The Wonder Woman Moments


 

Other people who have experienced break-ups have had similar moments to the ones I’m about to discuss.  These moments are simultaneously great and terrible; to be honest, the feelings they induce are difficult to explain. You suddenly have this uncontrollable urge and you have no choice but to give into it. I’m sure there exists a scientific name coupled with a psychoanalysis that explains why it happens.  But, I call them  “Wonder Woman Moments” for two reasons.  First, in that moment, after months of feeling helpless, you finally feel in control of your own life.  Sure, it’s just another emotion that’s controlling you, but for once in a long time, it’s a feeling that at least has some positivity.  Second, everything is better with a superhero name.

I’ve already discussed the importance of ridding your environment of memory triggers.  What I haven’t discussed is that getting rid of every possible memory trigger is impossible.  After my break-up, there were a few things that I either couldn’t bear to part with or that I didn’t think to hide from myself; this all plays into our resistance to change.

And from that weakness and oversight, the Wonder Woman Moments are born. A friend told me about his experience with this kind of moment. Months after his break-up, he was driving somewhere with a family member. He reached into the middle console to find something and inadvertently discovered the birthday card his ex had given him earlier that year. Immediately, he had the uncontrollable urge: He had to get rid of it, and he had to do it right then. And so with the comment that he had something he had to do immediately, he did just that.  He pulled his car over and threw it in the most immediate trashcan.  The moment I’m talking about looks like this:

I had two of these moments. I can’t remember which moment came first, as this all happened months ago.  But, I believe the toothbrush moment was the first.  It was probably about three months after the break-up.  I had started a new job and like most hygienic people, I brush my teeth two to three times daily.  This means that I saw the Asshole’s toothbrush in my toothbrush holder two or three times a day when I reached for my own; and every day I disregarded it.  I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out; I think I still had some shred of hope that we’d get back together and he’d need his toothbrush at my place.  But one day, something changed.  I was getting ready for work like I had every work day for two months.  As I reached for my toothbrush, something happened: I picked it up and threw it away.  I don’t remember much thought going into it; looking back, I’m not convinced ANY thought went into it.  I remember it as an involuntary action, like breathing or blinking.  But, my god, it felt good.  For the first time in months, I felt a flutter of something in my chest.  It was excitement over what was to come.

My second experience involved the 3 foot tall nutcracker I mentioned previously.  If you don’t remember it, I very briefly mentioned it in “The Interwebs.”  This action was more of a (excuse my language) “FUCK YOU” moment.  I think it’s important that I mention that I know that no one is perfect.  Everyone makes mistakes, including me; as a matter of fact, I make a lot of mistakes.  There were parts of the relationship that weren’t perfect because of me.  But every “Asshole” and “FUCK YOU” that I give him is completely warranted and I’ll explain that in later posts.  Anyways, one day, while cleaning my room, I realized that the toy, a thoughtful gift he had given me our first Christmas together, was still in my room.  So, I swiftly picked it up and carried it to what had become the “I-can’t-throw-it-away-yet-even-though-I-hate-him” storage room.  As you’ll see from the picture below, the poor soldier had been through quite a bit.  It had been toppled over countless times, shattered, and then been very poorly glued back together since it was sentimental and I didn’t want to throw it out.

As I went to put it in the storage room, it yet again got toppled over (I’m clumsy, okay?).  This time the soldier was beheaded.  My dad happened to be standing there and stared at it.  I looked at him, literally said, “Fuck this,” picked up both pieces, and walked down to our trashcan outside.  And I didn’t nicely set the soldier in the trashcan; I dunked it in a fashion that would have caused Michael Jordan to glow with pride.  This is EXACTLY what I looked like… except I’m not in that kind of shape, the  basketball was a broken 3 foot tall nutcracker, and the hoop was a trashcan.

Okay, so it wasn’t like that at all, but that’s how I choose to remember it.  But the feeling I got as I walked away from the trashcan was different than the ones I experienced after the toothbrush moment; it was sadness and regret.  I knew that my action meant something, I just wasn’t sure what it meant in that moment.

What I’ve realized over time is that what both mine and my friend’s moments have in common is that they were milestones towards our acceptance of the end of our relationships; it is through moments like these that one either comes to understand that the relationship is over, or is on the way to to that knowledge.  At the time, we’re just not entirely sure what the moments mean because we still have shreds of hope.  The brain is a funny organ; it takes months of telling yourself that it’s over to actually believe it.  What’s really funny is that during the time after a break up, if these people came back and said they loved us just once, we’d believe them instantly.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Break-up


I think everyone has a general idea of what happens after a break-up.  However, there were a few things that I did not expect in the slightest, so I thought it would be beneficial to divulge those experiences.

1. Calling All Deficient Men
Perhaps the most surprising experience to me is the way people come out of the woodwork immediately after they find out you’re single.  Literally, within an hour after the break-up post hit people’s Facebook news feed, I had 4 boys begin chatting me up.  Also surprising was that I never would have thought they’d be interested.

I took their rushed interest as a clear sign that I should avoid these boys altogether.  Why?  Six-and-a-half year relationship + getting dumped on Facebook = Train wreck.  Seriously, I was one split personality disorder and pair of hair clippers away from looking like this:

First of all, what boy interested in a legitimate relationship is looking for a girl who is a complete train wreck?  I concluded that they were probably deficient, and when I say deficient I mean My Strange Addiction deficient.  I was genuinely concerned that these boys were obsessed with picking hair out of drains or eating Comet.

Second of all, I would be freaking stupid to put my happiness in someone else’s hands again… like this kind of stupid:

2. That Shit Ain’t Fo Real
You won’t believe the break-up is real.  It was like watching someone else’s life for months after the break-up, except I felt everything the other person was feeling.  In my particular case, we spent a good month and a half trying to “work things out,” which was irrational and messy.   We are creatures of habit, it’s hard to stop interacting with someone who has been in your daily life for 8 years.  After a lot of thought, I’ve concluded that break-ups are like mourning a death.  You mourn the loss of a part of your life, and that really is what it is.  I built a life with the Asshole (that’s what I refer to him as now-a-days) and that life died when the relationship died.

3. It’s Gon Rain
So racist
You know that saying, “When it rains, it pours?”  The damn thing couldn’t be more true.  Here’s what happened to me after the break-up:  A week or so later, I found a dog in a bad neighborhood.  As I passed her on the street, I thought she was a baby deer because she was so skinny.  She was literally walking death; there were gaping holes in her abdomen and I could see her insides.  I’ve always loved animals and, for ethical reasons, have been a vegetarian for close to 10 years.  Some people wouldn’t be as affected as I was by this experience, but to this day, I cry just thinking about it.  It was the worst evil I’ve seen in my life.  Once at the vet, he looked at her for a total of 2 or 3 minutes before he said that putting her down was the most merciful thing we could do.  I kept asking if there was anything he could do to save her, but he said it was too late.  In 20 years of practice, he had never seen an animal treated so cruelly.

A couple of weeks later, I started my new job.  On the way home from work on my second day, I got into a car accident, nearly totaling my car.

A few weeks after that, I got into another accident with a different car.  Someone else caused the only accident I had been in after 8 years of driving.  Now in a 3 week period, I had been in two accidents that were entirely my fault.  My problem was that I was so distraught that I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings.

4.  It’s Over. The Fat Lady Sang and Your Music Sucks
Meaningful and meaningless songs alike will remind you of him/her; in short, your music is ruined.  You have 3 options in this situation.  First, suffer through it.  Second, find new music.  Third, and probably the most efficient, throw your I-pod and computer off a 10-story building; cause let’s face it, that bastard’s face is probably your desktop background  anyway.

6.  I Don’t Give a F#©K

Something completely unexpected was how reckless I felt.   I by no means  wanted to hurt myself purposely, but, as Lil Jon says, “I [didn't] give a f#©K.”  There is no rational reason that someone with my driving skill set should take out my father’s mid-life crisis and drive 140 mph, but I did it.  And that is the only thing I’m willing to share because the rest of my experiences are even more illegal.

7.   Did the Dentist Shoot Nova-cane into My Brain?
A few months after the break-up, I became emotionally numb.  Not only did I not care, but I couldn’t feel anything.  I think that might be part of the reason I began doing risky things.  I felt something driving 140 mph, sure it was probably just an increase in heart rate or an adrenaline rush, but it was something.  The first date I went on after everything was the first time I felt any sort of excitement; unfortunately, I confused excitement with interest, but that’s a different post.  Regardless, it is a difficult feeling to explain.  It was the loss of hope; I legitimately felt like I would never have feelings for anyone or anything  again.  I even felt nothing for the Asshole anymore; no anger or love or regret.  There was just nothing.

Why (500) Days of Summer is Accurate.


I find myself now (a date in early May) at the point where I can stand to watch chick flicks without the desire to put a limb in the microwave instead of the popcorn.  And so, I recently decided to do something I have been unable to do since before the break-up: I watched (500) Days of Summer.

 

Before I begin, I’d like to discuss how someone I know summed up (500) Days of Summer: pretentious. I love this movie for a number of reasons.  First, the music is AMAZING.  (500) Days of Summer is solely responsible for what I believe will be a life-long love affair with the Pixies.  Second, I have a huge crush on the main character (aka Tom), and who wouldn’t?  Look at him.

Once you overcome the sexiness induced paralysis that is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, you can watch the final reason that this movie is amazing, which is the following dance sequence:

Chya, exactly.

Despite loving the movie, I never evaluated its accuracy since I had no basis for doing so.  Thus, at the time, I concluded that I was missing something that made it pretentious.  Watching the movie again after my experiences the last 4 months reminded me of her criticism of it. I’ve concluded she could not have been more wrong.

(500) Days of Summer actually says something important; it is by no means  an unrealistic, hipster-tastic movie.  It is so on the nose, at least in my experience, that there is no doubt in my mind that the screen writer was in a committed relationship that ended in complete turmoil.  The movie takes the viewer through the following stages:

Stage 1: Happiness
One of the highest points of a relationship feels exactly how Joseph Gordon-Levitt looks in the video above.

Stage 2: The Break-up
At least in my experience, the scene in the diner was eerily accurate.   Immediately after discovering via Facebook news feed (chya, that’s how it went down) that my almost seven-year relationship had been dissolved, I decided to make things worse and call him. The entire duration of our conversation, he coldly ate his lunch, similar to how Summer took no issue with eating her pancakes as she broke up with Tom.

Stage 3: Complete devastation.  
The scene where Joseph Gordon-Levitt is standing dazed in his kitchen, mechanically breaking dish after dish on his counter… that is legit.  I had a similar experience. It’s a numb and helpless feeling, and you don’t know what to do to make it stop.  The morning after my break-up, I stared at muted soccer for 4 hours, barely moving despite that I’d prefer the following to watching sports:

Stage 4: The inability to accept your new reality.  
In the movie, Tom becomes convinced that he will win Summer back.  From my experience, and from what I’ve been told about others’ experiences, there’s a period after a break-up when everyone thinks they’ll somehow get back together with their ex.  As I mentioned in my last post, this is what makes myself and fellow dumpees dumbasses; this happens when our rational thought processes are corrupt by feelings.  What does this imply?  Robots > Humans, and if you wanna argue about it, then look at this:

The above strapping metal fellow is Bender, from Futurama.  If you doubt that robots are better than humans, then consider this: Bender binge drinks to sustain himself, is selfish and a kleptomaniac, and, most importantly, has no emotion.  Bender is awesome, and probably what should be aspired to by every truly rational person.

Stage 5: The Relapse
Tom’s relapse takes place when he attends a co-worker’s wedding.  Summer is on the same train as him as she too is attending the wedding. They talk, laugh, and dance. One figuratively watches Tom walk into a burning building with no exit.

Stage 6: The Final Gravity Hits
At the wedding, Summer invites Tom to a party at her apartment.  At the party, he is yet again crushed by his own unrealistic expectations for the evening; Tom learns that Summer is engaged.  I’m not going to pretend that when gravity hit, I wasn’t a complete mess.  Luckily, my BFFF (that’s Best Fucking Friend Forever, fyi) and a few others were the only witnesses.  It’s possible that it was the lowest point in my life thus far.  All of the stress, confusion, and anxiety that had built for months suddenly came to a head, and I became an uncontrollable, blubbering mess.  I believe the word my BFFF used to describe my state was, “delirious.”

Stage 7: Destruction
Tom’s destruction is seen after he truly realizes it’s over.  There is a scene where he gets out of bed, walks to the nearest liquor store in his robe and slippers, buys only orange juice and whiskey, and then yells at the obnoxiously happy couple passing by on the street while walking himself home.  On several occasions after my break-up, I would realize at the end of the day that an article of my clothing was on incorrectly. One instance that particularly stands out was when it took until 4pm one day at work for me to realize that my shirt was on inside out.

Stage 8: Acceptance and Moving On
After a period of moping, Tom suddenly snaps out of it and begins to turn his life around.  Like every break-up, people begin throwing themselves into something.  For Tom, it was architecture.  For me, it was the LSAT and rediscovering how much I love running.

The Torturing


Admittedly, it seems a bit melodramatic to compare emotional anguish to physical torture, but that is exactly what I’m about to describe feels like; being less cryptic, I’m talking about the self-torture that follows a break-up.

The worst part of it is that you know that what you’re doing, or about to do, will hurt; but you HAVE to do it, you simply cannot control yourself.   Self-torturing is the complete loss of control and rationality.

Some context is necessary before I go into detail.  I dated someone for close to 7 years.  He moved to Poland to attend medical school and I was eventually supposed join him there.  Although we had no immediate plans to get married, or even engaged, we both operated our lives under the assumption that we’d be together into our senile years.  However, he digressed when he moved away;  he began going out and acting like an 18 year-old frat boy with his new friends, who I assume have never matured.

Given that, the most interesting part of self-torture is that there are several ways to do it.

Self-torture technique #1: Repeatedly go to your ex’s Facebook page.
Facebook has become THE place to announce, or denounce, a relationship; so much so, that “Facebook official,” has become the new way to determine a relationship’s degree of legit-ness.  When he decided to denounce our relationship on Facebook (which also happens to be the way I found out I was single), he didn’t bother to remove the post.  Most people would do this because it creates unwanted drama and discussion amongst one’s peers.  So, he either digressed and basked in the drama, or he was guilty of complete ignorance and  failed to see this:

FB Status

And being that we had been together since high school, there was plenty of discussion.

Now, just to paint a picture of what his new friends posted, here’s one post in particular that I won’t forget: The exact wording slips my mind, but it had something to do with the hoes that were going to be all up on him now that he was single.  The very last thing you want to know or hear about when you go through a break-up (as I’ve learned since this was my first) is about that person even potentially being with someone else, and I don’t just mean sexually.

Self-torture technique #2: Don’t make a clean break; clean breaks are for sissies. To make it short, he came back to the states for a little while.  After A LOT of talking, arguing, and crying, and against everyone’s better judgment except my own because I was so freaking pathetic, we decided to try to work things out.  I met with a friend recently, who also happened to be going through a break-up, and he said something pretty enlightening: Everyone thinks their relationship is unique and everyone thinks they can work it out; but, and I’m using my own words here, they’re dumbasses.  Thus, under the impression that we weren’t really going to stay broken up, the vicious cycle of false hope (flowers on Valentine’s Day), disappointment and devastation when rationality kicked in, and then the return of false hope when rationality was again lost, began.

Self-torture technique #3: Every time you start to feel good, find something to make yourself feel like this:

Angry face

The real torture had yet to begin. Two months later, I had an epiphany and concluded that I was quite possibly the most pathetic semi-feminist to ever exist; I decided that it needed to change and that I no longer wished to speak to him.

Now, the worst torture I experienced came around this time.  I’d start to feel great; for the first time in almost 7 years, I felt free to do exactly what I wanted, when I wanted, with no thought about how my actions would affect anyone other than myself.  Then I’d see, hear, or remember something, my chest would tighten up, and not crying in the middle of the grocery store would be my only concern.  I made the mistake of looking through all of our pictures together on Facebook one day before work.  Next thing I knew, I was having a full blown panic attack.

This brings us to:

Lesson 5: DELETE, BLOCK, & SPAM HIS ASS!!
The very first thing one should do when faced with a break-up is the following: Block that bastard on every means by which he could communicate you.  This includes, but is not limited to, your phone, Facebook account, email, instant messaging service, and so on.  And have all of your family and friends do the same, though obviously to a lesser degree.  Not doing so is unhealthy.  I, of course, realize that every situation is different, but if you for a second think you could be sucked back in, DO IT.  People who genuinely do not need to do this are rare, like albinos… or superheroes.

The Interwebs


Not bothering to get out of bed the morning after the break-up, I decided to start doing internet research on how to deal with it since it was my first ever.  This is the article I found.  On a side note, I also found this second British article about erasing minds.  Yes, you read correctly… ERASING MINDS.  Sadly, my emo state prevented me from getting excited about the fact that  1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a true story (okay, not really, but close enough), and 2. The article is British, which means I should have read it in my head with a Bri-ish accent.  I missed out on Bi-winning and Charlie Sheen put me to shame…

Bi-winning

Regardless, looking back, it’s definitely entertaining that I turned a good part of my attention that morning to a drug that I didn’t believe existed.  This demonstrates how rationally I was thinking.

Recovering from this shock  (while vigorously cursing myself for neglecting to learn how to count cards after seeing 21… obviously, counting cards was the surest way to conjure enough finances  to get this awesome drug), I pulled myself out of bed, collected a plastic bin, and shoved everything in sight that he had gotten me into it ; unfortunately, one particular gift (a 3 foot tall, golden nutcracker) wouldn’t fit.  Remember this gift, it will come up again.  Anyway, this is one of the steps the first article suggests: Remove memory triggers.  I trust the interwebs; it is, after all, how I got dumped.

I watched Julie and Julia with my family that day thinking that a movie would help me forget what was really happening.  Instead, I spent the entire duration of the movie fighting the urge to punch myself in the face, and not just because it’s a terrible movie; it’s a chick flick.  And so, after my failed attempt to forget, I took to cleaning my living space because, again, that’s what the interwebs told me to do: “A breakup can signify a new beginning. Therefore, cleaning and organizing your personal space will leave you feeling refreshed and prepared for the new things to come.”  Now, I had always found cleaning, and especially organizing, my living space therapeutic.  However, in this particular instance, I found that the damn article lied to me.  This brings me to:

Lesson #2: Cleaning your living space is rewarding for about 20 seconds. Then you get even more depressed than before because you don’t have anything else to do, or at least nothing else you feel like you can handle.  I seriously considered throwing stuff everywhere just so that I’d have something to organize, but then I realized that getting in bed and doing nothing was substantially more appealing. 

Lesson #3: Getting rid of everything he ever gave you doesn’t work. There are reminders everywhere that you can’t get rid of, i.e. his fluffy, fat, orange cat that insists on sleeping with you every night. Then of course, there are the less obvious things. For instance, while watching a car commercial, a song came on that was featured on Garden State, a movie he bought for me a few months into our relationship that seemed to have some sort of meaning to him.

Lesson #4: Although it seems to go without saying, do not watch chick-flicks.  The only movies worthy of your time after a break-up are movies like Saw, where people are getting mutilated.  Or movies like this:

Clara Harris

I haven’t personally seen this movie, but familiarity with the Houston area incident tells me it would be the perfect post break-up movie.  For those not from Houston, Clara Harris showed her husband who was BOSS when she discovered him cheating:  She ran his ass O-V-E-R.  Movies about men being run over: Good.  Movies about people living happily ever after:  Bad.

The Point: Young and Stupid


Lady Gaga recently said, “Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.”  Not that she is the beacon of ultimate truth, but damn…  As the Brits say, “Spot on.” (If you are bored enough to read this blog on the regular, then you will soon understand that I am OBSESSED with British, French, or Aussie accents and idiomatic expressions).

I’m writing this blog not to gain sympathy, or bash my ex.  I’m writing it because the  last seven years of my life can be summed up in an annoying but true common phrase, “Young and stupid;” and I want other people to learn from it, because I sure as hell did.

Lesson Learned #1: The  conventional view on “love” is anti-climactic, and, put simply, stupid.  What do I mean by anti-climactic?  Our whole lives we aspire to find “the one,” marry them, buy a house, and have children with them, because society (i.e. movies, tv, the media, religion, etc.) says we should.  I can’t speak for men (though I assume it is similar in some respects), but for women, it’s definitely something that we think about regularly.  We want it because it looks good.  We want it because, by nature, we are social creatures; we want to fit in and we don’t want to feel alone.  But mostly, we want it because we’ve been taught to believe that it is necessary in our lives.  So much pressure is on us, that if we’re not married by a certain age, people begin to think there might be something wrong with us.

But just take a look at the people in relationships around you.   They’re bored once they get passed the OMGAWDilovethemsomuch stage.  Someone (my ex ironically) once told me while taking an interpersonal communication class that people are only “in love” for a specified period of time.  After that, it’s just habit.  I’m not saying that people in long-term relationships don’t love each other; I’m saying that they’re not in love.  And on top of everything, once you get every thing you’re supposed to aspire to (spouse, house, children, etc.), people are hit one day by this: “WTF am I supposed to do now??”  This is because they have everything they’ve been told they’re supposed to get out of life.  All that’s left after that is to spend money.  I haven’t experienced the full extent of this yet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t see things as they are.  You know that mid-life crisis your dad went through?  He asked himself that very question right before that sexy crotch rocket in the store window became his impulse buy:

Angry face

Yes, that is Jon Gosselin.  Yes, he is a douche.  He also happens to be the epitome of all that is a mid-life crisis.

And if someone hasn’t reached that WTF moment, then they’re too caught up in not living life to live it.  Not living is when you’re alive, but you get caught up in your day-to-day routine; it is a false sense of happiness and complete lack of perspective.

So, why is the conventional idea of finding “the love of your life” stupid?  For one thing, humans, like every other animal have certain instincts.  Our instincts are not to be monogamous, but convention says otherwise.  That’s why people cheat.  Sex isn’t about love.  It’s about our instinct to procreate.  I once watched a documentary called The Science of Sex, and I highly recommend it if what I’m about to say creates more questions than it answers, or if you just think I’m a moron.  Basically, mating, just like with animals, is about survival of the fittest.  That’s why physical appearance, amongst other things, is so important to us; it’s all about procreating the fittest offspring possible.

But, more importantly, I think you should take a good look around you at everyone in a long-term relationship; especially at my age (going on 23).  A lot of us found someone in high school or college.  Now let’s put this into perspective.  As of 2009 (and that’s almost a year and a half ago), there were close to 7 billion people in the world.  You’re telling me that you believe that the one person (1 in 7 billion, evidently) you were meant to be with for the rest of your life just happened to grow up in your hometown or go to the same college as you, let alone be in the same country as you?  It’s a pretty far grab to believe something like that.

Keep in mind that all of this “perspective” comes after 3 months of reflection, and by reflection I mean A LOT of drinking.  I’m not saying that I never plan to get married, I’m just saying that the idea of being IN love with someone for the rest of your life or of there only being one person out in the world for everyone is… irrational.