The first series of The Breakup Monologues podcast is available free on iTunes, Spotify and all good podcast platforms and features guests including Dolly Alderton, Sofie Hagen, Kate Smurthwaite and more. A second series will be released on Fridays from 8 February 2019. The next live recordings will be at Poplar Union on 13 February and Kings Place on 15 March, 12 April and 10 May.
Character comedian Jane appears on the second Breakup Monologues podcast. Here’s her advice for the recently dumped…
Newly single is super scary. It’s raw, vulnerable, intense emotional and physical pain. My last break up felt like someone had ripped my skin off.
Sound familiar? Listen – things do get better, slowly, too slowly at times, but they do get better. Here are ten top tips that helped me through my last break up and will hopefully help you through your own shitty god-awful time. I could tell you what NOT to do, but let’s focus on what TO DO to make these coming months, days, hours, and seconds manageable.
1. Make your bed your own
The harsh truth is you now sleep alone. Wash those sheets and pillows. It’s time to freshen up that bed. If the break up was really bad then BURN the bed. Ok, maybe you can’t afford to burn it…this time.. but do buy brushed cotton pillowcases and get a cosy fleece blanket. Get to Dunelm Mill, baby. Yeah, that’s right – bring in the fucking fleece! Make your bed as comfortable as physically possible for yourself. The main positive here is that you now have a whole bed to yourself. A WHOLE BED! Sleep down the middle and starfish out that shit. It’s a luxury many people would gladly sell their right kidney for. If you still feel like the bed is haunted by the relationship – get an exorcism.
2. Buy a hot water bottle
Two relationships ago a close friend bought me a ‘breaking up’ present. A Russian doll hot water bottle. He said, “Here, you’re going to need this now you’re on your own.” Bit harsh. Luckily, I found the funny side of it because he was right. I needed it. Hot water bottles offer major comfort. Top tip: Use your hot water bottle with your new fleece blanket while you snuggle up in bed or on the sofa binging on Netflix.
3. Make use of your friends
In my last relationship, I didn’t spend as much time with my friends because I always spent time with my ex’s friends. *Massive red flag. When my relationship broke down my friends were like gold. Talk to your friends and when they ask you out for a cuppa say yes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Top tip: Be nosey. Find out how other people got through their break ups. Often you’ll get a nugget of wisdom and realise you’re not alone. You will also learn that not all friends are in the perfect relationship they seem to be.
4. Fresh air, walk and exercise
You may not feel like it, but get fresh air. Go for a walk, cycle, or swim. Whatever floats your boat. Maybe you have a boat. Go boating. Try and do something to shake up all that negative energy and turn it into good energy. Walking and other exercise helps you get out any anger, tension and help cope with depression. Top tip: Do what you can no matter how small it seems.
5. Audiobooks and Podcasts
You don’t have to be alone with your thoughts. When you go on your walks, exercise or do stuff around the house listen to audiobooks and podcasts. In my last breakup I listened to loads of comedy audiobooks. Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey kept me company for months as I walked up and down Brighton & Hove seafront crying and taking photos of the broken down West Pier which seemed to mirror my broken down soul. Those audiobooks helped me through the crappy days and made me look forward to going outside. Top tip:Invest in big ass headphones for better sound and to block out the world when you need to!
Certain smells are familiar and comforting. However, now is the time to mix it up. No reminders of that smelly ex. Treat yourself to delicious new shampoo/conditioner/shower gel and moisturisers. Make yourself smell fresh! Top tip: Buy that perfume you loved but your ex hated!
Eating regularly will help you immensely but for extra help take vitamins and probiotics everyday for your body and your brain. Top tip: My favourites are Cod liver oil, evening primrose, Floradix, Vitamin D and Magnesium.
Get enough sleep. Get as much sleep as you can to heal. Use earplugs and a night mask in your comfy ass new bed sheets. Top tip: Have a bath before bed to relax and use your new yummy smelling products.
9. Journal and Crafts
Write it all out. Write morning, evening and whenever you need to get through the day. Your journal is your bestfriend. Be creative. Draw and take photographs. Create. Top tip: Make a Voodoo doll so you know your ex is going through the same pain you are – if not worse.
Just cry. It’s good for you. Don’t be afraid of crying. Let it out. I’m convinced crying also gives you great skin. So many people said to me, “You may be sad, but your skin looks great!” Eventually the day will come where you don’t cry. Top tip: Get some soft tissues to cry in to.
Hopefully my top ten tips help you. Don’t go through a breakup alone. Seek professional help if you feel you’re struggling. Counselling is great and talk to your Doctor if you feel you need help with sleep or coping with depression.
My last break up felt like the end of the world especially as I was cheated on. It took a long time and all the tips above to get me on my feet. I’m now three years down the line and happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life. I’ve realised the relationship was a million miles away from being perfect. Sometimes these bad experiences have to happen so you get to a better place in your life even if you don’t feel like it now. Trust me. Now, do you need help burning that bed?
Poet Sophia Blackwell performed at our pilot Breakup Monologues event at Blue Elephant Theatre and guest-hosted at Wilderness. She shares her experience of being dumped …
It took seven hundred days to get over her. Slightly less than half the length of our relationship. I’m not a patient person, my wife will tell you that. Seven hundred days was quite enough for me.
Joni Mitchell once sang ‘You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.’ But I did. I had someone who I loved, who said she loved me, who I didn’t yet have a reason to stop loving. We had steady jobs and a two-room flat on the Barnsbury-Holloway borders with an unspecified damp problem. I was obscenely happy.
This was the life I’d chosen.. What I didn’t know then was that sometimes you don’t have to ask for much in order for things to go wrong. We moved in together and made plans, sitting on our bare, new-carpeted floors, alight with excitement. Exactly a year later, it all went tits up.
Whether you get dumped or find a lump, my advice is the same. Don’t look at the Internet. It’s basically where hope goes to die.
Seven things you’re supposed to do when you’ve been dumped, according to the Internet:
- Write a journal about your godawful life
- Drink tea, even if you never liked it in the first place
- Eat vegetables or exercise or something as if things weren’t bad enough already
- Enjoy your pathetically huge double bed
- Practice the kind of self-care that doesn’t have a screw-top
- Be calm. Be Zen. Don’t do anything rash
Seven things I actually did after being dumped:
- Hooked up, or tried to, with literally anyone who’d shown any interest in me before The Badness
- Cried in the toilets at the Ivy
- Switched to a diet of trans-fats and competitively priced wine
- Jumped into a relationship with someone unavailable
- Re-watched the finale of Six Feet Under and cried so hard I nearly ruptured my face
- Bought some really weird clothes in Top Shop
- Cried in John Lewis because she got to keep those cushions
Seven things I learned from being dumped:
- Grief doesn’t go in a straight line. Some days you’ll be borderline fine and some days it’ll blindside you. One bad day doesn’t mean the start of another one-way Megabus journey into darkness
- It’s OK not to like tea. You’re not going to start now
- It doesn’t matter if your rebound flings are the exact opposite of what you’re looking for in a partner. You’re not going to marry them. That’s the point
- It doesn’t feel like it now, but you are the lucky one. You have been spared from a mediocre relationship; whenever you feel nostalgic, just remember those last few weeks of screaming at each other and sleeping on a pullout couch. You no longer have to process someone else’s disappointment with your dinner every day. You don’t have to go to couple’s counselling or relationship retreats or bloody awful dinner parties where people talk about catchment areas. Hooray!
- You will be a different person when you come out of this. You may not have wanted to be. You might miss your unscarred self. You may resent these lessons; you may question whether there was any point. There may not be one. Sorry
- Don’t watch the finale of Six Feet Under until you’re a bit less fragile
- Have faith. Someone out there is waiting for you. Someone who loves you for the reasons that Mr or Ms. Wrong didn’t. Try to enjoy your freedom before the One snaps you up and you have to start thinking about catchment areas again.
It sounds like a long time, seven hundred days. The important thing is, they ended. And the Internet was actually right about a couple of things – writing a journal helped, and joining a gym at least offset some of the cheese and wine.
Seven years after The Badness, I married someone who loved the grown-up version of me- not the unhurt, half-formed girl I thought I still wanted to be. Like I said, I’m not a patient person, but some things are worth the wait.
Award-winning author Karen McLeod had us in stitches as her alter ego Barbara Brownskirt at The Breakup Monologues in October at Vauxhall Tavern. Here, she writes in her own voice about her early sexual experiences …
As soon as all the girls in my class started to have sex with boys, I , like a lemming, got myself in line. In Beckenham in 1988 there were no alternative desires on the shop shelves of life, although there were plenty hidden in my body for a girl named Sophie. In fact, it’s no coincidence that Sophie was the one who was promoting all the boy sex. I was so desperate to appear like her, to her, that I became competitive about the boy sex. So, when I finally planned some with a boy named Paul Clifford I made sure that it would have a good story wrapped round it. Paul was a sixth former at the boys’ school that we met up with for Drama. I planned a trip to a golf course in Kent and stripped him naked, D H Lawrence style, in the woods by a bunker. We had it off to the sound of golf balls being thwacked. Afterwards, on the bus home, we had a sandwich and I decided that no girls could really enjoy sex based on the golf woodland experience. It was obvious; they were just going along with it to keep the human race going.
You might have thought I would have listened to my body at this point, wouldn’t you? But no, like all teenagers, no one spoke of their lives as if they had a voice. We knew nothing of American colloquialisms and Oprah was yet to appear on our screens. So, I carried on doing the opposite to how I really felt. This began a long pattern of having sex in order to tell stories. And to every man I went to bed with I said, “I love you” when I should have just said, “I don’t really want to do the sex thanks. Can we just talk about French new wave cinema instead?”
I was twenty-three when I met my first proper girlfriend. Polly looked a bit like Linda Evangelista but shorter with one sticky-out ear. It was she that split me up from the girl who thought sex was a job you have to do. Polly taught me to orgasm by lying with my legs open with a jet directed towards my clitoris in her mother’s hot tub on the top floor of a posh house in Islington. Boarding school girls all learnt to unleash themselves this way, she said. The experience was like learning to slice open a boiled egg efficiently with a knife – once I knew how, I would be able to do it efficiently forever.
I remember I went home and stared at the women in my family – did my grandmother and mother know about this whirling anarchic feeling that could overtake our minds? I decided no. Only the men would have had orgasms in my family (me and my sister were evidence of this). Besides, my mother openly despised all talk of the “bedroom” by screwing up her nose and having scatter cushions, upright as soldiers, on every bed.
As much as Polly taught me about the fruits of sex, I learned nothing about intimacy. My fault not hers. Being a closet lesbian meant that I kept breaking up with her when she tried to get close. The reality of what I was doing was too much. It followed a pattern – when she was too loving I would feel suffocated, get drunk and say “I need space”. She’d give me space then I would get scared she was sleeping with someone else, so, I would charm her back. This continued on and off for a couple of years.. Even when I went to live in Sydney she still flew out to see me. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be wild and have a girlfriend. She flew home, the gap between us even larger than the distance. But I still thought I had an unshakeable grip over her.
One day I phoned her and she told me she had been to A&E for pouring a cup of tea in her ear. I knew it was near impossible for this to be a solo accident. And it was true – another woman had dropped hot liquid in her ear in bed that morning. I knew it was probably over, but still believed that, when I got back to London, we would get back together.
Even when she got married to an actress a few years ago and they asked me to do a speech at their wedding, and when I held their newborn baby the other day, I’m still unsure that my twenties and all that went on with her in them can mean it’s truly over.
Author and comedian VG Lee brought the house down with a hilarious look inside her ‘agony aunt postbag’ at our pilot Breakup Monologues event in July at Blue Elephant Theatre. She performs for us again at Rich Mix on Nov 17. Here she takes a more serious, personal approach to the theme of breakups…
My first lesbian relationship lasted nearly five years. It was passionate and exciting… yet it deflated faster than a punctured balloon on the day I told her that I was finally going to leave my husband.
I was in my mid-thirties. I hadn’t started writing at that point but I was always observant. I still remember the way the expression on her face changed from pleasure at seeing me after being apart over Christmas… to fear.
“Are you sure?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said. “Quite sure. Aren’t you pleased?”
“Of course, I’m pleased.” But she wasn’t.
As a child I was always the first to put up my hand with an answer. Invariably it was the wrong answer, the wrong conclusion. As an adult I have trained myself to take my time to think things out. So it took me years to process how and why hot could blow cold, love become resentment over a matter of seconds.
At the time I wasn’t ready to believe that our relationship was dead. How could it be? However, six months later when I’d finally plucked up the courage to leave my marriage, what remained was a poor and tattered thing. I certainly wasn’t the cheerful, loving, funny woman I had been. I’d become a harridan, bombarding her with recriminations, clinging on with desperation, sometimes hysterical. Constantly I threw all her previous loving words and promises back in her face while she, for her own protection, brought down the storm shutters and blocked me out.
I’d lost everything I cared about; my in-law family that I loved dearly. My own family stepped back, unwilling to take sides just in case I returned to my marriage. For the first time ever I was on my own. Between being married and a long-term affair, I’d left no room in my life to make friends. I hadn’t thought them necessary.
As with many breakups, it didn’t end there. Had she and I not worked together we may well have gone our separate ways. But we saw each other most days through work and, over time, the situation calmed down. We became friends, not lover or partners, although as with any huge emotional upheaval, much of the anger on both sides still remained just below the surface, ready to spill over in moments of stress.
Once again, I misjudged the situation. Now in my head and heart, we were best friends – two women sharing a life based on respect and friendship – almost sisters. We would take holidays together, share dinners, trips to the cinema, the weekend supermarket shop. Not a bad alternative. It seemed enough for me. I assumed it was enough for her.
In our early forties, she met someone else. Not some wicked temptress – a friendly younger woman with a sense of humour. Both of them were most concerned for my welfare. They assured me that instead of one friend, I now had two. But two friends holding hands, kissing and going to bed and on holidays together weren’t the friends I was hoping for to accompany me into middle age! Suddenly, between one weekend and the next, our cozy weekend supermarket shop became a thing of the past.
This was our final break-up. For more than a year I struggled to accept it. Alone in my flat, there were nights when I felt closer to being a fatally-wounded wild animal than a functioning human being.
If I sound bitter, I don’t intend to. Gradually I’ve come to understand that the mistakes were so often mine. I assumed that what suited me suited her. My inability to construct a life of my own, where our friendship did not take centre stage, put a huge amount of pressure on her. I now see that all those years earlier when I told her I was leaving my husband, it wasn’t her fault that she wasn’t there to catch me. My marriage was toxic. I should have left years earlier not waited until I’d lined up someone to keep me safe.
Amazingly, we remain good friends. But if I’ve learned anything at all, it is that to care for someone means I must want THEIR happiness, life to go well for THEM. My views on what they should want are irrelevant.
Here’s a piece by Edinburgh Fringe Best Show nominee 2017 Elf Lyons. Elf guests on the first Breakup Monologues podcast and at our event at Rich Mix on 17 Nov...
Break-Ups are irritating. There is never a good time for them. However, they are also a beautiful annoyance that you fundamentally need as a human.
They are the emotional equivalent of a forest fire. Most forests cannot sustain themselves without wildfire to burn away the crap. The fire regenerates the earth and gets rid of the dead, the detritus, allowing room for healthier plants to grow.. Heart breaks are the same. They cause a big dose of existential crisis, moral awakening and more often than not, lead to a positive in the form of a new haircut, friend, or discovery of an epic band…
Basically, we need them in order to be better people.
Having your heart broken helps you work out who you are and what you want and yaddayaddayaddablahblahblahBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBFEELINGSFEELINGS.
The truth is – WE ALL F*CKING KNOW ABOUT BREAK UPS. We can thank them for pretty much every song that has come out of Adele’s ridiculously talented mouth.
But – it doesn’t stop the fact that they are awful. For two reasons, first of all, your heart break is the worst, and secondly, they are the reason we have Ed Sheeran.
Whether the breaker-upperer or the breakee – there is never a ‘one method suits all’ programme to deal with them…
Having said that, over the years of dealing with my heart breaks, and the heart breaks of others, I have compiled a short list of to-does. They may be useful to you. And who knows, maybe you’ll write them and pass them down to your children on your death bed. This could be my legacy.
NUMBER ONE: ACCEPT THAT YOU ARE GOING TO GO INSANE FOR A BIT.
This insanity will come in the form of a bizarre facebook updates, fake tweets about how great your life is, instagram pictures of salads with the hashtag ‘blessed’ and your mum thinking you have temporarily become a drug addict. This will be because dealing with a heart break is akin to overdosing on MDMA. Your pupils dilate, you speak really fast, and your temper goes rom zero to Kathy Bates* in 0 to 2 seconds. (*which measures approximately 10000 SteKings)
NUMBER TWO: ACCEPT THAT IF YOU DID THE DUMPING – YOU ARE GOING TO BE THE VILLAIN FOR A WHILE.
This is normally unjustified*, but it is part of the process. So accept it and give your ex-partner space and don’t facebook stalk them or judge them for putting up loads of pictures of them looking amazing. That is their god-given right.
* Unless you decided to do the dumping via snapchat, in which case, yes, you are the cunt.
NUMBER THREE: PAUSE ON DRINKING FOR A BIT.
This may sound completely opposite to the normal ways of dealing with a break up, but pausing on drinking helps prevent a habit that I like to call ‘ leeching’. Similar to how a leech latches on to a body and nourishes itself on their blood, in your first vulnerable post break up trimester you will see affection everywhere. So, in order to stop yourself emotionally flagellating the morning after a fun one night stand, accept that at some point you will probably declare to someone you don’t know that well ‘that you have fallen in love with them’ – and that vulnerability is okay. Drunk you on 10 gins probably did think they had fallen in love with Sarah from Human Resources – even though she has said before that she ‘really loves soup’.
So.. hold back on the booze and it will reduce the amount of leeching that will occur (and the self hatred that more often than not follows).
NUMBER FOUR: LEARN TO HULA HOOP.
It is a great form of mindfulness, and it means you can turn the conversation in a direction that no one is expecting (unless they see you getting your hula-hoop out*).
*Not a euphemism
NUMBER FIVE: ASKING FOR HELP IS CRUCIAL. IF YOUR MATES ARE GOOD, THEY WILL EMPEROR PENGUIN YOU. AND THAT IS GREAT. If they don’t… GET BETTER MATES.
We all do that thing “No… i’m fine… honestly… call me back later… it’s cool. I’ll send you a whatsapp”. We underplay our feelings – which can often lead us to exploding like shaken cans of coke and having insane anxiety dreams and taking out our anger in bizarre and destructive ways*.
Normally, emperor penguins are slightly more introverted and territorial. They are the Ian Curtis of penguins. But… when it gets cold, and the going gets tough, they huddle together, preserving their energy and making sure that they don’t starve to death over the winter.
So, let your friends emperor penguin you, and hold you up, when you feel like you’re shivering in the cold.
I have this in the form of my ‘loser group’ of mates – Jim, Angus and Tom. For the past four weeks our emperor penguin huddle has mainly involved sending postcards of hand-drawn silly penises, Stephen Kings references and sending each other gifs of Corey Feldman. I also pracitise hula hooping with my mate Ryan.
This has so far stopped me from calling Sarah from Human Resources.
* going ice-skating drunk causing you to break one of your ribs.
NUMBER SIX: REFRAIN FROM GETTING THAT TATTOO FOR ANOTHER FOUR WEEKS.
And then, in four weeks time say ‘I’ll wait another few weeks’ – Then, in six months, once you are calmer, contemplate again if it is really a good idea to get Kelly Clarkson lyrics tattooed on your thigh.
NUMBER SEVEN: JOIN A LOCAL CHOIR.
You’ll learn a lot from 82 year old Nigel and his lessons in love.
NUMBER EIGHT: IF YOU HAVEN’T DONE SO ALREADY, NOW IS THE BEST TIME TO TREAT YOURSELF TO SPOTIFY PREMIUM.
You need to be able to have the freedom to swing from Sam Smith, Taylor Swift to Adele at any moment your heart breaken heart so chooses. (I am NOT sponsored by Spotify… but if they wanted to, they totally could ask… hit a girl up, guys)