When I picked up the newspaper an article read, “Heartbreak can hurt, says study”. My immediate reaction to this was “It took them this long to figure out?!” followed by a complacent “Tell me about it”. To satisfy my piqued curiosity I read the snippet further. It pointed out that the sudden emotional stress caused due to a heart-break increases the risk of atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat! This meant nothing to me. Having lived through a horrible heart break, I can tell one thing for sure: it hurts. There is a lot of energy that is unleashed in the process (mostly negative) in the form of anger, hatred or the like. But that is the wonderful thing about a break-up: Life gives a wiser you another chance to begin again. It is simply a matter of channeling all the energy in a productive way.
Dealing with a break up is difficult. There are bad phases and then there are the depths of despair. But the important thing is that the phase will pass. From wanting to set fire to the rain we all graduate to Now-you’re-just-somebody-that-I-used-to-know! We need to get out and make new memories to wipe out the old. Don’t try to lock yourself up and forget all that happened, because it does not work that way. We never forget, we just get too busy to remember. It took me close to a year to truly get done with my last relationship. But now that I am over it, I feel no shame in acknowledging that it was a mistake, like all other mistakes I have learnt my lesson from this one as well and walked ahead to never look back.
The different issues faced during a break up needs to be dealt with in a headstrong way. Sympathy is not going to help. Here is my way of dealing with it:
There were a lot of questions that kept popping up in my head. The first question to pop up was a big Why? The easiest way to deal with this was to ask myself, “Why Not?” Luckily for me, the man was a liar, mediocre to the core; the relationship was toxic and a farce all along. It made it that much easier for me to move-on. The only way of stopping these destructive questions of “Why did it happen?”, “Why me?”, “ Why could it not work out?”, etc is to find their answer. For every one of these questions there is an answer that makes life so much simpler: Had to happen, happened. It’s the heat and pressure that makes a diamond out of carbon. This is really not a survival issue. As the Dalai Lama has said, sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck; and I treated my break up as one.
Keeping myself busy
The best thing about a break up is the sudden availability of time. You can use this time to sulk or you can use this time to get back in shape, to do everything for which you had earlier waited because suddenly the only master of your fate, the captain of your soul is You. Planning involves just you.
Within 4 months of my breakup I had been to Kasol, Malana, Mcleodganj, Dharamshala, Manali-Ladakh-Kargil-Srinagar road trip and Deoghar. I wanted to give myself as little time as possible to sulk and it worked wonders. At night, the time when he used to call for the day’s updates became the time I hit the gym. During the day whenever I felt like dialing his number, I dialed a friend I had not spoken to in years. The net result: I was traveling like never before, I was in much better shape with amazing stamina and once again I had my friends in my life.
A more pleasant Life
A long discussion between me and my friend over brunch yielded the following mood curves:
The Relationship curve can have a trend depending on how good or bad the relationship and similarly the Single curve can have a trend line depending on what one is doing with one’s life. What it does highlight is the fact that while you’re single, if the highs don’t come then you’re spared the lows as well! This discussion, meant to be no-brainer, made me introspect on the relationship I had been into. It was toxic to the point that I never dared to buy a “smart” phone because it would not have lasted a fortnight. With regular fights and my phone the most obvious hapless victim meant that life had to go on with a substandard Blackberry. Within a month of my breakup, the faithful Blackberry was packed for a new iPhone. Gone were the mood swings, gone was my attempt at anger management and gone was the old me. All of a sudden I changed. I was a completely different person with a new mindset and a new outlook. I had cared way too much about completely irrelevant things and people. I no longer gave a damn. I don’t know if my ex is alive or dead, if the former in which part of the world because when he walked away that was his choice. Whatever happened to my life after that moment was mine. Gone is my anger. I don’t remember the last time I got angry enough to throw an eraser. I can plan vacations in any country without looking for any external help. Above all, I can deal with people.
Having said all that, I need to acknowledge that there were still those moments when the few good memories would come back to haunt me. A whiff of Davidoff here or news about Manchester United there would trigger memories. It is here that rebounds and flings come in. I feel it is completely okay to get into those provided the intentions are good! Don’t try to use the other human being: that is my basic guiding principle to which I have stayed honest. The rest is about having fun while the Sun shines!
Should we be friends?
There is this one thing I don’t understand: How are people able to remain friends after a break-up? There are just two scenarios possible: Either there was never any feelings or that they are still not over each other. When my ex tried proposing something as absurd as this concept I did not have to pause even for a moment. There are two seemingly similar concepts in economics which helped me in my decision-making: the notion of imperfect information and information asymmetry. When both parties don’t have complete information, but the information that each has is known by the other it is the former. The latter is when one party has distinctly more information than the other. When a relationship fails despite full honesty by both the parties it is simply a matter of two reasonably decent human beings unable to make a decent life together (the future is uncertain after all). However, when one party has been a liar throughout it is a case of information asymmetry and as in economics it leads to market failure, so in a relationship it will lead to its eventual demise. And the question of being friends ended then and there.
There was a period after my breakup where I had given up all faith in the concept of companionship (I don’t believe in Love anyway since it is a very vaguely defined term abused more often than it is used). I felt that walking alone was my destiny and blessed were those who had found their soul mate. Thanks to those friends who have finished their treasure hunt, the hope has been kept alive. I realized that not every story is a romantic comedy. In fact given my aversion to romantic comedies, it is only befitting that mine is being scripted the way it is. I need the adventure, the adrenaline rush, the sense of an ending and the new beginning.
Searching for the Mr. Next/Right
I see a lot of my friends fussing over growing old and hoping for their Robert Downey Jr. to bump into them round the next corner. A more concrete step would be to utilize this golden period of our life when we are high on adrenaline, low on responsibility and have the strength to move mountains in taking risks, doing justice to our potential, trying to meet family expectations as best as we can (except the getting married expectation, of course!) and having fun, a lot of fun. Cliched as this might sound, we are never going to get this period again. It cannot be wasted sulking over the guy who walked out or in perpetual anticipation of the man who might walk in. It needs to be lived in the present where it is just you, with no family obligations and not much responsibility. The words of Guru Granth Sahib resonate:
“Apne gam di numaish na kar,
Apne nasib di azmaaish na kar!
Jo tera hai tere kol khud aayega,
Har roz onnu paan di khwaish na kar!”