FULL EMOTIONAL SPECTRUM. Do yourself (and me) a favor and put some really silly shit on this playlist. Put some really happy, ridiculous, you-MUST-tap-your-toes songs. The tunes that when you close your eyes transport you to that summer you spent on the lake or laying out in the grass in your best friend’s backyard. Then put some sad shit on this playlist. The crescendos that make your spine tingle. The lyrics that pull your heart strings like hot rubber bands stretching from deep deep love to full-moon-I-kind-of-want-to-cry-myself-to-sleep.
This playlist will do for your soul what that walk you just went on did for your body. Because when you feel absolutely exhausted by what life (and specific humans) have put you through emotionally, music reminds you of exactly what extreme and beautiful notes you’re capable of feeling, and that however intense those low notes are, in the end they are as ephemeral as a two-minute, forty-six second Top 40 Pop Song. You listen to THAT playlist long enough, pretty soon you’ll be perfectly poised for Number Four.
Four: THE Project
The first thing to accept about the Project is that you might NEVER start, do, or finish it. The aim of The Project isn’t to actually to do any of the things. It’s to remind you of the good, old, pure fact, that if you wanted to, though, YOU COULD.
My mental picture of The Project will forever be Gwyneth Paltrow starting her own boutique PR firm in Sliding Doors after she breaks up with her Fuckface Boyfriend Jerry, so I always associate it with painting big, blank white walls Tiffany blue and buying a new personal planner. And really, that’s the perfect mental image, because it comes with a very visceral metaphor (you PAINT THOSE WALLS with a fresh coat of emotional paint) and new stationery. That’s how the best projects always start, right?
The Project doesn’t have to be as major or physical as starting your own PR firm. What’s most important to remember when picking and planning it, is for it to be yours. Do not let a single person in your life – not even your absolute best friend gives you advice on EVERYTHING friend – tell you what this project should be. It is 100% just for you and your emotinal well-being. The project should be the answer to the question “What would I do if nothing else claimed my attention? My time? My energy? My money?” It could be as simple as working out (SIMPLE, she says, not remembering the last time she worked out), reading a book a month, or planning that twenty-country trip you’ve wanted to go on since the first time you saw a globe.
Don’t limit yourself. You might find that you’re capabe of more than you ever even realized.
And that’s it, guys. I reduced all of my findings to those four things, and I stand behind it. The good news is that it will burn a helluva lot less than actual Listerine, and the better news is that nobody’s here to judge your results like some #beforeandafter hashtag. It’s just you, and I am a VERY firm believer in YOU.