I walked alone along a beach in southwestern Mexico at sunset. The waves smacked the sand as they rolled in from the Pacific. I said hello to a British guy with four dogs. I nodded at a round-bellied Mexican man wearing a Speedo. I smiled at beautiful women. After three weeks in Puerto Escondido, it felt like home.
It had been five months since the toughest breakup I’d ever experienced. Although I had struggled at times, I never went looking for rebound sex and I didn’t jump into the arms of a new woman so that I could feel comfortable again. I didn’t go out and get blind drunk night after night. I didn’t bury myself in work and busyness to avoid the difficult emotions.
Instead, I traveled alone. I spent months in places where I didn’t know anyone and I had to get out of my comfort zone to meet new people.
In Portland, I went to French speaking Meetup groups. I sat at the bar in random pubs and shot the shit with strangers. I dabbled on Tinder for the first time in my life and went out on a couple dates.
In Austin, I had two young, energetic roommates who took me to bars, introduced me to my first honey butter chicken biscuit from Whataburger, and cheered with me at a Longhorns tailgate party.
Still, I spent most of my time alone. Those two months in the U.S.A. were tough. I thought about my ex daily. I missed my cat, Kiwi, and my old neighbourhood in Montreal.
But I knew that the only way to get over my breakup, as fluffy as it sounds even to me, was to sit with my sad emotions instead of avoiding them. I learned to get comfortable with the uncomfortable feelings.
When I left the United States and flew to Mexico in mid-November, everything shifted.
I felt lighter, happier, and healthier. Every day was 30°C and sunny. I lived in my own apartment a couple blocks from the ocean. I had my favourite beach bar and the bartender, Jon, turned into a close friend. I made strong, new connections with locals and tourists. People commented on my positive energy. Beautiful women were hitting on me.
I felt good walking along the beach at sunset. My confidence was back. There was a pop in my step.
And then a woman with golden skin and dark hair walked past me. She smiled and waved. I reciprocated. After she passed, I pretended to scratch the back of my neck so I could take a cheeky peak at her backside.
I wanted to meet her but I didn’t know how to approach it. I’m not exactly a smooth, pick-up artist. I kept walking in the opposite direction, kicking myself for not having the guts to say something.
I got to the end of the beach, turned around, and walked back towards home.
Just as I was giving up on seeing her again, she was there, walking along the surf. I turned my feet and made a B-line towards her, still unsure of what the hell I was going to say.
I took a deep breath. My palms were sweating. She saw me coming and smiled.
“Hi,” I said. “Do you speak English?”
“Yes,” she replied.
“Do you want to sit down with me and watch the sunset?”
She shrugged her shoulders. “Sure, why not.”
And with that, I met Annie.
We sat on the sand and talked until it got dark. She invited me for dinner. And even though our night ended with a failed kiss attempt by me and an even more awkward hug, to my surprise she texted me a couple days later.
Annie and I became friends over the next two weeks. We talked about our goals and ambitions. We discussed our values and past relationships. Our conversations were vulnerable, interesting, and fun.
I left Mexico just before Christmas to return to Canada. Annie stayed and we said goodbye.
I spent Christmas with friends and family in Thunder Bay. I returned to Montreal in January. My plan was to find a small apartment and get to work on growing my business.
Instead, I’m choosing to invest in my personal life and continue the journey I’ve been on since my breakup six months ago.
I fly to Cuba tomorrow. Annie is meeting me in Havana and we’re planning on traveling for a month: two weeks in Cuba and two weeks in the Mayan Riviera.
I’m afraid, anxious, and excited.
The thing is, this isn’t my first rodeo. The last time I followed a beautiful woman around the world we fell in love, moved to Montreal, and built a life together for five years.
It would be easy to say, “I shouldn’t meet up with Annie. The last time I did this it ended in heartache. I’m just not ready yet.”
And then I hear my dad’s voice in my head this past Christmas: “Tick-tock. Tick-tock. You’re not getting any younger, Eric.”
Although my dad was referring to having children and definitely NOT encouraging me to travel more, I’m using his words to mean something different.
I’m using those words to mean that I have to take a risk. Giving love a chance is risky. I could get hurt or disappointed.
Then again, I could also find something special and wonderful.
Who knows what’ll happen. I have no expectations and neither does Annie. We’re going to roll with it and see what happens.
Following another beautiful woman to foreign countries scares me.
But living a life with regret is so much scarier.
Are you struggling to get over a breakup and worried you won’t find someone new?
Are you in a bad relationship and you’re avoiding breaking up because you’re scared to be alone and single?
Here’s my advice:
You will NEVER have the romantic partner who compliments your life until you become the person you want to be. You need to be happy with YOU before you can be happy with someone else.
If you’re not comfortable with being vulnerable, sitting with your feelings, eating dinner by yourself, meeting new people, or traveling solo, you will NEVER find the right partner for you.
I’ve spoken with a lot of people in the past few months who were struggling through a breakup or divorce. I empathized with the difficulties they were having.
But the past is in the past and you can’t change it.
There is life after a breakup but you have to get comfortable being alone and single before you’ll be ready for a new relationship.
Breakups suck. A lot. But when you reframe them as an opportunity you can begin to create the life you want to live.
When you embrace change, learn to understand your feelings, and take action to move forward, you’ll get to a place where you’ll be ready to meet someone new. And when you meet that person worth taking a chance on you’ll know you’re ready because you did the work on yourself, first.
Don’t be mistaken. Self-growth is really, really hard. It takes a lot of guts to confront our own negative feelings like anger, sadness, and guilt and work through them.
But it’s gotta be done.
I don’t know what the next month will bring but I know I’m in a position, mentally and emotionally, to take this risk. I’m scared but I’m ready to lean into it and see what happens.
I told you the Year of Fear wasn’t over…