I recently went on my first holiday without my husband. I have to be honest, it was something I was not really looking forward to and yet needed desperately. I longed to be in a different environment, to have a break from the momentum of the divorce, the tension and the sorrow.
I craved seeing the beauty of the world again but I was also fearful of what I would feel when I was actually amongst it.
On the run up to the holiday, I found it bizarre to even be packing for one. I used to make mental lists, thinking of my husband’s allergy tablets, getting his clothes and toiletries ready. Now, I only had to think of me.
Before I set off, my anxieties were at their peak. Would going on holiday without him unleash further feelings of loss and sadness within me? Could I handle that? Would I even be able to relax at all with memories of our holidays together bombarding my mind?
I told myself that I must see the holiday for what it was, a chance to relax, to have a break, to see the world and to spend precious time with my family. This made it seem less like something to get through but rather something to welcome and look forward to.
The destination of choice: beautiful Norway. Stunning, jaw-dropping scenery and landscapes. God’s beauty in all it’s splendour. My traveling companions: my parents and my sister.
On holiday, I was largely able to completely relax. It was amazing to not have to think about getting up for work, cooking dinner or even making the bed (lazy I know). It was an overwhelming relief not to be dealing with the legalities and pressures of divorce. It felt quite symbolic to leave my normal routine and world behind for a short while. It represented a real pause in the effort of pushing myself along and just surviving. It felt like actually living.
When you are grieving the loss of someone or something, it goes with you. Going away didn’t mean leaving the grief and sadness behind, it travelled with me. Everywhere I went there were couples, which is difficult when you are solo but I tried not become too fixated on that. I wasn’t alone, I was with my family.
There were some occasions that I found to be quite difficult. One evening my family and I went to a bar for drinks. Suddenly the DJ announced that it was romance hour. I could practically hear the gulps of my family as they stared at me unsure of what to do. All the classic heart breakers played one after the other and my family (bless them) felt quite worried whether we should stay or leave.
The reality is, at some point, I will hear these songs. I will have to face things and I cannot run from them forever. This was not just about me, there were others with me. I decided that I was okay to stay and in fact the songs became so heartbreaking (courtesy of Lonestar’s, ‘Amazed’) that we ended up laughing together because everything was so tragic! The tension broke into laughter and we stayed and enjoyed our evening.
Throughout the trip, the low points seemed to interrupt the high points.
When we see something beautiful, we remember who isn’t seeing it. In a marriage you share so many experiences together. So many times through the day in general, I will think of my husband. I see something funny on the TV and I think, he would laugh at this. I see something in a store and I think, he would buy that. So when I was looking at some of the most beautiful sights in front of me, I naturally thought of him. The scenery was so awe-inspiring that I felt sad that only I had witnessed it.
This kept occurring. The thought, he isn’t seeing this, I am experiencing this alone.
These moments did make my heart hurt. It gave me a lump in my throat at times. It’s not easy making these new memories alone, having experiences that are my experiences and not ours any more. It is ironic as I know he has been on holidays during this time and I doubt he thought of me once.
During my time away, I must admit, I really did surprise myself. I am finding that I’m getting stronger. These experiences might be difficult at times and hard to navigate through but I am still doing them. I’m still embracing new life.
I was also surprised at how much I enjoyed the holiday. There were some tears but so many laughs, so much fun and new memories were created. I had precious time with precious people.
I felt my age again! I am in my early thirties but after being left for a younger woman, along with all the stress of the divorce, it has left me feeling weirdly old. When I was away though, I felt care free, if only for a brief time. It was just me, my thoughts and the beauty of nature.
I consciously made an effort to be kind to myself on this holiday, booking myself a couple of pamper sessions, some nice day trips and indulging in all the yummy food I wanted.
When I felt overwhelmed, I spent time alone, thinking and catching up with my thoughts and having quiet time and when I needed to talk to my family, if things were welling up inside me, then I talked.
Overall, I thank God for the holiday. It is another step in rebuilding a life that was torn apart. I told myself that I deserved some goodness after so much, well, badness.
If you are going through heartbreak and are both longing for an escape and yet nervous about what feelings it will bring up within you, please know that there may be difficult moments but you will over come them. Those moments will come, you will experience them and then they will pass.
You deserve goodness in your life and taking these steps to seek new experiences is another piece in the puzzle of rebuilding your life.