Polyphonist’s #CBR5 Review #21: It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken by Greg Behrendt & Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt

It’s rough to write about this one because of the breakup that necessitated reading it…again. That’s right, I originally read this one last year at the recommendation of a friend when my marriage ended after 10-13 years (Yes, you read that right. I’d explain, but it’s far more complicated and off-topic than I feel I should be.) However, since then, due to a relationship not going the way I planned, I had occasion to read it again. Because this is definitely a book to be reread when needed. In fact, I’ll endorse it like this:

I had a bunch of my stuff packed due to life shifts over the past year. This book, since I had read it last year and thought I’d found myself a glorious, lasting, wonderful relationship, was packed away. In one of my many book boxes. In a closet. Behind my nieces rack of clothes. Past the other random assortment of boxes. In a sloped ceiling closet, because it’s situated under the stairs to the next floor. So when I found out I was cheated on, I left. And knew I HAD to read this book again to help me through the horrible time I knew was coming. So I systematically took the clothes in bunches from the closet, laying them neatly on my bed, and then climbed past the makeshift hanging rack and stepped into the only space that would hold my foot. One foot. I lightly knelt on a stack of boxes beside me in the closet that is about three feet wide. So on one foot, I bent and started moving around boxes to get to my book boxes. That were buried all the way at the back. The space was so cramped that by the time I got to the last box, I had boxes stacked under me that I was bending over (still perched on one foot, btw), straining to reach and look through the very last of my book boxes. And there, at the bottom of the box, was this book. I almost started reading it right there, I was so relieved. Then I remembered I looked like a freaky ballerina, one foot on the ground, the other kicked up behind me resting on a stack of boxes, and me bent over yet another stack of boxes. I was sweaty, my calf hurt like hell, and I still had to put it all back and also extricate myself. All of this is, of course, not a review of the book, but a testament to how good I think it is. I went through over an hour in a cramped, warm closet searching for this book because of how good I remember it being. And I wasn’t disappointed the second time through.

I will say that sometimes it can seem like it’s trying too hard. There’re only so many times I can be referred to as a Superfox, Saucy Girl, and Smart, Happening Lady before it gets a little too cheeky. But the balance is right on the line, so overall I’m good. And it still packs a nice little punch for being contemporary:

“The first rule of the smart girl’s breakup is NO CALLING…the same goes for text messaging, instant messaging, BlackBerrying, blueberrying, or any other form of communication. “

It’s also chock full of good advice and things to think about:

“Putting down that pint of ice cream may not FEEL like the right thing to do, but if you change your behavior first, your feelings will follow.
“When a marriage or any significant relationship collapse, the sadness and grief can be overwhelming. In the midst of all this heartache and pain, you have to comprehend and adjust to the idea that your whole universe has been upended, even when you know it’s the right thing. Going through a breakup is awful. It’s a full-body experience. Every nerve ending feels it constantly, and every second feels like an eternity in your head.”
“Actions speak louder than words and his actions have led him to have a naked party with someone else.”
“Try shooting for feeling ‘different’ instead of ‘amazing,’ or ‘less depressed’ instead of ‘all better’.”
“How can it be over? Because it is.”
“Take off your victim pants.”
“When you feel the urge to crawl into bed, you need to call a friend and make a plan that forces you to get out of the house. Instead of sitting around feeling sad and broken, you want to be doing something that makes you feel strong and resilient.”
“It doesn’t take that much self-control to set boundaries for your grieving process that are as simple as ‘I’m not going to lose my shit in public today and I’m going to wear something that makes me look good’.”

If you don’t like a fairly hefty dose of snarky humor, facing some hard truths about yourself and your relationship, and some epic stories of really bad breakups to make your look tame by comparison, then this book isn’t for you. But if those things appeal to you, and you or someone you know is going through a breakup, check this one out. There are workbook exercises, really good step-by-step advice on how to get through the pain of a breakup, and also some much needed, self-esteem boosting, all with a playful yet “hey, we’ve been there, too” tone. Which is one of the things I liked best about the book. The authors both share their crazy, not-too-proud post-breakup experiences, making it seem all the more real and accessible. Reading this book was kind of like sitting around with friends and a few bottles of wine, bitching about breakups but tempered with seeing your therapist the next day. It may not be the breakup book for everyone, but it definitely was for me. I just really hope I don’t need it anymore.

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