Writer Stefanie Marshall on Her Breakup Vices and How She Mends



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Stefanie is a writer. She finds writing about love comes almost as easily as falling into it. She is working on a book of poetry and essays about matters of the heart and the relationships that have shaped her. You can follow her on Instagram @stefisafourletterword and Twitter @stefwithanfanie, and you can read more of her writing on her blog.

HER FIRST HEARTBREAK
“He was 6 years older than me and I was in college. I thought at the time he was my first love, but the guy I dated after him actually was. In the moment though I thought he was it. I was crazy about him. He was older than me so obviously a 25 year old can do a lot of things a 19 year old can’t do. When we were together, he was all about me. But he didn’t want to admit we were dating. He was always very casual about it. It made me really insecure. It was heartbreaking throughout the whole thing without even realizing it. I was in this constant state of highs and lows. When we finally broke up, it was such a relief. It was an epiphany that I had been heartbroken over him since the day we started dating.”

WHAT SHE WOULD TELL HER 19 YEAR OLD SELF
“Let it go. That sounds trite, but I have a tendency to hold onto relationships. I keep thinking I can save someone or change someone or they are going to wake up one day with a miraculous realization of what we are. The biggest thing I have learned in the 10 years since my first heartbreak is that to let go is so much easier. If something is going to change, it’s going to change on its own volition and not because I’ve forced it to.”

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HER MOST RECENT HEARTBREAK
“Which one? (laughs) Oh my god...the most recent one has been the hardest for me because it was my fault. A big reason it didn’t work out was something I did, which is hard to accept. When he first told me how he felt about me, he spilled it all out and I was excited. I had always had feelings for him throughout our friendship. But I was involved in another thing at the time. I always think honesty is the best policy, so I made the decision of telling him that. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have opened my mouth about because the other thing didn’t end up mattering. But it mattered to him. I feel like things would be different if I hadn’t said anything. It definitely altered the course. It’s hard to let him go because one day I hope to be a part of his life again. And I don’t know if that will be happening. We aren’t talking, but that is better at the moment.”

WITHOUT A TRACE
“I delete every trace of you from my life, which sounds extreme, but because I have a hard time with letting go, I delete your number, and I get rid of the social media connections. This last guy wanted to continue to communicate, but he knew I wasn’t able to do that. I don’t think he would have chosen that, but he understands that’s what I need to do. Maybe one day, but not right now.”

HER BREAKUP VICE
“I am guilty of drinking a lot of wine immediately after breakups. I go through that feeling sorry for myself period...listening to sad music...And then I try not to after the first few days. I think everyone needs to lose themselves in the melancholy and then realize that they are able to pick themselves up out of it. I feel like it’s okay as long as you decide not to stay there. As much as it takes the edge off in the moment, it’s never helping anything. It makes everything fuzzy if it’s happening too often.”

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HOW SHE MENDS
“I usually do something different from what I normally do, like yesterday my friend and I went on a six mile hike. It’s not that I don’t hike, but I don’t do a six mile hike every day. So I’ve been on the healthy train since this last one. Cooking a lot. Anything that makes me feel like there’s a change for the better and keeping productive. Even if there’s a chunk of me that still feels sad. I appreciate anything that gets endorphins going.”

WHAT SHE READS
“I’ve read Eat Pray Love six times. It’s not even about the whole of the book because her situations are very much her own. My heartbreaks have never been like hers. But there are certain passages that you just need to hear. I always go back to the soul mate passage because it’s so true. I really believe that a soul mate isn’t the person you end up with. There are multiple people along the way that shake you and put you on your path. You have to be reminded of that. I also love reading something funny. I read Mindy Kaling’s book after a breakup and it was so great to be so far from the stuff I was going through.”

BREAKUPS AND BUFFY
“My friends know I’m going through a rough spot if I’m watching Buffy. It’s such an empowering show for women. There aren’t many people who get their heartbroken like Buffy does. So when I go through heartbreak, I usually watch all seven seasons back to back. I feel like I kind of torture myself when I’m feeling sad. I’ll watch something I know will make me cry. The Notebook. Grey’s Anatomy. Sometimes you just need to cry. And I’ll always feel better after. I’m a cryer.”

WHEN YOU KNOW SOMETHING IS OVER
“It’s a wave. You wake up one day and you realize that it’s real. I’m all about gut feelings and I’m ruled by my emotions. Sometimes it’s hard to accept it. Sometimes the other person realizes it’s over first and then you’re forced to realize it way before you want to. It all comes from a place inside. You know it’s happening and it’s a matter of taking that feeling and following through with the necessary steps...which aren’t always fun.”

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CAN EXES BE FRIENDS?
“I think with the right amount of time and both people being completely healed, it’s definitely possible. Maybe not with everybody. I’m friends with the second guy who really broke my heart. We don’t call each other all the time, but we’re friendly. I care about his life and I check in with him. He just had a baby. It feels good to be in that spot because 7 years ago I would have never imagined it. Now the heartbreak is so far removed that I can be happy for him. My ex in Nashville and I have, after many years, finally gotten to the point where we’re friendly. We text and we’re Facebook friends, which is a big step for the current times. I wish him all the best too. I think he is going to find someone who can love him in the ways he needs to be loved, and I hope that for him. But it took us a long time to get here.”

HER SOCIAL MEDIA PHILOSOPHY
“If it’s someone who was on the casual side and you didn’t have deep rooted feelings for, those people are easy to stay connected to. You can flip the switch and be friends. The ones that really matter, though, I have to disconnect for a certain amount of time. I have a terrible history of unfollowing people in the moment. A couple months later I’ll think, okay that was a little dramatic so I’ll follow them back. And the worst is when they point it out. When you get the text, like ‘hey, so...you unfollowed me.’ Most of the time they’re just giving me a hard time. Sometimes it just needs to not be in your face though. I don’t want to scroll through Instagram everyday and see my heartbreak.”

TIMING
“It always comes back to timing. It’s much bigger than any of us. It’s always better for it to happen organically rather than forcing or looking for it. It’s sounds so generic, but whatever is going on in your life and your career is going to affect what you put out there. When you’re in a good space and you’re truly happy, love will find you so much easier. And there isn’t just one person out there for everyone. Just because you’ve had one or two or three big loves of your life, it doesn’t mean you’re not worthy of another.”

DATING
“I’ve been so up and down about how I feel about love. I keep forcing myself into dating, but I don’t need to be doing it. I need to be doing something for me, and all of that will build up to something better. I’m not giving up on love, but I’m giving up on dating because it’s not where I need to focus my energy right now. And that’s okay. I don’t need to be looking for a husband. This isn’t 1954.”

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FAVORITE SONG ABOUT HEARTBREAK
“It changes all the time. I’ve been on a huge Ed Sheeran kick. I just saw him at the Hollywood Bowl. He is the quintessential heartbreak song dude. He has a song called I’m A Mess. I’ve listening to that one a lot. Also, Wild Horses, which was originally by The Rolling Stones. But The Sundays did a really beautiful, ethereal cover of it.”

WHAT KEEPS HER HEART OPEN
“I have this uncanny ability to always hope for more. I’ve always had this weird fascination with love and romance and how it affects people. I’m an optimist about everything. I remember at some point in my early 20s that I decided I was going to be positive about everything and hope it would change something. And it did. So I try to channel that into all avenues of my life, whether it’s love or my career or anything I’m going through.”

HER MANTRA: CREATE MORE
“I’m creating all the time, but I am not focusing on it as much as I would like to. I also need to learn how to say no. I think saying no will lead to creating more, so maybe they go hand in hand.”

Photographed by Ellen Huerta