Breaking Up: A Recovery Timeline

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breakup ex
We take you through the stages of breakup recovery, from screaming to swooning over someone new.

You will, without a doubt, endure the pain of a breakup at some point in your life.

It won't be easy, it will hurt like hell, but if you prepare yourself now for what you can expect then, perhaps you can make it easier on yourself. It still won't be a walk in the park, but nothing is a walk in the park except for a walk in the park.

We take you through the stages of destroying your photos of him to "I'm sorry. You look familiar, but I really can't place you."

Day 1: You scream and yell. 
You even scream and yell at people who just want to help. Out of rage you kick your wall, destroy some photos, and block your ex on every form of social media there is. You don't even use LinkedIn, because no one does, but you block him there, too. You’ll show him what life without you is really going to feel like.

Day 3: You cry. A lot.
You pick through the trash to tape the photos you destroyed back together, but have little luck thanks to the 48 hours they spent in a pool of pizza sauce. You regret blocking your ex on Facebook, so you unblock them and, in a moment of total insanity, send them a friend request. You're going to get back together, after all. It was just a little fight. Your request is denied, and he blocks you. Maybe you're not getting back together?

Week 1: You can't get out of bed.
It's OK; you really don't have to and anyone who says otherwise simply doesn’t understand. It's not that you're tired per se; you're just weak from crying and destroying tangible memories. Although it pains you, you want to keep tabs on your ex, as any rational human being would want. You know whomever they date next won't live up to the greatness that is you, but you want to make sure; you have to make sure. You create a fake Facebook account pretending you're a friend from high school and send him a friend request. You are denied. Not just that, but he sends you a Facebook message saying that he knows it's you before blocking your fake profile. You lie; you say it must have been a friend who really cares about you… or something. In your humiliation, you decide it's time for vodka and ice cream. Only Bridget Jones would understand your misery.

Week 3: You've been hungover every day for two weeks.
You tell anyone who will listen how awful your ex is. You know that the majority of your stories are highly exaggerated, but you reason with yourself that it's OK; you're heartbroken. You debate showing up at his work and making a tearful plea to be taken back, but decide you don’t want to show weakness. You then seriously consider showing up at his work simply to make a scene and embarrass him, but realize that’s counterproductive. Instead, you put in an email all the things you want to say, send it, then regret it. You then order a pizza and eat the whole thing, which you also regret the second you're done eating it. So, you make a box of brownies to quell your regret, and eat all of them, too.

Month 1: You need a change.
You've packed away or burned everything that reminds you of your ex, so now it’s time to switch up your living situation. Although you consider moving to someplace exotic like Morocco, you decide painting your walls a cheery color and putting your bed against the other wall will do the trick. Just when you start thinking of how your ex will respond to this new layout when he comes over, you stop yourself, come back to reality, take two sleeping pills and go to bed. After a month of crying, drinking, and eating non-stop you've realized sleeping it off is best. You, however, dream about him endlessly, and the next morning type "Memory Erasing Techniques" into Google.

Month 3: You know you're not over your ex, like, AT ALL, but go out with that dude in accounting who's been after you ever since you started working at your job.
Although you're no longer "friends" with your ex on Facebook, you've since unlocked your Instagram and Twitter so he can see just how happy you are because, you know, obviously he's checking in on you. While you tell your friends that this date is your attempt to move forward, after all the photos of the two of you you've posted obsessively on Instagram, it becomes clear that there was another reason you agreed to going out with the guy. You hope your ex will pop up and comment, but when he never does, you ask the dude from accounting if you can go out again. He says thanks but no thanks. On your way home from work you psychotically scream at a couple kissing, call them names that don't even make sense, and make a ridiculous threat like, "I'm going to stab you with your own teeth if you don't stop being in love!"

Month 6: You're feeling OK.
You've gotten control of the pizza and ice cream situation, stopped yelling at people in love on the street, and, after several failed attempts at luring your ex in via many fake Facebook accounts, have given up on that particular pastime. You make an online dating profile because you think you're ready, but out of fear of him seeing it, or a friend of his seeing it, you make all the photos on it of your cat. The only people who respond to your profile are those who also have cat photos, but sensing there might be something wrong with them, you never write back. You fail to see the irony of this until five years later.

Year 1: The remaining twinge of pain has officially dissipated and you're almost back to the person you were before the break up.
You're quite certain he wasn't the one for you, and having heard that he lost his job and is now living back at his parents' house, your realization if further confirmed. You no longer worry about running into him because, well, he's back in Iowa, and even if you did, you'd be fine. You might even be civil, in a very passive aggressive, sarcastic, "I'm so much better without you" way. Or you might even pretend you don't even remember who he is: "I'm sorry. You look familiar, but I really can't place you."

Year 2: Your faith in love has officially been restored after several successful dates with a suitor over whom you swoon even when he's not around.
You're still moderately pissed at your ex (you may always be at least a little bit), but you realize you had to love him and lose him to be the person you are today. You snuggle in close with your love on the couch, eating ice cream together and watching reruns of Parks and Rec together. You are happy. You are happier than you thought possible. When you cry now, it's because you're just SO. DAMN. HAPPY.

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