How to help your pal get over a broken heart

Ah good old heart break. Friend to absolutely no one. In fact if heart break were a friend it would be the type of ‘friend’ who turns up to your party uninvited four hours late and then complains that there is no food left and drinks your most expensive bottle of wine.

And does a shit on the living room floor.

Everyone has or will experience heartbreak in some shape of form as we get older and not that wiser. It’s inevitable, annoying and sadly no matter how much you think you’ll look like a waif-like French lady in a black and white film with mascara running attractively down your face you never do.

Seriously never.

I personally looked like a mad beetroot with eyes I had stolen from a pig and hair that had not caught a glimpse of a shower for far too long. Mmm sexy.

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You see, a couple of summers back I had my heart broken by a boy for the very first time.

Ahh ain’t those milestones just grand! NOT.

I spent the next few weeks (LOL HAHA MONTHS/YEAR) trying to get over it with a little help from my friends. They were amazing. I was a gibbering booze soaked mess who did a lot of random outbursts of sobbing in embarrassingly public places. Nowhere was safe. Not even the pub.

Yeah. Imagine.

Luckily my friends are amazing. Here’s a guide on how to help your friend emerge semi normal after they find themselves heartbroken.

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I wouldn’t recommend this

Don’t drown us in booze

The day I got dumped I turned up to meet my pal B in a wine bar near our little shoebox flat in Hackney. She hugged me, let me dissect the ins and outs of his breakup phonecall (YEAH PHONECALL I picked such a winner didn’t I) and bought me two glasses of wine in rapid succession.

As I coherently stated why I believed my now ex’s behaviour to be unacceptable…

‘eee’s a bastard…an he’ll neer not be a bustardd…les have some more wine…was blur nice…’

…she said ‘No. No more wine. I’ll bet you ten pounds you haven’t eaten anything today. Plus, if you’re sad now, tomorrow will be worse and you do not need a hangover on top of that.”

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That is a friend ladies and gentleman. Let me tell you I am not an easy lady to refuse wine to.

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And she was right. The next day sucked ten million times more than the actual DOD (day of dumping) and I was in no way stoic about it*

*woke up crying, went to work crying, cried on phone to poor pal at lunch, cried on tube home, cried self to sleep. Lovely not ALL dramatic.

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Learn from my mistake when I decided to cure NSF’s heartache by taking her out for not one, not two, not three but four bottles of wine between two of us.* I thought this would make her feel better and it did momentarily until he texted her on the tube home and instead of being able to deal with it like a normal sober human she cried all the tears possible until the Victoria line flooded to the brim. Why? Because her stupid friend had got her paralytic on piss wine that’s why.

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*ok FINE it was five. So shoot me. You could have literally sparked a Christmas pudding a light with a mere whiff of my breath the next day.

My punishment came the next day when, working together at the time, she called in sick and I dragged myself into work instead looking and smelly exactly like a badger that’s been caught in a trap for a very long time. My hair defied description.

Booze can be a cruel mistress even at the best of times. Come on, I have surely told you about the time I was so drunk on a date that I challenged my date to a running race and then sprinted off before falling head first into some rubbish sacks half way up the road (damn cobbles!) whilst he just stood and watched me?

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Well if I haven’t have that one for free. Full story coming later.

So if you take the ability of pink wine to make you mad bad and slutty and then combine that with the kind of emotion that makes you a complete loose cannon equally ready to murder, shag or sob at the mere change in the breeze you’ve got a pretty lethal combination.

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I’d actually like to personally apologise right now to any boy who had the misfortune of dating me in the months that followed that breakup. For I was a lunatic and you all paid the price. I hope you all have wonderful girlfriends clad in beige cardigans who make you lasagne whilst you watch football.

Equally though….

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Come on was I really going to 100% negate booze? The ultimate cure all? The Jack to my sally?

You must also be there to provide much piss wine (in a safe controlled environment) and lols. Them’s the rules.

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I had one of the best Sundays of my born days lying in the garden with T and K, guzzling red wine that culminated in K doing a violent ceremonial dance interpretation of her murdering my ex while I laugh sobbed. Just to give you a small idea this dance consisted of K emerging from a pampas grass bush and then so violently uprooting a large branch of it that she fell backwards and broke a ceramic cat with her bottom.

It was surreal.

Be the voice of reason

Aka don’t let us being the humungous psycho that we inevitably will end up being.

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Anyone reading this thinking ‘I’ve never behaved like a psycho. Break ups are just an inevitable part of life and I prefer to move on with grace’ can kindly SOD OFF TO THEIR WELL ADJUSTED LIVES.

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I mean…well done you’ve won the emotionally stable lottery. Your prize is a house south of the river and some delightful bonny cheeked children called Rollo and Rufus or something like that.

To all my fellow psychos out there…HELLLLOOOOOO

Whether it’s a small psychotic act i.e. trawling through his photographs on facebook with such intense scrutiny that you could basically recite his holidays off year by year from 2001 to present day

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(Theeeeeeeeeere’s turkey and Barbados and Egypt and then skiing. In my head this to the tune of the periodic table song. If you don’t know it…. Yeah don’t watch it.)

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To something as weird as… I don’t know…maybe HAHAHA (high pitched borderline psycho laugh) sending him 53 texts in one evening and having to shut your phone in the cutlery drawer and waking up with such intense fear that you basically can’t move.

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If there is one thing you can do for your sad pal it’s this …. REMOVE THEIR PHONE. By force if you must.  They’ll thank you in the morning.

Tis the truth universally acknowledge that the more the drink doth flow the more you get texty fingers. And those texty fingers never want to say something nice and rational.

They want to say things like

I HATE YOU AND YOUR FUCKING WEIRD SHAPED HEAD. ITS SO WEIRD AND I HATE IT AND YOU.

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(hypothetically)

Or

Your new girlfriend looks like a vole…. Jus sayin…

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Or (the worst)

I miss you

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GAAAAHHHH WHYYYYYYYYYYY

Let me tell you…no one and I mean NO ONE ever said ‘gosh I wish I’d sent that horrendously awkward text when I was drunk. So yeah they may call you ‘the hitler of love’ (sorry A) but they’ll thank you in the morning.

Don’t say I told you so

Here’s the thing. I thought the guy who broke my heart was pretty much perfect. So sue me! I’d never been in love before and he was so goddamn pretty.

I’d never experienced being ‘swept off my feet’ so to speak and I didn’t know it was possible to literally be completely oblivious to what a complete douche lord the guy you are dating is.

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Seriously after I broke up (read unceremoniously dumped) with Hewhoshallnotbenamed my friend made me make a list of all the bad things he had done to look at every time I wanted to call him. It included but was not limited to the following:

  • He told me he didn’t think I brushed my teeth for long enough and when I asked him why he said he had timed me and thought it was insufficient. (guys we are literally just getting started)
  • Openly took the piss out of me to his friends and then told me about it
  • That time he took a butt load of pictures of some girl he was in a play with of her staring wistfully over bridges on a day when he told me he was working so couldn’t hang out.
  • Wore fake glasses and pretended they were real.
  • Contacted my work colleague on plenty of fish.

God that was horrible – reminiscing SUCKS.

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ANYWAY

My point here is, even if I couldn’t see those things, my friends most definitely could. They were perfectly positioned to say NAH NAH NEE NAH NAH we tried to tell you, you idiot.

But they didn’t

Instead they said ‘sorry mate, big shame, what colour wine would you like to drown yourself in?’

Try to steer us away from jumping back into dating

Let’s be honest – dating is mostly shit.

I have a complicated relationship with dating. On one hand I’d say I’m pretty much a dating enthusiast. I like the idea of it anyway. I mean… all feels very SATC to get all dolled up and strut out the door to be wined and dined by some brooding dark man in a suit.

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Expectations

The problem is it basically never goes that way.

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Reality

An average date would usually look a little something like this:

  • Rush home from work in sweaty flapping panic.
  • Stand in front of mirror debating whether to wash hair or not. Decide is no time. Douse it in talcum powder instead and then rub it manically to try and emulate sexy tousled Kate Moss.
  • Accept that look is more mad granny
  • Gulp down gin in a tin whilst putting on enough makeup to pebbledash a small terraced house with.
  • Look in mirror and decide definitely should have washed hair.
  • Drink second gin in a tin whilst have a calming walk around your flat wearing only bra with tights pulled up over belly button and shoes on. Say things to self like ‘Beyonce’ and ‘will not be idiot’ and ‘don’t care if he likes me. So what. Am breezy!’
  • Try to ignore horrific butterflies in stomach
  • Have a nervous poo
  • Leave the house far too late
  • Arrive at his suggested venue and realise that your chosen outfit of bodycon dress, slut boots and so much makeup your head feels quite heavy is going to be quite out of place in what looks to be a ‘not quite nice enough to be a wetherspoons’ pub. Mull over why it is can never find good balance between Edwardian Granny and lady of the night when choosing outfits. Wish skirt did not cling quite so ferociously to bottom.
  • Get into pub, say hi to awkward man almost always wearing a checked shirt.
  • Let him go to bar to buy you a bucket of piss wine. Analyse in head whether he looked only marginally disappointed or devastated at your real life to photograph ratio. Decide he probably hates you.
  • Nervously gulp piss wine whilst enjoying scintillating conversation. ‘That’s quite an easy journey then… nice not have to change lines. Viccy line too….nice and fast. Do you ever experience any planned closures or… No? Great.’
  • Ten more glasses of piss wine later and romance is in the air as you do the kind of drunk snogging where you forget anyone else is there, thinking you look cool and sexy like Angelina Jolie pre Mother Theresa transformation when actually you look like a pound shop stripper.

Shameful admission time: I once straddled a boy in a pub all the better to snog his face off. It was not late at night either. Families were having roast dinners around us. Previous to this I’d also made the catastrophic mistake of telling him I could run 5k in 15 minutes. I’m still ignoring his request on my Nike Run App. YAY. Good old piss wine – turning women into crazy idiots since way back when.

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IT’S NOT JUST ME OK: My glorious friend K also texted me this morning to say that she had vague recollection from her date the night before of ‘doing a lot of dancing’ and not being able to remember if she was dancing on her own or with the man in question. The only pervading memory was a ‘lot of arms over the head and whooping.’ Just excellent.

  • Leave pub and do more embarrassing snogging on street/at bus stop/on tube platform.
  • Wave bye to your love and wander home in cloud of drunken romantic idiocy
  • Wake up with thumping head, mouth like an old wine-soaked boot and the realisation that you have to be in work in 20 minutes.
  • No message yet but sure one will arrive v shortly.
  • Arrive at work. Stare obsessively at phone until lunch.
  • A watched pot never boils…turn phone over until 14.30 as way of ensuring he texts you. keep lifting phone up at the corner cautiously to peek and then chide self for tempting fate.
  • Ask friends if you should send casual text
  • All friends say no
  • Send ‘casual’ text
  • Never hear from him again.

AND THAT A BLOODY GOOD DATE FOLKS.

Never mind the ones where they are absolute psychos, proposition you by trying to pinch your nipple on a street in Islington, bring their entire workforce with them, talk about their ex-girlfriend’s new art show for HOURS or open your date with the line ‘isn’t dating awful. I’m just bored of it. Think I’m going to stop doing it altogether’.

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SO please tell me how, in any world, going through this process is a good idea when your heart resembles a sad bit of roadkill and you’ve spent the last couple of weeks wandering around in a huge t-shirt rubbing his old vicks nose inhaler against your cheek as tears roll down your face?*

*COUGH….I never did this.

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On the other side of the coin, as much as your heartbroken buddy doesn’t deserve to go through that, spare a thought for the guys who also don’t deserve to have to spend the evening with a snottier version of Miss Haversham.

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If this you then no dating!

 

Remember that heart break doesn’t always = a boy.

A few years back I was treated to the unpleasant realisation that a boy being a total fanny was not, in fact, the worst way to have your heart broken. That being dumped is not, and will never be, the worst day of your life.

I don’t think I’m actually equipped to articulate what that kind of heartbreak is like – suffice to say, everything you hear about real heartbreak manifesting as an actual physical pain is true. Something I’d always thought to be a cliché until I found myself in a doctor’s office being told that the intense dull ache that throbbed from the bones in my chest right up to my nose was emotional rather than my body shutting down.

I wish I had the coherence to write something beautiful and poignant about the experience of loss on this scale. But I can’t. 10 years on I still can’t. My memories of that period are dulled and hazy. I’m unable to correctly put things in order.

What I can tell you is that my friends, the girls that are still my friends ten years on, were new friends at the time. And yet they carried me. Has the word ‘thank you’ ever sounded so insufficient for such kindness?

They were there in the mornings when I didn’t want to go to lessons, they were there in the dead of night when I couldn’t sleep but didn’t really want to talk. They were there. They’re still there now.

Because that’s the thing about heartbreak. It’s never really over. Not this kind of heartbreak anyway.

John Irving once said ‘you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time – the way the mail stops coming and her scent fades from the pillows and even the clothes in her closet and drawers. Then the day comes when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you.’

That’s kind of how I live now. Perpetual happiness punctuated by moments of overwhelming sadness. The moments get fewer and farther between the more the years go on but when they are there, I feel extremely fortunate to be able to hold out a hand and know it will be grasped by humans kinder than I could have imagined. From the small – a text on father’s day, a funny picture sent over email on the day that it happened to sitting up all night in a cold house in Edinburgh crying with me as, 9 years later and old enough to know better, I raged at the unfairness that I’d never be able to tell him I’d met a man who told me Tommy Cooper (his favourite comedian) once lived in our hometown, mere moments from our house.

So perhaps ‘be there’ is the best way to care for a friend. Heartbreak’s unavoidable sadly, in one form or another, and there’s nothing specific you can really say or do.

Just let them get on with it. Even when they are being a humongous knob. They’ll thank you for it! Just smile, nod and top up the glass and revel in what an excellent human being you are.

(That’s me thanking you pals – you glorious creatures! I owe you ten trillion piss wines and a hundred years off your lives back!)

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