My last real vacation was in July 2015, and what I did on that vacation was realize that I needed to change my life completely. The upside of being on vacation was that I finally had some time to breathe and think, and the downside (or so I thought) was that I realized I didn’t much like my life anymore.
There was this moment I remember so clearly. It was about 4 days in. My partner and I were hiking a small mountain trail in the BC interior, and it was almost straight up. It was a 1400-foot ascension or something ridiculous (says the Ontario hiker). About half-way up, I stopped to rest because I was so out-of-breath. I craned my head back and looked at how much there was left to climb and thought to myself, This is an uphill battle. Literally. I looked at the mountain and then looked at my partner up ahead and thought about how hard everything felt. “Are you coming?” she asked. I thought to myself I honestly don’t know.
Have you ever had that feeling? Like you’re in the gap between a yes and a no, and you’re pretty sure it’s a no? Well, my whole body had that feeling. I trudged on. A little while later, we got to the top and saw the amazing view, but I couldn’t shake that feeling. There was this secret unraveling inside me, and I was the only one who could see it. A quiet little tragedy. I sat at the breakfast table with her family and smiled and laughed and knew we were reaching the end of the road. I talked to her sister-in-law about coming east to visit us and knew it would never happen. Her mother gave a (really beautiful) toast on the night of her 50th wedding anniversary. She included us in it and talked about me and my partner building a future together. But it rang hollow – for me, at least.
But you know what? I finally saw the shape of myself again. It was like my mind had a mirror inside it. And I knew that this person wasn’t right. If we were a puzzle, the pieces didn’t fit. I know…it doesn’t sound like a great vacation and, honestly, it wasn’t. But it was something better: a catalyst. Sometimes unwinding means unraveling, you know? And these were much-needed changes.
We ended the relationship a couple weeks after getting home and started the process of disentangling our lives. I took a hard look at what I wanted, and I made a list and decided not to settle for less. The good news is that I found exactly the kind of relationship I was looking for – in someone who was there all along. Sometimes the view from the bottom is what leads you to the top.
If you’ve ever been there, leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear your story, too!