Turns out my calling in life is to interview myself.
So, for the final instalment of the ‘fucking off after a break up’ series, I interviewed myself about breaking up, fucking off to Margaret River and dealing with the shittiness of betrayal.
FOD: Have you ever been through a shitty break up? (Okay, sorry, is there any other kind?)
Sarah: Every break up I’ve been through was shitty in its own way. I’ve grieved hard over people I’ve only been with for a couple of days or weeks and people I’ve been with for years.
I don’t think the time you were with them has a lot to do with it, because you often create a future in your head with that person – at least I do.
I feel like most of the time, it’s the imagined future that I’m grieving more than the actual past relationship.
My marriage ended a couple of years ago and that was fucking hard.
We were together 8 and a half years. He was my best friend, but towards the end, things turned bad.
We both struggled with depression and anxiety, but I remember a point when I realised I wasn’t depressed anymore, I was just unhappy in my relationship.
When I was with him, it was like a dark cloud had come over me. When I wasn’t, I was happy and full of life. I felt like I had two lives.
He betrayed me with a close member of my family and I couldn’t come back from that.
A couple of years later, I went away to Moore River for a weekend and met a cute guy. I really enjoyed talking to him, and we ended up kissing.
I never thought I’d cheat on my ex, but I don’t regret kissing someone else. When I did it, it felt like a spell had been broken, like I could finally leave him.
I told him the next day and eventually he moved out.
We tried to give it another shot, but ultimately, our relationship was dead. The clincher had been when I went to my therapist and came to the realisation that I mattered.
It sounds obvious, but until then I hadn’t realised that my needs and wants mattered too. Or that I mattered. That was a big shift in thinking for me and it changed my life.
I hated him for what he had done, but I also loved him. And I think that can be the hardest thing – both loving and loathing a person in one heart beat.
Betrayal, and relationships in general, are complicated beasts. I’m doing my best now to think of the good things, but also acknowledge how wrong it all went.
Life is not black and white, and I learned that from my break up.
My ex-husband and I broke up one night after I’d spent a week in Rottnest with a wonderful friend.
I was cooking and he asked if I wanted to be with him still. I said no. The day after we walked away from each other and we have hardly spoken since.
That’s the strangest thing – being the biggest thing in each others lives and then rarely speaking. Break ups are strange that way.
After the breakup, I was a mess. I lost heaps of weight, started chain smoking when I drank and dyed my hair blonde.
But I knew in my heart that I had to feel the pain in order to get to the other side. I didn’t care if I was a bit destructive to take the edge off.
Grief still comes up sometimes, but it’s not as strong. Even though it was hard I can honestly say it was the bravest and hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Leaving him was scary. I wasn’t even sure what I liked or who I was without him in my life. But, it allowed me to forge a new life, which so far has been beyond my wildest dreams.
Once the shitty grief subsided of course.
FOD: What are your thoughts on fucking off to a new place after a break up? Have you ever done it?
Sarah: I don’t think there is any right or wrong when it comes to how you deal with a break up.
Some people might say, ‘oh you’re running away’, but I think that’s bullshit.
There’s so much merit to pressing refresh and removing yourself from what reminds you of him or her.
I moved to Margaret River after my break up, and it’s the best decision I ever made. I met the most amazing humans.
I also changed a lot of things. After my breakup, I decided I was sick of doing shit I didn’t want to do.
So I restructured my little writing business in a way that meant I did more of the stuff I loved (writing) and less of the stuff I didn’t (managing social media!).
As a result, I had more emotional energy to be creative, and that was amazing.
I hadn’t been that creative with my ex, and I realise now that so much of my emotional energy had been going into our relationship, that I had little left over to make things.
Now I feel free to create, and for the first time in my life, I actually feel fulfilled. Yes I do want kids and all that stuff, but I know it will work out.
In the meantime, I’m having so much fun, collaborating with amazing humans and I guess, just being playful.
I was so serious for so long, and now I can just be whatever the fuck I want!
FOD: Where would be your ideal place to fuck off to?
Sarah: Margaret River! Whenever I used to go Down South on holiday it felt like home – like a place I could just breathe.
Even now, when I wake up in my little cabin in the bush, I still feel like I’m on holiday.
FOD: What helps you when you’re dealing with a break up?
Sarah: Nothing takes the pain away, which fucking sucks, but people do help a lot. I needed to be somewhere I felt safe after my break up, so I stayed with my brother and his girlfriend (now wife) and my nephew for a little while.
I watched a fuck tonne of children’s television, which was remarkably helpful. Also, being around my 1 year old nephew was cool, because he is just a ball of wonder.
When my ex and I first separated I hid from everyone. This time I decided to do the opposite, so I reached out to every person I felt would give me the support I needed.
As a result of that, I forged some wonderful friendships. I’m so thankful for the people who were there for me, and I hope I can be there for them when they need me too.
FOD: Do you have any advice for people going through that shit right now?
Sarah: Don’t break up alone! When you go through a break up (or any kind of rejection), actual pain receptors in your brain are triggered.
I read that this happens because in the old days, rejection from the tribe meant certain death, so our bodies evolved to make us feel pain when rejection happens. (Thanks brain.)
Psychologist Guy Winch says one of the tangible things you can do after a break up is surround yourself with people who love you and make you feel safe.
By doing so, you’re pretty much reminding your brain you have a tribe.
It’s one of the only real pieces of advice I have for people – reach the fuck out, but only to people who will give you what you need.
Tough love just makes me feel worse, so I reached out to people who would give me love and warmth and make me feel safe.
People care way more than you think. You’re not a burden on them. (I wrote a blog on this because I think it’s really important.)
FOD: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Sarah: Just that break ups are fucking awful. And unfortunately, I honestly think the only way to heal from the pain of a break up is to feel it.
It’s the worst thing, because it hurts so much, but it will eventually pass.
In the meantime, be gentle on yourself and give yourself space to heal. If you need time off, take it. Only you know what you need.
Also. It takes as long as it takes. There’s no timeline for this shit. I still have bouts of grief years after my breakup, and that is okay.
It just means there’s a new thing I am healing from and each time I grieve that pain I feel lighter.
Also. Even though I may not know you, I fucking love you and want you to know you are a warrior.
If you’re grieving it’s because you put yourself out there. In this world that is a brave thing to do.
FOD: Thanks Sarah, you’re really attractive and smart and good looking.
Sarah: Thank you Sarah.
Illustration of me in the ocean by Jade Foo.