I'm twenty-four, and everybody just says I'm heartbroken but I think it's way more than that. Heartbroken to me just means you're sad about something. But I can't even eat. I can't even sleep. I don't want to do anything. When Jake said he was in love with someone else and wasn't coming back, it was like a bomb went off and now I can't even find one tiny little bit of the way my life used to be. I hear love songs and I cry. I see babies and I cry. How can I get out of this. I have to get out of this. Please help me if you can.
Heartbroken x 1000
Dear Heartbroken x 1000,
Second only to the dying of a loved one, what you are going through, in my opinion, is the most horrible emotional experience a person can endure without bleeding. Yes, bombs did go off, but only inside your head. All of the filing cabinets in there, plus your in-out boxes, your post-its, your hard-drives, your back-ups, even your nice rolling desk-chair with the orthopedic backrest, everything that used to give structure to your life has now been reshaped by this bomb into a pile of rubble.
And what hoodlum planted these bombs? Here's the great news: It wasn't that shithead Jake. No, there were two other bumbling assassins at work: Thinking and Feeling. And so in order to keep more bombs from going off, it's these two Bad Boys you're going to have to get to know a little better so you can understand how they operate.
Thoughts and Feelings are distinctly different from each other. Thoughts dash and dart, zig and zag, here one moment, gone the next. They're more like hummingbirds.
Feelings move more slowly, soar and glide and undulate and swell and flare, and when they arrive, they take their own sweet time leaving. They're more like whales.
If you have a Feeling, most of the time it's been delivered by a Thought. It may seem that the Feeling has arrived in a rush on its own, but that's because the delivery boy is so efficient.
But here, if you ask me, is the Main Difference: Your Thinking is modern. It keeps up with Now. It reads the papers. But your Feelings are as ancient as your species. They're geared for the old fashioned requirements of survival, when we weren't the smartest thing in the muck and we had to act fast, and now Feelings are just old fogies who haven't changed for eons.
May I hurry up and tell you a short tale in hopes of shedding some light on what the hell I'm talking about? One evening, as we were getting ready for bed, my wife said, 'Look! Your cute little fanny's going away!' She laughed sweetly when she said it. Yet for days I could not get it out of my mind. One night I got up to pee and saw myself standing on a footstool trying to see the reflection of my ass in the medicine cabinet mirror. As it turned out, my wife had a point, but why were the contours of my butt keeping me awake at night?
Here's my guess: I'm up on that footstool because I don't want to die yet. If my ass-cheeks are going down the chute, can my liver and lungs be far behind? My Thinking tapped into a primordial Feeling that I have no control over. It's not my ass I'm clinging to. It's Life. Living.
It's my guess that the same nonsense is at work with you, which is the same nonsense at work with absolutely everyone who falls in love and then loses their lover to someone else. What really happened, if you boil it down, is that you lost a mating partner. After food and shelter, is there anything more basic to survival of the species than courtship? And now an ancient alarm is going off, but your fancy evolved brain clutters the survival process with all kinds of useless modern torment, such as self-loathing and self-pity and depression and the loss of what it takes to comb your hair.
So what's to be done? I'm sorry to report that you cannot rewire your outdated alarm system. What has to happen is you have to change the delivery boy: your Thinking.
I know that mixing metaphors breaks all sorts of grammatical laws, but I don't care, I'm going to keep my crime spree alive. What if, instead of delivery boys, you now think of your Thinking as a zippy little sports car inside your head. It's got a steering wheel and an accelerator and a brake and sometimes it seems all tuned up and peppy and sometimes it doesn't. The problem is, there's only one tiny window, and so as you look out, you only get a small glimpse of the Big Picture.
At the moment, your little car is stuck going around and around and around and around and around, and all you can see when you look out that one little window is that gigantic statue in the center of the rotary: A proud and powerful stallion rearing up, and on its broad and muscular bare back is naked Jake making love with -- can that be Aphrodite? I actually think it might be. Your boyfriend's screwing the goddess of love Aphrodite on the back of a horse. And chiseled into the granite beneath it is a plaque that reads, Jake The Magnificent Having More Fun Than He's Ever Had Ever With Heartbroken x 1000. Around and around and around you go, and that fucking statue is all you can see.
You got to stop that car. You just got to. You got to pull over and get out. You gotta stop Thinking about Jake. Do it. Grip the steering wheel, pull to the shoulder, brake.
Atta girl. Now get out.
Terrific. There you go. Now stretch. Breathe deeply. In... Out... In... Out...I sn't that ni--
Uh-oh. Thinking's back! Run, Heartbroken x 1000, run! Hide in the tall grass!
Good... Good... Good... Good.
There. Doesn't the sun feel nice? Close your eyes. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. The longer you can stay out of that little miserable car, the sooner that little miserable car won't seem so miserable, and you'll be able to climb back into it, start her up, and maybe just go get an ice cream cone. The game-changer is this:
I want to rephrase that again for emphasis:
TIME TIME TIME
Or, to put it another way: