by Gina B.
Determined to move on after breaking up with your ex, you’ve done all of the right things – returned his/her belongings, eliminated all reminders of him/her in your house, and avoided the ever dangerous drunk texting or dialing. By having no memory triggers of your previous relationship in your immediate presence, you feel stronger and eventually you can go an entire day without your ex creeping into your head.
But just when you think you’re 100% recovered, it sneaks up on you. One day when you’re walking down the street or casually listening to the radio you’ll stumble across a place or a song that gives you a startling jolt and causes a flood of memories.
That restaurant is more than just a sushi bar – it’s where you and your ex had your FIRST DATE. It’s not just a song – it’s your ex’s FAVORITE song. And that scent? It's not just cologne, it's your ex's signature fragrance. Regardless of how bad your relationship was or how necessary the breakup, there is a minefield of nostalgic triggers that produce erratic explosions of disturbing emotions.
Many years ago, right after applying the sole of my boot to an ex's butt, I only needed to think about a generous amount of clubs/restaurants/etc., and I would have torturous flashbacks of brimstone and misery. It was hell. We covered a lot of territory during our relationship, and I grew sick of avoiding great restaurants, or sometimes entire neighborhoods. More than anything, I was especially tired of being emotionally fragile.
I knew I’d eventually get over it, but I'm cursed with a vivid eidetic memory which makes it difficult for me to get over anything. I also have zero patience and couldn’t wait for eventually. I needed accelerated healing. I was concerned for my sanity and the fate of subsequent suitors, who might have innocently suggested going to one of those evil places without knowing that I was one second away from ripping their heads off.
So, I decided to put myself in control of the situation by reinventing my memories and developing new emotional associations.
Of course I couldn’t make the past disappear – as much as I would have liked to. But, I could remove the hurtful feelings associated with locations and songs to help me put the negativity in the past, since I couldn’t just flush it down the toilet.
As an experiment I chose an Italian restaurant, which was the scene of our ugliest fight. I made a party out of it, and invited a few of my most vibrant friends to meet me there for dinner and an endless supply of cocktails and giggles.
I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing because I refused to speak his name, nor did I want to create an association in the heads of my friends. The idea was to have a new adventure – something pleasant to override the nasty old experience.
My wacky scheme worked beautifully! I drove past the restaurant a week after my new experience and, instead of the post-breakup weird feeling, I laughed and thought of my friends.
It worked so well that I systematically tackled a long list of previous pain points. I staged what I now refer to as Reinvention Parties. I made a list of all of the places and activities that I had been missing and actively avoiding. I danced to old songs with new people. I had a blast creating fresh memories and happily reunited with my old haunts. As a nice added bonus, by reinventing several situations, I managed to develop a proper apathetic attitude toward my ex and our relationship.
I happily transformed from brooding to not giving a shit! Victory was mine!
Bear in mind that timing is everything. Although I love nothing more than a good Reinvention Party, I would imagine that having one mere days after a breakup would be unnecessarily painful. But after a month or two, you're completely ready to get the party started!
If executed correctly, believe it or not, a good Reinvention Party can be more cathartic than a day at a spa. Okay, that might be a little far-fetched, but give it a try. You never know!!
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