The Breakup that Made me Realize, Wherever I am is Home.
I’ll start off by saying this is a very personal journey that I’d like to share with you. It’s a story about me, the man I thought was the love of my life and the lessons I’ve learned over the course of the last few months. For the sake of privacy, I’ve decided to leave out his name. Those of you who know will know, those of you who don’t, don’t need to.
This is a story of big love – the kind of love you read about or see in movies. It’s a story about betrayal. Most importantly, it’s a story about a woman who has felt metaphorically homeless all of her life. Continuously searching for something outside of herself in an effort to find peace or understanding. This is a story about that woman finally coming home.
For most of my life, I’ve felt a disconnect with the idea of having a home. To say I’ve moved a lot would be an understatement. As an adult, as a child – I’m 30 and through the course of my life, I’ve lived in 4 different states in over 20 houses. I guess you could say I’ve always felt some sort of homeless – like I’ve always been searching for something outside of myself, trying to improve my life with the things or people around me. Moving from place to place because I always felt squirmy, like something wasn’t right or it could be better. I have most definitely leveled up my life every year and I have no doubt that has something to do with said squirmy-ness and my desire for bigger and better things.
In the last two years, I was finally feeling like I could settle down. I met a man (though now I would most definitely refer to him as a boy), we fell in love – we moved in together after 8 months, got a puppy at 10 months, I had never been surer of anything in my life. I really felt like I had finally found a home. Fast forward two years later and that home was ripped away from me. Almost three months ago, we broke up and since then I have been in the process of moving across the country. It’s been a pretty wild ride, and that’s putting it lightly.
It was in October of 2016, I was at Lake Tahoe visiting my sister. I opened up my Instagram to see a message (aka a DM) from a cute boy – he asked if we’d met before and if we hadn’t would I be open to grabbing a drink sometime. When I got back to Minnesota we went on our first date together, we both showed up in all black, ordered whiskey on the rocks and that was it – we were stuck like glue. Cue falling in love, moving in together and getting a puppy. It was the kind of big love that everyone hopes and dreams for – we were so sure of each other. It all happened very fast and I loved him with everything I had. We built a life, and I was so ready for a life with him – I had finally found my home.
There were no signs, I had zero warning. We were sitting in the bedroom chatting about our days and I asked him what was wrong. He was about to start a new job so I figured it would be stress related. Initially, he didn’t say anything – “I’m fine, nothing’s wrong at all”. We laid down for bed, shut the light off and said goodnight – I couldn’t shake the way he was looking at me before we got into bed. Something in his eyes had changed. As we laid there in the dark, I asked “are you sure there’s nothing wrong?” he replied “I don’t want to talk about it right now” – and from there, everything started unraveling. He wasn’t happy, he hadn’t been happy, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to continue to pursue a relationship with me at this point in time. Over the course of the next four days, we talked it out, took time to think about it and gave each other space. In the end, that was it – it was over. I kept feeling this sense of displacement – like time and space weren’t cohesive anymore, they no longer moved as one. As the words came out of my mouth I would hear them almost as if someone else was saying it: “**** and I are breaking up” – and there I was, homeless again.
When everything was official I made the decision that in 10 days I would be packing up my car, taking the dog, and moving out West. I wasn’t exactly sure where I would end up, all I knew was I couldn’t stay. I couldn’t be in the same city anymore. August 24th I drove 13 hours by myself to Denver; August 26th I drove 16 hours with my mom to Reno where I stayed with my sister and her husband for a month and a half and on October 15th I headed towards my final destination and drove 9 hours by myself to Portland. 2,500 miles, 63 days, 38 hours in the car and 3 different beds – a whole other level of homeless. It has been an adventure, to say the least. It’s been incredibly difficult at times, and overwhelmingly freeing at others. The quote “it was the best of times and the worst of times” has never been more relevant in my life.
I’ve been sad, angry, confused, lost – mourning the companionship I thought I had. All the while trying to adjust to living on the road and being away from friends and all things familiar. After I left we talked about ‘hope’ for a future to a certain extent. We still, even as I’m writing this, haven’t gone a full week without some sort of communication, no matter how unhealthy it’s been. For some reason, I just couldn’t let it go. I felt like it was all so random, so out of the blue – none of it made sense. There had to be something more. I was digging, trying to figure it out – and for a while I felt like I was going crazy, making things up in my head. A few days ago I finally got the courage to reach out to a girl who I thought he may have been in contact with before we broke up. She was very open and honest with me. He had slid into her DM’s in mid-July while he and I were very much still together. He asked if they had met before and since they hadn’t, if she’d be open to changing that (sound familiar?). He sent her videos of our dog, talked about getting together and proceeded to pursue an emotional relationship with this woman.
I was at the dog park when she sent me the screenshots of their conversations. I started hyperventilating and fell to the ground, crying. Some very nice people at the park came over to make sure I was alright. She said he took her on a date on August 24th – the same day that I drove to Denver. That morning he helped me pack up the car, hugged me, kissed me goodbye and told me he loved me. Twelve hours later he was on a date with her, something he had been planning before we even broke up. This was the tip of the iceberg. It turns out he had been lying to me about a lot of things. All of the women I spoke with were very forthcoming, honest and supportive. It was a relief and oddly enough I’ve found comfort in their words over the last week.
I keep replaying moments in my head. Moments where I was blissfully unaware of what was going on. The morning after he met her for the first time I took Finn, our dog, for a walk. He had been out late so I wanted to let him sleep in. While I was walking Finn, he was laying in our bed texting her, telling her about what he and I (obviously leaving me out of the picture) were going to do that day. Gym, dog park, brunch and then off to a soft launch party for a friends clothing line. He mentioned he wanted to make plans to “lounge and go to the dog park” with her one day soon. I was looking back at photos and videos on my phone from around that time and came across a video of us in the car on the way to that launch party. In the video, I was dancing and being goofy and turned the camera towards him. I watched it probably twenty times before I deleted it. The look in his eyes will haunt me forever – I don’t know how I didn’t see it.
I know that whatever happened between him, her and whoever else he was doing this with wasn’t the reason why we broke up. I get that. This didn’t happen out of the blue for him, it wasn’t random and there really wasn’t anything beyond the fact that something changed in him over time. He wasn’t happy and he was doing these things because he wasn’t happy. Hell, looking back, I wasn’t happy – or at least I wasn’t realizing my full potential and living the most fulfilling life that I could have been. For me, it wasn’t the relationship, it was just where I was at personally. Relationships have ups and downs and at the end of the day, it’s really a business partnership. Some days you need to choose to love the other person – sometimes you need to love the other person enough to recognize what they are going through, reach in and pull out that badass human you initially fell in love with. And yeah, sometimes you need to walk away.
It’s okay to love as hard as we did and not have it work out. It’s okay to not be happy in a relationship. It’s okay if you fall out of love – that happens. It doesn’t give someone permission to do the things that he did. No one deserves that. What we had, or what I thought we had didn’t deserve that. It’s not even simply the events that transpired, it’s the way he handled the whole thing since the day I drove away from Minnesota. I don’t think I’ve ever been so wronged, so betrayed. One of my best friends asked, “have you ever been f**ked over like this before?” I said no and she said “well good, you got it out of your system and hopefully, it won’t happen again”. She’s right – it won’t. I’ll no longer be looking for a home outside of myself – whether that’s in an actual physical home, a boy, other people or relationships. I’m not saying I’ll never trust or love again, because I will – I’m not going to let him take that from me too. What I’m saying is that this journey has taught me that I am all I ever need to be happy and to feel at home; I don’t need to look outside of myself anymore – wherever I am is home.
Regardless of everything that happened, there are three things I will specifically thank him for: 1. helping me raise Finn – lord knows I couldn’t have done that by myself. 2. finally inspiring me to move to Portland because I’ve been talking about it for years and 3. helping me to realize how significant female companionship is and how much we need to be there for each other in this upside down world we live in. Us girls, we gotta stick together.
We (Finn and I) are settling in out in Portland, loving it so far and finally starting to feel at peace. I’m ready for the next chapter of my life. All in all, it ended just like it started: in the DM’s – fast, furious and dramatic – but at least I’m not homeless anymore.
Katie Weed is an anthropologist and philosopher at heart. A freelance writer, brand manager and social media strategist by day. She’s usually one of three places: outside, making snacks or at the gym. She resides in Portland, Oregon with her 15 plants and her dog, Finn.