A few years ago I made the difficult decision of leaving my job, home, and loved ones to travel the world on my own. Part of what sparked this daring adventure was the fact that my significant other and I decided that after four years it was time to uproot our lives from the bright lights of NYC to start over on the shores of the California coast. When I finally left the U.S, I carried with me a heavy heart but also exciting promises of a future that lay ahead. What followed were months of emails and Skype calls about our plans and the journey that awaited us.
Unfortunately, I missed something.
I returned to the U.S and two weeks shy of what was to be the step of a lifetime, he ended things. Somehow he managed to fit 4.5 years of life and experiences into a 10 line email. To make matters worse, I had a fully packed apartment, a plane ticket leaving in 15 days, and someone ready to take over my lease. I would have no place to live after two weeks and with no job, life seemed unfathomable. After two months, it is still unbelievably difficult but I’m finding a way to manage.
While trying to make sense of things, the beautiful, well-intentioned individuals in my life did their best to support me. They patted my back, hugged me, and gave that look that says, “ugh, this is terrible. I wish I had something else to say,” before finally saying, “it will get better.” What I’ve learned though, is that it will not. It simply does not get better.
Does this make me a pessimist? A glass is half full kind of person? No, not at all. It makes me a realist. Why? Because this situation will not in fact get better. I will not get up tomorrow with a clear heart and mind. I will not suddenly feel happy that the plans I had for my future have been crushed. I will not go to bed at night and not feel even the tiniest of voids. I will not stop reaching for the phone every time it rings, hoping to see words from him that will miraculously soothe my aching soul. I will not again feel the love and happiness that was specific to us.
This situation will not get better. What it is getting however, is different.
I’m finding a way to rejoice silently in my triumphs or finding a person, whether it be a friend or family member, to share in the moment with me. I’m finding new ways to occupy myself late at night when I can’t sleep or someone else to engage in late night chats and laughter with. I do my best to avoid the places that bring memories flooding back into my head; do my best to discover places I’ve never been so I can make new memories.
When I have a setback, when some sad moment befalls me, I reach for the number of someone else. Some of the laundry lists of hobbies and interests once shared, I’ve let fall away into the abyss of time and space, and for the rest I’ve found new comrades. Holidays, birthdays, and special occasions have been littered with creative ideas (e.g. a 16 hour Christmas road trip to Florida with my brother) so as to avoid falling into the comforts of what were old and savored traditions. Everyday I try to find a way in which to alter my thoughts and actions in such a way that I am left with the feeling that moving forward is entirely possible because the places in which he once existed can be filled by something or someone else.
This will never be a matter of getting better because this situation will never be better. It is a matter of “getting” different. And it is there, within that difference, that a new found happiness is prevailing.