game of thrones

Tormund Giantsbane’s Guide to Getting Over a Breakup

Photo: HBO, Shutterstock

Breakups are the pits. One minute, you and your gigantic yellow-haired, blue-eyed crush are on top of the world, drunk on Dornish wine and the knowledge that you helped save humanity from an army of snow zombies. Then, next thing you know, she’s leaving you to go lose her virginity with a guy who’s fathered multiple children with his twin sister. I mean, come on. People think that because I’m a wildling who breastfed from a giant for three months when I was 10 (I’ve since been told this is “far too old”) I have no feelings. But I’m just a person like everyone else, full of fears and dreams and insecurities, and the fact that Brienne chose Bowl Cut Jaime over me stings.

As painful as a breakup can be, though, I’m here to tell you there’s a light at the end of this terrible tunnel of heartbreak. Here are some tips that helped me.

Get outside!

This has been a big one for me. Since I’ve been home, I’ve found myself taking long, meandering walks across the great expanse of snow (walks that are significantly more relaxing now that I know a wight isn’t going to come and gobble up my organs). After being down in the hustle and bustle of Winterfell for so long, it feels nice to commune with nature, to remember that there’s a whole big, beautiful world around me humming along, unconcerned with the dramas of Man. As I walk, I meditate on who I am and who I want to be. I’ve been reading a lot of Brené Brown recently, and she says, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.” I like that.

Also, last week I made an “anatomically correct” snowman, haha.

Get a dog

At first, when Jon Snow left us with his direwolf, Ghost, I was like, Oh brother, a pet is the last thing I need right now. When we started walking north, Ghost would either run away for long stretches of time and come back covered in blood or he would keep trying to hump my friend, Halvor Steelbones, neither of which particularly endeared him to me (or to Halvor).

Over time, though, he got less skittish. He started letting me put salves on his wounded ear, and sometimes at night he would curl up next to me. I began saving rabbits for him to eat, and I figured out that he loves getting scratched right at the base of his tail. It felt good to be tasked with taking care of another being. It got me out of my own head and into the moment. Plus, watching Ghost hump Halvor really made me laugh.

Reconnect with old friends

I was so thrilled when my old friend Jon came back to the Night’s Watch. He had also just gone through a tough breakup (with his aunt) (whom he murdered) ( yikes). I invited him to come with me on a couple of my long walks. “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen,” Brené once said, so I tried to be really forthcoming with Jon about how I was feeling insecure about Brienne leaving me for that twincest guy. He was a good listener — he just sort of frowned and looked moody the whole time. I tried to be there for him as well and to create a space where he felt comfortable sharing his feelings, but to be honest it was a little harder for me to connect with his problem since it was so incest based and obviously that brings up a lot for me. Still, I think we’re really helping each other heal.

All in all, I feel much more centered, like I’ve returned to the version of myself that I lost when pursuing Brienne. Last I heard, she was in King’s Landing, updating Jaime’s entry in the Big Book of Knights. Hearing that made me sad. Why wasn’t she writing her own entry? I like to think that if we ended up together, she would have learned how to be the protagonist of her own story. But that’s not my problem anymore, my friends keep telling me. I hope she finds peace. And I hope some of these tips, which have helped me so much, will help you find peace too. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pull Ghost off of Halvor and go for a long walk.

Lots of love,

Tormund Giantsbane’s Guide to Getting Over a Breakup