I left Albania, and came to Croatia. This time, no longer with a travel companion. This time, alone. Truly alone.
I’ve gotten used to assessing and re-assessing myself over the last 10 months. There have been many times of anger, frustration, impatience, sadness, times where I’ve felt “not myself” anymore. But this concept of not being myself just because I feel all of these emotions, is wrong to me now.
“our societies acknowledge marriages, funerals, and even graduation farewells, but deny us any formal recognition of the demise of a relationship despite its strong emotional effect”
Why is it okay that we accept people posting photos of their weddings, children, happy occasions, or talk about them over and over again, and yet feel awkward when we see people grieve openly?
We shouldn’t consider feelings of sadness, misplacement, depression, anger, anxiety or anything negatively connonated to be unnatural or unwanted. IT IS part of who we are, because it’s completely normal to feel all of these things. So instead of the rhetoric “I dont feel myself”, say “I feel sad. I feel angry I feel x”
Because our emotions do not define us. We cannot control our emotions. We can only control how we respond to them. We can choose whether we want to let them control us, or we can choose to let these emotions come…..aggressively, hungrily, overwhelmingly…… And then let them go. How? By asking ourselves the hardest questions. This bothers me….. But why? Is it because there’s some truth in what’s being said? Is it because i can’t face this truth? Is it because I’ve been denying certain things about myself because of ego?
Anyway, I’m happy that I’ve been documenting my journey. Because just from reading my earlier entries, I can see how hurt I was. How much I was pushing myself to heal. How desperate I was to grab hold onto sanity. I believed in anything I could, just so that I could survive this debacle.
I write this here so that someone out there can know, that this was my journey. That whatever emotions or feelings or hurt they feel is not wrong. I write my story here because when I was so down I literally would Google “how to move on from a marriage” or “how to grieve” “how to stop the pain”
I felt so alone. I would call up friends I know who were divorced and ask them “just tell me I’m going to be okay. I need to hear it”.
In the first few months of the year, I was in shock. In absolute shock. Because things happened so quickly. After reading so many other stories of going through a divorce, I now realize this is completely normal.
You’ve lived your past few years thinking you have found your life partner. You’ve stood infront of friends and family to show them who your ultimate protector is supposed to be. And now the both of you have failed each other, and broken a marriage. Who has a manual for that? You’ve also immediately picked up a massive ton of guilt. For the way things happened. You think of all the things you hold guilt for and you wish you could have undone them. You wish immediately to take back words, and redo things. The first few months are a tremendously hard time. It’s sometimes hard to even know what you’re feeling because everything is so o v e r w h e l m i n g.
Your mind starts forming stories in your head to protect you from insanity. And you let it do that, because you need it.
The next phase of this process included not wanting to face certain emotions. Now that they’re not so powerful and strong anymore, I tried to look past it sometimes. I tried to pretend they’re not there anymore. I lied to myself that I’m okay, and I get addicted to looking into the future. I make plans for the next few months, years and I refused to look at the past. I hardly even stayed in the present.
The third phase brought some calmness. I got used to not talking to him so much. I got used to the idea that our marriage has fallen apart. And I stopped denying that we would never get back together again. I wanted to embrace and accept the fact that from here on, my life was going to change. And I wanted to fully welcome that change. With a more positive mindset, I was ready to seek closure. I welcomed the pain back into my life. If I needed to cry, I did. If I needed to write down questions, I did. I started reading more, talking to people more, and I wanted to make sense of what actually happened in my marriage. Why? So i could learn from it, not make the same mistakes and move on.
Thankfully, D was always there for me. He made sure we could talk honestly and openly, and he gave me alot of time to ask him questions. I know that some people never speak to their exes, and they move on fine after. Because its true, that you don’t get healing from the person who broke you.
But I’ve always felt that communication is good, if it’s done peacefully and rationally. Over the next few months, we had very honest and open talks with each other and I managed to clarify certain things with him. This was a huge turning point for me. Because as much as its easy to paint D as the ‘bad guy’ just because he’s the one who left. I could have easily been the one to leave too. The marriage, was just at that point where we were both not our best selves anymore, we were both not thinking straight, and not treating each other right.
Alot of my friends and family couldn’t understand why D and I still spoke, because they had alot of anger towards him, and a natural reaction to that is to shun someone out. But that wasn’t my experience. I didn’t feel as though he was the monster of everything. I had a completely different experience. He was still, to me, the D that I knew, the D that I believed in. He was just incredibly lost and also in denial of his own actions.
I won’t speak for how he really thought or how he really thinks even now, because I’m not him and I’ll never know his truth.
But for me, our conversations were a huge part of why I feel so strong now, why I feel so confident of my process.
I got closure from it. I got to forgive myself, and him. I got to go back to what I believed in, which is that being kind and compassionate never hurts. Importantly, I managed to ACCEPT that things happened the way they did, because there are differences between us and baggage within us both. Knowing and accepting is so different but I could feel that change. That weight off my heart. That deep breath of air I could finally inhale and enjoy.
I accepted that we aren’t gonna be in each other’s lives anymore, and I had good hope that we would do better, or at least that I would live life better.
I started getting excited about the changes in me. I started to read more widely, to learn new things (Spanish and skipping). I started to be fully present with friends and enjoy their company. I felt a whole new change inside me. I felt happiness.
This only happened I would say, maybe a month or two ago. So it took nearly seven months to feel truly happy again. But it was possible. And to anyone who’s reading this, it IS possible.
Things or memories, photos, would still trigger certain sadness in me, and sometimes I would still have bouts of fear and anxiety, but that’s completely normal. The difference was how much faster I could bounce back from those episodes.
The other difference I observed was being able to identify truth for myself. Certain words were said to me that bothered me for a week. They were told to me by good friends who wanted to remind me of hard truths. Once being said to me, I took them in, digested them and really let them resonate with me. The truth is that I’m not the only victim in this entire affair. And I never once needed to portray myself as one. Everyone who comes out of a failed relationship suffers, in one way or another, whether they want to believe it or not. And this process of being able to kill my own ego over and over again has been so good for me.
Ego blocks us, on many levels, at many times, from receiving helpful lessons. Sometimes, someone comes along and delivers a hard lesson. We have to grab ego by its shoulders, shove it aside, let their words pour in, and listen to what they’re saying. We filter out the unnecessary, filter out their hurt and their emotions, and what is left will be useful to us to examine ourselves.
My biggest takeaway during this phase of experiencing closure, was that I didn’t need to feel sorry for myself. I never needed to justify my sadness and grief. I only needed to allow myself to process it. And put everything else aside.
On this journey, I’ve met so many people who have gone through worse. We are all connected, all of us in the world. We are, each and every one of us, victims at one point in our lives. We have all been bullied by circumstances, tortured by heart breaks and denied freedom due to an unlimited number of reasons. But we can all be survivors of our past. If we only allow ourselves to first expose these wounds……and WORK on healing them. It is hard work. It is consciously putting effort and energy into healing. Growing is a by product of it.
We do this so we don’t become future perpetrators and hurt others – other lovers, our own children. We do this so we stop the cancer at its root, and we don’t allow it to spread into our way of life, how we treat others. We heal ourselves so we can learn to treat people around us with more kindness, love and respect. Hurt people hurt……
Of course, I could have never done this myself. And I owe my entire journey to my parents. My mum who puts aside her own problems and difficulties and finds time to talk to me every single day. My dad who, even though is so worried about me, tells me he loves me all the time, and gives me the assurance to go and find my own way. My brother who I know, ALWAYS has my back.
My friends who have counselled me, fed me, loved me, nurtured my broken soul, reminded me again and again of my self worth, stayed up late to let me rant…..i am forever grateful to you.
Traveling has been the ultimate medicine and the best therapy. Meeting so many inspirational people, and hearing other people’s stories of pain and recovery has helped tremendously. I think of all of you…. Whom I’ve crossed paths with… And I send you my love and my thoughts where ever you are.
My story of healing is far from over, I know. But to whoever who needed to read this, you will survive this pain. I testify to it. Hang in there. I’m rooting for you.