I alluded a little bit in one of my last posts about a breakup, and I’ve gone back and forth over how much I was going to talk about it, but it does deserve a little space, as that relationship was a core piece of my life. You don’t expect a relationship of almost three years to simply dissolve, but it did, and as hard as I adapted and understood and worked to make things right, I couldn’t.

Breakups are hard, man. Seriously. And this one? Right before my birthday! It could have at least come with a card that played music or something, but no, it happened quite fittingly in Facebook messages and noncommittal terms because there was no dramatic event that lead up to it, no big blow up, no huge revelations… just the one that he simply wasn’t happy here. But right before my birthday, and I struggled with how to proceed. I was devastated, and yet I’d promised myself that this birthday was going to be about me celebrating me. I’d be damned if I was going to let it be consumed by me grieving for him.

Quite fittingly, someone asked me yesterday how I handle bad mental health days, and after I delivered a litany of questionable coping mechanisms I thought about how I would have handled this breakup a year or two ago and how I had spent the previous two weeks. The differences were quite acute.

My usual method of healing post breakup is to pull the plug for a while and just stop responding to life for a while. Self care via dark cold room if you will. After that I’d swing to the other side of the spectrum and surround myself with anyone I possibly could and spend all my energy and focus on external stimuli. These things are great, but exceedingly draining, and it would be months before I’d really address the deeper wound left behind.

So how did I manage to honour both my need to celebrate and the space I needed to give my emotions surrounding a breakup? I learned to ride the waves.

I went on a women’s retreat… I chakra danced (which I may write more about later) in a blindfold and forgot anyone else was in the room. I reconnected with someone I’ve known and loved for almost 18 years. We snuggled and laughed and read tarot. I spoke with people I know my path was meant to have on it. We made flower crowns and sat around the fire with sparklers listening to Native American flute playing. I dyed my hair purple, even if I did just come out mostly black, and on the way out we stopped at a sunflower field and brought home armfuls of bright happy flowers.

I spent time with loves and good friends… On my birthday I had the pleasure of seeing four different people, all of whom bring different smiles to my face. People sent messages and made phone calls and sang to me. There was day drinking and walking in the rain. I left my ID at the house, which meant we couldn’t get into any of the bars or bowling alleys in the area, so instead we parked at a Sonic and shared laughs, conversation, and tots.

I let the tears flow… mostly because I was exhausted on an airplane at 0600.

I pet a kangaroo… Seriously, did you know the Nashville Zoo lets you pet kangaroos? Anyone who knows me knows how much I love animals and zoos, especially if I get to touch said animals. I got to see a women’s restroom with an enclosure in it full of tamarins. We were there around closing time, so we saw the animals pacing and active waiting for to be fed as a reward for not eating any children. I walked a rope bridge and looked at a bird-eater tarantula for over 5 seconds.

I pet a kangaroo… Just in case you missed it the first time!!!!

I was gifted a cake… quickest way to my heart. Birthday cake.

I introduced a new BFF to Uber Eats… and watched her freak out about having Taco Bell delivered to us at midnight while we drank wine and snuggled watching Kitchen rescue and giggled about how dreamy Gordon Ramsey is. We discovered an International Food Market and laughed our way around parts of one of my favourite cities. She took me to a huge used book store where I browsed through graphic novels to some WWII era crooning while a thunderstorm rumbled and rattled the roof.

I introduced a crush to Thai food… which is one of my favourite types of food! We laughed and looked at Halloween stuff at Michael’s. She let me vent a little bit and didn’t judge when I rambled about my breakup. She took me to an abandoned church where we took pictures and selfies. I met her hubby, who is also a crush, and we played Cards Against Humanity and laughed until there were tears in our eyes. We snuggled on the couch to my hotel room, which had USB ports in the microwave and was completely random. Her hubby and I wandered around the mall like silly teenagers to be able to talk and get to know each other. When they dropped me off at the airport we all hugged and I felt more warmth than I could have imagined. We all had little stresses and anxieties happening, but I felt happy and optimistic.

I wandered through an adult store in Atlanta… come on, it was called Starship Enterprises. Seriously. I found a new toy in a shape I’ve never seen before. I got to see yet another human I adore.

I was honest… Please read that again. I was honest.

I was honest about my emotions. When I was nervous or anxious. When I was sad or drained. When I was confused. But also when I was happy. You see, I have a post breakup problem with not letting myself feel joy for a while. It makes me feel vulnerable and nervous. It makes me feel conflicted. It makes me feel like the fact that I’m still having sad moments looks fake. But I took a chance and spoke my feelings and was honest with myself about what I wanted. I stopped talking myself out of things.

There’s freedom and healing in honesty. There’s healing in being true to yourself and your heart, whether it’s hurting or glowing. There’s healing in fearlessly taking the next step, then the next, then the one after that.

And yes, there’s healing in petting kangaroos.