The thing folks just don’t understand about sacrifice… sometimes it’s more of a trade.
–The Skeleton Key
Sixteen months ago I made, what felt like at the time, a sacrifice. In retrospect, it was really more of a trade. I traded one life for the hope of another. Since then, I’ve changed in ways I never could have imagined and experienced highs and lows that have honestly made me question my own sanity. The question is, was it worth it?
I honestly yearn for the day when my breakup isn’t a part of my posts. While I’m over the relationship, it’s hard to reflect on my past or look to the future without referencing it because that relationship, up until 16 months ago, had occupied almost six years of my life. When I go to tell any story, my ex is usually a main character, the only exception being when I speak of my travels outside the ‘States… because he never travelled with me.
I remember when I made that life changing decision; it was a Sunday. My mother called me at the office to tell me she had confirmed the wedding photographer and the words came pouring, unpremeditated, out of my mouth. “I can’t do it. I can’t marry him. We’re on different life paths.”
I broke up with him two hours later.
I realized there were things I couldn’t live without, things I knew he couldn’t give me. He had no ambition to travel outside of the ‘States with me, and while this didn’t stop me from traveling by myself, it did make me realize that I wanted a partner who shared my love of travel.
The human experience is all about sharing; I wanted a partner with whom I could travel and share experiences with.
Going through all the seasons
After ending my engagement it took many months to get it out of my system. I don’t remember who it was, but someone compared the process to “going through all the seasons.” I’ve never heard a better analogy in my life. They said for each month you are with someone, it will take you that many months to get over it. Example: A three-month relationship will take you three months to recover.
Simple, right? Wait, I was with this dude for almost six years. Would I spend the rest of my twenties and early thirties getting this relationship out of my system? “No, but when you’ve been dating someone for over a year, you will need to go through all of the seasons without them.”
a : a time characterized by a particular circumstance or feature b : a suitable or natural time or occasion c : an indefinite period of time : while 2a : a period of the year characterized by or associated with a particular activity or phenomenon : as (1) : a period associated with some phase or activity of agriculture (as growth or harvesting) (2) : a period in which an animal engages in some activity (as migrating or mating); also : estrus, heat (3) : the period normally characterized by a particular kind of weather (4) : a period marked by special activity especially in some field (5) : a period in which a place is most frequented b : one of the four quarters into which the year is commonly divided c : the time of a major holiday (season. 2013. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved April 29, 2013)
We all know what a “season” is, depending on the context. I didn’t realize, however, that by “season” my friend meant, “season” in every sense of the word. I needed to experience every holiday, birthday, change in weather, music festival, end of semester finals week, and every other annual event…without him.
The idea of “seasons” began to make more sense to me, it was more than Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer; the seasons marked different parts of the routine we had developed over the past six years together. There were seasonal events I saw coming and prepared myself accordingly, but there were many more I hadn’t prepared myself for because I didn’t realize they would be triggers. There’s nothing like being blindsided by something you thought was far behind you.
So it’s been over a year, almost a year and a half since my breakup and I’m writing this post about the seasons. Why? There’s no timeline to healing; the seasons aren’t restricted to one calendar year. While I’m no longer mourning the death of a relationship, it’s like déjà vu. One year ago, I was preparing to go to Scotland to conduct research, have some “me” time, and heal some wounds. It’s now sixteen short days until I’m leaving for Rome and feel, strangely, the same but for different reasons. I’ve had over a year of making memories without my ex, and he’s had over a year of making memories without me.
Back to that bit about sacrifices and trades
I ended my engagement so that I could take a different path in life. My path. When I tell people I was engaged, they’re always shocked that I could be anything other than, well… single. If things had gone according to plan, I would have been married on July 29, 2012. I wouldn’t have gone to Scotland, met my Scottish beau, and I wouldn’t be preparing for my trip to Italy right now. Not only are my plans different, I’m different.
Going through all of the seasons without my “partner” made me realize the type of person I’d like to spend my seasons with. I’m not entirely convinced I will find that person any time soon, but I figure that with over 7 billion people in this world, there’s got to be at least a dozen who fit the bill. 😉 The trick is, I suppose, finding the right one.
So, back to the original question posed in this post’s introduction: was it worth it?
Without a doubt.
My 2012 resolution was to “feel it all”. Through the reading of many self-help books, I learned that one way to power through a painful break-up was to embrace and work through the pain so that it wouldn’t come back to haunt you later. It was like exorcising a demon. This year, 2013, I made a very different New Year’s resolution, an incredibly silly one. My resolution was, in fact, more of a personal goal; to open my heart and free myself of my inhibitions. More specifically, it was to:
- Fall in love with someone worthy of my time and attention (or at least be open to the idea)
- To not grow up
Mature? No. Do able? Absolutely.
I fear I may grow up slightly this year, despite my best attempts against such a thing. I suppose, however, that one out of two isn’t so bad. I traded one life, one path, in blind hope of another; I’ll not disappoint myself. I would like to find a travel companion someday; this is something I know, in both heart and mind. Will it happen this year? Probably not, but I’ve resolved to remain open to the possibility.
There’s a lovely quote from the movie, The Holiday, which I was reminded of whilst writing this post (my apologies for the plethora of movie quotes).
I have found almost everything ever written about love…to be true. Shakespeare said, ‘Journeys end in lovers meeting.’ What an extraordinary thought. Personally, I have not experienced anything remotely close to that…but I’m more than willing to believe Shakespeare had. I suppose I think about love more than anyone really should. I’m constantly amazed by its sheer power to alter and define our lives. It was Shakespeare who also said, ‘Love is blind.’ Now, that is something I know to be true. For some, quite inexplicably…love fades. For others…love is simply lost. But then, of course, love can also be found. Even if just for the night.
So, here’s to falling in love in whatever form (or for whatever duration) it takes for me this year, be it falling in love with a place, person, or just the continuation of my journey for self-appreciation and love. Because, after all — in order to get anything done in this world, you’ve got to love yourself.
Now it’s your turn, I’d like to hear from you. What have you traded or sacrificed for a chance at a different life?
Questions or Comments? I’m an open book, all you’ve got to do is ask.