A few years back I was in a rough place. I had a job I didn’t not hate for even a millisecond. I lived in an apartment with a roommate who thought cleaning the bathroom consisted of flushing the toilet. I had zero creative endeavours on the go and sexy adult braces. I also had a boyfriend who consistently made me feel like a broken garbage disposal that wasn’t working adequately but still housed tons of rotting iceberg lettuce. We fought every time we hung out. We often spent our dinner dates not speaking. We broke-up and got back together approximately 27 hundred million times.

Although it was a passionate relationship, it was also a not-able-to-wear-mascara-cause-of-crying-always one. We said “I love you” three weeks in, but a month later that had transformed into “I hate the stupid way you chew food.” We were not compatible. We couldn’t have a conversation about the weather without it ending in “It’s not too hot at all and if you can’t appreciate the summer for who it is at its worst than you don’t deserve it at its best and go fuck yourself forever you giant piece of turd.”

But conflict is eerily addictive and I became so accustomed to passive-aggressive arguments about mouthwash that I couldn’t exist without them. If I wasn’t bickering with this dude 24/7, who the hell was I? I was a hollow pasta shell that was filled with the ricotta cheese of his unending jealousy when I smiled at any living thing, including plants.

After two years of agony, I ended it. It wasn’t easy. I place it in my top five hardest life hurdles I’ve ever overcome. I know a lot of folks have been/are in situations similar to mine and don’t know what to do about it. So below is some advice from one previously trapped, frightened garbage disposal to another. Fingers crossed you’re single before you finish reading this.

Know that you will be okay and this will not trigger the apocalypse
When I even considered breaking-up with my ex-albatross I would begin to hyperventilate. I would look at my phone and imagine NOT seeing his name pop up on my screen and get instant stress diarrhea. I am a melodramatic person but this was just too much. I promise you, if you stop sleeping with this individual the world will not be sucked into a black hole. You won’t suddenly be transported into the film The Road. Food will continue to grow on the earth regardless of your romantic status. Yes, losing someone you love is difficult. It can feel catastrophic and you will mourn them but eventually you’ll begin feeling like a normal again. You have likely gone through this before and recovered, and this person might be harder to say goodbye to but that only means it will take a tad longer to move on. It doesn’t mean you never will.

Tell yourself that you deserve better than this, ‘cause I mean I don’t know some of you personally but I can guarantee that you do
When suffocating within these negative love bubbles your self-esteem tends to turn to ash along with your independence. You start believing that you are that garbage disposal and no non-sociopath will ever yearn to spoon with the back of your body. Spoiler alert: NONE OF THAT IS TRUTH AND YOUR EVIL INTERNAL JUDGEY MIND IS MESSING WITH YOU SO TELL IT TO KINDLY SUCK IT. Seriously though, you’re great. You are. I swear. No one should have to tolerate what you are tolerating, especially not you since you’re great. Reminder: YOU… ARE… LIKE, SO GREAT. This is simply an unfortunate circumstance you are in and have the right to (and definitely should) depart. There are cooler creatures out there to canoodle. Trust me.

Lean on your friends and ask them to fill your hollow pasta shell
My friends are what finally gave me the courage to call it quits. They had been telling me since day one that it seemed like a “stressful” arrangement but they began seriously encouraging me to liberate myself from it when “stressful” became “Jess calling at 4 am weeping because she told her boyfriend that he had a jam stain on his shirt and he said she doesn’t respect him and they’ve been yelling at each other for 15 hours straight without meals.” My pals provided sage advice and spent time with me when my time was no longer being spent with jam-stained-shirt-boy. And when I was with them and I would get the desire to contact him, they would stop me from making a huge mistake. Book dozens of friend dates and pack that calendar full of chummy love. They are a great tool for healing and a wonderful distraction.

Write a list of stuff you want to accomplish and begin following that list like it’s your goddamn ten commandments
This one is essential to regaining your identity, something toxic relationships frequently zap out of you. When I was in the dark ages I rarely had the energy to pursue my own career goals. Those goals were replaced with goals of bonding with my “soulmate” who didn’t support me collaborating with anyone but his penis. Once I began doing comedy and became a member of a community who was not “annoyed by how I breathe” I began to feel like a whole human again. I slowly started building my own life back up and with a busy schedule comes the freedom to say no to junk that makes you metaphorically smell like rotting iceberg lettuce.

When ending it, totally cut them out of your life and pretend like you have amnesia and don’t know their name or phone number or address or face
Delete them on Facebook. Erase their phone number. Unfollow them on twitter. Burn those puppets they gave you (am I the only one who got puppets??). This person is no longer a part of your day to day or your any day. Eliminate all avenues of reaching out to them. You can’t free yourself from quicksand while you remain chilling in the quicksand. That quicksand wants you to fail. Don’t let it. Fight back and soon you’ll be saying “Quicksand? What is this quicksand? I am not familiar. I don’t follow it on Instagram anymore, and I DEF don’t pick up when it calls at 4am.”

Remember there are other human creatures on land so go on a date/bang them
Again, this would come AFTER the break-up and within the potentially grey area where you didn’t follow my above tip and are continuing to text your volatile ex. You are making plans to “get lunch” and “catch up” which you know is code for “I miss you” and “let’s boink in your car.” Listen up: you do not want to rekindle that fire. Toxicity can be misconstrued as strong sexual chemistry sometimes but I assure you that hot coitus can be achieved with another. Don’t believe me? Test it. Ask someone out who you’ve secretly wanted to hump for a while and lay your lips on their lips. You don’t want your silly body craving sex from the wrong place. Give it choices and it will choose wisely.

Most importantly remember: you are wonderful and worthy and deserve better. Good luck!