Breakup turned me into a zombie

It's "validate the dumped" day. Please. This letter writer needs it.

Hi Meredith. This might be a question more for a therapist than for Love Letters, but I love this column and would like to hear the wisdom and experience of the peanut gallery.

I'm suffering through my first heartbreak -- a bit later than most people, but I'm still quite young. I had a wall up (my friends called it the Anti-Man Forcefield) for a long time, but my ex managed to crash through it and sweep me off my feet. It was my first relationship, first time, first love -- and the first person I'd ever dared let my guard down with. We were together for well over a year. It would hurt that it's over no matter what, but I'm devastated because in the end he cheated on me.

I'm having difficulty coping. I have cut off all contact and tossed all mementos, I'm keeping busy and exercising, I'm spending time with friends and family, but at the end of the day I am still the crying mess that I was two months ago when it ended. I feel like a zombie trudging along. I'm still in love with him. When does it get better?

Friends tell me that in order to get over a man, you need to get under another one. That idea is so depressing to me. Are we supposed to just hop from person to person, trying to fill whatever hole the last one left? For me, that's no way to love. That's no way to live.

I wasn't expecting to marry this man, but I thought I would at least ultimately walk away from the relationship believing in love. Now that I have been betrayed, I don't know what to believe. How do you trust someone again? I don't know what positive lessons to take away from this relationship. I feel like it all just serves to reinforce my former determination to not let anyone it.

How do you people do it? How do you move on? How on Earth does anyone subject themselves to more than one of these? Are you all crazy or am I?

– Zombified, New England

My dearest zombie,

Not all breakups will be this monumental. And if you don't want to get under someone else, don't do it. For most people, hopping into bed -- or into a new relationship -- is not a real solution.

It's only been two months. That's nothing. That's a blip. You're still in the anger phase and that's OK.

After you've had some more time to work this out, you'll be able to see all of the layers of this relationship. You were betrayed, but you also experienced some wonderful things. With a different, more mature partner, you might get a better ending. If you put those walls back up, you'll miss the good stuff. I know it doesn't seem like it right now, but the good stuff is worth the risk.

I promise you, most people are, in fact, looking for someone who'll love them for a very long time and for all the right reasons. Don't let this ex represent all men and all loves. It isn't hopeless.

It'll look different after a few more months, so let yourself heal. You'll go from zombie to werewolf to angry vampire to heartbroken vampire until you eventually turn back into a better, more open version of your original self.

And in the meantime, zombies are in, so good for you.

Keep busy. Stay close to friends. Watch movies that make you laugh. Don't assume the worst. Take your time.

Readers? Can you help the Walking Dead here? When should she start feeling better? Must we revisit Help.

– Meredith