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The Part I Left Out

Years ago, the first time my ex dumped me, I was 19 years old and I was devastated. Though I’d had boyfriends in high school, I considered him my first real love and the break up left me this weak sobbing mess that couldn’t pull herself together enough to eat or get dressed in the morning. I thought I would literally die from the pain. There wasn’t a moment of the day when I didn’t feel this sense of panic. Even after I started forcing myself to go outside, go to class, and go to parties, I always felt incredibly on edge. I was desperate and needed to remove myself from my own life.

I got an email from a newly formed club on campus. It was a global program that organized volunteer groups to go to developing countries to help local people start up small sustainable businesses. I didn’t even give myself time to think about it before I signed up. I didn’t know any of the other people going and I knew if I gave myself time to think it through, I might back out. I committed and for spring break of my junior year of college, I went to a village in the mountains of Panama. There was no electricity, barely running water, and I could only communicate to the locals through translators as I’d long forgotten all the spanish I learned in high school. It was the bravest thing I’d ever done for myself.

About a year and a half after this trip, my ex and I got back together. I told him about going to Panama and about the village. I told him it was just something I felt I needed to do to move on with my life. He seemed impressed as that trip was something the person I used to be never would have done. It felt good to show him I was capable of that. But I left something significant out of that story. I never told him the part where I found myself dancing with our volunteer group’s 27 year old chaperone when we were celebrating at the end of our trip. He was a Columbian working for the program as an organizer and translator and was the leader of our trip. I neglected to mention that I ended up sleeping in his bed at the hostel on the last night. We did not have sex but exchanged contact info and continued having a informal long distance relationship for a few months after I returned home.

Why is this so important? Because this random Columbian guy that I met on a volunteer trip in Panama was the first guy since my ex I had any actual feelings for. He was comforting. He called often. It didn’t matter to me that I knew from the start that our “relationship” would never amount to anything. I wasn’t looking for a future husband. I just wanted to feel those initial butterflies again. I wanted to feel appreciated and that’s what I got from our many phone calls and Skype sessions. After a bit, our little romance naturally faded out and I felt perfectly fine with it.

So that’s the actual story of how I got over my break up the first time around. It wasn’t necessarily that I needed a man… but I needed the idea of one. I needed to see the possibly of having feelings for someone new.

The BEST holidays

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