My New Milestones

During my trip to the Bahamas, I dug deep and figured out what was important to me. I felt left behind in life’s Important Milestones: going to college directly after high school, finding a career, finding a spouse, starting a family, and so on and so forth. I became unhappy and discouraged with my life. I felt like I was doing something wrong, and that I’d never catch up.

During and after college, I scrolled through many friends, acquaintances, and strangers flashing their engagement rings with their fiancé looking adoringly at them. It was a daily occurrence of seeing other lives move forward in a way that mine wasn’t. I blocked, deleted, or unfollowed countless friends when they got engaged, and when they had beautiful weddings, or for simply changing their relationship status. I hated bachelorette party pictures, because it was a reminder of the close group of girlfriends that I didn’t have. I secretly seethed while liking, commenting, or sharing Facebook or Instagram posts. While they were experiencing love and excitement, I was somehow unloveable and bitter. It was like each post whispered, “You’re not good enough.”

That problematic whisper echoed in my mind, causing a pattern in all of my relationships. I catch a guy’s interest. I make him the center of my world in about a week. I imagine the rest of our lives together in less than a month. I am surprised Pikachu when it doesn’t work out or I find myself in a toxic situation. That sounds crazy, but I didn’t know how healthy relationships worked. I felt valuable when a guy liked me, because I did not value myself. I didn’t know what boundaries were, and low self-esteem, ignorance, and desperation made my choices. I’d say about 90% of the time, I’d date an abusive or narcissistic guy that reaped the benefits of my insecurities. The other 10% were normal guys that bolted, because I got depressed that I wasn’t checking a box fast enough.

I finally saw the problem I kept creating for myself and found solutions.
I need to stop backing men into corners in pursuit of checked boxes.
I need to stop comparing and rushing.
I need to stop chasing what I was told to want.

So I asked myself a seemingly simple question:

What do YOU want?

I want what I think everyone wants. Happiness.

But that wasn’t enough. I needed more than a one word abstract concept. What does happiness look like to me specifically? Thus, my new milestones were born. My milestones don’t have to be accomplished in any particular order. They are also not set in stone. They are fluid, and can change as I change. My current milestones are:

  • Creating an engaging blog that both inspires and validates women, giving them a space to be vulnerable and feel less alone
  • Writing a memoir about being a military child that analyzes how it impacted my life as an adult
  • Spending one day each weekend volunteering to make the world a better place
  • Finding a job that makes me feel like I am making a difference, regardless of the pay
  • Finishing my master’s degree, not to prove that I am smart, but to gain a tool to further my future career
  • Becoming a certified life coach to help those that feel stuck or like they don’t measure up
  • Attending therapy sessions with my parents to heal the trauma and abuse and reach a place of forgiveness
  • Getting to a place where my inner-critic has been replaced by an inner-supporter
  • Having a service dog for the days or times that PTSD or anxiety may become overwhelming
  • Running a 10K, since I’ve never gone farther than a 5K

There you have it, my milestones. For me, happiness isn’t in keeping up with everyone else. That’s misery dressed in designer clothes. What was most surprising to me is that none of my milestones included a man in my life. The one thing I rabidly chased after is actually not important to me at all. Imagine that. Now when I see my peers getting to the next point on the Life Script, I can just be happy for them and not feel that I like I don’t belong, or like I’m doing something wrong.

It’s okay to be different. There is freedom in not belonging.
It’s okay to have different goals, desires, and needs. Go after your version of happiness whatever it may be.

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Affirmation 1

I started this morning a little teary and downcast, because my family is going its separate ways after the Thanksgiving holiday. I don’t get to see them often, so I treasure those moments. But then I remembered that today is the start of my Weekly Affirmations. I chose an affirmation to focus on the possibilities of the present and future instead of living in the past, a habit that I need to break.

Something wonderful
is about to happen to me.

Phone Wallpaper

I’m putting this on a sticky note for my bathroom mirror, so it’s the first thing I see each morning. I made a cute wallpaper for my phone. I also made it a Reminder that will pop up every hour on my phone. I am getting affirmations from every direction this week!

I wonder what this affirmation will have in store for me this week? One of my goals for the better, self-assured Rachelle is to let go of negative thoughts in their entirety. Today, and the rest of the week, is my first small step forward.

I’m ready.

December 2019

Happy Holidays!

My amazing display set up and photographed
by my talented younger brother

What I’m Reading in December 2019:

• Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

• All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

• The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

• The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Weekly Affirmations

I’m taking this category into a new direction as of this week. Although challenging myself to overcome anxiety has been rewarding, I want to test out positive affirmations as a new way to work on anxiety. Choosing to see the positive or reaffirming that the world is a kind, loving, and generous place is another way for me to calm anxiety, quiet my inner critic, and release negative thoughts and fears.

Here’s the plan:
Each week on Sunday, I’ll post the affirmation that I’m going to repeat to myself each morning. The following Saturday evening, we’ll see how it went in terms of changing my attitude and how much my anxiety was impacted. The affirmation I choose each week will make me face a phobia, anxious, or negative thought that I’ve been holding onto for my whole life.

My goal is to have a totally different outlook in a few months’ time. I’m working on unlearning negative self talk and habitually being kind and forgiving to myself and others. Wish me luck & Happy Thanksgiving!

Nassau, Bahamas

Nassau, Bahamas

I went on a soul searching trip to the Bahamas, but that doesn’t mean that I spent the whole time with my head stuck in a journal on the beach! Prior to my trip, I made a whole itinerary of adventures, museums, and restaurants I wanted to try. I’m a nerd like that, I like knowing exactly what I’m doing with my time on a vacation so I can see all the things I want to see and know where they are. Although I didn’t strictly adhere to it, as I met new people, I stayed pretty on point with it.

The island itself is so beautiful. The water, the sand, all the colorful homes are eye catching and gorgeous. The people and the culture are so sweet and friendly. I love that everybody says good morning, day, and night to each other. I rode the bus a lot from my AirBnB, so I got to see more than just the tourist areas. I love the school uniforms the kids wear. They’re so cute. I saw so many different natural hairstyles and braids. I’ve got some serious hair inspiration to try out now that I’m home.

BonefishPond National Park
Chloe and BJ

The best experiences? I absolutely loved going kayaking at Bonefish Pond National Park. My guide taught me all about history and the ecosystems, how the island is reliant on them, and about the effects of global warming. I got to hold a jellyfish and a sea cucumber while getting a great arm workout. It was my first time kayaking, but it won’t be the last. I loved it! It’s going to be my new hobby when I get back to Orlando (and find some water that doesn’t have gators or snakes in it).

I loved Junkanoo Beach, and made time to go there almost every day. It’s a popular spot for cruise folks to hang out. It got pretty crowded, but I didn’t mind. I met the sweetest little beach puppy Chloe and her owner BJ there, did the Wobble, and took some sweet photos. The staff also took care of me after seeing me there a lot. I got a lot of free stuff, which was super kind of them. I made sure I tipped well, even though the gratuities were already included, because they kept doing me solids.

Conch Salad

The Fish Fry is an area that locals and tourists alike hang out. I swear the best (and least expensive) food was over there. I had conch (said like conk, not conCH) salad and fresh coconut water and meat just about every day. Conch salad is basically ceviche, but with conch meat (say that out loud LOL) instead of fish or shrimp. Conch is a mollusk that lives in that pretty shell pictured below. Too bad for it, that it’s absolutely delicious. From what I was told, it’s packed full of good vitamins and minerals. It’s the super fruit of seafood. It was AMAZING.

The waterfall next to Queen’s staircase

I visited Queen’s Staircase, Fort Fincastle, and Pompey Museum. The museum was housed in a building that actually used to be the place that slaves were auctioned off during the height of the slave trade in the Bahamas. I learned more about the history of the TransAtlantic slave trade, as well as found out about Domestic Work slavery, something I had no knowledge about. There is a wonderful organization called Free The Slaves that’s dedicated to educating the world about human trafficking and techniques used to pull people into it. I recommend reading more about them!

I was invited on a boat ride with my new Canadian friends, Kay and Sydney. We went snorkeling in some cold water, but it was amazing! The coral reefs were full of life. I saw lots of brain coral, which is my favorite kind. We swam with sea turtles, a dream come true. They were just minding their business eating sea grass while we all were freaking out underwater following them. It may or may not be audible in the underwater video I took, but I cried a little bit. It’s something I’ll never forget. It was like living in a documentary for a few hours. There was a shark in the water with us. I thought the Captain was joking and trying to scare us by saying, “Stay close to the boat,” until I got back on the boat. He had a speargun and was focused on one particular area that we were snorkeling near. Wellp, now I can cross swimming with sharks off my bucket list, too.

We became turtley enough for the turtle club!

The girls and I went out dancing and did karaoke Friday night. It was such a good time. We sang Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and danced terribly together at a smaller bar at the beach. These older ladies had gotten off work and they were trying to teach us how to twerk, it was hysterical. None of us could do it, no matter how hard we tried. I haven’t laughed that hard in ages. It was some good clean fun. We met a big group of people at Senor Frogs, which small world, we had met them at the beach when we all flocked to puppy Chloe. Everyone was tipsy and having a blast. I loved it!

The experiences that were so-so? I might have appeared cool as a sea cucumber, but getting followed around by pushy thirsty dudes was fucking terrifying. I went on this trip to find myself, not to get kidnapped! Thankfully, a lot of couples or groups were very cool about letting me tag along with them or even intervening on my behalf. This trip has reinforced the fact that there are so many wonderful people in the world.

I also thought the Atlantis Resort was cool, but it was expensive. I’m not ballin’ like that yet, so I thought $20 for a glass of wine was a bit much. But the aquarium and marina were places I wouldn’t miss if you have the chance to go. The aquarium is free after 7 p.m. On my first night, I went with a couple from my AirBnB, and also met up with a guy named Bryan I had met earlier at the Fish Fry. He found the sharks and stingray tanks, and we played hide-n-seek in the aquarium. We were running around in the dark laughing hysterically. It was really fun. The second time I went to Atlantis, I saw my very first super yacht up close. It was a ridiculous floating mansion.

Look at all those fishes!

The taxis were a rip off, but I did find a driver that gave me great discounts halfway through the week. Prior to that, a ride from the Atlantis to my AirBnB was $25. When I tried to get a ride back from Atlantis that second night with two flight attendants, Annalise and Kay, we were charged $35 because we were three people. Here’s the kicker: we were all going the same place! I tried to argue the logic of it, but was met squarely with a, “That’s how it is.” I actually missed out on a couple of my planned adventures because the cabs were asking way too much. Not a big deal though, it just means I have to come back!

The throne!

MyAirBnB hosts were absolutely amazing. Since I went by myself, they went out of their way to make sure I was safe. My host was quick to tell me that she’s my Auntie Linda, and to call her immediately if I felt unsafe or if someone was following me. She provided a cell phone, drove me to a lot of places, and showed me the best areas to meet new people safely. It was so kind of them to watch out for me. Sometimes I forget how much kindness there is in the world, but there’s more than enough to go around.

Things that I recommend bringing?

  • T-Shirts (I always forget something important)
  • Quarters for the bus
  • A sweater (seriously, this saved me so many times)
  • Extra beach towels
  • External battery
  • Your own snorkel and fins

I found out on an AskReddit thread a while back that purchasing travel insurance is not only cheap, it could sometimes be the difference in life or death. Accidents happen, so I highly recommend it! It was only $95. I was really glad I bought it during the boat ride to see the turtles. Our Captain was trying to make up time, and I could’ve easily hurt myself with all the times we bounced around on the waves. I don’t think No Wake Zones are a thing in the Bahamas.

My week away was so so so worth it. I highly recommend going on a solo trip meant solely for your well-being and happiness if you ever have the opportunity. Find a place where you can get out of your comfort zone, meet new people, and learn a thing or two about you! I’m going on another trip next month, I’m planning it out now!

Have you ever been to the Bahamas?
What was your favorite experience?
Leave a comment below!

Healing Journey – Part 2

I’m back from the Bahamas! I am refreshed, rejuvenated, and reinvigorated. Click here if you haven’t read my last post about healing after heartbreak. My travel post about my Bahamian adventures goes up Wednesday this week.

On to the healing! Armed with a pen, journal, and a self-help book, I worked on myself. I prioritized moments that were purely for me and my well-being. I took advice from one of the greatest Disney movies ever made. I let go of everything. Past hurts, traumas, feeling used, confusion and anger at being lied to for so long, and not getting what I know I earned. I let it go.

During my trip, I analyzed and began to understand why I’ve always felt so insecure and depressed. I was bullied for my looks, being a nerd, and very neglected emotionally as a kid and teen. I didn’t have many close friends, because the military uprooted my family every few years. That impacted how I interact and trust as an adult. Our relationships with others are vital, and I’m not sure I ever understood how they’re supposed to work.

A sad fact about me is that I survived continuous sexual, emotional, and physical abuse as a child, teenager, and as an adult. I’ve carried that guilt and shame for as long as I can remember. I have complex PTSD (C-PTSD) meaning I’ve experienced trauma from multiple events over years, rather than a single event. Due to this, I’ve never truly felt safe or like I belonged anywhere. I lived in fear and uncertainty most of my life. I recall feeling unwanted or like a waste of space as far back as pre-school. My mom was ruthlessly critical of my body. My dad was a fan of angry, long winded tirades about how life wasn’t fair. I was certain that both my parents hated me for simply existing, and their words and actions did not prove otherwise. At an early age, I drew the conclusion that some people didn’t deserve love, and that I was one of them.

I felt like I lagged behind in “The Important Milestones”. Like graduating college, making a group of lifelong friends, having a career, getting engaged, having a wedding, and all the other Kodak moments. This unhealthy thought process developed because my parents constantly negatively compared my brothers and I to other kids or each other. Nothing was good enough. “I’m proud of you” or “You did great” were two things I did not hear growing up. I learned to treat myself with harshness instead of forgiveness, and hatred instead of love and acceptance. As I got older and reached any important milestone, it wasn’t good enough. It seemed like everyone in my age group had already done it. Then inevitably, it would fall apart. I couldn’t seem to get it together when everyone else already had. My broken engagement is the most recent example of this self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ve consistently felt like an unlovable, damaged and unworthy outsider that couldn’t do anything right no matter how hard I tried.

This is my truth: I am not any of those things. I deserve love. I am loving, beautiful, kind, and I care deeply about myself and others. I deserve honesty and respect from the people that I love. I am brave when I feel fearful. I am strongest when I feel weak. I ask for help when I need it. I embody the love, kindness, and empathy that I have not received from the people I trusted and needed it from the most. I give away what I never got. My heart never hardened, and I stayed selfless and compassionate. I let people in and help, because I don’t want anyone to feel as bad as I have at various points in life. Instead of vindictively replicating my pain in others, I actively try to create love and comfort. I don’t assume the worst about others. I hope for the best in them. I am a once in a lifetime kind of woman. This is what I learned about myself as I stood in the sun.

I’ve chosen new personal milestones that I’ve decided are important. Other stuff will fall into place when it’s supposed to. There’s no shame in that. One day I’ll cross paths with someone as filled with light and love as I am and have the healthy, supportive, and loving relationship that was meant for me. That person will appreciate me and everything I do to make them feel special, and won’t think twice about doing the exact same for me. His words and actions will match. With him, I’ll never feel the pain of being taken for granted again. One day, my special someone won’t be able to wait any longer and will propose to me, making sure it’s the most special unforgettable surprise of my life. I will have people in my life that want to celebrate happiness with me. My person and I won’t be perfect, but we’ll be worth it. One day, I’ll get everything I have ever deserved and won’t wonder any longer. But until that happens, I am leaving the past behind and focusing on myself and my new milestones.

This trip was so beneficial in so many ways. I met so many amazing people in Nassau. I met a guy that came to the Bahamas to help rebuild after Hurricane Dorian, because he felt compelled to. I met the quality of people I couldn’t find in Guam, the kind of people that I needed to be around to grow. Finding real and unique people who know what they want and where they are going had such an impact on me. If you’re not where you want to be or don’t know the kinds of people you think you need, try a change of scenery. They’re out there! I received a lot of great advice from men and women alike. The men told me not to go back to the past and get hurt again, and to not make time for second chances. The women told me not to diminish and exhaust myself or sacrifice the way I had before. Sacrifice and compromise are not the same thing. They encouraged me to move on and told me not to lose hope. The past won’t change, but the future has plenty of time and a plan for me. I’m doing the right thing by taking charge of my life, taking an honest look at myself, changing what I can, and doing it all with a smile on my face. I’m listening to those older and wiser than me. They know better, so I’m not looking or going back. They shared the lessons I needed to heal.

The most poignant line for me in You Are A Badass said, “If something negative happens in your life, feel it, learn from it, let it go and get back to focusing on the life you’re excited to live.” I’ve been doing that in my own way without realizing it.

I totally recommend this book if you feel like you need a change.

By the end of my trip, I became aware of my power. I made what I wanted happen without letting anything or anyone (including myself) stand in my way. I went to a music festival. I got the car I’ve always wanted. I traveled alone for the first time. I swam with a group of sea turtles. I learned new things, while making worthwhile and interesting friends from all over the world. That is powerful. All I needed was a chance and the most painful experience of my life to create the opportunity. Nothing can shake the absolute confidence and trust I have in myself right now. I make things happen. I am powerful. I will repeat that to myself every day.

What makes me happiest in this moment, is that my growth isn’t stemming from wanting to be a better person for someone else to accept me. I want to be a better person for me. I don’t want to keep struggling with the weight of pain anymore. I’ve had enough pain. I want joy. I don’t want pain to keep me stuck in the gloomy past while I miss out on the endless possibilities of the present and future. I lost someone important to me, but I found someone even more important: myself. I accept myself. I accept what happened to me. I accept that I can’t change the past. I’ve embraced all that is me, good, bad, and ugly. I’ve given my scared and lonely inner-child a big hug and told her that I’m proud of her. I am ready to move on with my life. It’s time.

“This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine.”

This was my favorite song when I was a little girl, next to “Thriller” and “Waterfalls” by TLC. It popped in my head as I thought about what my friend had said when we reconnected. He said, “You have a light.” Although my light has flickered and sputtered more times than I care to count, it’s never gone out because I’ve never truly given up. My light’s still shining through the darkness, and so will I. I’m using my light to look forward and find what’s meant for me.

Have you gone on a trip to get to know yourself?
Leave a comment below & share your experience!

Healing Journey – Part 1

Hi, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I took a break to gather myself. My tears have dried. After a couple of mopey days, I got up, washed my face, and in true Rachelle-fashion whipped out a notebook and pen. I got to work writing down how I felt and listing the choices I wanted to make.

The best choice I’ve made so far?
Sobriety.

Instead of numbing, isolating, and avoiding, I chose to go on this journey sober. I’m stronger because of it. I believe that wholeheartedly. That speaks to how far I’ve come as a person. Not even a year ago, I would have drowned my sorrows and pain with bottles upon bottles of Cabernet and engaged in all kinds of risky and damaging behaviors because of it. Nope. Not this time. I’m older and wiser now. Alcohol does not fix anything. It does, however, give the opportunity to create more problems. No thanks. I chose to go to a new city so I wouldn’t fall back into the same toxic habits and friendships I used to rely on in Destin.

Next on my list?
Change, Self-Care, & Growth.

Mr. Buddy takes up half the bed.

I concentrated on myself, the person that I tend to neglect the most. I made myself my priority. I am my own person. I bought my dream car and conquered driving stick again. I got my hair and nails done. I joined a CrossFit class (Groupon for the win). I bought a giant teddy bear that I named Mr. Buddy for warm hugs. I got massages and facials. I’ve stopped eating meat and drinking coffee (it makes me really anxious). I’ve started “eating clean” for the most part. I started taking good care of myself, instead of putting all of my energy into taking care of everyone around me. When I catch sight of my reflection now, I see the gorgeous girl I thought I lost. Everything about me is brighter, with or without makeup. I look and feel a lot younger. I don’t look exhausted or feel completely drained anymore. I feel beautiful and confident, like a new and improved version of myself. Rachelle 2: Electric Boogaloo. I wish I didn’t lose myself and forget how beautiful I am, inside and out. I won’t let that happen again. I’m so much stronger on my own than I ever believed I could be.

First Festival Ferris Wheel ride.

I also started going for early morning thirty minute runs every day to clear my head. I went from struggling to get 2.5 miles without stopping to crushing 3.5 miles in about a week. I’m still going, and I’m proud of myself. I went to a music festival (like I had once challenged), danced my heart out, and met some awesome people. Festival people are, hands down, the best people. The best quote from my first EDC in 2016 was: Make sure you’re having more fun than the person next to you. The crowds and fireworks did not bother me at all this time, and no one groped me. I was having too much of a good time to let PTSD bother me. I did girly things like taking a ridiculous amount of posed pictures for the Gram (something I never do), wore makeup, and yell-sang along to every song I knew, just for the fun of it.

My first festival ride in the rain

It dawned on me how many fun things I stopped doing because of all the misogyny I internalized over time by being in a hyper masculine environment. I didn’t want to get made fun of or teased meanly for enjoying things that I liked. Finally doing them felt good. Turns out there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking pictures of your food or posing a certain way because you look good at that angle. Do what makes you happy. I indulged in all the girly activities and didn’t feel self-conscious about them for once. I’ve decided to stop denying myself the things that I like now and in the future. Before EDC, I put myself out there, and joined a lot of Meetup groups. As a result, I’ve made some new friends that I feel comfortable around. It’s nice to be invited places and nice to be included. Surrounding yourself with good people really makes a difference. I even worked up the nerve to go on a date! It was actually fun!

Currently, I’m talking about all of this stuff and more in therapy. Seriously therapists are the unsung heroes of this world. Therapy is making this whole process much more manageable. I’m even improving my relationship with my parents. I’m building trust in myself and others again. There is a quote by Maya Angelou that my therapist shared to give me perspective in figuring out trusting others. “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” I am not one to argue with the Head Sister in Charge, may she rest in peace, so I wrote it on a sticky note on my bathroom mirror for a daily reminder. I’m also applying for jobs that I think would be fulfilling, regardless of how much they pay. Most of them involve helping people or animals. I want to do something in service of others in need. That speaks to my soul the most and would make me happiest. I’m also looking for an animal shelter so I can volunteer on the weekends. Keeping busy has become very important to me, because I have the opportunity to do it!

Next choice?
Soul searching trip.

Remember that book/movie How Stella Got Her Groove Back? Well, it’s inspiring this chapter of life called How Rachelle-a Got Her Groove Back. In a couple of days I’m headed to the Bahamas by myself for some solitude, good food, and beach therapy. I’m packing nothing but swimsuits, books, sunblock, and my journal… okay, yeah, and dresses to go dancing. I forgot how much I loved to dance, even though I’m rhythmically challenged. I’ve missed so much about myself. Prior to EDC, I can’t remember the last time I did exactly what I needed when I needed it. I have a bad habit of putting my needs last. I used to run away from Destin and drive or fly to a different city whenever I needed a break. That was damn near impossible in Guam, and now I understand how much I needed that. This trip is about reclaiming the happy adventurous parts of my personality that went missing, building on my self-worth and love through me time, and plain ol’ moving on by figuring out where I want to go from there.

A funny thing happened when I got back to the States. I realized the low self-worth I felt in Guam was far from how I should have been feeling about myself. My older brother mentioned that the girl that got my previous phone number responded to his texts saying that her phone was blown up for months on end by people trying to reach me. I ended up texting her to apologize, and she sent me a bunch of screen shots.

It was a humbling moment. She complimented me, saying I must be a really sweet person if so many people were reaching out to find me the two years I was in Guam. I reconnected with many of them, and found to my surprise, that I was greatly missed and loved. I wasn’t the terrible person that loneliness led me to believe. An old friend said that he missed my light, and that I shouldn’t let anything dim it, because it inspired him. More people than I knew were rooting for my happiness because they knew I deserved it, even when I felt like I didn’t. I’m getting used to my phone ringing a lot with new and old friends and family checking in now, since it didn’t really ring much in Guam.

I know what I deserve now. I know my true value. I’m committing to living my truth and standing in the sun. I have always deserved honesty, kindness, happiness, and empathy. I deserve to be treated with fairness and respect. I deserve not to be called names, put down, and stonewalled. I deserve trustworthy people in my life. I deserve effort and feeling special. I deserve to feel comfortable and safe in my surroundings. I deserve a healthy relationship. All of this and more exists in the world that I used to perceive as cold and unforgiving. I’ve found those positive qualities internally. Now I have to embrace all the good that’s out there.

And that’s exactly what I’m about to do.

Grow Where You Are Planted

Grow Where You Are Planted

It’s hard to describe the pain of a broken engagement. It’s harder than losing a boyfriend or girlfriend. When you get engaged to someone, you have thought critically and at length about sharing your life with another person. You become less worried about the future, because you understand that your partner will be there. Questions about life start having answers. You understand that your relationship will not always be roses, but your partner is worth the thorns. Anxieties quiet, and fears dissipate. Everything about life does not make sense still, but your partner gives you clarity.

I was caught by surprise by the sudden dissolution of my relationship. I thought that we were doing well. I worked hard for our relationship. I became a better person. I showered him in love and validation. I read countless books, blogs, and news articles about communication, how to be a better partner, and how to keep the spark alive. I listened to podcasts. I went to therapy on my own to work on my personal issues. I did the work. I changed. I loved harder than I ever had. I trusted. I cared. I sacrificed. I was selfless when and where it counted. I learned patience and acceptance toward situations I could not control. I rediscovered my love of writing again. I made healthier choices, like easing up on alcohol, and participated in healthy activities like my fitness class and yoga.

I came out of this relationship better than I went in, so I think that counts for something.

I am sad. It’s like I’m grieving a death at the moment. I’m grieving the loss of a life that I will never know, but I have no anger or ill thoughts toward my ex. I know what I had in him. I forgive him for not seeing what he had in me. We bonded in a way I thought impossible after many traumas and negative relationship experiences impacted my perception of men and love. I learned to challenge my pre-conceived notions and fears. I learned to trust again. I grew stronger. Tougher. More prepared to deal with the unpredictable world around me. It is hard to understand being told that I’m not at any kind of fault in this break up, but I will learn and heal.

So as I start this new chapter of my life, as a single woman in her thirties, I refuse to feel uprooted and tossed aside. I grew where I was planted. I refused to be anything other than my authentic self. I did not try to blend in, in a place where I stood out. I found higher standards and held myself to them. I stayed honest and true to my values. I remained kind. I changed for the better, instead of becoming a version of myself that I wouldn’t like or recognize to fit in. I didn’t want to celebrate mediocrity. I wanted to grow.

I’m so grateful for the people that reached out and helped me see the positives of this experience. They’re helping me handle this new and unexpected pain with grace and dignity. In a way, I’m happy to go back to the States and reclaim parts of who I was and discover who I will become. So much of me got lost in our relationship, because I couldn’t do many things I needed to, couldn’t find a worthwhile job, and couldn’t find a group of friends that I related to. In leaving, I’m restoring my sense of self and independence, two things I have sorely missed.

I came out of this relationship better than I went in.