Have you ever wondered what the shit storm going on in your head after a break-up was all about? Have you ever wanted to make sense of it? Some days you felt like you were spiraling out of control, others you felt like you were on cloud nine, and some days you were so not sick of love songs as Ne-yo once suggested, but on the contrary couldn’t stop torturing yourself with them because they offered a few more moments of remembering couple-dom? Which were then quickly followed by tears that you never thought could again be tears of happiness, not to mention the trips to 7-eleven to pick up one of everything that was labeled ”chocolate.” All the while the little voice in your head was interrobanging “What is happening to me?!”
I’ve got a theory about that seemingly uncontrollable behavior: it’s a break-up induced solar storm that causes us to be bandied about in the seven emotional stages of grieving. But there are only five you say. Not according to Tristan Coopersmith and many other love and dating experts. The seven stages of grieving a relationship are very similar to grieving the death of a loved one. Let’s face it, that’s what we’re doing isn’t it? Mourning the loss of our SO (significant other), no matter how toxic the relationship may have been in the end days is not something to be taken lightly, and definitely not something to go through blindly.
Let’s take a look at the stages according to Coopersmith, shall we?
Stage 1: Shock – OMG what just happened? Am I REALLY a single girl in the city again?
Stage 2: Denial – This is just our emotions getting the best of us; it’s not really, really over, for real.
Stage 3: Isolation – Singing “nobody knows the troubles I face, nobody knows my sorrow” while you are in fact, alone, in your room, in your comforting recliner watching your comforting TV, drinking your comforting wine and eating your comforting chocolate. Alone.
Stage 4: Anger – Stewing in your own rage induced paroxysm while cursing the piece of $%!# that broke your heart.
Stage 5: Bargaining (irrationally I’d like to add) – You consider taking advice from the likes of groups such as Mokenstef who once sang “he’s mine, you may have had him once but I’ve got him all the time,” and think to yourself this is still salvageable if you can just accept that you’ll never be his only, but you’ll be his favorite.
Stage 6: Depression - I’m going to be alone for the rest of my sucky life and will forever make sucky reservations for a sucky party of one.
Stage 7: Acceptance - As sure as I was about the relationship in the beginning is as sure as I am that the break-up was the best thing for me. Look out Los Angeles; I am a single girl in the city!
While the stages of grieving are not new to the science of behavior, trying to objectively understand them when we’re smack dab in the eye of the storm is still a rare art form. So much in fact scientists will continue experimenting in their labs with broken hearts until one day they theorize an absolute. In case you’re not the sciencey type that was a joke: a theory will forever morph, leaving the post break-up grieving process to be as interchangeable as my Miche bag. So do not expect that there will ever be a magic potion to get you through this unscathed.
But don’t fret about the fact that you’ll have to endure some of the very sad emotions that are sure to follow the break-up, and instead rejoice. I’m sure you’re thinking “this woman is on crack,” but hear me out. You can rejoice in the knowledge that A) you’re normal despite the fact that you haven’t left your house in three days and you have built a house of popsicle sticks that is four popsicle stories high; B) you now have the opportunity to reflect on this relationship to not only try to understand what went wrong but how you can improve upon yourself, if not only for yourself, for the hottie that is sure to make an appearance in the next chapter of your life; and C) the guiltless consumption of chocolate – do we need another reason to rejoice?
While in the universe a solar storm is the sun slamming winds of dust particles into our atmosphere and interfering with earth’s magnetic fields (which can last for days and cause electromagnetic disruptions), the emotional post break-up solar storm in our life is just nature’s way of clearing out the dust particles of our late relationship so they can no longer disrupt our electromagnetic fields, a.k.a. life. Don’t be alarmed if like me, your grieving has no order, no concept of time or social boundaries, cycles through each stage on a daily basis like a revolving riptide, and leaves you with the emotional hangover equivalent of too many tequila sunrises. There is life after relationships, which ironically just leads to new and improved relationships (makes you wonder why we spend so much time pining over the not-so-great ones).
Cling to your friends and family because they are there to be our emotional waste baskets as we navigate these feelings, just be sure to spread the waste, because there are times when they may be in the process of clearing out their own space dust particles and hardly have the capacity for yours. This is a phenomenon in politics which we refer to as drying up your donors. In this case our friends and family are our donors and we mustn’t bleed them dry. Choose three or four that you can confide in and rotate through them on a daily basis.
When the dust begins to clear (and I promise you it will) and traces of the old you become more recognizable, pop open a bottle of champagne and put on your Sunday best for a night on the town because you, my friend, are nearing the final stage of acceptance. Just like bad weather, the only thing we can do when enduring an emotional post-break-up solar storm is wait it out where it’s dry and safe from winds with chunks of dust, where our friends are gathered, and where there is hot cocoa and an AppleTV on which you can watch reruns of virtually every show known to man. One day you’ll draw the curtains and realize the sun is out, and you can smile – maybe it’s because you’ve realized the solar storm has passed, maybe it’s because today is the day you’ve decided you’re going to strap on your sparkly Mary Jane’s and strut through the mall like the strong, independent, beautiful, emotionally resilient woman you are, maybe it’s because we all have a bit of Charlotte York left in us, or just maybe…it’s for no goddamn reason at all. And that ladies, is what science will never be able to explain.