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It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken: The Smart Girl's Break-Up Buddy Excerpt from It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken: The Smart Girl's Break-Up Buddy

by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt

He's Not Hiding At the Bottom of That Pint of Ice Cream

When going through a breakup, we know it's natural to try to numb your pain by reaching out for things that make you feel good. Martinis. French fries. Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. That's why we chose an image of ice cream for our book cover -- because it seemed to be the universal symbol of the comfort we all reach for when trying to get over a broken heart. Okay, so booze ran a close second, but we thought a picture of a half-empty Long Island Iced Tea and an ashtray of smoldering butts would be too depressing. It's completely natural to seek some kind of temporary relief and distraction from the pain you are experiencing right now. But while numbing yourself is a coping strategy, it's not an effective one. The feelings that accompany a traumatic breakup can easily lead to an avalanche of bad behavior. Harmless vices that you used to indulge in every once in a while -- cigarettes, donut holes, blowing a week's salary on a pair of shoes -- now suddenly become a way of life. But diving into a downward spiral doesn't hurt him -- it only hurts you, and why would you want to do that?

Drowning your sorrows in the comforts of excess won't get him back -- it'll only make you fatter, drunker, and sadder. Not that there's anything wrong with being fat, drunk, and sad -- after all, look how it worked out for Ernest Hemingway. Breakups present an awesome opportunity for self-destructive behavior that often seems warranted but proves detrimental in the end. Whether you wake up in somebody else's bed, on the floor, or curled up inside an empty pizza box, this behavior only momentarily derails you from your agony. When you wake up, you'll be right back where you were the night before -- still broken up, but now nursing a nasty hangover of excess or regret, and no further along on the road to recovery. Not that we're against a good romp in the hay, night on the town, or pint of Chunky Monkey -- just understand that it's like putting a Band-Aid over a broken bone. It's not going to fix anything.

"Oh really?" you ask. "What should I do, then, stay home and read? Maybe I'll get my taxes done early or pop in a workout video." Let's not get carried away. We'd never ask you to do something as hateful as a workout video (unless you know of a really good one). We're merely suggesting that you lean into the idea of making healthier choices. Fun does not always have to come at the expense of your waistline or brain cells. You want to feel good about the choices you're making starting right now -- not tomorrow morning, when you're hungover and making resolutions, or trying to broker a deal with God if he'll only take away your heartache.

Look, we applaud you for getting out of the house. In fact, getting out of the house is one of the best steps you can take. Go out with your friends. Put yourself in the driver's seat and start moving on with your life. Just try to be smart about it. Trying to soothe yourself during tough times is natural, and we encourage that. However, self-destructive behavior masked as soothing yourself is what we want to steer you away from. Look, we're no saints. We've made bad decisions along the torturous road of breakups (that's why we feel suitably equipped to write this book), but we've learned that the momentary lapse of pain that occurs when you've dulled your senses with Cosmopolitans or overloaded them with kisses from that not-so-attractive stranger in the bar is just that . . . MOMENTARY. It's fleeting and ultimately keeps you stuck in the pain longer. Every morning after, the sting of the breakup will come flooding back in and drag you back into the pits of despair. Only now, coupled with your grief you'll most likely have regret: regret over all those carbs and fat calories you consumed, regret over sleeping with your best friend's boyfriend, regret over the packs of cigarettes and vodka tonics that make climbing the stairs an impossible chore.

Drinking, eating, shopping, revenge, rebound sex, drugs, or whatever your poison may be will numb the pain -- but that's all. People by nature are very afraid to feel pain. But often the thought of pain is actually worse than the pain itself. It's never as bad as you think it's going to be. And you can't get over the heartbreak until you let yourself feel it. Sorry, Charlie, but that's the fact. It's like any grieving process -- if you bury the pain deep down it will stay with you indefinitely, but if you open yourself to it, experience it, and deal with it head-on, you'll find it begins to move on after a while. Putting down that pint of ice cream may not FEEL like the right thing to do, but if you change your behavior first, your feelings will follow. A very smart doctor once told us that. The behavior sometimes has to come before the feelings, so instead of doing something falsely satisfying that you'll regret, why not try doing something that you'll hate now (like deep-conditioning your hair and going to bed early) but be proud of later.

Copyright 2005 Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt

Excerpted from It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt . Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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