The One With The Conflicting Lists

Fail-Proof Broken Heart Curing Treatment:

  1. Vitamin E
  2. Get much sleep
  3. Drink much water
  4. Travel to a place far away from the person you loved
  5. Meditate & teach your heart that this is destiny

-Advice from Eat, Pray, Love

I scribbled this list into the little black notebook I carry around with me everywhere. It seemed poignant, at the time, in the dark hours of one Portland night or another. Maybe. I remember thinking that space was deceiving, that if your heart is loath to let someone go you will find their face in a million different strangers’ and it will always cause your heart to skip a beat. I saw him everywhere this summer. I traveled clear across the world and I would spot his foreign doppelgänger from across a crowded piazza or walking down a Grecian beach like I was peeling my eyes for a red and white stripped hat and shirt in the pages of a child’s book; recognizing him in impossible features; in the wrong height; with the wrong clothes and bringing my finger down to the page in exclamation and claim.

I drank a lot of water but that was the only rule I followed. If I were to write my own list it might go something like this:

Lindsay’s Fail-Proof Broken Heart Ensuring Treatment:

  1. Break up suddenly, especially if you’re scared. Be sure not to think it through.
  2. Drink a lot of alcohol.
  3. Put as many disappointing/excruciating/horrible/meaningless sexual encounters between you and the past as possible.
  4. Closure is for amateurs.
  5. Instead of confronting your emotions distract yourself with other men. Make these distractions as complicated as possible.
  6. Stop trusting your gut.
  7. Wait until he moves on and then realize the mistake you made. Dwell on it.
  8. If possible, gain weight.
  9. Embrace the nightmares.
  10. Repress, Repress, Repress… Explode! Rinse and Repeat.

It’s not that I don’t think the advice it useful, it is. I thought so enough to scribble it down in my odd penmanship. It’s just that there is no cure for heartbreak. We can’t cure the disease we can only treat the symptoms. Even the age-old promise of waiting for time to pass is an old wives’ tale. Who of us here doesn’t carry around some small relic of heartbreak, still?

Of course none of that is the point. The point is that I have accumulated this list. The list of obstacles I must maneuver just to be on solid ground again. The damage I’ve caused myself that I must now undo. The wrongs I have to right.

I was especially good at strapping myself into romantic car wrecks. No more.

The latest had fridge magnet poetry. I arranged a poem as he cooked and then jotted down the memory of it wildly in my notebook the next morning as I fled by car service and plane. Scribbling to drown out the memory of his drunken screams. He wrote a response to it, also, but it didn’t matter. The poem wasn’t for him:

please say always

and leave your smell

under my tongue

your language bare


& void of love

like the skin of a shadow

lazy on the top of

hot milk

or the delicately repulsive

flood of blood

springing from a knife

our vision needing

in the moment

for it to be peach juice

It was for me.

Steve Dawson – Obsidian

(via Paige‘s excellent music taste)


10 Comments Add yours

  1. I knew it wasn’t for me, little bird.

    I knew that the reason for your skittishness was hollow fear, and desperate flight from the past.

    I knew that the reason you flit in and then flee so easily is that you’ve never taken your heart from him, not then, and perhaps not now.

    I just blinded myself with hope for a shared future that never came, and perhaps never could’ve. A future where you’d declared yourself reborn, free of the past. That was the whole point of the reply, after all.

  2. Vapor of Nuance says:

    I’ve never been good at #5, but if you
    manage that, I think the rest takes care of itself.

    We all mourn, but it belongs in the past. To steal from a rather silly movie: yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery, but the present is a gift.

    As always, amazing imagery. (And good luck avoiding the car wrecks.)

  3. Carissajaded says:

    I pretty much follow the same list as you do, though I don’t think it is the healthiest way to deal with things, I don’t think you can really force yourself to do anything else. I’m especially guilty of #3, though I’m not proud of it… I love your magnet poetry btw…

  4. Mr. Apron says:

    “It’s just that there is no cure for heartbreak. We can’t cure the disease we can only treat the symptoms.”

    This reminds me of a Mark Twain quote– (doesn’t everything?) It’s part of an assemblage I made for my wife on our second wedding anniversary:

    “True love is the only heart disease that is best left to “run on” — it is the only affliction of the heart for which there is no help– and none desired.”

    May you be thus afflicted again, and may you never recover.

  5. I find it fascinating that we love so easily, that first time, maybe even the second, and then the rest of our lives tends to be dictated by how things fell out, coping mechanisms through behavior patterns to avoid the pain we fear so much.

    Right there with you, as you know.

    1. Lindsay says:

      I do know. Our misery is the best company.

      I know that most of my relationships have been sad reenactments of the same first heartbreak. I never learn my lesson. The happy ending always scares me, so I sabotage it. Someday I will be wiser. Someday I will see myself for what I am, instead of looking back and realizing.

  6. Kelly says:

    Let’s get drunk and swim in the ocean. Let’s troll supermarkets, look for married men who will take a break from searching for the perfect ripe tomato to lick sea salt from our bodies instead. You be Rilke, I’ll be some sad clown in sequin and drag. We’ll go to a smoky disco and just ignite our bones on the dance floor. You in?

    I love your blog.

    1. Lindsay says:

      I am so in. We would take the world by storm. The kind of storm that causes ship wrecks and upends houses, the kind of storm that kills witches. You be Dorothy, I’ll be Toto. Let’s take it to Oz in smudged makeup and blurred vision, dropping bottles from our grasp. Two sirens in the night.

      I love YOUR blog.

  7. Michael says:

    Well said, Birdy. Well said.

  8. Hannah Miet says:

    I feel your words so much sometimes that I just want to curl up in a ball inside of them and wait for it to be spring again.

    I have visited every number on your 10 list this year. Though this morning I found myself in shock at 11, at some realization that I’m beautifully present in the world, alone.

    I don’t wish to overuse the word love, but when I read your blog…

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