After Breakfast, what happens next?

how to navigate a generation of heartbreakers

For the uninitiated, breakfast is a neologism for heartbreak. Coined from the popular Yoruba saying, “Gbogbo wa la ma je breakfast, askiko ti aluku ma je ti e, ototo ni,” which roughly translates as “We’ll all eat breakfast, everyone will eat theirs at a unique time,” the sceptre is slowly shuffling through the land and is being served to everyone regardless of their background.

Social media is awash with wistful clips of freshly heartbroken love birds speaking bitterly about receiving their serving of breakfast. An alarming number of young people are taking to social media to declare themselves over the concept of love, and are now fervently championing a campaign against the famed emotion of bliss. Even Grammy award winning musician Burna Boy recently had a brush with the scourge, which spurred his most recent single and song of the summer contender, “Last Last.” The dating scene is looking as dangerous as ever and the general consensus seems to be that the cost of giving room for emotional vulnerability is way too high. 

More and more young people are losing faith in love, the very ingredient that has coloured human existence since time immemorial. As someone who has had my own share of heartbreak in the course of my life, I’d be lying if I said I don’t feel an ounce of sympathy for those who have sloughed away the concept entirely from their minds. But this article is not about the burgeoning apathy towards the concept of love, instead it’s about coping with heartbreak or breakfast as it is fondly called.

The term heartbreak has overtime been reduced to a vacuous platitude that could refer to anything, from the blazing pangs that follow a messy split from a lover, to the mild twinge of sadness that follows watching your team lose a game. The Nigerian equivalent, Breakfast is a much more potent word. Breakfast is one of the most difficult ordeals to navigate, in the blink of an eye, the person you thought that you would lock hands with, as you amble through life suddenly becomes a stranger. Thoughts of them, which used to fill your world with vibrance and cause your insides to tingle, now rouse visceral dismal emotions.

It is akin to the feeling of losing someone. And in many ways it is mourning the loss of someone. The common thread that is woven through both circumstances is the hollowness that trails them. For many people, a romantic partner is a significant part of life, their essence melds with yours, your respective schedules warp to accommodate each other, memories of them are permanently emblazoned on your mind, and when they’re gone, all that’s left is the pain of forcefully being yanked apart by the forces of breakfast and the hollowness in the parts of your heart that played host to them. 

One thing I’ve learnt over time is that the hurt from heartbreak will lessen with time. Depending on how strong your attachment to your estranged partner was, the pain may still dawdle for a long time, but like many tribulations in life, it becomes bearable. However, no amount of experience or foreknowledge can prepare you for a breakfast. Each experience is fresh and gritty. I remember my last heartbreak which happened this year. At the time, I went a full week without mentally coming to terms with the loss of a partner with whom I’d spent a year of my life with. I brushed off our breakup and casually dismissed  it as “one of those things” as it wasn’t my first dance with those emotions, but after a week, those dormant emotions had formed into a thick fog of darkness and finally I had to grapple with them.

One of the most subtle and insidious ways society functions to exacerbate the feelings of heartbreak, is its passive dismissal of the experience. In the event of a loss of a loved one, society acknowledges your pain, you get a period of respite from work, cordial visits from friends and coworkers to commiserate with you, even displays of solidarity from acquaintances. But upon a breakup, reactions range from mockery to aloofness. You’re stuck in a ravine of hurt, but society does not pause to acknowledge your pain, let alone rally around in solidarity. Mind you, I’m not calling for work leaves to be afforded heartbreak victims (even though it’s not an entirely bad idea), however, it’s jarring that society treats an experience so significant to the affected person with so much aloofness. 

The situation around a heartbreak can be nuanced but as a rule of thumb it’s important not to blame yourself, especially in the recovery period. Heartbreak can stoke feelings of self-doubt or self scrutiny, and it’s easy to find yourself overanalysing the situation and wondering if you’re to blame. Even if you’re to blame, what good could come out of beating yourself over spilt milk? The pain and the roller coaster of emotions that trail a heartbreak episode are neither esoteric nor trivial, they hurt, really bad. So, in many ways, it is an injury and just like it would be outrageous to wallop your shoulder blade following an injury to it, whether the accident was your fault or not. It’s also directly opposite logic to jab at emotional wounds from breakfast, whether you’re at fault or not. 

The prevailing rhetoric foisted upon us by the previous generation is that: Heartbreak is just one of those things, so when it happens, dust yourself up and keep moving. However, the reality is that heartbreak is an injury that requires healing and the healing process mirrors the trajectory of physical healing from a wound. The period following a serving of breakfast is not the time for sombre introspection or unpacking demons from the deepest recesses of your mind, it’s the time for relishing in self-love and allowing yourself to heal. 

The world is rarely kind to people nursing wounds from a lost love. You only have to look around recent pop culture examples such as Lori Harvey and Michael B. Jordan and Kim Kardashian and her ex-husband, Ye to understand how seldom we care for the emotional health of the people around us–particularly celebrities who we believe are exempt from being dished a serving of breakfast.

A scroll through a Twitter thread on the said topic will leave you inundated by the myriad of recovery strategies proffered by self-acclaimed breakfast aficionados. One strategy that particularly jots out is: getting a rebound. From personal experience, this can work but it can also come back to bite your heel. In my sophomore year in the university, I went through a string of messy situationships and relationships. One of them particularly left me rattled. I was ghosted by the one true person I really cared for. 

As a final note, why do we see so much news and fiery rhetorics on failed relationships on social media, when in reality lots of people are in loving and stable relationships? Many people spend so much time on social media that the line between the bubble it offers and reality begins to blur. Not everyone is a heartbreaker on social media, some of us are the perpetually heartbroken. It’s okay not to subscribe to the prevailing notion of love and relationships but if you’re subliminally coaxed to give up on love by the nihilism on social media, dial back and remember that negativity makes the headlines while the great things of life remain in the background.