My Ex Is Famous And So Am I: What It's Like To Break Up When You're A Celebrity

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My Ex Is Famous And So Am I: What It's Like To Break Up When You're A Celebrity

Shiri Appleby has been on such hit shows as 'Roswell' and 'Life Unexpected.' She also starred in 'Dating Rules From My Future Self,' and was kind enough to give us a glimpse into what a famous breakup looks and feels like in this personal essay.

Breaking up is my least favorite thing in the world to do. How did something so good get so bad so fast? It boggles my mind. I toss. I turn. I emotionally vomit my pain on anyone who'll listen. I'm awful at breaking up, especially when the person I'm not so thrilled about breaking up with is famous. Why, you ask? Well, because then I take my wrenching pain to a whole new, obsessive level.

The main difference between a famous breakup and ending it with an average guy is that, in the case of the famous split, I have to possess some award-winning self-control, which I do not have.

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In the wake of my last famous breakup, within seconds of waking up and starting my day, I turned on my computer and began the first round in my self-torture chamber. I clicked on the bookmark for Just Jared (my all-time favorite gossip website) and began to browse. In that moment, there was no way I could deal with Perez telling me, "I told you so!" 

Before the first hit of coffee had even touched my lips, I was scouring a plethora of new paparazzi shots of my newly minted ex-boyfriend out and about the previous night. It was a weird experience, and it hurt to see photos of him existing post-breakup. It was like having the truth smack me in the face, shouting that he was no longer mine and that I was now, in fact, single. Looking at those paparazzi shots, I knew I was bordering on stalker, "Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction" behavior, but I didn't really care. It wasn't like I was doing something other girls don't do. Facebook and Twitter anyone?

But, instead of imagining the pain and agony he was living without me, I was able to see actual proof that he'd moved on (whether or not that was true).

I knew I'd be screwed if it appeared that he was loving the bachelor limelight. If he looked tortured and lost and all those painful adjectives that appear in every love song imaginable that I was then playing on repeat (see Alicia Keys' "No One"), I knew I was golden because it would be clear that I made a difference to him. That's all I really want to know when a relationship is over: Did our time together mean anything?

After starting my online stalk-fest, I started working the phones. I called every girlfriend imaginable so we could analyze his facial expression in each shot. Did he have bags under his eyes? He clearly did, which could only mean two things: He was either on a four-day Hollywood bender (Lindsay Lohan-style), or he hadn't slept because of the agony he was feeling since I left him.

This latter theory would prove that he knew he was wrong for not manning up and being more than the douchy-yet-loveable character he plays in every romantic comedy imaginable. My friends and I (we had conferenced in two others at this point) discussed the likelihood of both options with me secretly manipulating the conversation (i.e. "he's heartbroken without me"). There was no chatter from him on Twitter or any notable mentions, which left me feeling good about the prospect that the only activity he could muster was to take an Ambien and watch reruns of Roswell.

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That's all before "it" happened — "it" being someone calling on the other line.

I put my friends on hold, only to be confronted with more truth than I could handle. Cue my manager's voice: "He was out last night with her. He went back to her!"

"Her" was his ex, the hottest thing ever. The girl I had thought about during the course of our relationship (including, sometimes, during intercourse), and had hoped, wished, and prayed had never existed. He was back with her. I wanted to vomit my brains out. I thought he was better than that. I thought he was over wanting a girl with a six-pack and preferred a girl with a brain and a touch of beauty. I guess I thought wrong.

While the horror of my worst nightmare was coming true, I dragged myself to get a pedicure so I could scour all the tabloid magazines for free.

I read every Star, OK!, Us Weekly and In Touch magazine that had been published in the past two weeks so I could finally get the inside story on our relationship. At this point, I knew it was over. But I was looking for closure, and there was no way I was giving him the satisfaction of knowing he got to me, that he got to my heart in such a profound, stay-up-all-night-and-write-in-my-journal kind of way. I would much rather read about what went down between us from some writers who knew absolutely nothing concrete about me... or so I thought. 

Turning the page and seeing my favorite paparazzi shot of the two of us was jarring enough, but what was even weirder was reading an article about my relationship that was 100 percent accurate. I mean, how did they get all that? How did they know how many times he met my parents and what we were saying to our friends behind each other's back? I mean, it's not like I'm as gossip-worthy as he is. I'm barely famous, so it's not the lure of a payday that got someone to squeal.

The next time the phone rang, it crossed my mind that maybe so-and-so was calling not just to check in on me but to cash a check off of me.

After a few seconds of this tortuous thinking, I told myself to give it up 'cause who really cares? If you act with decency to a person you're romantically involved with, who cares what gets out? It's not like I share all my S&M stories anyway. Being "famous" in that regard is a lot like being popular in high school. People share your stories because that's part of having everyone know who you are. It comes with the territory, so I decided I'd rather not make every friend a suspect and just get on with my life, which included mending my broken heart.

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So, how to move on when all this press is working to do the opposite? For starters, I put a ban on the Internet and gossip rags. As much as I love Just Jared, I just couldn't do it. I didn't make any comments on the breakup to anyone. I made a vow to smile and wish him the best while I was still crumbling on the inside. I kept the TV turned off. 

Still, there were those moments I couldn't control.

Picture me sweating my brains out on the elliptical at the gym when his face comes blaring out on five of the seven TV screens meant to keep me moving. Some days I wanted to shrivel up and die. Other days I used the sight of his primetime face to motivate me to keep my body nice and tight for the next guy. If he was starring in a flick at the local cinema, I'd evaluate how the movie was doing before I'd step foot in a theater.

If it was a hit, there was no way in hell I felt strong enough to see him romancing the likes of Scarlett Johansson or Natalie Portman and making me fall for it. But, if it was a stinker, I was there opening night. Nothing makes getting over a guy faster than seeing him be the worst actor ever in the biggest bomb of the season. If I could sell that experience, I'd never have to work again, which means I'd never have to audition again, which means I'd be the happiest girl on the planet.

And the most important thing I had to do was to want to move on. I had to want to be a functioning member of society again. I mean, there's only so much time I felt I could steal from my friends' or parents' lives. I want to learn from my choices so it was important that I identified what it was I was attracted to in the first place. This led me back to the single life. The goal was to take one of his good qualities with me as I continued on my search for the guy I'm meant to be with. I realized I am only responsible for how I'm feeling, and in that moment I chose to feel over it.

Whether or not you're famous, when dealing with heartbreak, in my opinion, it's all the same.

It hurts like hell when something you've loved is over. We all try to protect ourselves and make everyone think we're doing okay, only to talk about the pain we're going through with our closest friends (and therapist, if we're lucky) later. We all want dirt on the guy because we want to hear that he's hurting without us and when we find out that he's doing okay, from the press or our own personal rumorville, it stings just the same. Heartbreak is heartbreak is heartbreak. I mean, we're all losing the same thing, right? We're all losing the feeling of being chosen, aren't we? It is what it is. It's one more thing we've survived that shows us we can handle anything and are more than ready to meet our match, the guy who will turn this pain into a thing of the past. Bring it on, I say! Bring him on…