And you learn
To build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is
Too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way
Of falling down in mid flight
After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden
And decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers
And you learn
That you really can endure
That you are really strong
And you really do have worth
And you learn and you learn
With every goodbye you learn.
-Veronica A. Shoffstall
Some of you may already know that Kendall and I broke up a couple of weeks ago. Or, I should say, Kendall dumped me.
I really dislike the word ‘dumped’. It makes it sound like you were abandoned on the side of the road, left to the rabid dogs, or rotting in a trash heap somewhere. It has a negative connotation of helplessness. But honestly, I can’t think of a better word to describe how things ended between us.
It was sudden and unexpected, to me at least.
I had just finished up a two week (mainly solo) trip in Vietnam, and I traveled for two days to get back to our small little island paradise on Koh Mak. I was excited to get back to life at the dive shop, the kittens, and most of all, my Kiwi beau who I had missed a lot while I was gone.
But I knew immediately that something wasn’t right when I got back.
When we saw each other again for the first time after two weeks, there was no romantic embrace or feeling that he was glad to see me. It felt like two old friends meeting again for the first time in years. There was a distance that I couldn’t quite explain.
I shook it off. Maybe he was just having an off day. There was some drama at the dive shop the day before, maybe he’s just stressed. But another day went by and nothing had changed. He wasn’t unfriendly, but he wasn’t my boyfriend either.
So, I brought it up that night. And he dropped the bomb that he no longer wanted to be with me. He had fallen out of love with me and just saw me as a friend. Two weeks apart made him realize all this.
Suddenly I felt small. I felt dismissed, hurt, confused, sad, angry, and overwhelmingly these feelings all came on at once.
I felt dumped.
I spent the night trying to convince him that we could work on it. That whatever ambivalence he was feeling about our relationship, I wanted to still be there for him. I still wanted Us. I was willing and ready to fight for it.
But you can’t convince someone to love you who no longer does. Bonnie Raitt taught me that life lesson at a young age.
I had been planning to be on Koh Mak for another couple of months, we had a bungalow together, a place I could work every day. We were finally starting to be treated like locals by the other residents on the island. I felt more at home than I had since I left the US in October.
And in less than 24 hours all of it was gone.
Since he didn’t offer me a place to stay while I sorted out what I was doing, I packed my bags and was off the island in less than 24 hours, with a good chance that I was never going to see him again.
I’ve never had a relationship dissolve so completely in such a short period of time. It knocked the breath out of me, but I think I’m better off for it.
I’ve found it’s much easier to say goodbye to someone who no longer values you. And it’s incredibly freeing to accept that and move on with your life. I’ve been through my fair share of breakups and goodbyes, and I do think that each one gets easier. I know that as cliche as it sounds, time heals all wounds, because I’ve been through it before.
I don’t believe in giving energy to something you can’t change in your life, because life is short and it’s meant to be lived, not wasted in self-pity and what ifs.
To all of you who have been concerned with how I’m doing, I am fine.
I’m not broken or lost. I don’t need to spend the next couple of months in Thailand ‘finding myself’. I know exactly who I am and what I’m doing with my life. I have so many great things going for me right now. This blog and my business, the many people who care about me in my life, and travel. I will always have travel.
My relationship was only one part of my life, it wasn’t my whole life.
I’ve already been through those ups and downs and identity crises in my early 20s, and I’m thankful for it, because I love the confidence and strength that I carry now as a person.
To be certain, that’s not to say that I’m not sad, quite the opposite actually.
I’ve been profoundly sad the last couple of weeks. Kendall was not just my boyfriend, he was the first boy I ever lived with (and in three different countries to boot). He was my best friend, my partner, my travel confidant. He was my rock, my biggest supporter, and we went through many highs and lows together.
We were coming up on our three year anniversary this year. We had so many plans for our future. I really thought there was a good chance he was who I was going to end up with. He even drunkenly proposed to me on my birthday last year on the shores of Lake Michigan, and although I said yes at the time, I knew I wasn’t ready to make that kind of commitment at 26. He said he would propose to me properly before my 27th birthday, but clearly that never happened.
It’s unsettling how quickly things can change in the course of a year. It makes you really value what you have in the present, because it could all be gone tomorrow.
There is always going to be pain and sadness with any relationship that ends, especially when someone meant a lot to you, but that is life. People come in and out of it at unexpected moments and you just have to roll with the punches and move on.
And I could not think of a better place to be single than in Thailand, one of the most social countries I’ve been to. There are always new people to meet, beach bars to hang out in, and adventures to go have. Oh and pretty much everywhere I’ve traveled in this country is drop-dead gorgeous.
I’m currently on Koh Lanta, and I’m thinking this is going to be my base for most of the rest of my two month visa. I want to set down roots for longer periods this year, make new friends, nurture my oldest friendships too, learn Muy Thai, get back into yoga, maybe even have a fling or two (there are an absurd number of model-like tall Scandinavians on this island).
With that said, I mainly want this year to be a year to myself. I want to focus on what I want to do, where I want to travel, how I want to spend my days. I want to volunteer at animal shelters, donate my time to local schools, and find more things that are meaningful to me.
I want to be single for awhile and not rely on other people so much. 2017 is my year to just be me and see where life takes me.
I’m not 100% right now, but I know I will be. I know that this will just be another one of those memories in life that adds on to who I am. I’ve been traveling solo much longer than I’ve traveled with other people, and I’m looking forward to leaning into that side of my independence again.
I believe with every breakup you learn a little more about yourself, and I’m still excited for this year and the many beautiful things I have yet to experience.
*It’s kind of become a ritual of mine to listen to Ben Howard a lot after a breakup, especially this song. I hope you find as much beauty in it as I do, especially if you’re going through a similar situation. It’s one of my favorites.
*Cover photo taken by Deanna Troy Henry.
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