The Emotional Envelope lets you take comfort in a hopeful future when you’ll be able to give your ex all the stuff you’ve been collecting and say, “Here, I saved this for you while we weren’t talking.” The Emotional Envelope:
- eases the discomfort of disconnection without actual contact, which would make it waaaay worse.
- stashes the pain of the present in the more-forgiving future.
- brings the forgiving future into the painful present.
- is portable and easy to store.
- is scientifically proven to help.
4. Problem: Music.
Music triggers feelings, which in your current state can be a curse. It can also be a holy tool straight from the breakup gods to help you through this. Depending on how you like to work through your feelings, you can use one of a several musical strategies.
For me, feeling better is always on the other side of feeling my worst, so my technique is to assign a song to the person, preferably an unbearably heavy one I have been actively avoiding (ALONG WITH MY FEELINGS OK), to throw on repeat listen until I get sick of it and consequently the part of the heartbreak it represents. When my aching heart gives me only two choices, “let it burn” or “let it bleed,” I choose BOTH by listening to “You Appearing” by M83. The vocals are sad and quiet enough to scream-cry over, like a backing track for sadness karaoke.
You can also use music to borrow other people’s emotions. My friend Merrill champions karaoke: “It’s cheaper than therapy, there’s always a supportive crowd, and you get to pretend you’re singing about Rihanna’s feelings instead,” she says. (If you can’t get out to a karaoke venue, may I suggest the internet.) Unlike me, my friend Ali doesn’t like to wallow: “I don’t really do the mopey song thing. I like a good ‘fuck you, I’m awesome’ song so that when I’m walking around the city I can imagine myself in a montage of being a Strong and Empowered Single Woman Taking Charge. That is…my music fire extinguisher.” (She likes Basement Jaxx’s “Good Luck.”)
After one breakup where a guy dumped me because he said he had “just met the most beautiful girl in the world,” I went through all 525 songs in the the Mountain Goats back catalog until I could precisely represent any of my changing shitty moods via a carefully curated 15-song playlist.
Your music project doesn’t even have to be related to your new ex at all. I was so lonely one time that I listened to Prince’s “Erotic City” 100 times in a row to see if it counted as getting laid. It didn’t, but listen, you guys, it’s the journey, not the destination.
5. Problem: Torch-bearing.
Torch-bearing is the act of loving someone who is no longer there, and it has a terrible reputation as a way to spend your time. But I find it almost impossible to NOT carry a torch for at least a couple weeks, so I’ve figured out how to turn it into a positive experience. I’m going to groove on this a little bit.
Most people assume love is like this: you <---❤---> Dylan
So when: you <---❤---> ✌
What’s left appears to be: you
But it’s actually: you ❤—>
Your feelings, including love, are always your own. They don’t belong to anyone else. Even though ideally love is a mutual exchange, all the good ways your ex once made you feel–smart, strong, really funny–are still yours to have. Take the healthy parts and use them to keep pushing yourself forward. Let’s call this being “true to the torch.” (I’m ribbon-dancing right now, FYI.) Maybe this week being true to the torch is doing alone that thing that you were supposed to do together. Or doing that thing you were/are afraid of.
Or maybe being true to the torch is memorializing the time you shared. Make some breakup art! “But it’s soooo bad,” you say. Listen: Do you know who breakup art is bad to? People not going through breakups. Do you know who doesn’t need it? Those dudes. Do you know who does? You. Get out those acrylics. The only mistake I made in the creation of this sculpture to honor an old relationship was giving it to my ex instead of keeping it for my mantle (sorry for the bad pic):
The divorce planner in this story on Japanese divorce ceremonies asks a very good question: “Ever since I was little, I wondered, if you have a wedding ceremony, why not have one to mark your divorce?” There are a lot of ideas in that article to DIY, like floating a handwritten message about your hope for the future out onto a river, or making a PowerPoint about your relationship. Use what you got, especially if what you got is an open body of water. (My friend Dandy writes down “everything that i wanted to say to the person, like ever, and roll it up, put it in a bottle and throw it into the ocean.”)
Which brings me to my final strategy for mending a broken heart: Maybe you’re really good at this torch-bearing thing. Have you ever thought about making it one of your friendship services? Helping others is always healing, and chances are you have a friend who is suffering through a feelwave you’ve already conquered. Someone hit me with the zen thought that you should see your broken heart as broken open to the world. It helps you empathize with others who might be in pain. The more people you talk to about heartbreak, the easier it is to realize that this is bullshit we all go through. Every new connection, especially to a community of similar cool brokenhearted people, speeds up the healing process. In fact, thinking of you reading this is, right now, this very second, helping me get over my most recent breakup. Thank you, Heartbreak Buddy. We’ll get through this! ♦