It’s a new year. Time to shove 2020 out the window and welcome a fresh start. The following handful of posts are a series, written a lifetime ago, that track my journey from a painful breakup with a man I adored, to the shock of discovering the truth behind his mask, to glimpsing the depths of his depravity, and finally acknowledging my own error in blindly trusting him. This tale ended long ago, but only now am I ready to disclose it – and perhaps help others who find themselves in a similar situation. Thank you to those who shared evidence and convinced me to tell my story.
“Each relationship when it ends really damages me; I never fully recover. That’s why I’m very careful with getting involved because…it hurts too much.” – Celine, Before Sunset
They say mothers forget how much labor and childbirth hurts. This forgetting is perhaps the body’s attempt to ensure additional offspring. If the agony is remembered, perhaps the act would not be duplicated. The same appears to hold true for heartbreak.
It’s been some time since I’ve allowed my heart access outside of its protective cage and, had I remembered the sensation of heartbreak, I may have chosen a safer path. Yet, here I am – again. Everyone has advice and comments on how to find my groove again, from “get back on the horse as soon as possible” to “we never liked him anyway.” Most advice is unhelpful. However, I’ve managed to cobble together the following steps which have helped me, if not heal my heart completely, patch it up enough to fight another day.
Treat yourself as if you are sick. Heartache is a sickness. If you had a fever, you’d treat yourself with kindness – maybe stay home for a few days, lie on the couch in your jammies, binge on Netflix. You wouldn’t beat yourself up for not being “over” your fever. You’d veg on the couch for a few days to get over the worst of it and then slowly start doing things to make yourself feel better – getting plenty of rest, eating well, building up your strength again. Allow yourself three days of the jammies and Netflix and then, with the kindness a sick person deserves, gently start your journey back. If you have a relapse one evening, nurse yourself gently, get a good night’s rest, and begin again the next morning.
Pamper yourself. Do a little something for yourself that says, “I love you” every day. Think of all the little things you did for your ex to let him know he was special. You deserve the same. I bought myself fresh flowers, deep conditioned my hair, picked up a new candle, gave myself a dry-brush massage, bought a sexy new bra, steeped a cup of Earl Grey with honey and a splash of milk, and painted my nails bright red with a new polish.
Move each day. Exercise is known to increase serotonin and dopamine – mood-altering, feel-good brain chemicals. It doesn’t matter what you choose – go for a walk with a friend, ride a bike, practice yoga, dance in your living room – whatever gets your heart racing. However, try to avoid spending too much time on activities that allow you to think alone; you’ll end up ruminating about him. If you go for a walk, listen to a podcast or an audiobook to keep your mind on something other than your heartache.
Talk him up to others. Whether you like it or not, your friends and family (and coworkers and acquaintances and the dry cleaner) are going to give you their condolences and, possibly, ask you about why the relationship ended. By taking the high road, instead of playing the victim – you take the power back. Tell them about the bits of him that made you smile – and keep the rest to yourself.
Don’t prod the relationship wound. Just as heartache is a sickness, the relationship is probably feeling like a tender, unhealed, open wound. When you are injured, sometimes the best treatment is to just give it time to heal. Poking and prodding at the sore just makes it bleed and possibly get infected. Don’t moon over pictures of the two of you in happier times, don’t open the folder where his email letters are kept, don’t visit the places where you had your fondest memories. Let the wound scab over and heal. There may always be a scar, but scars don’t hurt, do they?
And slowly, very slowly, you will recover. Just remember it takes time.
Fruited Irish Soda Bread
Soda bread is a quick bread which uses baking soda for the rising agent instead of yeast. This version, with walnuts, orange and golden raisins, is slightly sweet.
- 1 ¾ cups buttermilk (or whole milk with 1Tablespoon white vinegar added)
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ½ cup golden raisins, softened in hot water and drained
- Zest of one orange
- 4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and frozen for 15 minutes
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Whisk the buttermilk and egg together; set aside. Combine walnuts, golden raisins and orange zest; set aside.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the very cold butter and pulse until the dough resembles coarse crumbs.
- Pour flour mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the walnut mixture and make a well in the center. Pour buttermilk mixture into well and gently fold the dough together. With floured hands, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until dough just comes together. Shape into a 7”- 8” round loaf. Do not overwork the dough.
- Transfer loaf to baking sheet. Cut a deep X into the top of the loaf, cutting about ¾ of the way down into the loaf. Bake until crust is golden brown and center registers 200⁰F., approximately 50-55 minutes. If top of loaf browns too quickly, cover with aluminum foil.
- Remove from the oven and allow bread to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm, at room temperature, or toasted with lashings of butter. Bread can be stored wrapped in aluminum foil at room temperature for 2-3 days.
Slightly adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction