Maryjane Fahey and Caryn Beth Rosenthal were acquaintances, until they both got dumped by the men in their lives. It was only then, reeling and broken-hearted from their respective breakups, that Fahey and Rosenthal really bonded.
“We had so much in common,” says Fahey. “Our stories were so amazingly similar, and that started our getting well together.”
After a year of recuperation, the best friends were mutually taken with the idea of writing a new kind of self-help book for other women struggling post-heartbreak. What resulted is “Dumped,” a quippy, sharp, and occasionally crass guide to getting over what’s-his-name.
“It’s bold and fabulous, quick and to the point. I was looking for our book [after my breakup.] I don’t want any pencil-pushing PhD doling out experience when I’m the woman who has experience — plenty of it,” says Rosenthal.
The self-described “empowerment babes” chatted with us, and, amid laughter and expletives aplenty, explained their take on the right ways (vodka, sex, self-appreciation) and the wrong ways (overeating, whining, drunk dialing) to mend a broken heart.
Q. What were you looking to achieve with this book?
Fahey: We wanted to create the opposite of what we were finding. We wanted to find the concise little bible we couldn’t get anywhere. We very much envisioned it as an empowerment bible, a little bible you put on your bedside and get a good quote a day. When — not if, when — [your breakup] happens, you have a quick go-to guide.
Rosenthal: We were pulling all the great stuff that we gleaned over that year. We got together once a week and we would brainstorm all the things that were so inspirational for us and transcribe and do further study.
Fahey: There was nothing we didn’t see, no numerologist we didn’t talk to. It’s a lot of work to get your joy back. We definitely saw this as the opposite of “Eat, Pray, Love.” I like parts of that, but mostly when she was chowing down in Italy, I was having trouble with the guru part. It’s not realistic. We reacted.
Q. What do you think sets “Dumped” apart from other breakup books?
Rosenthal: I love a good wisecracking girlfriend myself who comes in and kicks you in the ass, not someone who sits there with the sad eyes.
Fahey: The book represents that girlfriend quality.
Rosenthal: It’s a funny book and we’re very relatable. . . . Everybody wants a big sis. We’re not reinventing the wheel here, but we’re perfecting it.
Q. Who’s your target audience?
Fahey: It’s a general voice. The audience is ageless. We have a lot of young girls [reading]; we didn’t originally see it that way. At our first book signing, men were getting the books for their exes.
Rosenthal: They want their stupid exes to stop stalking them! You know those women, they just don’t shut up and they broke up with these guys years ago.
Q. Men? That’s unexpected. Do you find you have a broader audience than anticipated?
Rosenthal: It’s true, [because the book is] all about self-esteem. It doesn’t just have to be related to a boyfriend. My friend lost her job, she got laid off and she wrote me the most unbelievable letter of thanks for the book. She said, “You know what? The book works for this, too.” It can just be applied in all these different aliases.
Fahey: It’s now three years since I broke up with my ex, but I pick up this book and I still get empowered by it.
Q. Do you each have a favorite section of the book?
Fahey: I like the chapter on closure, because that’s something that I really needed myself. You’re never, ever, ever gonna get closure. Let it go, girls.
Rosenthal: I like “Will Yourself to [Have Sex].”
Q. What’s one piece of advice you want readers to glean from this book?
Fahey: I think the most important lesson I had in all of this was to just face your fears. I was settling and putting up with a lot of crap from a man who I did love. I was afraid to be alone. Once I faced it and pushed him out of my life in my own way, started over again and embraced that, I was on my way to recovery. Just face it. This is not a tragedy; he did you a favor.
Rosenthal: Celebrate anything and everything, because life ain’t a dress rehearsal.
Jessica Teich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.