Hey you. Yes, you, with the broken heart, puffy eyes, and “I just got dumped” written across your face in watery tracks of mascara. You might not know me, but I know you. I’ve been you. And I know exactly what you’re going through.
I know the humiliation you felt while walking home after that fateful conversation. I know how your lungs burned as you gasped for air after shutting the door and crumpling to the ground, willing the day to end at 12:15 on a Thursday afternoon. I know you called your friends, sobbed into their arms, and asked them what’s wrong with you. They were right when they told you, “Nothing.” I know you didn’t believe them.
You don’t have to tell me that this came out of nowhere; nor do you need to explain how foolish you feel for not reading the signs. I get it. I didn’t then, but I do now. And now, as sure as I knew the pain of the initial breakup, I know the first step to getting over it: getting the last word. Once you’ve dried your tears, picked yourself off the floor, and steadied your racing heartbeat, you’ve got to find a way to channel your anger and despair into something more productive than the amount of force with which you thrust your spoon into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. That’s why everyone should learn how to write a post breakup letter.
Before you even think about putting words to paper, you have to take care of yourself. You probably won’t have slept for a couple of days and although you’ve told your mom you’re eating well, you’ll have found that even chicken parm has lost its flavor. So eat. Trust me, you can’t write rage on an empty stomach. Also shower because you look like hell and you spent good money on that Dove Go Fresh Cool Moisture Body Wash. Use it.
Next, defuse some of your anger—but be productive. His t-shirts, for example? Oh, he’s not getting those back. Use them to mop up after your leaking dishwasher (and make a mental note to call apartment maintenance in the morning). Hopefully he’ll have given you something nice—not likely expensive, but extremely breakable—for the holidays. I promise you won’t miss that vase.
Feeling better? Good. Now get writing.
Start by reminding him that you didn’t need this relationship. In fact, you were originally put off by his loudness, obnoxious wardrobe, and the way he said you were good for his “brand.” Tell him you enjoyed being single and under the radar, but you gave him a second chance and accidentally fell in love. Tell him you regret that because “I” and “Love” and “You” aren’t a ticket to free sex and that they mean more than the title of an Avett Brothers song. Tell him the reference was intentional and that the original rendition is better than his.
Tell him he ruined your old favorite songs.
Confess that you spoke too soon when you told the world that he made you happy. You were too trusting, too eager to believe in “meant to be.”
Don’t be afraid to bring up the past. In fact, do bring it up. Let him know that you haven’t forgotten your first date, first kiss, and first party together. Recall lazy mornings, the time you fell asleep watching a nature documentary, got lost on a hike, and danced to 80s music. Remind him of your ukulele duet, the 4:00am drive to the airport, and that orange dress he liked.
Ask him what happens to those memories now because I honestly don’t know.
I know you may be tempted to use profane titles such as “dick” and “asshole” and “narcissistic bastard,” but refrain. Those obscenities aren’t quite as constructive as calling him “selfish” and “immature” and “cowardly” and recommending that he get a f*cking haircut.
Write about your wasted plans: the camping trip this spring, the Buzzfeed recipes you haven’t tried, your sister he hasn’t met, and the pictures you never framed. Ask him why he filled your head with dreams and heart with hope, only to pull away when he encountered uncertainty. Demand to know what changed.
You might have just met his parents (and decided you like his mom just as much if not more than her son), but that won’t stop him from calling things off two days later. Because when he accused his friends of emotional immaturity he failed to include himself amongst their ranks. Remember you deserve better.
Tell him your roommate was happy to receive his Valentine’s Day gift, but don’t tell your roommates about this letter. They mean well, but they won’t remember the color of his eyes behind the glasses, how thoroughly you cleaned the apartment before he came over, how he dressed when he met your mother, and how his made you feel like family.
Tell him that you’re hurting, you’re confused, and that you wish he’d done things differently. Tell him he owes you an apology.
He likely won’t ask to meet up, choosing instead to respond to your letter with a text (cowardly, remember?), but that’s ok. Because texts can be deleted, phone calls hung up, but it takes slightly longer for paper to burn. As for online articles? They’re here to stay and he should have thought about that before breaking your heart.
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