As we approach the ever-dreaded holiday that is Valentine’s Day this Sunday, I thought I’d share some anecdotes of heartbreak anxiety and my recipe for Vodka sauce. Because well, I have a lot of vodka on hand these days. Here’s why.
As some of you may know, I’m going through a very surprising and painful breakup which happened about a month ago now (and it still feels like yesterday). I haven’t shared a ton of detail out of respect for him (why I still care about how he feels is beyond me but I guess I’m a good person), but let’s just say that I thought this guy was “my person”. He was kind, thoughtful, appreciative, etc., and then one day I blinked, and he was gone. It’s been devastating, to say the least. Not to mention it makes me feel completely stupid for not “seeing it” sooner. Spoiler alert: there was nothing to see, this person was just really good at pretending.
I bring this up because obviously I have been dealing with a lot of emotions lately, and the sadness/anxiety has been cumbersome and unpredictable. Some days I feel “ok”, some days I feel like I drank 7 cups of coffee, and other days I want to crawl into bed and have someone spoonfeed me Spaghettios. It’s like a fun mood surprise each and every day.
Now, this may sound insane, but I would take the sad over the anxiety any day. Being sad sucks in its own special way, but panic attacks are awful. At their worst, you can feel like you’re running out of air, which is really just a nice way of saying “it feels like you’re dying”. Far be it from me to sugarcoat this stuff. If you follow me, chances are you’re a no-bullshit kinda person and I like that about you.
Anyway. The questions I have for him bear a ton of weight and take up way too much space in my mind. Knowing I may also never even get my answers is another pile of shitbricks I really don’t need to carry around right now. I struggle with anxiety to begin with, and I actually wrote a post about that almost exactly one year ago today. You can read about that here.
So after reading that (and the mention of my wonderful bf at the time), you can imagine how well the “unknown” part of this breakup is sitting with me. I’d like to beat it to death with a flaming baseball bat. Unfortunately, they look down upon arson in my building, so I thought I’d turn to something a little less flammable and a lot more calming. Enter: meditation.
I used to meditate pretty regularly a few years ago, especially on my trip to Bali because hi have you even read Eat, Pray, Love?? Just kidding…ish. Once I got into it a little, I really enjoyed it. It’s not always easy to “clear your mind”, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. I tend to just put on my sound machine and let my thoughts pop up/wander, but guided meditations are helpful too, especially if you’re just starting out.
Earlier this week, I decided to try meditating for the first time in two years. I set my alarm for 20 mins, not realizing that I set the alarm for 11:40 PM instead of AM, and by the time I got out of it and “woke up”, it was 12:20 PM. I literally said out loud “holy shit where the fuck did I just go?!” And I can’t really explain it, but it helped.
Everything that had been giving me anxiety came to the surface in a clearer, more calm manner. The anger melted away for a day. And really that’s all I can ask for: day by day baby steps. We’re on day two now and I am still feeling less anxiety than I had in the days prior.
I asked the IG community to recommend some apps for meditation or any other tips, and I have listed them out below. The ones with an asterisk* next to them mean a LOT of people recommended them.
And here is the recipe for my vodka sauce. I didn’t forget! It’s similar to the Carbone vodka sauce with the onions and Calabrian chili paste, but I don’t have that so I used tomato paste and chili flakes. Still delicious. I’d say my version is thicker too. You could easily thin it out with some extra pasta water, but I promise it’s great and easy – I’ve made it twice in the past week. Carbs also help anxiety.
Now here’s the meditation stuff. Give it a shot. Just make sure you set your timer for the correct time zone.
Meditation Apps and Online Courses:
Calm* – I’ve used this in the past (the free version), but for some reason fell off with it. Will have to revisit since it was probably the most suggested. It’s free for the first 7 days and then $69.99/year.
Peloton* – since my ex bought me my Peloton for Christmas, obviously I will be trying this out (Aditi has been the recurring instructor suggestion as well). The app is $12.99/month.
Headspace* – lots of people recommended this, and it’s $12.99 after a 7-day free trial, or you can get 14 days free with the annual subscription of $69.99.
Insight Timer – this app is free and has over 80K guided meditations for you to browse through. They also do live events and have recorded meditations from celebs like this one with Gisele Bundchen, which is cool.
Waking Up by Sam Harris* – I’ve been using this and so far I like it! His voice is super calming to listen to. You can get a free month to start, and then it’s $14.99 monthly or $119 for an annual plan (which works out to about $10/month).
Simply Being – this is just $1.99 and seems like a very simple option (which is good for someone like me because I get overwhelmed with too many options). They have guided meditations as well as nature sounds and music.
Shine – black-owned self care app that’s also free! But you can upgrade to premium for an annual fee of $53.99.
Jeff Bridges Sleeping Tapes – this one kinda made me laugh but it wasn’t a joke apparently. It’s calming but I also find his voice a little scary. Perhaps that’s just me.
Ziva Meditation – if you go to their website, you can sign up for a free 3 day trial before committing. Hard to find the actual price but I believe it’s $399 for the online course.
TM Transcendental Meditation – A published meta-analysis of 42 scientific studies reported “The effect size of TM on overall self-actualization was approximately 3 times as large as that of other forms of meditation and relaxation.” Also, Tom Brady supports it, so that should say something, right?
YouTube vids – Andrew Johnson, James Cole, Eckhart Tolle
Body Scan Meditation – this isn’t an app or a course, it’s a style of meditation. I dug around a bit and found this article to be helpful in understanding what it is. My understanding is it’s like listening to everything in your body and being present/accepting of it.