Breaking up abroad, or, turns out he was a bit of a knob

In my last post, I wrote about the difficulties of moving to a new country. I talked about how hard it can be, trying to fit in, assimilate to a new culture. It was a bit of a downer, to be fair – I normally like to write about positive experiences but this week, something happened that sent my fragile new world into a tailspin.

Some of you have read my previous post about how I misjudged someone enormously when I first arrived in Spain, and what I thought was going to be months of bickering turned into a love that I hadn’t expected, or experienced before. WELL GUESS WHAT EVERYONE, it looks like things didn’t work out. Having long been an advocate of long distance, a believer that if something is meant to be, it works out, I went all in on this one and got absolutely crushed, something to add to my list of living-abroad-challenges. So today I want to write about that. More funnies soon, I promise.
It’s always tough, when you meet someone special and you’re on different paths. Rose tinted specs, a friend said to me a few days ago, and she absolutely nailed it. You conveniently forget your future plans, overlook any possible flaws, so you can enjoy your time with them. As the deadline date looms, you try desperately to make those hours, those days, the best of your life together. You panic when they don’t work out how you planned. You cling onto them for every second you can, which is unlike you, but you can’t help yourself.
Eventually you say goodbye, tear-soaked, at a nearby airport. You have to say goodbye twice because the silly bastard leaves half their belongings in your car. You go home and hide under the covers. You unironically watch Bridget Jones. You prepare yourself for the difficulty of living apart, the added obstacle of their new location being somewhere remote, difficult to access.
You start to settle into your new life. You miss them terribly but you’re grateful for the conversations you have every couple of days. You know it’s difficult for them. You drop an extortionate amount of money to go and visit them because going three months without seeing them seems like the worst form of torture to you. After a beautiful few days together, you have another tear-stained, heartbreaking goodbye. You’ve already had your heart broken for this person multiple times, every time you say goodbye, but you’re ok with it.
When you return to your adopted country, the sporadic conversations continue. They’re loving, supportive, kind. You start making plans to visit them in their next destination, even further away. When you’re having a tough day, you’ve made yet another cripplingly embarrassing mistake in your new language, work is getting too much, it doesn’t matter. You have them to support you, to guide you. You CAN do this.
Then one day, for no apparent reason, everything stops. They disappear for a week with no explanation. You understand their need for solace and space, but in your current situation, alone in a new place, that doesn’t stop you from hurting. You start to panic. Something must be wrong. One day, you’re scanning some photos of their current workplace and you come across a photo of them with someone else. It’s silly flirty behavior, it’s harmless fun, but in your current state it’s like a knife in your heart and one in your back. You remember the doubts you had about them in the beginning, the things people said which you dismissed. Maybe they were right.

You have to contact their coworker just to speak to them, feeling embarrassed but also desperate. When they’re finally available to talk, they’re cold, uncaring. They can’t understand why you’re upset. The argument (conducted by a messaging app because they won’t speak in person) is brief, but damaging. You don’t hear from them again for a few days, bar a piece of music they send you which they’ve written. It’s a bad song, hastily written, the lyrics a thinly-veiled ‘fuck you’.

After that, they won’t talk to you. They let you stew in your own pain for days more. You barely make it through those days, dragging yourself from your dark bedroom to your new job and trying not to break down in front of your students. You can’t eat. You feel sick all the time. Eventually, you can’t take it anymore. You spend two days writing a strongly worded letter, burn all their belongings, accidentally set fire to your curtains by accident in the process and, eventually, you walk away. The person you thought you’d end up with has turned into someone you’re not sure you ever want to see again.

The pain of a long distance breakup is that you’re never really ‘face to face’. It makes it that much harder to piece together what happened, to understand why things ended the way they did. The pain is soul destroying. Some days you can’t breathe. Some days you cry so much you don’t have any tears left. Some days you can’t eat. You’ve been in so much pain for weeks, being away from them, it’s almost like you’re used to it now.
Eventually, though you can’t see it yet, this will make you stronger. It will help you to continue your journey in your new country. It will give you wisdom and power you never thought you had. It will make you realise you dodged a bullet.
I wanted to take down the post I wrote about him, all the good things I said. Because they turned out not to be true. But I can’t. Partly because I like the way I wrote it, partly because I want to always remind myself never to fall for someone so readily again. Partly also to remind me to trust my gut when it comes to people. I stand corrected, my first impressions were right.

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