1. As you lie alone in your darkened, temperature-controlled bedroom, comfortably ensconced between satin sheets that are cool and slippery, but not too cool and slippery, see if you can count up how many men you've ever seriously dated in your entire life.
2. If the number is less than ten, move on to philosophical musings about how your finer points have always gone unappreciated.
3. If the number is greater than ten, reflect upon how your standards were always too low.
4. Once you have selected your most meaningful relationships, see if you can rank each of these past significant others on a five-point scale in terms of how much pain they caused you. For this purpose, "five" will signify, "So toxic that I still long to rip his head off." "One" will mean, "So dull and soulless and directionless that no one would miss him if he dropped dead."
Wonder if sheer obnoxiousness, plus the fatal flaw of falling out of love with you, proves any of your ex-boyfriends to be deeply psychotic.5. For those significant others who you rated as a five, see if you can remember every single vile remark they ever made to you. For each such remark, state aloud the perfect response that eluded you at the time. You will find that the most satisfying retorts are phrased as questions. For example, on that one reckless night that started out as giddy and ended with your boyfriend losing a toe, you could have said, "Oh, right—like you never lost your car keys during a snowstorm, after peeing on the side of a deserted road in the middle of the woods?"
6. Pick any ex-boyfriend at random, and dwell upon his cruel non-verbal communication—the eye-rolls; smirks; and deep, resentful sighs. Imagine having slapped him every time he did or said something nasty, such as that one evening when he said, "Fine. We'll eat at the diner. We'll eat at the diner again! Because God forbid we ever eat some place other than a freakin', greasy-ass diner! You know, the world would still exist even without freakin', goddam, grilled American cheese on rye!" The sharp sting of an open palm against a smug, bristly cheek would have felt terrific at such a moment.
7. Wonder what Brenda Kablarsky is up to. You know, she was kind of cute, and maybe if you had made a move on her—well, who knows. Spend some time mulling over sharing a life of cuddling next to wood stoves, sipping hot chocolate, and leafing through catalogs of anonymous sperm donors with good old Brenda. Resolve to finally figure out how to get into your college's alumni database on the computer.
8. Figure out what mental illnesses your various ex-boyfriends must have, according to your hazy recollection of the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Wonder if sheer obnoxiousness, plus the fatal flaw of falling out of love with you, proves any of them to be deeply psychotic. Enjoy thinking of all the therapy your exes will desperately need each and every day for the rest of their lives. Marvel at how well you do without ever having gone to therapy at all. Successfully resist the urge to immediately spend three hours cleaning the bathroom tile with a toothbrush as a way of celebrating your mental health. Such hedonistic activities can wait for the weekend!
9. Feel incredulous at how, again and again, you kept dating people who, among other things, suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Remind yourself that coincidences are God's way of saying, "I'm here!" Reflect that God might need a little therapy, too.
10. Wonder if you can just call up your college's alumni office tomorrow and ask for Brenda's phone number.
11. Tell yourself that it's finally time to get some sleep. Stretch, close your eyes, and try to think of nothing.
12. Repeat steps one through eleven, as needed.