The Breakup Diet

How I Got Over My Breakup with ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin,’ Dog Hugs, and One Very Special Tapenade

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When we break up, we consume. Something has to fill that hole where your love used to be right? And so many things can go in there: food, drinks, movies, drugs, Netflix, pricey new coats, compliments from strangers, books, YouTube videos of bulldogs, music, tears, and maybe even couch cushion stuffing (if you’re that lady from My Strange Addiction). The Breakup Diet is a feature where we ask our favorite people what they put in, on, or through their bodies when they’re getting over the end of a relationship.

In August 2013, I moved to Los Angeles from New York City. The plan was for my boyfriend of a year, also a comedian and writer, to follow me there in October and for us to live together in some hip neighborhood like Silverlake or Los Feliz, get a dog, and be together forever – no big deal.

Someone should have probably let him in on that future, because instead of moving across the country to be with me, we spent most of October not speaking (even when we saw each other in person for a precious weekend) and when he told me he couldn’t make more of an effort in the relationship and wasn’t sure when he was going to be able to come out west, I broke up with him.

I was miserable. Twice in my life, I’ve been in relationships with people where I was just smitten. Knocked down, and blinded by love, I tend to give up the things I care about and forget the simple pleasures that make me me. This was one of those times. My ex was very, very opinionated. We almost never watched movies I wanted to watch, or read books I wanted to read, listened to music I wanted to listen to, or ate food I wanted to eat. So when I broke up with him, I was sad, but soon, I was actually pretty psyched to get back into the stuff I enjoyed without having to explain anything to anyone’s judgy stink-eye.

In the first two weeks, I finished all three seasons of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s cruel love letter to their friend Karl Pilkington “An Idiot Abroad.” It’s all on Netflix. The show follows Pilkington, a regular character on Gervais’s and Merchant’s radio show, known for being a round-headed moron, as he travels the world and hates every minute of it. I’m a complainer and a grump, so as Karl finds something to moan about in even the world’s most beautiful places, I could really, really relate. There’s nothing romantic in Karl’s eyes, and if you’re going through a break-up, I can’t recommend his gloomy/realistic point of view on literally everything he encounters enough.

At the Farmer’s Market in Silverlake, I bought as much garlic-infused cheese and olive tapenade a 110-pound lady can consume and I ate all of it on Wheat Thins. My sister was visiting me from Florida and she’d never heard of olive tapenade. She became so obsessed that back in the woods of Tallahassee, she tried looking for it at her janky local grocery store and was appalled when they didn’t have it. I’m making her too classy for Talla-nasty.

I hugged a lot of dogs. I went to friends’ houses and squeezed their puppies. I accompanied a dog walker on his daily jaunt. I sniffed around Petsmart and Petco and took covert cellphone photos of dogs on Melrose Avenue. I was an all-around dog creeper. Give me all the dogs and put them into my hugs.

Knocked down, and blinded by love, I tend to give up the things I care about and forget the simple pleasures that make me me. This was one of those times.

I met a boy at a comedy show who was handsome, and then he said he was divorced and he became even more handsome because my daddy issues are rampant. I don’t usually go for traditionally handsome men because I feel they’ve already had it pretty easy in life, and they don’t need my attention too. The men I’m attracted to tend to have something more interesting about their features like gray hair, or thick eyebrows, or a facial scar. I like to know a guy has been places and seen things. But in the wake of this break up, I took one look at this fine, damaged piece and thought, “You deserve this, Gaby.” I also made out with a slew of women because I’d missed their silky hair and soft earlobes, and because my ex would always sort of scoff at my ex-girlfriend in Brooklyn and my identity as “bisexual” as though women posed no threat.

I listened to a lot of Beyoncè, who I’d had to give up during the relationship. As a music snob, my ex would constantly scoff and remind me that Beyoncé was “just a rip-off of Tina Turner.” While I’d been excited to watch Bey perform during the 2013 Superbowl half-time show, and thrilled at her choice to have an exclusively female backing band, he’d chided me on my ignorance of “the history of good music.”

In further protest, I also listened to a lot of his other least favorite female singer: Kesha, especially the song “Sleazy” because of the lines, “I don’t need you / or your brand new Benz / or your bougie friends / and I don’t need love looking like diamonds.” She also talks about wanting to go where her friends are because screw this sweet-talking dude; he sucks. Kesha is super deep, y’all. (She is. I love her.) Another song I had on repeat was “Let Go” by RAC featuring the brilliant Kele from the British band Bloc Party. Kele is so emotive in this devastatingly upbeat song that it’s a crime he isn’t super famous. Someone make him super famous right now.

I also listened to every voicemail this man, my ex, had ever left me. I had saved them all. Starting from the beginning of our friendship all through dating, my voicemail was constantly 95 percent full. I listened to every single one starting from May 18, 2012 where he said he was on the Upper West Side and coming to meet me at a coffee shop for a friend hangout to a fight in February 2013 where I sat outside his apartment in the cold to a message telling me he hoped my show went well and he missed me in September 2013 to nothing. I deleted them one by one, and I cried.

I read a lot of books about school shootings. My morbid fascination with Columbine had taken a back seat during our relationship because I feared it was “too weird” or “goth” for him to appreciate. I read Brooks Brown’s book No Easy Answers and David Cullen’s Columbine. I also read Lionel Shriver’s fictional take on a rampaging teenage psychopath We Need To Talk About Kevin. I know this is a super dark topic to be really into, and for a while there I wondered how many books about school shootings I could order off Amazon before I ended up on a watch list. I’m hoping it’s three.

My ex hated old movies, which tend to be a break up staple. The sweeping romances of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy are supposed to make you forget about how you’ll be alone forever. But even when we were together, I’d always wanted to show him some of my favorites, which had comforted me in high school and college and were just a general feel-good genre of movie for me. However, he said he couldn’t concentrate on classic films because of the lilting way they spoke back then. I couldn’t believe it because I, and most people with functioning hearts, find the “old movie dialect” charming. In his absence, I once again reveled in Breakfast at Tiifany’s, Roman Holiday, Rebel Without A Cause, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and others in my big collection.

To finish off feeling badly, I mainlined all of American Horror Story’s first two seasons on Netflix in one weekend, because listen: if anyone’s going to be miserable with me, it’s going to be Dylan McDermott (and his fine ass).