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Butch’s Guide to Remaining Sane During a Break Up

There are lots of break ups right now. Colleagues, friends, family. It happens to everyone – even to those who think they might be pretty damn close to perfect. Lesbians, even butches, break up. And breaking up sucks. No doubt about it. But it happens. It happens in bad situations (cheating), and it happens in not-so-bad situations (new job in a new city). We’ve all been there, and probably all hope to never be there again. But, if you suddenly find yourself in a break up, maybe these tips will help – at least a little.

1. Help Each Other. If possible, and you are mature enough, work together. I can’t imagine it working if there’s an affair or any severe incident. But, if you both decide that you aren’t right together and there is plenty of love, you can actually lean on each other for comfort. Could be the dreaded LBD (Lesbian Bed Death: passion gives way to comfort, love and friendship – no more sex); or could be you’ve grown in different directions; or maybe you’ve decided you just aren’t right for each other. In all three of these circumstances there might still be lots of love. Imagine how nice it will be if you are crying and she can comfort you and vice versa. Even if you want the relationship to be over, you are still mourning the loss of something good, familiar, or comfortable. Your day-to-day life as you both know it is over, the good and the bad.

When you can be right or kind, choose to be kind. Especially now.

Communication and kindness will be key if you try to do this. “But, Butch, we didn’t communicate well during our relationship, how are we going to do that now?” Well, you may find that the pressure has been released after you’ve chosen to split. You may be able to communicate really well. Surprisingly well. Don’t confuse this as a reason to get back together. Remember here, you are trying to work together for the common goal of splitting with the least amount of damage done to each other and the most love spared. Be kind. Don’t cause any new hurt or scars. If you do that, a friendship can blossom.

You were most likely already best friends and if you pull apart suddenly like Velcro it will be excruciating and the gap left by the ripping apart (ouch!) can easily be filled with anger and resentment. Working together allows you to build a friendship going forward. Unless you actually hated each other, you’ve already got this, and with some care and kindness, you can nurture it. It will be a great comfort to you both if you pull it off. And, imagine how much easier it will be on your friends! They won’t have to take sides if the two of you remain friends. If you still like each other, you can both be at the same parties – and you don’t have to divide friends. Imagine avoiding: “I’ll take the toaster oven and Brad and Angelina, you take the computer and Barak and Michelle.”

Perhaps best listened to on repeat for now.

2. Avoid Love Songs. Duh. But, what to do if you cannot? And it is hard to avoid them. Every song is either “I love you so much I want to rip your clothes off,” or “You hurt me and now I hate you so much I want to rip your clothes off.” Then, try this: imagine that the love song is about you discovering your own special self and singing to yourself, rather than to her. Maybe create a playlist of songs that are good for you, your old favorites (i.e. Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The Time, A-Ha, KD Lang, etc.), things that are feel good for you and not connected to her, and upbeat stuff. Or, you might create an empowering playlist full of songs that are about how strong you are. Think Melissa Etheridge’s “Giant,” Fat Boy Slim’s “Because we Can,” Pink’s “Blow Me (One Last Kiss),” or David Guetta’s “Titanium.” I suggest you avoid the Indigo Girls, Tori Amos, and Sarah McLachlan. Those amazing artists might just push you over the edge right now. If you are into speed metal or country, you are on your own, but the good news is that I am sure there are lots of songs that equate to “I can make it on my own!” in those genres.

3. Write. Even if you don’t write for others, try journaling. It can really help purge the things that you are feeling. Something about a pen on paper and writing whatever comes to mind is very cathartic. Plus, there can be lots of cross outs, angry exclamation points, and underlines. So there!!!!!! It’s hard to do that on a laptop. Therapists will tell you that this is super good for you. Also, if you get stuck or you try to out think yourself, put the pen in your opposite hand and try writing that way. It will be messy, but may be more honest.

This journal is just for you, so you can be honest with yourself. Don’t write it as if it’s a brilliant monologue that you will read, or she will find, and then magically she will change her mind – or your words will fix whatever is broken. You aren’t trying to do that. You are trying to move through this. Of course, you can share some of what you learn with her if you like, but the journal should be yours alone, and not motivated by trying to sway anyone – especially yourself.

4. Yoga.Or some other fitness activity that you like. Working out is super good for you and releases positive endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. “Happy people don’t just shoot their husbands,” or so says Elle Woods of Legally Blonde.

I do yoga and Pilates, and the room is full of hotties.
– Madonna

I suggest yoga, and here’s why. Yoga is amazing because you have to concentrate on your breathing while contorting your body into crazy poses – and that forces you to clear your mind. If you are trying to get your leg up over your head while putting your forehead on the floor (yes, really), you have to focus on breathing steadily and deeply and on your balance. You will have no time to think about her. I promise. If you do, you might fall over and then the pain or embarrassment of the fall will likely dominate your psyche – rather than her. Success any way you look at it.

Plus, side bonus: yoga studios are filled with limber, lithe, mostly female yogis. They frequently wear very little, or what they wear is skin-tight. There are lots of pony tails – translation, if they are lesbians, they are probably femmes, or at least sporty spice lesbians. Also, they are some of the fittest people – as a whole – that I have seen. In addition to the benefits of breathing, endorphins and clearing your head, if you start to realize that you are alright and that there is a world after her, a yoga studio can be a healthier version of a strip club (see Number 10).

One negative to yoga for me is that it is hard on the Mohawk. My favorite position – resting pose – ruins the hawk by making it all flat in the back. But, it is a small price to pay for inner peace.

5. Do Something You Like.  Maybe something you have never done before. Not to spite her, because that’s immature and below you. But because it’s good for you to focus on yourself. Having a partner has tremendous upsides – no doubt, but there are also compromises in every relationship. “Baby, I’d like to learn to play the drums.” “No way in hell, it’s too loud.” Well, now’s the time! Say you’ve always wanted to juggle, learn Italian, or practice your glass throwing abilities, but you haven’t had time – or permission (yikes), then take a class at the community college. Doing something new helps you redefine yourself without her, and in a positive way. Note that if you always wanted to smoke or become a knife juggler, this is not what I have in mind. Stay away from stuff that’s bad for you.

You have to know when to tell yourself no.

6. Just Say No. That last point leads me here to drugs, smoking, alcohol (yes, even fantastically good craft beer), cheesecake, In-N-Out Burger and Ben and Jerry’s. All of these things are intoxicating, delicious, mind-altering, and alluring. Some are illegal. Whatever your poison, these things are bad for you. Except for the illegal stuff, everything in moderation, right? The problem is that when you are grieving the loss of a formerly-perfect relationship, sometimes your decision-maker (that thing that keeps you in balance) is broken. It has lost its fluxie. If you start in on any of these tempting things, you might not be able to stop. And that means excess. Excess drinking, excess smoking, excess eating, excess ice cream. Which, in turn, means excess weight and lower self-esteem. If you are like most of us, your self-esteem is probably already at an all-time low, so lowering this is not what the doctor ordered. Plus, getting fat will not help your post-break up social life.

7. Avoid Her on Facebook. This doesn’t apply if you are able to take the steps in Number 1 above, but if not, take heed. As you know, Facebook is a slightly distorted version of reality. The last thing you need is to see that she is off skydiving, having dinner with gobs of friends at hipster places, or buying a house. She may be doing those things, yes. Or she may not be. Is everyone always honest on Facebook? She may be doing those things, but only because she is so distraught over the breakup that she must keep herself busy. And, when was the last time you saw someone post on Facebook, “my girlfriend left me and I can’t get off the couch where I have sat in a puddle of my own misery in my disgusting sweatpants for three days”?

Plus, if you aren’t ready, when she starts dating again, this will just drive you over the edge. Oh, and don’t even think of signing into her account and checking things out. This is Facebook stalking and it is bad form, women. Don’t do it. You may have changed all your passwords, or not, but regardless, do not give in to this temptation. It will only lead you to hurt. Do you really want to see what she is saying about you (if anything) to her friends? I, for one, only want to hear things that people choose to tell me. Not everything is meant to be shared with everyone.

8. Don’t Purge Everything. Sure you can throw away the sex toys, that recent silly note she wrote you, or delete the voicemails on your phone, but don’t go grab your memory box and all the cards you’ve ever exchanged and throw those out. We tend to think that getting rid of everything that is “her” or “us” will make us feel better. But it won’t. And, you may regret throwing away all of those memories, all of those pictures, later. After all, it is part of your life. She is part of your history, and if you throw all of that away, it is like throwing away a piece (maybe a huge chunk) of you … of your life. A year later, when things are settled, you may wish you could see those pictures of you in the Tough Mudder run. You threw them away because she was next to you at the finish line. Now, you are screwed. Can’t recreate that, and if it’s anything like what I have heard, you don’t want to do it again. What if she was by your side when you graduated from college, got your first car, traveled the world, or brought home your favorite puppy? There are other parts of your life together that you might want to sift from the rubble. You won’t be able to do that if you light it all on fire in a trash can – tempting as it may be.

9. Skip Big Changes. This is related to number 8. Do this at least for a while. If you are distraught, it is not the time to quit your job, move into a new place (unless you have to), get a tattoo or piercing, chop off all your hair, or decide to move to a new city. None of those things will assuage the pain you feel, and they will just add to your stress level – or create a possibility for regret. I really liked my hair, why did I do that? A giant Minnie Mouse tattoo, what was I thinking? You may think that a new city will be a fresh start for you – no memories of the two of you together, and you may be right. But, that new city will be there in a month or two when things have calmed down for you. Change is good, yes, but you are already going through lots of change. No need to pile on.

Bottom line is to make sure that you are not running away from her – from the house, the job, the look, the friends that you had with her. If you have something to run to, I suppose that is different. In other words, I am not saying to turn down some cool opportunity just because you are struggling through a break up. What I am talking about here is the desperate search for change thinking it will make you feel better.  Odds are that it won’t and the fact that it didn’t might make you feel even worse.

10. Strip Club.Have your friends take you out. Maybe a strip club isn’t for you (why not?) and if that’s the case, have them take you out somewhere else. Reach out to your friends. Your family – not for the strip club, mind you. But you need to have some fun, get off of your couch, and eventually get out of those sweatpants.

Use your imagination to embellish. I try to keep my posts and pics safe for work.

If you do go to a strip club (good for you!) or a bar, take heed of the other pointers here, and don’t get smashed. You’ll end up doing something stupid (why do I have this g-string in my pocket?) and regretting it, or you will end up at home on the floor of your bathroom crying like a baby about how she would never have let you do this to yourself. All things in moderation. Oh, and if you haven’t been to a strip club before, bring lots of singles and sit in the front. I am available to act as your guide if needed.

11. Butch Down. This is the opposite of butching up – toughening up and handling something. That doesn’t work in this situation. It’s not a broken window, a tire that needs changing, a door that needs opening, a spider to kill, or birthdays to be remembered. It’s your heart and you should treat that gently – no matter how butch you are. Cry. Scream. Pout. Whatever. Your emotions are right for you. If you are so butch that you don’t want to show anyone this side of you, then do it alone. But, it sure would be good if you could let at least one friend in. It takes a very strong person to show weakness. Are you butch enough to let people know that you aren’t made of stone?

Breaking up sucks. No matter what you do, it’s going to suck. Nothing but time and moving forward will help to take the pain away. But, maybe, just maybe, a few of these pointers will make it suck a little less.

Butch down and get through it. Be butch.


Cabin in the Woods

image

My actual cabin by the peaceful light of day.

If a butch is butch in the woods and there is no one there to experience and witness her butchness, is she still butch?

I recently went away on a yoga retreat and spent the weekend alone. I am pretty sure it’s the first time in my life that I went anywhere like that alone – on purpose (not for work, or to see family, or something like that). My thoughts around that and how empowering it was are for another blog. For now, let’s focus on an isolated cabin in the Santa Barbara Mountains.

I’m alone. I’m a brisk 10-minute hike uphill away from the rest of the people here at the retreat. After I checked in at the lodge, I went to my cabin on a little John Deere cart – certainly a butch vehicle. Where can I get one of those? Anyway, I got into my cabin and immediately opened all of the windows to allow for maximum light and wind. The windows are those wind-out kind with a crank that are very popular in Florida. After unpacking, I take off for all points north (and by “north” I mean hiking way up the hill) and the retreat activities. On the trek to the lodge, I realize just how far away I am from the rest of the folks.

I returned to my cabin in near blackness (but for my giant, very butch, Mag light) and got an even better feel for how isolated I was, after 11 that evening – tired and quite ready for bed. First order of business: close the windows. Second: make my bed. Third: go to sleep because yoga starts all over again at 7:30 in the morning. Well, I got stuck on the first order of business. I was able to close the first two windows easily. Twist and done. Then, the third window. It turns… and then it turns and turns, but the window, she is not moving. Uh-oh. I turn the crank a little harder (because as all good butches know, force is the way to fix things) and the crank comes off in my hand. What the?

Ok, remember that it is after 11 at night. I’m tired. I did yoga, I meditated, I hiked down the hill in the near dark. I want to go to bed. And, it is cold. And, quite dark. And, I’m all by myself in a rickety little cabin in the woods. I think this is how slasher movies begin… Although I have never seen one; I hate scary movies.

Alright, Butch, butch up now and figure this out. I whip out my buck knife and use it to screw the crank back on to the window. Good. Now I try to turn the crank again, but this time… nothing. Double uh-oh. Shoes on, out the door, I trudge over to the window in the dark with my Mag light and Buck knife and see if I can figure out what is wrong. Something must be stuck, or jammed, or the flux capacitor must not be working right. Not seeing a clock tower nearby, I decide that I need to fiddle with some things. Not really knowing what I am doing, I fiddle and then try not to run back inside. After all, it’s not butch to run inside like a little girl, but it was very dark and creepy out there now. Shoes off, back inside, over to the window and the crank does turn, but only to open the window wider. Great. I am actually losing ground. After confirming that the crank is on properly (I think), I put my shoes back on, grab my Mag light and head back out into the dark over to the window.

I think I did this two or maybe three times. Each time getting a little more freaked out. It was cold, so I didn’t think I could handle sleeping with the window wide open. Plus, everyone knows that slashers can only come in through open windows. If I can get the window closed, the lights off, and all my body parts under the covers, I will be safe from all manner of evil.

On my final trip outside, I realize that there is a little wheel at the base of the window arm and it is off the track. I was able to coax the wheel back into the track. I cannot tell if it will work from outside, but I keep a good thought as I sprint inside (no one saw me sprint, so it’s ok). Shoes off, back over to the window and hallelujah! The crank turns the right way, doesn’t fall off in my hands, and the window swings slowly inward. I let out a sigh of relief and hurry about the rest of my business to get safely in bed.

So, this was very butch, no? In extreme conditions, under pressure (including a small amount of fear) and I was able to pull it together, to fix the mechanical thing standing between me and a peaceful night’s sleep – and the slashers. If my gorgeous fiancé had been there, I know she would have 1) expected me to be able to fix it, which I like, and 2) still been impressed that I had done so. But she wasn’t there. So, if a butch is very butch in the woods and there is no femme around to see her being butch, is she still butch? Hell, yes!

It’s butch to fix things, in the dark, in the middle of the woods, without the proper tools. Be butch.


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