My fingers are clinging to the kitchen table, trembling and smeared with snot and tears. I can barely stay upright. My ugly, crying face is yelling. Phone: smashed. Plates: smashed. Heart: absolutely obliterated.
This was the moment he told me he was now dating the girl he cheated on me with. I’m not going to go into too much more detail about how much love can fucking hurt, how heartache never ends, or how my life has felt so empty since the day he left. Rather, I’m going to try and give you a bit of insight on how to move on and enjoy your life, without doing it in spite of your ex.
Three months into the breakup, I was planted in front of my computer eyeing a one-way flight from Adelaide to the Gold Coast. I was scrolling through Gumtree, looking for cheap rentals on the beachfront. My goal was to live a simple life, alone. Fuck Uni, work, family, friends. Fuck the lot. I pictured myself in my plant-filled house with canary yellow walls. Each day, I would watch the sunrise before my morning swim, followed by an almond milk latte from the café up the road and an absurdly bright pink smoothie bowl to last me the entire day. Life was going to be grand. I’d be this cool, new, hippie chick who really stuck it to my Polo-loving, French bulldog owning ex.
Once that phase was over, I started threatening my friends to compel them to accompany me on a road trip from Adelaide to Byron. Besides being the destination for Splendour in the Grass, it was a fine way to show my ex that I was capable of doing such a mighty trip without him. Because, to top off the breakup, I had to cancel the dream trip that we’d been planning for months. The van, the snorkelling day, the caravan park bookings and flights to Queensland were all stolen right out from underneath me.
Some friends and I eventually did get out on the road. We made it to our first stop, the Grampians, Victoria, and spent hours dipping, bending, ascending and descending the snaky roads in search of waterfalls. I hung my head out the car window, gasping in as much air as possible to soothe my breakfast, which I could now feel at the back of my throat. We arrived at a particularly large waterfall and I was overcome with excitement and relief. I scuttled down the flights of stairs to greet the hurling water as it crashed into the rocky outcrop.
In complete awe of nature’s power, I decided it would be a good idea to get as close as possible to the speeding water. Clinging to the vertical wall of rocks, I etched my way closer, and closer to the water. This is going to look insane on Insta, I thought. However, my dumbass mouth was far too open, and my neck flung way too far back to realise that the shelf I had been walking on was at its end point.
As I reached out to feel around for my next step, my other foot slipped, sending me head first into the pool of water below. Somehow, my legs became wedged between two rocks, leaving my head and body dangling down into the water. The slippery surface gave me no chance of pulling myself up in between the gasps of air I tried to take as the water fell on top of my submerged head. It was a disaster. All because I wanted to prove to my ex, via a photo, that I was some nature-loving, spiritual idiot. I managed to get out of the situation when one of my mates came to my rescue. Luckily, we were able to laugh about it for the next few days until the doctor told me a week later that I had a large hematoma on my knee.
“Mum, Dad, I’m going to do an internship in Bali for a month, with complete strangers, to learn about something that has nothing to do with my degree! But, I think it’ll be really good for me and I promise I’ll be home for Christmas. Also, can you help me figure out how to get a passport?”
The people I told about this new adventure either gave me stern look, smiled and nodded, or completely ignored me and expected it to be yet another plan to escape the country just because I’d run into my ex on the street again. But I pushed past their doubts and strutted my way onto that plane. I swallowed the fear and hopped in that taxi from the airport to what would be my new home for the next month. I cannot explain to you how far out of my comfort zone I was. Nothing and no one was even vastly familiar.
The day we drove to Ubud, I, like many others, was hungover, tired and not in the greatest mindset to be an enthusiastic tourist. So, after we found a popular waterfall, which I hesitantly swam in due to the heavy crowds, weirdly brown water and floating objects. I took a photo, chucked it on Insta for my ex to see, then found the nearest exit out of this day.
I left, along with a few others, within the hour. The monsoonal rain gave us a thrashing as we drove through the night on our scooters. As we pulled up, I silently slid off my seat, threw my helmet at the floor, walked up to my room and fell into bed.
I tried to focus on my breath, blocking out the unfamiliar noises that surrounded me. For the first time that month, I felt a deep pit in my stomach. A longing for home, both the place and the person.
The month was undoubtedly an incredible experience. In fact, both these escapades were the best decisions I’ve ever made. However, they didn’t change anything once I was back home. Each return left me feeling worse off than before I left. I have now realised why these outcomes occurred. Whenever I did anything, it with my ex in the back of my mind every step of the way. I was far too spiteful, wanting to prove myself that I was better off without him, that I was kicking life’s ass and he had nothing to do with it. Yet every time he was brought up on the trip, I wanted to hop on the first flight home and dive back into my comfortable life where he was by my side.
So don’t do what I did – don’t think you can run away from all of your problems, because one day you’ll have to come back to reality and it will hit you just as hard, if not harder. To this day, I still catch myself bawling my eyes out because I miss him, proving that running away didn’t solve any of those issues. So sure, go chasing waterfalls, but realise you’re going to have to face up to your demons one day, whether you like it or not.
Cover by Levi Morsy