SO THIS IS 31

It’s my birthday tomorrow. This is 31. Newly single, no place to really call home, no job (yet), and feeling a bit untethered. I never thought I would be “here” in my early thirties, but I suppose I’ve never exactly lived a predictable life. So “here” I stand on the precipice of the next chapter of my story, mostly devastated with a healthy dash of hope.

Maybe you’re caught off guard reading this, but I will confirm for you: Yes, Matt and I have split up. Yes, I’m moving out of the Honeypot once I’m done here in Eastern Oregon and will most likely be moving away from Portland.

What Happened?

For all the common goals and ideas of future that Matt and I had together; for all the projects we talked about and plans for a life alongside each other, a couple of very weighty ideals of life did not align for us. Perhaps we both thought the other would eventually shift their desires, but there comes a time when such differences become irreconcilable and we figured it best to end what we’ve built thus far to avoid any resentment or unhappiness in the long run.

Well, that’s the very surgical and cerebral version of things, at least.

Of course it all flows much deeper than that. All you need to know is that this was not some snap decision, but the end of a path we have perhaps been following for some time; maybe even subconsciously. It was not the distance itself that I put between us this summer that broke us. Rather, I think that distance allowed for some clarity that had been previously lacking for both parties. We both are cracked in different ways, and unfortunately our broken pieces don’t fit together anymore. In the end, Matt and I know what has transpired, and really that’s all that matters.

I wish I could tell you because it was amicable that I’ve already arrived at some big, fond reflection of things and am merrily hurdling towards the next great thing in my life. But truth be told, I feel pretty shitty. The life I have built for the past four years is suddenly gone, just like that along with my man, my best friend, my home, the love and elbow grease I’ve put into my home, my dog, and so many memories that I once held dear. I am angry, I am frustrated, I am sad. My future is now a fog. A fog that I no longer have a partner by my side in. Maybe it sounds dramatic or cliché, but my heart is in pieces, much like my life appears to be at this moment.

A barrage of thoughts and doubts and internal judgements rush through your head when you go through a tough break up. I am aware of this fact; it’s not my first rodeo. However, there is something pointedly different when you go through a breakup with a person you thought was, “the one.” It’s different when you are 31 as opposed to 19 or even 24. You feel the tug of the clock at your coat tails. You tell yourself, “But, I’m a modern woman! I’m independent and self sufficient! I don’t need to settle down til later in life! Women have kids in their forties these days! I don’t need no stinking partner!” But even with this self-talk aimed at reassuring myself that all is not lost, the tic-toc of that proverbial clock still rings SO loud in my head, especially on my birthday.

Moving On

Suffice it to say, the past few weeks haven’t been easy emotionally. A friend of mine gave me sound advice to “feel everything,” in order to fully grieve and move on, and I’ve been doing just that. In addition, I’m still gearing up for the “big move” in September when I return to PDX. It is sure to rip a few more holes in my heart as I sit there dividing up his and hers, boxing up my life and moving it far from it’s current residence.

Another friend of mine the other day said to me, “It’s probably a blessing you aren’t in Portland this summer,” and I agree with her. Being removed from the direct source of my pain has helped me to deal with it better. I allow myself to cry and feel that gut-wrenching, black hole feeling, and then I’m able to take a deep breath and remove myself from that dark place for some reprieve. It feels healthy and productive.

Along with the grief and sadness, I’ve been making sure to feel good feels too. Sometimes I have to consciously remind myself to feel happiness or gratitude when the situation calls for it, but it’s coming easier to me every day. I’m taking delight in the beautiful landscapes and sunrises here; laughing along with the fire crew at all the shenanigans that happen around the compound (“Beer Balls” might be the most entertaining drinking game I’ve ever witnessed); and watching shows and reading books and listening to podcasts that I know will make me laugh and will remind me of who I am on my own.

Gratitude for the people around me

I know a lot of women have really awesome women friends, but let me say this: my girlfriends are fucking rockstars. Truly. From the moment they knew what had happened, they each were checking on me, listening to me, giving me advice, being sad with me, being hopeful with me, dreaming with me, planning with me, relating, encouraging and loving me. If wealth is measured by the friendships we keep, I am a goddamn billionaire.

My family is steadfast. They are people that will always be my rock with loving and open arms. This situation is of course no exception. I think it’s important to note the effect that a breakup has on one’s family: after all, they have invested in your partner, too. They have each formed a relationship with said partner, have made plans, shared jokes, created memories, and have formed a familial bond. It’s hard on everyone, and I recognize that. Everyone will have to go through a little bit of a loss in one way or another. I am thankful that my family has been so supportive during this. They always have my back and I am eternally grateful that I have them. These waters aren’t always easy to navigate, but by golly, the Rexes have been regular Long John Silvers (or Gorton’s Fishermen – according to my mom that is one of our ancestors. But I digress).

My physical being

I think given the circumstances, I’m fairing “okay” in the mental well-being department. Over the years I’ve been practicing DBT and utilizing mindfulness tools, and being able to employ them in a time like this has helped me feel triumphant. I am LIGHTYEARS ahead with my coping skills than I used to be. Of course, my mental state is directly impacted by my physical state, so I’ve been conscious about my eating and activity as well.

I had a pretty severe gallbladder attack shortly after the breakup was decided, and so I’ve been conscious of not eating too many shitty, processed foods. I’ve been making my own green juice every morning and making sure to eat my veggies. I’m also not denying myself anything for the sake of it being “bad.” Sure, I’ve been avoiding triggers that I know will hurt my gallbladder, but some evenings I’m just feeling kind of low and want to have salami and brie cheese as a comfort meal – and I eat it, completely guilt-free.

I’ve been working out, but not forcing it. Moving my body feels good. I’ve never cried before during a workout, but something about utilizing and stretching my muscles has brought out this emotion occasionally. It feels strange, but also a healthy way to deal with sadness.

I haven’t had a drop of alcohol in a few weeks. If you know me, this might seem odd. Heck, it even seems odd to me. I haven’t forced the vacation from booze, and I don’t really miss it either. It just feels good having a completely free head as I sort through things. Will my sobriety last forever? Most likely not. But for now, it is something that makes me feel in control in an otherwise chaotic time in my life. Fun fact: I’m fairly certain this will be my first completely sober, alcohol-free birthday since I was 17. Yikes!

The job hunt

If you didn’t catch it earlier: YES, I’m relocating. The truth is, I haven’t wanted to be in Portland for some time now. Having grown up there, I always had dreams of living “elsewhere.” Of course opportunities arose, and I ended up back in PDX after college. Now, it’s time to move on, for multiple reasons. In the past I’ve been accused of “running away from my problems,” and you are free to interpret this upcoming move however you’d like, but it’s something I feel confident about for my next chapter.

I’ve been job hunting all over. Halfway has given me a taste of rural living, and I must say – I don’t hate it. In fact, I’m pretty fond of it. SO, I’m currently looking at Montana, Washington, Idaho and rural Oregon as my top choices. Colorado, Alaska, Hawaii, and yes, even somewhere abroad are also places I’m looking, because why the hell not? Go big or go ho – ah, shit, wait that saying doesn’t really work anymore given my current status. But you get the idea.

Truth be told, I don’t have a plan. I’m applying to a range of jobs (permanent and seasonal) across of range of locations and I’ll see what sticks.

Is it scary not knowing what’s next? You betcha. But I have to keep believing that good things are on the horizon.

In closing

I suppose I’ll wrap up this personal essay for now. In short – things kind of suck right now and I feel a bit lost, but I know I will make it through. Whatever is supposed to happen will happen, even if it’s painful getting there. I don’t ask for sympathy (in fact I detest it), but if you have some extra positive vibes to send my way, I would appreciate it.

I’ll leave you with a little poem that I’ve sort of adopted as a motto to feel strong in my sad and dark moments:

Some women fear the fire.

Some women simply become it.

-       R.H. Sin