So, after a week of not showering, not changing your pajamas, sleeping on the couch, watching NCIS marathons and only eating meals that can be delivered, you smelled yourself, swallowed back vomit and ran to the bathroom where you saw your tear-stained, swollen, blotchy face. You grabbed either side of the vanity to steady yourself as you asked your reflection, “what the fuck happened?”
Please note shopaholics, you will experience a similar feeling when you see your email credit card alerts.
You will then take a deep breath, brush your fuzzy teeth, run a comb through your greasy hair and shuffle back into the living room, turn off the TV and start picking up the take-out food wrappers with your fingers crossed that you don’t now have rodents or bugs.
Welcome to stage two: the cleanse. It begins with the realization you have become a disgusting unrecognizable mess. Then comes the hangover (I recommend lots of Gatorade and aspirin). Finally the serious work.
Well, not super serious – we save that for Recovery – but more serious than just kicking food wrappers under your couch (yeah, I saw that). First, you really should shower and put on some fresh pajamas. Then, let’s really clean up the kitchen – you don’t want bugs.
Now, I’m gonna need you to walk around your apartment and gather up all the presents and ticket stubs and photos and other flotsam and jetsam from your relationship. Separate his stuff out of the mess, put it in a bag and leave it right by your door. The "by the door part" is necessary. Here’s why: Sometime in the future, you may have to give this stuff back to him. And when he stops by, you don’t want to invite him in.
Why? Because there is no telling what stage you will be in at this point. And I should warn you, in the beginning you will be bouncing back and forth through all the stages. You could be feeling sound in recovery, he stops by, and a couple hours (as well as a bottle of wine and some sex) later, you are right back in grossness. Better to keep his shit by the door so that when he stops by you can hand him the bag, lie to him and tell him you think he looks good and you are so glad to see him and then close the door in his grinning-because-he-thinks-there-is-a-chance-he-is-gonna-get-some face.
So, what to do with the rest of the stuff. Don’t worry. We’re not going to burn it. The cleanse phase – much like that juice fast I tried –s not about permanent change. Now is not the time for tattoos or haircuts or relationship bon fires. This is about short, quick, drastic measures with results that won’t last very long but will get you on the road to making better choices.
Speaking of which, after you hide that box of everything that reminds you of the guy who just dumped you, I need you to sit down on your couch, search through the contacts on your phone, delete all his cute/sexy text messages and then change your ex’s name.
Why do you keep asking me why? You know I have a good reason.
In the next stage, you are going to be doing some celebrating. And sometimes when you celebrate (if you are anything like me) you might overindulge. And on some nights, even with all the smokey eye make-up and plunging necklines and pronouncements that you are "so drunk," you will come home alone. And because your body is so used to getting it on the regular, you'll get home, want some, and drunk you will think it is a really good idea to text your ex and invite him over.
Your last defense will be a searching for a name in your phone that might (and this is really only effective about 37 percent of the time, but hey, it’s something) have you thinking twice before hitting send.
I personally prefer to call them awful things like Douchebag. Or Asshole. Or Shit for Brains.
My sister is more direct and will change his name to “Do Not Call” or “Never Text" or "He Made You Cry."
If you don’t think either of those approaches will work, how about changing his name to “Daddy." Seriously, just think about texting something dirty at 3 a.m. to your “Daddy.” Unless of course, that is the sort of thing that turns you on – no judgement – then maybe Dad? Father? Papa? Just your dad’s name? Mom?