Travel and a broken heart: How they changed my life forever

Travel and a broken heart: Gluing the pieces together

Travel and a broken heart feel like… (Nevit Dilmen, Wiki)

I don’t know where I would be if it weren’t for travel and a broken heart. My life, personality, and even career choices would be completely different as we speak. So today I open my beat, albeit undefeated heart and show you that the worst things in life usually end up being the best for us. Thank you BootsnAll & 30 Days of Indie Travel (prompt 2) for making me open up again and hopefully strengthen and inspire many others to follow their dreams & passions — despite of the consequences

December 13th, 2008. I was in Egypt studying for my Arabic language finals, a little distracted because I was excited to go back to America in 10 days to surprise my future husband, love of my of life, for Christmas. He thought he wasn’t going to see me for a full year – all the way ’til the summer – but who does he think he is? I am Maria Alexandra, expect the unexpected! His handsome face, cheery eyes and dropped jaw once he saw me at his front door were all I could think about that night. Then, the call

“I just can’t do this anymore,” his broken voice spurted. I thought this was a bad dream: “Didn’t you just tell me last week that you looked to your bed in the morning and realized how much you missed me, that you couldn’t wait to hug me, squeeze me, and kiss me? That you missed seeing me standing on my tippy toes because I looked so cute? That I am the love of your life?!” My heart paralyzed and went into chaos all at the same time. I couldn’t breathe. I was choking in my own tears. I don’t think I have ever hurt or cried so much in my entire life.

He might read this, but he knows anyway. And if he doesn’t, I am kind of happy that today he will find out. And so, I decided to write an open letter to him…so you can see how travel and a broken heart were the two best things that ever happened to me (having loved with my all tying at the top…)

Dear James,

Today I want to thank you for giving me the gifts of travel and a broken heart. I know you planned it all very carefully, I know you also hurt while doing so, but furthermore I know you did it all because you deeply cared for me. They were almost 3 bittersweet years. You were there through my worst, through my depression, eating disorders. YOU, in fact, took me out of those black holes in my life. You never deserted me. You saved me. You truly loved me James, and I’ll cherish that forever.

Thank you for lying to me when I asked you if you wanted me to stay or apply for the Boren scholarship that eventually paid for my studies in Egypt. Keeping a straight face for a full year as I prepared my essays, application, and dreams must have been hard. Thank you for taking my essays to the most suitable person you knew so they could be proofread and the finish product be stellar. Thank you because no matter what, you always put my happiness before yours. You knew I’ve had the travel bug for quite some time, and instead of killing my dreams, you gave them wings. You knew that our relationship had come to a point of no return, that it was too damn difficult, and there was no way I could be truly happy with you. That we could be happier apart. And while both of our families already knew about the wedding plans…they could be put aside to make the best decision for both of us, the ones who actually mattered in the scheme of things. So you let me go…


Yet…you did tell me to stay AFTER you, YOURSELF, faxed the contract that bind me to “my dream” for a year in Egypt, and you know there was no chance of me backing out from it at that point. WHY DID YOU DO THAT!? That pissed me off! Sorry, I had to say it. I believe my heart was broken just then. True of the matter is, I was such a little girl. I didn’t understand. You simply wanted me to know how you truly felt — and that the reason you did all of that was so I had no choice but to follow my dreams. You knew I would drop everything in a second just to be with you – and you didn’t want me to do that. Of course, I didn’t understand then.

Ironically enough though, I felt that every day that went by just brought more and more pain, more and more guilt, more and more questions on why I was still there with you. But I guess I was too weak. I couldn’t let you go even though you were simply an “idealized” image of what I wanted my future husband to be. You were him though, a wonderful man! You loved me, you were/will always be there for me. Yet, I was also sure that wasn’t going to be the case.

So I left. Travel and a broken heart…

And you know what James? It is the best decision I have made in my life. I learned Arabic (reached intermediate level in just 2 semesters!), traveled to more than 11 new countries, and even decided to study in Morocco after a year in the Middle East because I just couldn’t handle coming back to Tampa and see you every day on campus. And once again I thank you, because you were my impetus, the catalyst – in so many ways. Basically, running away from you equaled even more travel and a broken heart.

In 2 years, my country counter almost hit 30, I could get by in 3 different languages, and most importantly, I found myself. I figured out exactly the kind of man I needed (an educated, rambunctious wanderer like myself). I realized that my career goal had to be being a successful digital nomad through writing, translating & interpreting in a myriad of languages. At last, I knew exactly what I wanted. I became a woman. I grew up.

As I went through said metamorphosis though, I struggled with embracing the changes. I still hated you while loving you so deeply for more than 2 years after the break up. I was traveling, learning, seeing new things but once a week or so, I would break down. I would write pages and pages in my journal telling you how much I hated you for dropping such a beautiful kind of love. Clearly, I was still a little girl back then. Or maybe it simply means being human? Whatever it was, one day I finally understood that you didn’t give up on love. Neither of us ever did. We simply realized that “letting go doesn’t mean giving up, but rather accepting that certain things aren’t meant to be.”

Love is like energy: It can’t be destroyed, but rather, transferred or transformed.

True love never dies. Life moves on, people come and go. A new relationship might make us happier. A new love is born. However, that doesn’t mean ours will weaken or dissipate, James. Love will always be strong & true. It has simply…changed.

*wipes tears off her cheeks* Remembering the best and worst moments of my life always makes me cry of joy. They are reminders of how greatly I’ve been blessed, because they have all taken me where I am. Which is where I’m supposed to be today. Crazy I figured it all out by age 24…

Travel and a broken heart changed my life forever.

Travel and a broken heart are the reasons why I’m so happy I could die

Lyrics of my life’s anthem here

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