Crescent City (Mis)Connection: The stages of getting over an ex in New Orleans
In 1969, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross developed the appropriately named Kübler-Ross model. Most commonly known as The Five Stages of Grief, the model describes a process of five stages by which people cope with grief and tragedies – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Because most people deal with their grief differently, some of the stages might be experienced in a different order or not at all, depending on the life-changing tragedy.
When a girl is getting over a boy, however, all stages are met -- typically in chronological order, which is coincidentally the same order experienced by people who are coping with terminal illnesses.
Behold, The Pookie-Lola Model, aka the stages of getting over a boy.
Stage 1: Denial – During the first stage of denial, you still don’t accept that the relationship is really over even though it typically is over by every definition of the word. However, in the back of your mind, there’s still hope that he’ll come around or realize the error of his ways. You think you’re humoring him by giving him a break until he figures things out. The following reactions are common during this phase:
1. Temporarily delete number from phone
Because he will obviously be the one calling compulsively like a stalker, you actually save his number as “Don’t Answer” and naively think that your vulnerable self will have the will power to keep you from going down two letters in your phonebook from B to D.
If you’re feeling really rebellious, you delete his number but hide it from yourself or give it to friend for safekeeping. (Although, coming home late at night from F & M’s only to resurrect the number or pry it out of your friend’s hands is also likely to happen. Persistence is key here.)
2. Repeat clichéd affirmations to yourself until you think you believe it.
You convince yourself that you’re too good for him, you’re fine, and you’re even better off now. And, while it’s most probably true, you don’t actually believe the nonsense you’re feeding yourself, because, when it comes down to it, you’re the one who’s alone and trying desperately to get over him.
3. “Hang out” with someone else.
Of course, not seriously, because you’re still convinced he’ll come around when the time is right, so you find a new dude to “hang out” with in the meantime. This new catch ultimately turns out to be even worse than the guy you’re trying to get over. This sends you into a new hate spiral…
Stage 2: Anger - After you realize your rebound buddy is a total loser, you start to feel like all men are out to purposely ruin your life and break your heart. This makes you very mad. During this phase, you hate men (and the world) and revert most of that anger back to the original culprit for sending you down this hate spiral. This is when you continuously complain about him and…
4. Make pro/con list.
You have to make sure the con list is significantly longer than the pro list, despite the circumstances. And you don’t leave anything out, including: He’s a cheater, he smacks when he eats, he does not know the difference between you’re and your in texts, he’s into his cousin, he’s been brainwashed by aliens.
Stage 3: Bargaining – Just before you sink into a deep depression, you start to question what happened, then try to bargain with yourself, God, and sometimes, unfortunately, even with him. You’re also kind of schizophrenic…
5. Set conditions
This is how it plays out in your brain if he messed up (which is most likely the case): You tell yourself that you’ll only take him back if he shows up at your doorstep, crying, with flowers in hand and a poem he’s written you (reciting it with his recently developed accent that sounds much like Wesley’s from The Princess Bride).
Then, as time progresses, you tell yourself you’ll take him back when he calls crying and apologizing to you’ll take him back when he texts.
6. Set more conditions.
If you messed up, then you still hope for the exact same outcome. Let’s be honest.
7. Play worst case scenario.
Tell yourself things could be worse: I could die alone with 17 cats in a house that looks like it may have once been inhabited by Miss Havisham, or he could be dating someone thinner than me.
Stage 4: Depression – Then, you come to the realization that you still don’t understand why he’s not pining over you, and that you might actually die of loneliness with 17 cats. Deep depression ensues. This is when you:
But if you’re like me and don’t have the ability to cry, you watch the SPCA commercial with the Sarah McLachlan song on repeat, and listen to sad music like Death Cab for a Cutie and Boys to Men until you at least get the gagging “am I about to cry or am I about to choke on my hard lumpy emotions?” feeling in your throat. It’s close enough to crying.
9. Develop Phantom Boyfriend Condition.
This is when you look over in the middle of the night only to get a horrific reminder that what you feel touching you is not your boyfriend, but in fact one of the 17 pillows (soon to be cats) in your bed.
10. Consult psychic, millionaire matchmaker, horoscope, palm reader in Jackson Square.
You feel so hopeless and crippled by depression you start to consult unbiased, third-party members, because at this point your friends are only telling you things you want to hear to keep you from jumping off your balcony, or get you out of the house with brushed hair at least.
11. Hide HIM from Gchat, stop checking his Facebook, and actually delete number.
You take the whole “out of sight, out of mind” approach, also known as the “he moved to a different planet” approach or the “he died” approach.
Stage 5: Acceptance – Once you start accepting that he’s not the one for you (or that he no longer exists), you finally begin to move on. You put yourself first, and start remembering how much you love yourself and that you deserve to be loved and cared for by someone else. Someone who is way better than HIM. You know that you’re on the road to recovery when you:
12. Consider a makeover.
Because you probably haven’t washed your hair due to your depression, you realize that dreads really aren’t a great look for you. So, you contemplate a new hairstyle or wardrobe to go with your new sense of self worth.
Disclaimer: If you consider doing something with your coif, don’t do anything too drastic. Coming from someone who dyed her hair platinum blonde during an epiphany (I am a natural brunette), stick to something gradual like bangs or long layers.
13. Start a new project.
Refocus your energy on a new project, hobby, business venture, or volunteer opportunity. Staying busy will keep your mind off him, make you feel good about yourself, and you never know who you’ll meet in your new kickball league.
14. Meet new guy at a party.
You’re feeling good again and putting yourself out there. And all of a sudden the planets have aligned again. Hello new boyfriend … buh bye what's-his-name and phantom boyfriend!
15. Skip steps 1-10.
Save yourself from the unnecessary emotional anguish by taking him out of your mind and focusing on yourself. Trust me.
I know this because I’ve recently dealt with both scenarios somewhat simultaneously after two back-to-back flings over the summer. The first one was with a guy that I still run into literally every other day of my life, and the second was a guy who lived in New York.
Although the second and most recent experience was more heartbreaking and devastating, I was able to get over him soon after I ended all communication and stopped seeing his Facebook updates surface on my newsfeed. The first guy, however, is still haunting the line at my Garden District coffee shop.
Moral of the story: In New Orleans, you can’t get away from an ex unless you become a complete recluse. Unfortunately, this town is way too small to be inhabited by yourself and all of your ex-boyfriends, but you can avoid the stages and the agonizing run-ins by dating someone long distance … or by dating a recluse.
Pookie Lola writes Crescent City (Mis)Connections weekly for NolaVie.