My good friend El has one piece of advice she always gives to the recently lovelorn: dead-leg ’em. As in, cut them off, like a dead leg.
“I’m keeping him on Facebook, just to see what he’s up to,” someone might say.
“Why? Dead-leg him.”
“Well, this way he can see I’m doing fine without him.”
“Bollocks. Dead-leg him.”
“And also I did reply to a text the other day. But I didn’t put any Xs.”
“Dead. Leg. Him.”
“There’s no need for bad manners.”
She’s right though. If it’s over, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is. You’ve got to get your shit together and do some damage control. Put as much distance between you and the toxic waste as possible. I don’t buy into this idea of staying friends after a breakup. It always ends in tears, usually when one party finds a replacement partner. Sure, maybe one day you’ll be friends, once all romantic feelings are gone and the idea of them with somebody else doesn’t make you want to pop your eyeballs out, but for now you need to purge their every trace from your world.
Unfriend them, unfollow them. Block them, even, if you have many mutual friends, so their updates never make it to your feeds. Delete their number, screen their calls. If you are the kind of person to go through Facebook photos at 2am with a litre of uncooked brownie batter then untag all those too. Bin everything. Do you know anyone who has actually ever done this? Properly? Not in a film? If you do I bet they’re a fucking badass and everyone lives in awe of their iron self-control. This is how you get over someone.
Of course, even if the object of your raw emotion is the biggest arsehole this side of WWII, it can be very hard to bring yourself to let them go. But then, so is a leg. Imagine you’ve got some sort of infection in one and you’ll die if you keep it. You know that sawing that gammy bastard off is the only rational choice, but you still can’t do it. You scream. You cry. You try to rationalise keeping the leg. You question whether a crippled life without the leg is worth living at all. You doubt you’ll ever walk again.
And then you just do it, because you have to. Like that bloke who had to hack off his own arm in 127 Hours. What a rock star. If you broke up with him he’d be out of there so fucking fast it’d make your head spin.
Of course, the problem with dead-legging someone is that it only sounds like a genius idea when you’re not the dead-legger. We’ve all had friends who’d rather make bad decisions than take good advice because they can’t let things go, but I’m also willing to bet everyone who reads this has done the very same themselves. When you are merely a concerned bystander on the edge of a swirling pool of emotional turmoil, it is easy to dole out such wisdom. When you’re in over your head, though, it can be hard to see.
“Poor sod,” the doctor probably thinks absently as he sends his gangrenous patient to the surgeon’s tent, “it’s for the best.” But it’s not his fucking leg, is it? The bloke being wheeled into surgery, meanwhile, is going absolutely mental because he thinks his life is over. And for a while afterwards, that’s how it’ll feel.
But it’s rarely the end. Being alone can be wonderful, but even if that worries you, you’ll meet somebody else. Probably someone better, in fact, because you’ll have learned something from the last one. It’s sort of like losing a leg and then getting a hyper-realistic, fully sensory cyborg speed-blade (yeah, here the metaphor gets a bit shaky…)
What do you think? Are you a ruthless dead-legger or do you find it hard to let go?
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