Zoë and her friend at the wedding. Courtesy Zoë Saunders.
"This Is Uncomfortable" Newsletter

This is not you, it’s me.

Zoë Saunders and Tony Wagner Nov 17, 2023
Zoë and her friend at the wedding. Courtesy Zoë Saunders.

Hey folks,

It’s Zoë again. I’m the senior producer of “This Is Uncomfortable” and I’m filling in for Reema with an Uncomfortable breakup story to go along with our brand-new episode.

Back in 2018, I was devastated when a long-distance boyfriend dumped me over FaceTime. He called to end things just two weeks before my best friend’s wedding in Scotland. He and I were planning to make a romantic holiday out of it, and I’d already made the reservations. We were going to meet in Edinburgh and spend a few days exploring castles along the Scottish coast. After the wedding, we would take a scenic train ride down to London, where I wanted to visit museums and pubs with him.

Obviously, that plan went out the window after the breakup! But I wasn’t going to let him take this from me — watching my friend walk down the aisle, celebrating her love and cèilidh dancing the night away. The last-minute changes took some rejiggering, and required some extra costs.

I canceled the picturesque Airbnb and our train tickets to London and moved up my return flight. All the fees came to $1,904. My ex offered to pay, so I sent him an invoice. After 10 months and a bit of prodding, I finally got my money back and used it on a vacation in Mexico City that I’ll remember forever. I ate every vegan taco in town, sampled artisanal mezcal, browsed vintage clothing shops and nerded out over Olmec artifacts at the archaeology museum.

Read on for more breakup stories, splurges and recs to heal a broken heart!

— Zoë

Defend your splurge

Lyz Lenz poses for a selfie with her dog, Dolly, described below.

Tell us how you treated yourself lately and why using the form at the bottom of this page — we’ll include the best ones in our newsletter! This week’s splurge comes from Lyz Lenz, author of the divorce memoir/manifesto “This American Ex-Wife,” out in February. She also writes the newsletter “Men Yell At Me.”

In early 2021, I bought a wolf. Specifically, I bought an Alaskan malamute. That winter was one of the worst of my life, but she was the reason I got out of bed — I had to! She’d poop on the floor. Having her forced me to go on walks in the cold and learn to love the snow.

I was a single mother, struggling to pay my mortgage after losing my job. Isolated during the pandemic, I spent my days huddled in my house, depressed and worried about the future. A friend who has two malamutes took me to go look at some puppies. Just look, she told me. A big, wolflike dog, she said, would cure most of my problems. I went and two hours later returned with a 30-pound puppy and $600 less in my bank account. I named her Dolly, after the singer Dolly Parton. 

Dolly has been one of the biggest splurges of my life. Food and grooming for her isn’t cheap. She chewed a hole in a door to the garage and has eaten more than her fair share of food off the counter. But she sleeps by my side of the bed every night. When my kids are frustrated or upset, they love to throw their arms around her. I often find my son leaning against her like a floor pillow. She loves us so fiercely and so possessively. She’s growled at creepy contractors. When I leave the kids home alone to run errands, she lays down by the door until I return. And when I work, she is right by my feet. And during the cold, dark winter, when I am tempted to lose myself to my depression, her joy in the snow reminds me of the beauty in the hard times.

The Comfort Zone: What our team is into right now

Tell us about your splurge, or anything else!

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