For Your Consideration: For Your Consideration

for your consideration

Welcome to For Your Consideration, a new series about things we love and love to do — and we’d like to give you permission to embrace your authentic self and love them too.

“Really, Kayla, you’re recommending your own recommendations column in an installment of said recommendations column?” you might think upon reading the title of this very special For Your Consideration. But I promise you that’s not exactly what I’m doing. Still, this particular For Your Consideration is about to get very meta, and yes, I realize that going meta less than three months into this series’ lifetime is a bit like if a television show were to try to do a musical episode in its first season. But here we are. I actually do make the rules! And this series has always been about more than just recommendations.

I pitched the idea for this For Your Consideration series less than one month after finding out that my girlfriend was cheating on me with someone I considered a friend. I was ruined and not feeling like myself and all the other horrible, seemingly indelible things one feels in this situation that I had (un)fortunately never previously experienced. I wanted to grant myself permission to enjoy dumb things at a time when it felt impossible to enjoy anything at all. I wanted a slightly experimental writing space where I had some semblance of control — a thing that most other parts of my life lacked. Plus, my friend who pretty much became my life raft during that initial month told me a really fucking funny story about changing her identity after accidentally liking someone’s very old photo when creeping on them, and I wanted to write about it.

For Your Consideration was born, pitched as a free-for-all recommendations series with a tinge of advice column. It became clear that that advice wasn’t just for you but for me, too. It became clear that it wasn’t just a recommendations or advice column at all. It was, increasingly, a de facto diary about the affair that shattered my life and the messy, uncertain, volatile aftermath that followed… dressed up as a recommendations and advice column and evasive enough about the specific details of my personal life that I could be discreet, that I could insulate myself from some of my own feelings, which felt insurmountable.

If someone was paying attention to these columns with a Da Vinci Code-like approach to teasing out symbols and clues about relationship drama, then they could probably figure it out. Like queer subtext but affair subtext, it’s there, microscopically subtle at first: that disconnect between her and me and reality that begins my essay on the wonders of listening to the same song over and over and over and the specific songs I list as having listened to on repeat in the past month. A person in a good relationship does not listen to two different versions of St. Vincent’s “Smoking Section” that goddamn much.

There were the little bits in there just for me, too. My ode to breakfast pasta was really an ode to some of the happier memories of our relationship, which is/was so tied up in food that I stopped cooking after the affair, haven’t really started again. As I note there, I don’t like to cook alone.

My personal life started seeping in more and more, the clues becoming more obvious. I admitted to being in therapy twice a week without mentioning that one of those sessions was always couples therapy, that my weekly trips to The Met weren’t just healing but lifesaving. Everything in New York City makes me think about her and about us, as if this city were a painted mural of our time together. The Met became the only place where I saw a different painting, the only place in this city where I wanted to be alive.

More walls came down for my FYC on weekly karaoke, an intensely personal essay that I nonetheless decided to distance myself from by writing it in second person. I hinted around singing “Before (s)He Cheats” week after week instead of just fucking saying it. Whose feelings was I protecting? I hinted around it all, called this the worst summer of my life without explaining why. I actually used the word “cheating” in my musings on candles, but I framed it as a hypothetical, once again distanced myself strategically.

I’m not merely writing this as a decoder to past FYC entries. I promise there’s a point to all this, a point that fulfills this series’ promise to be about the things we like and like to do, even though I’ve now spent much of this discussing being cheated on, certainly not something I would wish upon anyone. To an extent, what I wrote in my FYC on The Met is still true: to write about this all now, when I’m still very much living in it, feels like writing about drowning while drowning. But at the same time, I’ve been deliberately writing around it, afraid to name what haunts me because that somehow makes the demon more real. Am I ruining my previous work’s mystique by overexplaining the emotional underpinnings? Maybe. But I don’t feel like safeguarding this secret anymore. It’s too big a part of who I am right now.

Friends, don’t be afraid to write something down or say it out loud because you’ve told yourself that that somehow makes it more real. It’s already real. There are so many times I’ve wished none of this were real, that this life wasn’t mine, that what was/is happening to me were like a storyline on one of those television shows I’m always writing about.

Don’t be hard on yourself for doing things you never thought you’d do when your life starts spinning out of control. I’ll be the first to admit that I have been steadily, publicly losing it on social media in the wake of all this, and in many ways, For Your Consideration has just been a slightly more eloquent version of that — not a cry for help, per se, but a flare sent out to myself that I’m not okay, that none of this is okay. But hell yeah I’m going to light a candle about it and eat pasta for breakfast about it and sing karaoke about it. I’m going to slowly but surely remind myself of the underrated good bits of life and remind you, too. I know that I can’t write myself out of this, but I also can’t not write about it. I guess an alternative title for this one would be For Your Consideration: Let It Out.

This doesn’t mean that this series has suddenly shifted its focus. I don’t think that every iteration of this column will now be some variation of “hi I was cheated on, feel bad for me.” In fact, I think the opposite is true. Because I’ve finally written it, I don’t feel the need to write around it week after week, to view every goddamn thing through this affair lens. It might creep back in. But I’m naming the demon so that I can hopefully begin to keep it from touching everything good.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 808 articles for us.


  1. You are so smart and hot and women should categorically not cheat on you.

    Thanks for being open with your hurting though, it’s very much appreciated.

    Here’s to healing.

  2. As someone who just posted this morning in my group chat about the ways I’ve tried and failed to make local friends since my major breakup, then immediately felt guilty about taking up space/ being depressed/ sounding negative, just here to say I really appreciate this post.

    Also I practiced self-care by candlelit baths to music with chocolate so honestly feeling all that you’ve posted. And yes to art, to everything that connects us back to the world, to ourselves, to our expansive selves.

    Yes, it’s fucking hard, but you’re here Kayla, and you’re doing the damn best you can for yourself. That’s pretty incredible. You’re pretty incredible.

    • woof, i definitely relate to the feeling guilty part. i have made a handful of new friends in the past few months and i get very in my head about it because i’m like oh wow they only know this broken version/broken record version of myself. i promise i can also be fun and chill!!!!!!!!!!

  3. “Friends, don’t be afraid to write something down or say it out loud because you’ve told yourself that that somehow makes it more real. It’s already real.”

    So good. Thank you.

  4. This series saved me and I am so grateful.

    I had an awful, sudden break-up that broke me in a lot of ways early this summer. I saw the first “For Your Consideration” as I was years deep in my ex’s Facebook feed.

    You gave me the permission I needed to embrace whatever small, minimally destructive things made me feel okay. After your breakfast piece, I realized I was excited to eat my lunch/dinner foods and I started eating them for breakfast because it got me out of bed. Sure, sometimes it was only to microwave food and bring it back to my bed, but some days it got me out the door and to work at a respectable hour. After the subway crisis this morning, I was joking with friends and realized it has been months since I was regularly showing up to work at 10:30.

    After your piece about going to the met, I started taking walks around the city and just appreciating how incredible some buildings are. If I were to write my own “For Your Consideration,” it would be going for long walks while poorly dressed for the weather. The cold makes me feel awake like I rarely do otherwise and there’s something grounding and inspiring about how much there is to see. I’ve spent most Saturdays putting on a podcast and just wandering around and it’s done so much for my mental health.

    I am going to wake up super early on what would have been my anniversary and walk the entire length of Manhattan. I have the route and the outfit all planned out. I’m usually strictly a Brooklyn girl and only really hung out in Manhattan with her, so I am reclaiming the day and the place. I’ve toyed with doing this for years, but never really followed through and I don’t think I would be planning it so seriously if I hadn’t had a few months of thinking, “it’ll bring me joy and not screw up my life more – let’s do it.”

    So thank you so much for publishing this. You have helped me so much at putting myself back together and I so sincerely wish you all the best for 2019.

    • wowowow i love all of this??? i too have been doing a lot of walks around the city while either listening to a long podcast or a song on repeat. and usually when i go to the met, i walk from chelsea! so it’s not quite the entire length of manhattan, but like, pretty much. highly recommend taking a very long stroll through central park and ending up at the met. and good for you for reclaiming the day and place; that’s super brave ?

      • Hahah I forgot to mention that listening to one song on repeat has been my musical philosophy forever (I was a pleasure to drive with in high school) – so not an inspiration but some very appreciated validation.

        I didn’t realize the Met was free until like two days ago, so I likely will do that Central Park walk (especially now that it’s cold and hopefully emptier!)

        And thank you for being super brave and putting all of this out there! ??

      • And thank you for creating and maintaining this space where I could have my feelings validated! An A+ membership is definitely on my to-do list once my raise kicks in in January ?

  5. “But I’m naming the demon so that I can hopefully begin to keep it from touching everything good.”

    This. ♥️♥️♥️

  6. This series you have been doing is so relateable and even if there was a theme you were batting around with saying anything, it doesn’t take away from anything you’ve written or shared. This has been powerful and you have been such a strong voice and you’ve come so far just naming whats happened and working to move on. I wish you the best in working through the grief and trauma of it all and know you have all of our support and love Kayla.

  7. “But I’m naming the demon so that I can hopefully begin to keep it from touching everything good.”

    How powerful. I’ve loved FYC and your writing, I will continue to love it, and it has allowed me to embrace the things I’ve needed to get through leaving a 2-year relationship (that was bad for a lot of ways too inappropriate to name in this public forum) and putting my life back together in NYC. Thank you for being brave enough to name it, and I’m sending love and strength.

  8. I didn’t know that I needed to read this piece today, but I did.

    “There are so many times I’ve wished none of this were real, that this life wasn’t mine, that what was/is happening to me were like a storyline on one of those television shows I’m always writing about.”

    I don’t write about TV, but I do think my life as if it were a TV show way too often.

    I’m having a really awful time right now, so I’m going to use this as an inspiration to shamelessly enjoy the things that make me feel some happiness and to feel all the feelings as I heal. Thanks

  9. I’m slowly getting back to writing poems, and letting it out has been so impactful and positive. I love FYC and I’m thankful for it and for you, Kayla.

    From the repeat songs to the freedom of karaoke and roaming museums, this column has made me connect to a part of myself that I hadn’t realized yet existed.

  10. I’ve been there, too (many years ago) – and while I couldn’t write myself out of it, writing really, really saved me. And walking until I had blisters. And therapy. And new friends. But mostly writing. I wish you all you need right now.

  11. So many lines resonate with me so intensely. “Don’t be hard on yourself for doing things you never thought you’d do when your life starts spinning out of control.” <3

    Summer break-ups are the worst because it ruins the best (imo) season and then…just when maybe you're sleeping a little more or maybe going 30 seconds without thinking of her…THE SUNLIGHT IS SNATCHED AWAY. I responded to my June break-up with ceramics classes and quilt making and plenty of stoopid shit i allowed myself to enjoy. I relate to that feeling of not wanting to do a beloved activity alone. My favorite thing tin the whole wide world is to go to the movies, but for months and months after my break-up I could not go! I started going again this month (thanks, The Favourite!); it wasn't a tremendous decision, i was just suddenly ready. As Mary Oliver writes, "Things take the time they take, don't worry…"

    • I also had a June break-up and this is SO TRUE. I wasn’t up for much this summer (I can finally laugh about how I spent Pride wasted and mutely traipsing after my friends like the sadest gayest zombie ever) and just when I started to feel okay IT’S DARK ALL THE TIME?

      Congratulations on making it back to the movies and hope that you’re doing okay more often than not!

    • forever grateful u showed up in nyc at the precise moment my life started unraveling <3

  12. Thank you for your words and honesty. I loved your piece on the Met, whatever the impetus. I hope 2019 treats you much better than this year did.

  13. I have loved this series. Writing through breakups is very real and very important and you are also very good and very important. Lots of love to you.

  14. I love this series so much.

    Now I feel a bit like the class clown whose oblivious humour in her comments was a mild distraction and, I hope, mostly harmless.

    Throughout all this, I learned a lot subliminally about how to handle emotional devastation.

    Now I’m an even bigger fan !

  15. Late comment, but: I loved this series so much when I wasn’t quite sure exactly what your context was, although I could tell you were hurting, but I love it even more now. There is something so, so essential about taking the little things for yourself, naming your love for them and refusing to be ashamed. Which also goes well with showing vulnerability on social media — something I also thought I’d never do, and then I was like, what the heck is the point of twitter if not for us to all talk about how sad and tired we are all the time and also how much we cling to little self-care-y things and to tell other people what the good ones are too??

    Anyway this is all to say that I have loved every edition in this series, but this one is so brave, and it really has my heart. I am so sorry for the terrible time that you’ve been going through, and I’m glad that it seems like writing FYC has helped in some small way. I’m definitely of the belief that writing the worst stuff down is one of the only ways to really work through it.

    Also! I was going through my childhood bedroom in my parents’ house last weekend and found like a dozen terrible lumpy handmade candles that I’d collected from a million colonial town visits etc and I got rid of them but now wish I’d kept them.

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