Written by Lisa Macfarlane


How to get a leg up on Heartbreak Hill

Having experienced her first breaking heart at 27, Mac Twin Lisa Macfarlane was moved to compile a helpful list of good stuff she’s learned.

heartbrokenI open my laptop to type and the ‘expenses spreadsheet’ I’d made for our flat pops up all cheery and regimented, complete with little pictures of sofas and cartoon houses with puffing chimneys, powered by log fires and the roaring laughter inside.

Then I look up and see all my belongings piled high in my sister’s tiny living room, as her dog stares up with me, with his pitiful little eyes that are either saying: “Why do you keep crying Auntie Lisa?” or “Why do you have so many bloody balls of wool and no toothbrush?”

On Friday morning we put an offer in for a love nest, and by Friday afternoon he “didn’t know what he wanted.”

Boom. Game over. Someone call the estate agent, this party is over people.

I’m pretty late to this heartache game. At 14 I watched my friends tear up their jotters and kiss eight of their former partners’ friends; at 18 I watched them stamp off to uni sobbing and defiant with rucksacks full of condoms; at 21 I soothed the screams of “BUT I WANTED TO MARRY HIM”; and at 25 I took in little heartbreakees and offered them my sofa.

“He’s not dead, why the feck does it feel like it? Then I realised I wasn’t grieving him, I was grieving the part of me I gave to him.”

And here I am at 27, and it’s my turn. My first relationship, the only one I thought I’d have, the one I put everything into and the one I thought I’d die with, has popped its little clogs and taken my future plans along with it.

However, the newfound respect I have for EVERYONE IN MY LIFE is bloody great. This isn’t like losing a parent. Everyone is a veteran in this shit! In these two weeks I’ve heard more breakup stories than my entire box set of Sex and the City and Gossip Girl could muster between them.

Some are venomous, some bleak, most sad, but all told from bloomin’ brave little hearts that have pumped away and got through it. The friends I used to tut at for going back to cheating lovers, or mutter “Nobody has died for Christ’s sake” at as they shook and wailed on my floor, are now crowded on a pedestal.

For the first week I grieved, and I felt horribly guilty about it. I couldn’t look at my swollen, puffed-up little face, as I was ashamed. He’s not dead, why the feck does it feel like it?

Then I realised I wasn’t grieving him, I was grieving the part of me I gave to him. The knitted hats, the phrases only we knew, the poached eggs I made, the chow chow collages we pinned and named, the thoughts he consumed, the families we shared, the raw, visceral grief I’d poured on to him, the energy I took from him, the clutch of the hands in the funeral cars, the sunlight we shared all over the world, the plans we made and the plans he cut short.

I feel like a little slug clinging not to the soggy pavement, but to everyone’s words of “You’re going to be fine.” I let them dance round in my head like little jelly beans I need to consume and keep inside me.

“Don’t compare. You are equipped to deal with YOUR path, never feel like you shouldn’t be feeling what you do as someone might be worse off.”

He is but one man and I have all these little soldiers who have stood up in solidarity for me. So, in the spirit of sharing I want to give something back, here’s a few nuggets I’ve picked up:

1. Take each hour not each day. Looking to a new future when yours has been robbed from you is like staring at the burning sun; put your shades on and get from A to B for a bit.

2. Punctuate your day with little cups of tea. At the risk of sounding twee this works, and for good measure I also imagine my grandma and what she’d say as I sip.

3. Don’t compare. You are equipped to deal with YOUR path; never feel like you shouldn’t be feeling what you do as someone might be worse off. Perspective helps in time, but not right now.

4. Never think you rely on them: all the other brilliant people in your life will step up to the plate.

5. Let someone take your phone when you get pissed and eat too much cheese.

6. Always choose pity over resentment, anger doesn’t serve you past a few long runs and running his toothbrush around your toilet seat. Pity what he’s lost.

7. Thank the army who are rallying round. I have lots of scarves to knit.

8. Meet friends you knew before that relationship – you’ve changed, but remember who you were.

“I bought a retro slow cooker just before we broke up – THINK OF ALL THE CASSEROLES HE’S MISSING.”

9. Thank them for the time you shared, that helps too.

10. Remember you are TOO AWESOME and you will always get back what you put in eventually, so give yourself a pat on the back and know better days are a-comin’.

11. Drink water: that’s what all these lists tell you to do, right?

12. Sing Deacon Blue’s Dignity to yourself over and over. Don’t get angry, sing Dignity. Sub lesson: Don’t check their twitter @s, thou shalt not like what you find. I had to have a screaming rendition due to this mistake only yesterday.

13. You can’t go over it, you can’t go round it, you have to go through it – like the Bear Hunt, but with less running.

14. Eat chips and be kind to yourself. Heartache is a rite of passage, welcome to the club, everyone shall visit here, you CAN sit with us.

You have my permission to ditch the above list along with photo albums, shared mugs and sentimental tat. Speaking of which, I bought a retro slow cooker just before we broke up – THINK OF ALL THE CASSEROLES HE’S MISSING.

Never look in, look out, and don’t listen to signs from the afterlife. After our last argument, my dad’s favourite song came on the radio after Ex said: “I want to be with you forever, I’m 100 per cent in.” We both wailed and took this as a sign that cemented our future.

Dad you were wrong: next time you want to interrupt with the Eagles, make sure Mystic Meg has helped you out first.

Righty-ho, must go to dig under the rubble of my belongings to search for my old Bush radio – cannot work sister’s television. I’ll leave you with an extract of the diary I wrote when my dad passed away: “The foundations have splintered and we’re desperately binding tiny toothpick sized pieces to make a raft to float on.”

This time I’m not building a raft, I’m making a gigantic effing ship so I can sail off in style.

Listen to the Mac Twins on Virgin Radio, 7-11pm on Saturdays. Visit http://virginradio.co.uk/how-to-listen#digital-radio to find out how to listen.


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Written by Lisa Macfarlane

I like hip hop and knitting and I used to be a consultant for the Government and wore high tops to meetings, I think that pretty much sums me up.