In hindsight, making the choice to set my life on fire was the easy part.
After two weeks soul searching in Vietnam, I arrived home with this vision of where I wanted to head. It was a vague vision. I didn’t know exactly where this path would lead, where I wanted to end up, what I wanted to become. I just knew I had to get the hell off the merry-go-round I was on before I lost myself altogether.
After four years, a comfort zone can become your entire life. I was far too logical to just come home, pack my bags and leave. I needed to do this properly. I wrote a list of things I was unhappy about. I sat down with my partner, and while we both screamed at eachother and cried, I told him everything that had to change for us to work. I told him I didn’t expect him to change, why should he? But I was not happy and something had to give.
He agreed to try. But like with anything, if somebody doesn’t genuinely want to change they never will. Within two months life had fallen back into its restrictive, suffocating comfort zone. I came home from work one Tuesday and walked in the door like I always did. I put my keys on the table and looked up to this man that I had spent four years with. This man who had held my hand through the highs and lows, this man who had cooked my meals and tickled my hair as I fell asleep on his lap. ‘I love you’ I told him. ‘But I love me more. I can’t do this anymore. We can’t fix this’ I took a deep breath as I watched the bomb begin to explode. He didn’t try to argue. We sat on the floor, with our dog pacing the floor around us, and sobbed.
The next day I checked into a hotel, and told my ex that he should be gone when I got back. I returned to a half empty house. His side of the closet was bare. Half of our DVD’s were missing, the furniture we’d been given by his family was gone. I sat on the empty floor of my living room and howled. I held my dog for dear life and waited for the pain to stop. That first night I drank all the wine in the house and cried until I had no tears left. I put all the picture frames away and hid everything that reminded me of him.
I woke up in the morning, plastered a smile on my face, and went to work. I did not shed another tear for my relationship. I had allowed myself some time to grieve, and I had to move on. I reminded myself of why I did this.
I didn’t know the hardest part was yet to come.
Two months later, my ex was unable to take care of our dog. My job had me travelling a lot and working 80+ hour weeks, and this beautiful boy was suffering. He was not himself. My neighbours would tell me that he would nervously pace the yard for 14/15 hours a day while I was at work, whimpering and barking. He wouldn’t eat. I would come home and he would not leave my side. As much as I loved him I knew I was robbing him of the life he deserved. One weekend he was staying with a friend while I was away for work, and in his angst he escaped their yard to come looking for me. He was running down the highway, agitated and bleeding when they found him. Let’s call them the Franks. Frank gently called him over, and sat with him on the side of the road until he stopped shaking. Then Frank took him into his house, gave him some meat and some water and tended to his sores. He found the tag on his collar and called me.
I’ve never driven so bloody fast in all my life.
I sat with Frank and his beautiful wife and cried as I told them how they had come to find my boy running down the highway. They cried as they told me how their beloved dog had passed away a few months prior. That was how my beautiful boy found his new home. I have never known a pain like when I dropped him off at their place for the last time. I have never cried so hard. It felt as though my heart had been ripped from my chest.
This story does have a happy ending for my boy though. I still visit him at his new place, and he is calm. He is happy. He lives on a farm with the Franks and he chases the horses around the paddock. He swims in the dam and he sleeps at the foot of their bed. I see him and he runs to me like an old friend, and then when I leave he puts himself to bed and I swear that dog smiles.
This story also has a happy ending for me. It took almost 18 months to turn this around. I left my job, I rented my beautiful house out, and I moved to a new city. I started working for a cause I care deeply about, and every day I go to work I make a difference. I spend my weekends in the sun, with a close group of friends, and I fall asleep at night smiling. I have no furniture to my name, and a very bare closet with no designer clothes at all. I am myself. I had to walk through hell to get here, and the one thing I learned is that when you are walking through hell.. keep going. Even Alice had to fall down a dark hole before she got to Wonderland.