“Sometimes it’s better to say ‘oops’ rather than ‘what if’ “
I should just start by saying that I have lived in Chicago, Illinois my entire life. I am a Midwestern city girl through and through and proud of it. It wasn’t until I reconnected with a boy that I made the decision to trade in my winter boots for sandals and a warm-weather wardrobe and move to San Diego, California.
Never in my life did I think that I would be THAT girl. The girl that threw caution to the wind and said ‘screw it’ to follow her heart. It didn’t hurt that the boy was painting pictures of marriage and a family in my head. It honestly made it feel like this was the only logical decision to make.
I finally got my fairy-tale ending with a man that I would walk through fire for. Why wouldn’t I follow him across the country?
Well, I can check that off my list of things to never do again. The fairy tale life that I imagined and built up so beautifully in my head came crashing down when, surprise! He dumped me.
I would love to say that I handled it like the strong woman my mom raised me to be, but I was a wreck. I hung on desperately to the idea that we could fix it. But, low and behold, he didn’t want to.
I was forced to figure life out on my own without a support system like I had in Chicago. I moved out (staying in the apartment that we shared was too painful) and into my new tiny apartment downtown.
I remember the first night laying on a yoga mat with my dog, surrounded by boxes of my things and thinking, “This is it Lauren. This is the start of a new painful and amazing chapter of your life.”
While I’m sad that I lost someone that I love, this experience has taught me so many things that I am completely grateful for:
- Heartbreak hurts. A lot…but it gets better. – Everyone says that you never forget the first heartbreak. They’re right. When things don’t pan out the way you think they will, it feels like your whole life is crumbling in front of you. It feels like someone took a piece of you and no matter what you do you can’t get it back. It’s a feeling you can’t shake and sometimes it feels unbearable. But it truly gets better. I hate being cliche, but time really does start to heal wounds. I would be lying if I said that they went away. He pops into my mind more than I’d like to admit and sometimes my mind goes down painful roads. The difference between now and when it first happened is that I’m able to move on from them. I’m no longer laying in bed all day. I’m able to go out with friends, workout, and live my life the way I want. It has simply gotten easier to cope and stay in the present moment. I know that if I went back to Chicago where my support system was, I would never have forced myself to get back out into society and be the independent bad-ass that I could be.
- Moving does not erase your problems – I repeat: changing locations does not equate to solving things that are a problem in your life. While the excitement of a new place might bury those problems for a little, they will almost always creep up later. We had problems that went unaddressed for a long time in our relationship. We kept saying that when we were in San Diego it would be a judgement free, clean slate. Sure, that worked for a while but when the excitement of a new place wore off and real life set in, those problems bubbled to the surface even stronger than when we were back in Chicago. Those unresolved issues got so bad, they were our downfall. Take my word for it so you don’t make the same mistake that I did: work through your problems continuously. They don’t go away overnight and need constant work.
- I’m stronger than I ever knew – When I moved, I admit that I leaned on my ex much more than I should have. We moved in together (something we didn’t do in Chicago) and we soon became dependent on each other. We both didn’t know anyone, having both grown up in Chicago and when my one life preserver in San Diego floated away, I was forced to sink or swim. It was downright terrifying. I went through nights in a hotel crying and screaming and sobbing (I’m sure I sounded like a psychopath) because I didn’t know what to do. My mom kept telling me to come home, but something in my gut was telling me not to. It took a little while to regain my strength from the initial shock of the breakup, but being forced to figure things out on my own made me see just how much inner strength I had.
- I had to reassess who I was – In my relationship, I gave every ounce of love I had in my body to him. His needs, his dreams, and his problems almost always came first and the strong independent woman that I was fell to the wayside bit by bit. Losing him felt like I lost a part of me. I remember looking in the mirror and crying because I didn’t know who I was anymore. It took a lot of time, but I’m slowly understanding things about myself that I never would have, had I still been in that relationship. I had long conversations with myself and hours upon hours on the phone with my best friend and mom. It turns out, who I was in and who I wanted to be was within me all along, I just needed to find a way to express it.
- It forces you to step out of your comfort zone – This one was by far the hardest to do. I’m an introvert and have social anxiety so putting myself out there and meeting new people is always a nightmare. I am more than willing to stay at home with my dog and watch Netflix. But that’s not who I want to be. When I reassessed who I wanted to be in life, I wanted to be someone that opened herself up to new experiences and new people. I started forcing myself to try new things. For instance, I joined a writer’s group and have met amazing people, I tried archery, Tai Chi, Yoga, and I even learned how to ride a Motorcycle. I met an amazing man from LA who helped me succeed at business and showed me how to appreciate life from a new perspective. And to think, I would never have had any of those experiences had I never stepped out of my comfort zone.
- Lastly, move across the country for the right reason – I don’t regret that I moved. I would do it all again if I had the opportunity. I would however, make sure I did it just as much for myself as I did for him. Don’t let anyone tell you how to live your life besides you. If you want to move, do it. You’ll always find a way to make it work. If I hadn’t have moved, I would never had had the experience to wake up to a new city full of new possibilities and new experiences every single day. It’s hard, but when you do something for yourself, it’s worth it. But sometimes you gotta take those risky plunges in life and be okay if they don’t work out the way you imagined.
Overall, the road hasn’t been easy. I’ve learned a lot of lessons. I’ve made some choices that I’m not completely proud of and some I wish I never had made. But the amount I’ve learned has made me want to do it again. I can’t know for sure what the future will hold but I do know the person I am now. I know that I can make it on my own.
I know that relationships take work and it’s not always the fairy tale you dream of. Honestly, it’s hard and at points it’s painful. However, despite all of the difficulties, the nights of uncertainty, and tears, I never regret moving across the country. The amount of adventures and finding myself has given me the best gifts in life: Self-confidence and love for myself.