Travel Update - The grieving process and holding space
Listen to this post via my podcast at Goin Places & Makin Friends.
So I’m writing this post on my first full day in Paris and I want to give space to the grief I feel. And while some might scoff and tell me first of all, that I did this to myself, and second, that I have nothing to be sad about, I’m in Paris, I know it’s important for me to be honest with both myself and anyone listening. And the truth is, I feel a deep sadness in me.
And at the same time I also feel excitement, fear, nervousness, and deep deep gratitude.
I usually look on the bright side and follow up any negative thoughts with something positive, but today I’m going to try not to do this. I’m going to just give myself space to feel the grief that I feel without invalidating it with any sort of silver lining speak. I think it’s important that with any content we produce that there is authenticity and realness in it. It’s not just sunshine and crepes. Life is sometimes both sad and happy, and almost always confusing. So let’s talk about that.
I am in a sort of mourning. I am mourning a 10 year chapter I chose to close back in Portland, Oregon. And I’m also in a period of reflection. Because that chapter was really fucking good.
It’s sort of hard for me to admit this because I’m a fiercely independent person. But the biggest sadness in me has to do with the ending of my relationship. Unfortunately last summer it became clear that we were on different paths in life and that we essentially had an expiration date. If any of you are How I Met Your Mother fans, the resemblance to Ted and Robin’s breakup before she went to Argentina was uncanny.
We broke up in August but decided to get back together shortly after because the thing was even though I knew I didn’t want to stay in Portland, I didn’t have immediate plans to leave, so why break up? But then after a few months, something in me was telling me it was time to go. So we broke up again.
And this break-up wasn’t anything I’ve experienced before because there were no ill feelings. It was just a tragic situation of wrong place wrong time. I still very much love him. But we have different priorities and it wouldn’t be fair to either of us.
What makes this situation even harder is that we came to Paris in 2019 together. And now I’m driving by these places we visited and sitting in the same parks we took photos in. We had such an amazing time together, it was all joy and smiles. And everywhere I turn I’m reminded of how well we worked together. How well we traveled together. And just how much fun we had together. I am incredibly grateful for our years together and the trips we had. I am incredibly grateful for the love we had and our relationship.
And because it was all so good, I am grieving it. I am feeling a hole that has been left in my life. Because not only did we break up while still loving each other, I moved across the world. Part of me definitely thought closure would come with miles but that was a silly expectation. I am still very much grieving this loss. I love you B.
And of course, that’s not the only thing I’m grieving. For the majority of the last ten years I’ve been connected to a group of friends that have been critical to happiness. I met Caitlyn, Jules, Phil, and Sav in college when we all took part in an extracurricular and the group chat has been going strong ever since. I think we first really bonded over our love of board game nights, and when I’m reflecting back on what I’m going to miss most about these guys is the hours of fun we had playing games and competing against each other. I affectionatelly nicknamed this group The Fam, first because it was much easier to reference all of us as a group, but mainly because these people literally became my family.
This grieving process actually started back early in the year when us girls (sorry Phil) all met up for coffee in the middle of a workday (I literally don’t know what the chances were that we were all free on a whim to get coffee) but we met up and I told them that I was seriously going to go to France. And then Jules told us that she was very serious about moving to New York to be closer to her brother. And we already knew that Caitlyn and her partner Greg had plans to move to LA in the Fall. So, with three out of five people in the group with serious intentions to leave Portland, we all looked at each other with sadness in our eyes, knowing that this chapter was on its way to closing. Things were never going to be the same.
So days ticked by, the bucket list grew and grew, and it became more and more real.
And now we’re living apart, our friendships strained by timezones and busy lives.
I’m going to miss so much just hanging out at the park together, our game nights, getting too drunk off mimosas while watching musicals, getting into deep philosophical conversations about life and social justice, going ghost hunting, and just all of the weird things we loved doing with each other. We were (and are) such a mashup of personalities, skills, passions, and life stories and lessons - there was truly never a dull moment. I love you guys and I’m really grieving being away from you all.
Alright y’all. Let’s talk about my dog. I’ve been avoiding this topic on my social media because I know it’s totally fair game for all of the judgment. And I judge myself for this too. I’ve asked my aunt Sarah to take my dog Buffy for a year while I travel. I understand that this is not okay and that it’s totally fucked up. My only advice is that you should not get a dog until you’re ready to settle down. Like, literally I should have thought about her like I was having a damn baby. Because she is my baby! But I am fortunate enough to have an amazing family member that will take care of her while I go live out my youth. And I am fucking grieving this. I feel so guilty for adopting her before I was truly ready and for leaving her for this time. There were nights before I left that I would just hold her and cry and tell her that I was so sorry for what was coming and that I wish I could explain it to her. I wish she could understand what was happening. I wish I could explain to her why strangers were coming and hauling away all of our belongings. A
nd on some level, I wish that I was different, a type of person who didn’t feel this constant urge to….go. And so I’m mourning my own inability to be the dog mom she deserves. And as I sit across from a huge park in Paris and see all of the dogs around, I am grieving being away from my best friend. My little nugget. I wish I could share this experience with you Buffy. I love you.
Ok, one last thing that I want to mention, and it’s materialistic. Because it’s about the materials I used to possess. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I grieved during the process of selling everything I owned. I was emotionally connected to a lot of things that I had for a very long time. It was such a weird experience watching strangers buy my things for a percentage of what I bought them for. It was such a weird experience separating out my emotional attachment to an item and the value that it held. I think I’m mostly grieving those things now though because they sort of represented a type of safety net for me. While I can always go home, there’s not much there that could now “make a home” for me. I’m going back to a couple of bins and two boxes. That’s it.
And I also think there’s this weird grief that I feel regarding this new emotional awareness that things really don’t matter? I’ve mentioned on my tik tok and Instagram that I had literally so much stuff. I have no idea how I fit it into my 700 sq ft apartment. And so this grief is sort of for this old version of myself that needed all of those things? I’m not exactly sure. I just know that it was hard to get of rid of everything, and it’s hard now knowing that I don’t ever want that much stuff ever again.
Alright one final thing to give space to here. And that’s the grief I am expecting to feel here very soon. I am very close with my father and I know that it’s going to be incredibly difficult for me to not have the ability to call him whenever I want to ask him dumb questions (like how to pump gas), and to call him to hear his calming words when I’m upset, and just to tell him funny stories about my day. I don’t think I’ve really even given myself time to fully think about this because as I’m writing this, the grief is already starting to bubble up and I’m feeling sadness around this that I haven’t had the time or energy to feel before. My father is such an important part of my life and I’m incredibly sad that timezones and international calling is going to get in the way of our friendship and relationship. I love you Dad and I’m going to miss you so much.
Obviously there are other things that I am grieving as well but for the most part those are the things that are weighing heavy on me at the moment. And honestly just writing this post
has already helped me really start to process it all. So I’d like to challenge you to do some reflection on your own. Forget about what you’re “supposed” to feel like and really give yourself space. Give yourself the space to sit with your feelings and work through them. And remember that you can feel both sad and happy.
Until next time.
When was the last time you felt sad & happy about something at the same time?
- Right now!
- In the last six months
- Within the last year
- Not for a long time