By Leah Sheppard
‘Eat, Pray, Love’ is one of my favourite movies, and to be honest was one of the very first things I thought of doing after getting dumped. There are so many of us who would just love to escape to a tropical place after a breakup and get away to somewhere we can ‘sort ourselves out’. Sure a beach and a tan will make us feel better, but there are also some very real problems with this (unless you have a cheeky years’ salary stashed away somewhere #saidnooneever) is that:
- Most of us cannot afford to disappear for a years’ worth of healing, and
- Your breakup-pain will still be there when you get back.
I’ve known many a heartbroken friend to fork out all their savings and leave on a 3-month ‘find-myself’ trip to India, only to find that the issues they had been trying to escape were still waiting for them back home (albeit under a tan, and a few tropical one-night-stands). And you know what? It really, really hurts when you find that out. It is yet another unfair and shitty thing about breakups, and it can’t be fixed by checking out. You didn’t ask for it, you didn’t plan for it, but now it’s thrust upon you as yet another thing you have to deal with in your life.
We often choose travel as a go-to way of surrounding ourselves in something positive, having been through something so very, very painful. It is natural to assume that all you need is a time away to rest but that’s not really what the problem is. It also creates more financial problems for you when you get back.
I know this from experience, many times over, and the plain truth of it is you have to be present. You have to weather the storm, and you have to deal with it. It is a journey you have to take, and an unfortunate part of the human experience. What you have been through is grief and emotional trauma, and there are very specific ways that will help you deal with that. It hurts like no other pain you’ve felt before but the pain will not last forever; it will however definitely hang around way longer than necessary if you don’t deal with it properly.
There is no amount of tropical beaches or yoga classes that can strip away the pain you feel when you look at a place you and your ex used to go to; or a song that reminds you of them. There is no amount of meditation or cocktails-in- pineapples or Tuscan escapes that will draw out and help you overcome the feeling of abandonment, rejection and broken dreams that reside in you as a result of the one you love not loving you back.
You end up putting yourself in this strange limbo, where you aren’t surrounded by all the memories of that person, but you know they are all back there waiting for you when you get back. It’s not relaxing, and it’s not reality.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against holidays or having a breather; going away for a while to get your head straight is perfectly fine. Just understand that going away without the proper help is not the way to handle your business, and the things you need to deal with are still going to be there. Worse, it puts a completely different spin on those awesome places we would usually go to enjoy ourselves.
As hard as it is, my advice is to stay and sort things out. You have built a life for yourself that is separate to your relationship, and that is not something to jeopardize by checking-out. Always make sure you are safe, and surrounded by those who would support you when you need it. Engage the counseling or coaching services you need to deal with the pain, and get to work.
Understand that this pain is just another indication of your capacity to love someone, and your true strength will be revealed to you in your ability to keep going. As with anything difficult just break it down into manageable steps, dealing with every second, every minute and every hour as it comes. Eventually you will take off to beautiful and exotic places but at a time, bank-balance and context that actually provides you with a meaningful and worthwhile experience to remember.