so much for trip of a lifetime
December 11, 2013 4:44 PM   Subscribe

In a few hours I'm about to board a flight that was supposed to include my girlfriend. except she broke up with me last month and now I'm flying alone and demoralized. How do I not make this trip suck more than it already does?

My ex has never left the US but embraced my home culture with more gusto than I've ever seen from anyone. As a Christmas treat I got together a joint ticket to bring her back home with me. It quickly became a big community effort and received a fair bit of attention.

Our relationship had been somewhat rocky for a while but we both did work hard together. Unfortunately things feel apart and a month ago, she left me. In a way it was inevitable and I don't entirely fault her for pulling the plug, but it still hurt afterwards especially when she spent the next few weeks being very public about my flaws and making some unfounded claims about my motives. The breakup was a lot gentler in comparison!

We haven't been in touch since the breakup, though I occasionally find out what's going on with her via mutual friends helping her out with life stuff. I know she was really looking forward to the trip and had hesitated on breaking up with me because of it.I sometimes think that if it wasn't for this trip idea we could at least still be friends of some sort instead of this angsty somewhat animous mess.

I did get refunds and such sorted, so administratively I'm ok, and my friends have been generally supportiv. But emotionally I'm a mess. I have an ambivalent relationship to my home country; my ex was the first person that made me appreciate it. My family has been pretty supportive and I'll get to catch up with my best friends...people I hoped to introduce my ex to. She was family to me .

I'll be away for a month. Where my family lives is kind of dull so I won't have a lot of distraction. I spent most of today an emotional wreck. How do I not make this trip suck more?
posted by divabat to Human Relations (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Now that you have a new appreciation for your home country, maybe try to see it through the eyes of a newcomer? Maybe treat the visit as if you were the person who had never been there before. Go see the museums and cultural institutions; visit the parks; sit in a cafe and idly watch passerby (or however people pass the time where you live). This can still be a rewarding trip, and you can feel some gratitude to your ex for helping bring you to this frame of mind.

I am sorry that things are gloomy now. Good luck!
posted by orrnyereg at 5:14 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Be really, really, really, really, really (etc.) thankful that the breakup happened before the trip.

Rocky relationship expensive trips are by far the worst thing ever. This is the best outcome you could have possibly hoped for, barring magical fairies fixing all of the fundamental problems in your relationship with a snap of their fingers.
posted by jsturgill at 5:15 PM on December 11, 2013 [17 favorites]

Stendhal, who knew a thing or two about traveling while heart-broken and/or pining, wrote "if travel isolates it is no cure, and indeed nothing is more tenderly reminiscent of the beloved than changes of scene." So, you have your work cut out for you.

First, just accept that you may be sad on this trip. That is OK. It's part of the process, and every day you'll be closer to feeling better.

Second, spend time with people who love you. Even better if you can spend time with people for whom your presence is a gift; your parents, elderly relatives, and so on. I found spending time with older people was helpful when I was in a similar situation - they had seen it all and made it through just fine.

As someone once said to me long ago, "life is long." You will be OK and things will change, and change again, because that is what life does.
posted by Atrahasis at 5:34 PM on December 11, 2013 [11 favorites]

This is really the chance to make it the trip of a lifetime. I bet there are places in your home country that are major tourist destinations that you've never been to? So for example I'm Australian, I've never been to Uluru or Tasmania or even the Great Barrier Reef. Perhaps you have similar examples in your home country, or other countries close by?

Take two weeks to see family/friends etc, take the last two weeks to go adventuring. Stay in hostels. Meet new people, other tourists experiencing your country for the first time. Get out of your comfort zone and mix things up, but most importantly, don't hang around at your parents/families place moping around for the entire time.
posted by Admira at 5:42 PM on December 11, 2013 [8 favorites]

In your shoes, I would be inclined to write my ass off. You could be taking notes for a really lovely semi-autobiographical novel that in later years will be of solace to someone in your shoes right now. Also, writing can sometimes help with heartbreak. It allows you to wallow and process simultaneously. But in order to make the story more interesting, you'll need to do things that you can write about as well. Whatever you do, ask yourself whether it would be a good scene in your novel and see what tweaks you can bring to the experience that would give it a nice twist or make for interesting reading.
posted by janey47 at 6:19 PM on December 11, 2013 [5 favorites]

Could you try to meet some other people to date while you're home?
posted by DMelanogaster at 6:30 PM on December 11, 2013

Tell your friends to stop telling you what your ex is up to! It's spoiling your trip for you. Instead, ask friends to help you plan your trip and build up anticipation.

I like having a project to structure my vacation. Like, taking a picture of one interesting person a day. Or writing down family anecdotes in a big black notebook. Or blogging your trip every day. Something to keep you busy and let you share and interact with people. Ask your friends to help you come up with ideas (and read your blog / look at your pictures etc.).
posted by Omnomnom at 11:53 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I go home (Indian subcontinent), I don't do a thing. I sit at home, catch up on Bollywood music, eat ALL the food, sleep, read all my favourite kids' books again, read my childhood diaries, catch up with relatives.

It sounds boring and can be, but living a busy working life in a big city for the rest of the time, my trips home have become a time of recharging and relaxation. Maybe this is what you need after an emotionally taxing time. Plus, you'll be with your family and best friends, the best people to be with in case you need to have a good cry, or just vent.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:21 AM on December 12, 2013

Hello from a layover.

Have you been in my situation - planned an epic trip with your SO only to break up prior to the trip? Or did the tripanyway despite the rockiness? Anecdotes or published accounts would be helpful. I feel alone in my pain, as well as a huge dose of shame because I feel like I failed a lot of people.
posted by divabat at 3:26 PM on December 12, 2013

Ok, so this is a bit different, but the closest experience I've had.

Many years ago, my boyfriend of several years had gotten me a ticket to go to Burning Man with him. I was supposed to go with him and stay with his camp. He left me about 6 weeks beforehand. I thought about skipping the trip entirely, but I'd always wanted to go, and so I found a new group to go with and went. I was a bit nervous (I'm pretty reserved and was worried I would be miserable)-- but it was fabulous. I was miserable, I was overjoyed, I was all sorts of crazy emotions- but the trip was amazing on multiple levels. (And my campmates became a really great group of friends whom I still see when I'm back on the west coast.)

Now in my case I was with a bunch of new people, in a totally new place and a completely overstimulating environment. I do think that helped.

You, on the other hand, will be surrounded by friends and family. Take the opportunity to really reconnect with them. Don't be afraid to ask for their support, people will want to help (it can help to ask for somethign specific, like "I really need to get out of the house. Can you take me somewhere?") Ask them about their lives (particularly if you'll see older relatives you haven't seen in a while).

Since you'll be there for a full month, it might be good to start on a project while you're there. Is there something you've always wanted to do in your home country? A historical figure you'd like to learn more about? Language skills you want to improve? Are you interested in your family's geneology? Is there an event that will be happening in the area that you've always wanted to go to but never gone? (e.g. if you were going to New York, maybe you've always wanted to go to Times Square for New Year's). Well, go. Take some time to wallow, but after a bit, starting saying yes to things. Maybe more than you feel like.

Lastly? Keep tissues about. If you're anything like me you might find yourself bursting into tears over random things for a while. Be prepared, let it happen; the only way out is through, and yeah, it's ok if you spend an entire plane flight blubbering. You won't be the first. The air attendants do look at you a little weird, though. Oh well.
posted by nat at 12:56 AM on December 14, 2013

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