The Story. Make up an answer to the question “What happened?!” and stick to it. Pay attention to your role in this story because it will determine your social life for years. Resist “martyr”; villains have more fun. And it should go without saying that the true story is irrelevant and nobody’s business.

Practical matters. Get:

• Voice mail
• Caller ID
• A fax machine
• Your money out of the joint
• Your name off the credit cards.

No names. Do not develop a pet name for your ex (e.g., “the schmuck” or “that castrating bitch”). Do not say anything bad about your ex in front of the children, ever.

Hire professionals. Pay a therapist to listen to your teary stories. You will eventually want your friends to invite you out; they will not do this if they are afraid you will trap them in a corner and spew. Get your own accountant. Ask your accountant to recommend a lawyer.

Dump dead weight. Do NOT continue to see your couples counselor. Purge your address book of all faux friends.

Wear ’tween fashion. You will have the emotional lability of a 12-year-old; you may as well dress the part, too.

Change your hair. No one has ever come out of a divorce with the same hair she went into it with.

Sleep with people you shouldn’t. It’s easier than you think. But keep your mouth shut about it. Once you become an adult again — in about two years — you will have something to be mysterious about.

Wait. The first year, you will embarrass yourself. The second year, other people will embarrass you. The third year, you will no longer be fresh gossip or fresh meat, and you’ll stop thinking of it as “the third year after.” It gets easier.

All is forgiven. While you’re recovering from a bad breakup, you don’t have to behave like a responsible adult. Take the low road. Be a baby. Burn your bridges. It’s your very own midlife crisis: Enjoy it.

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