How to survive the first 24 hours of a break-up
The first 24 hours are arguably the hardest of a breakup. When my ex told me he wanted to call it quits as reruns of The Walking Dead played in the background, I couldn’t help but feel that my reality was slowly drifting into a post-apocalyptic narrative starring me, myself and I. Everything about that moment was earth shattering and strangely I could only think of one thing: Ehat do I do now? I wish I had a guide back then. So here it is, in case you need to.
Forget the should of, could of, would of talk
In the first hour of “singledom,” do everything in your power to avoid the should of, could of, would of mantras. What could I have done differently? How soon will he date someone else and will she be prettier than I am? What about the cheesecake I left in his fridge three nights ago? Let those thoughts come and go and try your best not to linger on them for too long.
Lean on your support network
Within two hours of the breakup, I called up an old friend that I hadn’t spoken to since I had started dating my ex. We talked for hours and I was both surprised and comforted to learn how similar our struggles in love and relationships had been the past year. You may think the only person who can soothe this pain has just walked out of your life, but try to remember the relationships you had before your ex. They will sustain you.
It’s hour four and you’ve told those special people in your support network the grim news. Now it’s important to breath—deeply—because if you’re like me, you’re probably a whirlwind of emotions at this point. Focus on the present. I washed dishes and spent two hours trying to scrub a mysteriously resilient stain off the refrigerator. Pick any activity that requires a decent amount of focus, but that doesn’t remind you of him or her, and do it with the fierceness of Beyoncé doing the nae nae.
Have a slice of pie, or four, or the whole thing
Hour eight is your hour. Use this time to indulge yourself. Bake brownies and don’t share them. Be cliche and consume dangerous amounts of fat, sugar, butter and everything that’s good on this earth. Top that deliciousness off with a marathon of your favorite guilty pleasure TV show on Netflix. Let yourself be wrapped up in this feel-good session. Your heart’s broken. You deserve it.
Get some fresh air
It’s hour 12 and you’ve made it halfway there, you pillar of strength, you! Do something that involves getting out into the sunshine or moonlight. It’ll help you start rebuilding the sense of confidence you had before and during your relationship. Midway through my 24 hour post-breakup-survival-fest, I went to dinner with a couple of girlfriends. It took every thing I had to dress up, put on heels and go to a place where couples looked sweetly into each other’s eyes—and did other “couple-y” things. But, it ultimately gave me something to look forward to and it forced me to take a shower and not look like I had been hibernating in a cave.
Cry and cry again
At hour 20 you’re nearing the end, but you still have sometime before you hit the 24 hour mark. After you’ve gone on a nice hike, or enjoyed a drink with a friend, you’ll probably be feeling the painful sting of quiet. It’s ok—remind yourself that it’s normal. Let yourself mourn. Cry. Go through the pictures of you and your ex on your phone and then delete those photos if it helps. Play the soundtrack from Beauty and the Beast and waltz with yourself in the kitchen—then cry some more. Let it all out.
Work toward moving on
It’s important to be intentional about moving on. For me, it helped to take a small symbolic action toward letting go. I lit two candles; one for the person I was in the relationship and one for the relationship itself. With one quick breath, I blew them both out. It represented the transformation of something that wasn’t working anymore into something—however unknown—healthier and more resilient. It symbolized the acceptance of change in my life. Above all, remember that heartbreak is cyclical and you may have to repeat these steps all over again—several times, as I admittedly had to do. It’s all a necessary part of love and loss.
Raeesah Reese is recent graduate from Loyola Marymount University where she studied screenwriting, theology and the art of procrastination (yes, it’s an art). Passionate about women’s rights, she’s worked with nonprofits in South LA, India and Jordan. She’s an anglophile and enjoys nothing more than curling up with a book on Tudor history and a cup of earl grey tea.