Friday, 25 November 2016

On Broken Hearts and Bravery

Broken Hearts and Bravery

I want to tell you about my amazing close friend Caoimhe. Next month she's going on an adventure for over half a year, the result of 2016 being the year that turned her life drastically on it's head. A year ago, I'm not sure Caoimhe would have thought she would ever be brave enough to do what she's about to, let alone be in a place in her life where this is a possibility.

It started with a messy break up earlier this year. Caoimhe was with a guy she loved, certain of what the future held for them both. This was the guy she thought she would marry, the guy she would start a family with, the guy she had just found a house to make a home with. Until he broke her heart, completely out of the blue.

Going through a break up is hard enough, having someone you love hurt you so deeply. But Caoimhe was also dealing with the sudden uncertainty of where the road ahead led; gone were the dreams and hopes and goals they had. She was single, and the life that was so close at hand was now out of reach, while family around her were having babies, living the life she so wanted.

Despite how she was hurting and how unsure she was about where she was now headed, Caoimhe was still incredibly strong. She put in a lot of work, coming to realise that their relationship was an unhealthy one, and that she wasn't to blame. That although she was upset, this was the best thing for her, and she tried to move forward, amidst the heartache and betrayal. I can't tell you how much I admired her, seeing her pick herself back up and keep going, despite the pain she was carrying with her.

Around the same time, I had just finished reading Becoming by Laura Jane Williams. There's a letter Williams wrote to herself when dealing with her own break up that really struck a chord with me, and I knew Caoimhe would find some comfort in Williams' words, too.

"They're on their way. Your person. It might not be today, though - in fact, it's probably not today, or even tomorrow - and that's exactly how it should be. You're not with the person of you're life because you are the person of your life. They are extra. It will happen when it happens. But it will happen.
You can admit that life seems better as part of a two, if you want. But don't sit and wait. You are worth a thousand more dreams than that. Continue, with full speed ahead, to be wonderful, to be you, to live, because your one? They need you to have stories. To be in full colour, already, without them, so that they can spot you in the otherwise black and white crowd." (p124)
I quoted whole chunks of that letter to Caoimhe, and it made her cry. Caoimhe bought Becoming, and devoured it. Williams' story inspired her and filled her with hope. She has begun to see her new found single status as an opportunity. She no longer has ties to a boyfriend; her future is laid out before her to do with as she wishes. She's chosen experience, she's chosen adventure, she's chosen herself.

Caoimhe has decided to bite the bullet and will be moving to Spain in December to become an au pair for seven months. She's had Skype calls with the family, she's gone out there for a weekend to meet them, and she's been taking Spanish lessons. She's going to use her time there to explore, discover, and collect moments. She's grabbing the bull by the horns, and I am completely in awe of her.

What makes this a bigger deal is that Caoimhe has anxiety. In Spain, she won't have her friends or family around her, and she's struggled with the idea of having panic attacks out there while she's alone. It's been a big worry for her; she doesn't want to let fear hold her back, but at the same time, she doesn't want to put herself in a position that's going to trigger her anxiety. But she's being so incredibly courageous, and she's taking the plunge.

This year hasn't been a great one for Caoimhe, but she's going to end it on a high. She's had the strength to keep moving forward, the dignity to hold her head up high while her ex has behaved appallingly, the determination to turn things around, and the daring to give herself the chance to experience something incredible.

Caoimhe is directing the course of her own life, and I couldn't be more excited for or more proud of her.

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