I think I might be having an Eat, Pray, Love divorce. I’m not one-hundred percent sure because I didn’t read the book. Let me explain.
Last April, after ten years together, three years of marriage, and about six months of intensely working to stay together, my ex-husband and I separated. It was both the easiest divorce in history, and the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. To respect his privacy, I won’t go into why it didn’t work out. But we’ve remained friends, we agreed it was the right decision, and we never fought about money. Right now, I am even now dog-sitting his dog. So in the world of divorce, this one might be the gold standard.
Even a good divorce is devastating. Eleven months later, I am still a wreck. Sure, most of the time I’m really happy. My friends have been supportive and fun. Travel-wise, I’ve gone to some amazing places over the past year. I’ve even started dating again, and that has been so much fun.
I’ve dedicated myself to my passions and am actively working to build the life that I really want. I no longer fear letting other people down or allowing their opinions to shape my path. At thirty-one, I find that I know myself so much better than I did when I was younger, so it’s easier to make choices now that align with my long-term goals. I’ve even become somewhat of a neat-freak (something I’m sure my ex-husband wished would have happened ten years ago. Oh well…) I know that the decision to separate was the best for both of us, and I can firmly see how I’m going to get from where I am now to where I want to be.
But…divorce, even an amicable one, is awful. There are so many people who have had it so much worse than me. Divorce can be messy. For some, asking for a divorce has led to custody battles, money problems, scary living situations, and risked their job security. How can my problems even compare?
I feel my grief is selfish. Some of the time I’m so sad that all I can do is cry until I run out of tears. I know there will be a day when I don’t feel overwhelmed by sadness, but that day is not today. I’m so exhausted from feeling so devastated for so long.
So this is why I think I’m having an Eat, Pray, Love divorce. Even though I haven’t read the book, I’ve seen the movie too many times. In it, there’s a scene where Julia Roberts is lying on the floor by James Franco’s bed. She feels sad and empty. That’s exactly how I felt for the first half of February, like my sadness had finally bottomed. All I had left was grief. I didn’t feel anything else.
Traveling & Getting Out of My Funk
Luckily, my trip to London shook me out of it (travel is the cure for whatever ails me). While my ex and I didn’t break up so I could travel more, I was only stationary because of his career. My dream job as a kid was to be either a National Geographic Photographer or an archeologist in Turkey. As soon as we separated, I realized that full-time travel was the only thing that made sense for me. I think the ship has sailed on archeology (plus I don’t do well in dirt). National Geographic probably won’t be calling any time soon. But I am so lucky to be having these problems at this moment in time. Technology has made it so I don’t need anyone’s approval to share my travels with the world through writing and photography. I just need a domain and an Instagram account.
Making a Plan
Obviously, step one was to move out and get settled being a single lady (complete with a cute apartment and cute boys). Step two was to pay down my credit card debt. Step three was to save up enough to support myself for a year or two on the road while I pursue a writing career. None of these things have been especially easy, but with determination I’ve been able to cross out the first two and am working on the third.
In the movie, Julia Roberts shuts her eyes in New York and opens them in Italy, but that’s just a movie. I wasn’t an especially great saver before. Now I’ve had to set up a new life and save at the same time, forcing me to build some new habits. I’m proud of my accomplishments in the past eleven months, and I will keep on pluging away until I get there.
I don’t know how my story ends. I hope Javier Bardem (or an acceptable Brazilian look-alike) is there at the end, preferably in Bali. But I have enough of the plot sketched out to know I’m going to do the things I always wanted to do but didn’t have the guts to try until I had no excuses left. It’s just me, and they’re just my dreams. No one is going to live them for me.
But please, let Javier Bardem be there…please?