Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Breaking Up
So here it goes again, that same familiar feeling that I crave yet despise. My bags are packed and I’m just counting down the minutes until I have to leave for yet another airport, but this time is different. This time I’m leaving heartbroken yet rejuvenated. This time I’m leaving to start my life, again. I came to Dubai to visit Jeff so we could go to a blogging conference in Sri Lanka. It was nothing like I though it would be. This trip, this adventure has been one of the most difficult I’ve had to date. It wasn’t hard because of the travel, but instead because of what I have learned and what I am now leaving.
Meeting all the other bloggers at the conference was eye opening. Here they are, the top travel bloggers in the world who are all coming together to share their stories and their insight and somehow, with our little blog, we were invited to join. There are a thousand things I learn logistically about running a blog; SEO, social media, but the most important thing that I learned was how to put myself into our stories. There is a lot about our story that we haven’t shared so for the first time this is me; honest, open and exposed.
“There is a lot about our story that we haven’t shared so for the first time this is me; honest, open and exposed.”
Our story started back in 2010. I was in photo school in California and meeting Jeff for the first time at a gallery opening for a project he had just completed. I was memorized, I was taken away by his stories of his travels, something I had never done before. We became inseparable, best friends. Everyone kept telling me that he wanted more, but I was too naive to listen. That friendship lasted even after college until we finally started dating. He became so much more than just my best friend and I was certain he was it for me. It wasn’t long after we got together that we decided to quit our jobs and travel the globe. We moved straight to the other side of the world and started our lives in Thailand together.
The next year would be the most difficult for me. I left everything I ever knew, everyone I had ever met and was in a strange place, a place were I would grow to love but at the same time resent. I was scared and felt so alone, even though Jeff was by my side. We started the blog and things on the outside were picture perfect, but inside I was screaming to get out. I had everything most people wanted so why was I so depressed? I think for me I wasn’t ready to be everything to someone, I was still young and selfish and unconsciously grew to resent Jeff. He was so strong, he had it all figured out and it made me insane with jealousy. We did everything we could to make it through, but for me all I wanted was to go home. Even after traveling non-stop for 6 months together, a trip that was perfect, I just wanted to run away. I needed a break to figure myself out and emotionally get back on my feet. It’s ironic looking back now at how good Jeff and I were during this trip, when all we did was have the time of our lives.
When I got back home I jumped right into another relationship, a relationship that ended up hurting me in every way a person can be hurt. It wasn’t right and it was exactly what I needed to ignore the pain of the breakup with Jeff. That relationship ended badly to say the least. While I was home ignoring those feelings, Jeff was back in Thailand facing them head on. For me it was out of sight out of mind. Coming to Dubai to visit Jeff, where he was busy starting a new chapter, should be easy, I was moving on, I started seeing someone else, someone good and so was he. I thought it would be like before were we could just be best friends and hang out like old times.
I arrived in Dubai to reunite with my best friend and yet my ex boyfriend. Everyone told me what it would be like, but I just shrugged it all off telling myself, “you’re over him.” Nothing prepared me for the rush of emotions I felt when I walked though that door. It was him, but he was different and he wasn’t alone. Since we had been friends for so long before and since he had taken the past six months to get over me, something I just ran away from, he treated me as one of the guys, but for me it was like he had just taken a hammer to my heart. I never expected to feel that way and didn’t know how to handle it. I played it cool. The three of us hung out all night, and they had no idea how much I was hurting on the inside. That night I cried myself to sleep, I couldn’t handle knowing he was in bed with another girl just on the other side of the wall from me.
When we went to the conference we were faced with the awkward conversations of explaining that although we had started a couples travel blog we were no longer a couple. Everyone had questions, “How?” “You guys get along and travel?” “Wait, you’re both seeing other people?” They had no idea how I was feeling on the inside. We hadn’t been together since we broke up, since he had moved on, since I thought I had but clearly hadn’t.
It wasn’t until we returned to Dubai that I completely fell apart. There is nothing more agonizing then the pain of getting over someone, yet doing it in front of them. Jeff did everything he could to still be my best friend and to be there for me, but there was nothing he could do. So now I’m back in that moment, waiting to leave for the airport to return back home. A part of me wishes that he would just ask me to stay, but I do know that there is a reason we fell apart in the first place and decided to end our relationship; those reasons haven’t changed. I’ve never felt this way before. On one hand, we still want the world and are so inspired to push the blog to the next level and travel full time, but on the other hand we’re both just trying to survive and live our lives. For me that means getting over the love of my life yet at the same time I’m about to board a flight to go back and tell the man I’ve been dating that I’m not over my ex, that I don’t know how to be with anyone right now. He’s a good man and deserves to know the truth. If I had known I felt this way I wouldn’t have started seeing him. I ‘m leaving one side of the world with a broken heart to go back to the other side to break someone else’s.
“We now have two different perspectives on the world and are lucky enough to
share them with you.”
Traveling has taught me so much about myself. It has made it so easy to run and hide from the things I am too scared to face, but now I welcome the challenge of new beginnings and the next chapter. .Jeff and I will always be the best of friends and we will always travel and I am thankful to have him in my life. Getting over the heartache and moving forward both as friends and as business partners will be the first step.
Life will always throw you curve balls but it’s when you come back a stronger person you realize why it was so difficult in the first place. Traveling has given me strength I never thought I had. Moving home has been anything but easy, but I have made some amazing friends who want to experience new places and start to travel. I’m thankful for these past few years and I am thankful for Jeff. He has inspired me to always be stronger and better. My life would never have been the same without him and although it is difficult for him not to be with me yet I am finally ready to move on and am looking forward to the next chapter. I will never regret the choices that have lead me down this road. Jeff’s friendship has made me stronger and I’m so happy for him and his new life. He is doing incredible things and sharing this blog with him is a blessing. We now have two different perspectives on the world and are lucky enough to share them with you.
As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her best friend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world.
Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.