I don’t want to be your fucking breakup guru

My name is Angie and I’m currently battling depression.

I don’t need a hug or a high five or a “hang in there”… it is what it is. I’ll keep working through it and eventually it will pass. I’m fortunate in that regard. Mine passes. I know others aren’t as lucky.

I feel like I should be over this by now. But I’m finally admitting to myself I’m not.

When I say “this” I’m referring to an unexpected breakup.

I’ve developed a certain level of comfort in mentioning it – and by comfort, I mean I can talk about it without crying – which serves as a bit of a double-edged sword.

Because I can talk about it without tearing up, it sounds like I’ve done a lot more processing than I have.

In a sense, I have moved on… I mean, I did pack everything I own into my car, grab the cat, and hit the road.

But now that just means I’m a full-time solo traveler trying to make sense of things and struggling.

Then there are the issues popping up because of the trip…

I don’t feel like I can sit with the feelings and process. Instead, I’ve gotta be on this wild, epic adventure of healing and self-discovery… when most days it’s just me and the cat sitting on someone else’s couch, watching Netflix.

And at least once a week my friends and colleagues tell me they want to read about my adventures, live vicariously through me. AKA, “Why don’t you write more, Angie?”

Answer: because for nine months I’ve been dealing with the Hoover Dam of mental blocks.

It hurts. I don’t really want to talk about it.

Least of all to dissect it in print, lay bare my soul, and try to make sense of something that really doesn’t make much damn sense.

To give it the full context, let’s go back to summer of 2020.

I got through that first part of the pandemic relatively unscathed – my partner (at the time) and I both kept our gigs, worked comfortably from home for the duration of the lockdowns. At one point we were shopping for a house and talking long-term plans.

i.e. THE FUTURE OF OUR RELATIONSHIP™.

I’d been dealing with a bit of career burnout and trying to figure out whether I should continue as a copywriter or start my own thing as a coach. After discovering Seth Godin’s Podcasting Workshop (and months of anxious discussions), I finally figured out a way forward… I’d quit my job, start the Permission to Kick Ass podcast, and go all in on being a confidence coach for business owners.

I finally worked up the courage to turn in my notice. That was on a Monday. On Saturday, it was over.

We’d been watching the Great British Baking Show. Then we turned on Superbad because I’ve never seen it. After the movie ended, he turned off the TV, sat up and said, “I don’t know how to say this so I’m going to just say it. I don’t think I love you the way you love me, and I’m moving into the new house by myself.”

Side note: I often tell people that he dumped me after the Great British Baking Show because I’ve got this weird hang-up and don’t want to admit to it happening after Superbad. For some reason, being dumped after Superbad sounds about twenty times worse.

Oh were my friends pissed off when I mentioned the Great British Baking Show. They wanted to kick his ass for both ruining one of the world’s most positive TV shows and the way he broke up with me.

That he dumped me after Superbad feels like the punchline to a horrible joke. So sometimes I fudge the story a little. And also, I have an irrational hatred for Jonah Hill.

It’s not your fault, Jonah. Blame it on my ex.

Back to the story: so one day I had this glorious future in front of me – starting a new gig, moving into a new house, planning for the future with my beau.

Then that fateful Saturday morning – suddenly I had no job, no partner, no house, and no idea what to do next.

I did a quick rundown of the options and came up with:

1)      Take over the lease.

He urged me to take over the lease of the townhouse where we’d lived up until the split, arguing that it was the easiest option. Of course, there was no way in hell I was going to live alone in a house full of happy memories now tainted. Not with him ten minutes down the road just waiting for a lonely night. I told him, “That is not an option. You slammed a door in my face, I’m just locking it.”

2)      Move in with mom or dad.

Both of my parents graciously offered to take me in and let me get back on my feet. I sobbed like a little girl because their offers meant that much to me. But also, I’m a grown ass adult with my own way of living and doing things – I didn’t know if I could be my folks’ roommate, and I definitely wasn’t coming home as a child following all the old house rules. Since I wasn’t at a point where I NEEDED that option, I decided not to take it until I had to. No sense in wearing out my welcome if I didn’t have to.

3)      Buy a place in Houston.

I could have bought a place in Houston, but it felt rushed. After all, it’d taken us months to find the place I thought we would ultimately share. We’d had a few offers rejected, since it was the beginning of the pandemic real estate bubble and the cash buyers were starting to come out of the woodwork. I knew that was a recipe for disaster – rushing into buying a house simply because I couldn’t be alone in mine.

 

4)      Rent a place in Houston.

By the same token, I could have found another place to rent. All the furniture we had was mine – he’d lived in a furnished place before we moved in together. It would be easy enough to call the family over and have them help me move into my new place. But trying to figure out which neighborhood and where to go was overwhelming. Add to that one of the biggest deciding factors in me moving to Houston was my partner’s job, which was based there. I don’t hate it, and I did love being near my family… I miss them every day that I’m on the road. I just knew that Houston would never feel like MY home.

Four decent options and I hated them all. And yes, I know how incredibly fortunate I was just to have options vs hard choices.

In the end I decided I didn’t want to live in Houston, but I didn’t really know where I wanted to live that was NOT Houston.

So I decided my best option was to figure out where I wanted to live by visiting all the places I’d always wanted to see but for whatever reason, had never made time to explore.

I left the ex all my furniture, donated or gave away most of the rest of my stuff, packed what I could in my car, and hit the road with my cat Stella.

I needed to have some semblance of control over my life after it was unexpectedly turned upside down by a man who either didn’t think about or didn’t care about the consequences of ending our relationship the way he did.

So for the past nine months, I’ve been staying 5-6 weeks in different cities and towns I’ve always wanted to see. Stella and I have been to New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, Asheville, Atlanta, Charleston, and now Savannah. In the remaining months of 2021, we’ll be going to Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, and St. Pete before looping back around to Houston to spend the holidays with the family.

I’ve been sharing a tiny bit of what I’ve been doing – mostly pictures and random humorous observations.

Nothing deep or profound. Certainly nothing that could help you process trauma or heal – I haven’t done much to process or heal, myself.

Mostly I’ve distracted myself with food, experiences, and an extra-big heaping of binge watching.

And that’s OK. We’re collectively processing a lot of shit over the last 18 months, just with what’s going on in the world… let alone the added trauma of anything that went wrong with health, finances, jobs, family, relationships, etc.

But if the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that life is too fucking short.

I did my time in Silicon Valley, where I was on track to hustle and grind my way to an early grave.

I had my share of shitty abusive relationships where I felt like I had to turn into someone I’m not in order to be worthy of love.

Yeah, I know you’re supposed to “be yourself” and you’ll attract the right fit for you. It’s a bit more challenging as a chunky tomboy prone to excitedly swearing and going months (if not years) at a time without wearing makeup or dressing up.

I’m coming to a place where I’m comfortable as I am, but it’s been a long road toward self-love – especially when we’re all bombarded with button-nosed supermodels as the idea of what real women look like, and who real men love.

I’m a real woman. I also like to occasionally order two desserts for myself because fuck you, that’s why.

Before I was terrified to be alone. But I’m coming to understand that if I can’t find the kind of love I thought I had with my ex, that it’s better to be alone than to ever subject myself to the abuse and manipulation I’ve put up with in past relationships.

That’s not to say the ex who dumped me was abusive. Actually, what we had was great until it suddenly wasn’t.

He was really the first who showed me what it meant to feel loved. I didn’t have to dress up or down to impress him – he found me attractive regardless.

I could love both going to metal shows and doing puzzles to NPR over morning coffee.

And he was the first partner I had who wasn’t intimidated by me out-earning him. Not once did he wig out over my earning potential or my ambition. I’ve certainly dated others who tried to “take me down a peg or two”, or make me dependent on them.

Sadly, that tactic worked on me for a long time. I really did believe I needed a romantic partner, a man, and that without one I wouldn’t be able to take care of myself.

That’s what made this decision even more scary.

Now I’m not only taking care of myself and my cat – I’m doing it while staying in places where I really don’t know anyone, trying to grow my own business, and manage the logistics of travel/adventure/everyday life.

I’ve got my stuff, my cat, and my car. I’ve got a loose plan of the places I want to go and see. That’s all I know.

And that brings me back to the main point of this piece I’m writing.

I realized I haven’t been able to write about what I’m doing because I’ve had this crackpot idea that if I share my grief and my healing process in a public way, I have to say something profound.

I’ve been operating under the directive that if I write about my explorations, I need to do it while also making sense of the nonsense of this split. Like I can single-handedly help everyone in the world who’s ever dealt with an asshole ex.

But I don’t want to be your breakup guru.

I’m not going to pretend I have things figured out, that I have any answers, or that you can solve all your problems by taking this show on the road and leaving it all behind (though I absolutely can confirm that ordering two desserts helps on extra-sad days).

I don’t have my shit figured out, and that became clear to me late last week when I heard myself say to my life coach, “but if I share my journey I feel like I have to say smart things… stuff that really helps people.”

Y’all, I already post every other day, and what I’ve been sharing is FAR from profound.

If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you know that mostly I post pictures of my food, interesting things I see, random snippets of conversations, and a lot of Stella doing weird cat things.

That’s about as far from profound as you can fucking get. Yet it’s my actual life.

So I’ve been trying to convince myself for nine months that in order to “earn the right” to share my story, I’ve got to have some sort of mystical insight to share, otherwise I’m just some other person venting their grief to the void that is the internet.

Screw that. I’ve decided I’m OK with not being OK.

I’m ready to write about my experience on the road – and forewarning, that includes the good and the bad. There are days where I’m hiking to three waterfalls and having an out-of-body experience over pie… and there are weeks where all I do after I finish my work for the day is order in and watch Netflix on someone else’s couch.

Turns out living as a digital nomad can be scarily similar to living at home.

Now I’m writing about it. No promises about consistency. Definitely no promises about takeaways.

I’m willing to share the good, the bad, and the snot-bubble tears. But I don’t want to be your fucking breakup guru.

I don’t know that I have the strength in me to come up with clever takeaways, let alone pretend to be some beacon of “has her shit figured out and is handling this thing really well.”

Some days I am fine, and most I am simply not OK.

But there are little moments, little glimmers of hope… they pop up when I’m at a local restaurant letting the neighborhood regulars order for me (I rarely regret that choice, by the way).

Or when I’m marveling at artwork, architecture, and stunning gardens.

Or when I find myself in absurd situations, like doing yoga with llamas or having a shark sit in my lap.

Or when I connect person-to-person with someone, like just now when my Airbnb host came out and saw me sitting on the porch writing this. He invited me to join him and his friends for cast iron pan pizzas and I happily accepted, marveling at how things come together even when you aren’t making plans.

Through it all, I’m coming to realize that I may never have arrived here if it weren’t for the utterly shitty way my ex dumped me flat on my ass.

I don’t think I’ll ever be grateful to him. But maybe that’s the profound thing that comes from all this (and that’s the only profundity I’m promising, friends)… sometimes the aftermath of devastation is something more than you could have ever wished for.

kickass-angie

ANGIE COLEE

If you’re an aspiring freelancer who’s working up the courage to leave the day job… good news! I’m sharing all the things I WISH I’d known before making the leap so that hopefully your journey goes a little more smoothly than mine.

1 Comment

  1. Wendy Gardner on August 31, 2021 at 11:44 am

    Hi Angie,

    I loved your article. I too suffer depression and know it passes. Sounds like it is all working towards your greater purpose too! Oh and two desserts? Thought I was the only one who did that!!

    Carry on being so awesome 🙂

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