When I first started road-testing The Frisky 30 Breakup Guide, I didn’t even know what calm looked like. Seeing photos of my ex was enough to make my hands tremble, running into him at a party inevitably meant that venom would threaten to roll off my tongue and I would take on a Cheshire cat grin, trying madly to disguise and displace the feeling of a miniature ice-pick being twisted repeatedly into my heart. “Calm” meant drinking a half of a bottle of wine in bed and being able to wash the tears off in the ladies room at work without anyone noticing. Looking calm was physically impossible. Now, “calm” is starting to look a lot less alcoholic and depressive. Though I’m pretty sure my strong caffeine addiction, propensity towards procrastination, and constant over-booking will never really mean that “calm” is a way of life for me; but recently my nervous energy hasn’t been directed entirely towards him. And maybe because the last time I saw him it went so badly, I haven’t felt the need to call or try to maneuver some in-person meeting. I still look at the black and white photo of him standing on the roof of our old apartment every day, and it still makes me remember how much I liked drinking seltzer on the roof with him and the failed tomato plant which grew larger and larger, but on which no tomato ever ripened. But now instead of being filled with the kind of nostalgia that you can feel in your joints, I laugh at who we were back then.
I don’t think any book can make you stop loving someone. But maybe a little time, a lot of advice and a keep-busy attitude can make it so love — love lost — no longer feels like a knockout punch to the gut.
When I first started this whole process, I remember just saying over and over again, “I wish that someone would just tell me what to do.” My friends tried to, but I brushed them aside as non-objective observers. I think that one of the best things about “living by the book” is just having someone give you daily orders, bossing you around and whipping you into shape. And in the end I may not have lost all of the emotional weight I wanted to, but I’m definitely a few pounds lighter.