How to Check Out of Heartbreak Hostel
By Dilara Earle
Imagine this: you arrive in the romantic location of Siem Reap – where the ruins of Angkor Wat with the fabled stunning sunrise await you and your beau – only for that beau to dump you. It gets worse – we’d gone overseas to his sister’s wedding with a six-week backpacking trip around it and just a week later that little dreamy trip was up in smoke. So, I’ve been there. Here’s my little guide to checking firmly out of Heartbreak Hostel and with no intentions of returning.
- Do not stalk him/her. I mean it.
- Turn off social media – this is so important. You’ll only end up looking at old pictures together, agonising over their new friendships and photos and on constant tenterhooks about the relationship status. If you can muster the courage, bite the bullet and de-friend them. You don’t need to torture yourself like that.
- Phone your friends and family – let them know, even though you don’t want to admit it. Denial will only carry you so far. They will help you through the worst first few days and will say all the right things.
- Try not to drink until you pass out – crying in the street and getting carried home is not a good look.
- Realise that there is A REASON for this happening: everything was not rosy and perfect and this is a true chance to grow.
- Try not to bore every person in your dorm to death by recounting exactly how you broke up, why you don’t understand, why you absolutely hate him, why you absolutely cannot live without him (I believe the term is word vomit, in my case it was projectile).
- Don’t beg them to take you back.
- Get away from the scene of heartbreak as fast as possible!
If you have managed to check off even half of that list, I am very proud of you! These steps will give you space to breathe so that you can start mending your heart. If you’re traveling in the same country and have a number of days or weeks left of your trip, promise yourself that you won’t approach them if you end up in the same place. Better still; reverse your planned agenda so to avoid the same buses and hostels.
Even if you are truly meant to be
You still need that time by yourselves to individually question and assess what ‘went wrong’ and how you can make it work, if you were to get back together. I know a fair few couples that have had months and even years apart and gotten back together! The vital key to their reunion was individual personal experiences and exposure to the world by themselves. The cracks in the relationship will be shown in a fresh light, even though it is hard, it’s crucial to making your next relationship more mature and lasting, even if it’s with the same partner. My cousin and her now husband were apart for 10 years!
Appreciate your surroundings
You’re likely to find yourself in an amazing, beautiful country. Use this to your advantage and as a springboard for lots of exciting activities. Embrace that individual spirit with newfound freedom! Don’t let yourself stay in the room all day, scowling at the cleaners when they disturb your weeping sessions. Instead, draw up a day plan every evening to keep you busy, especially the things that you quite fancied but your once significant other were not so keen on. Now is your chance to honour that dream of being a rock-climbing goddess.
Yes, you want to cry and throw all your toys out of the pram, you want to gauge out that horrible, terribly-in-love, couple’s eyes and hearts and you despise your heart being ripped out and stomped on – who the hell gave them permission to break your heart like that? Well, I’m afraid we did. But we can also give ourselves permission to pick up the pieces and glue them back together, bit by bit, with the golden experiences of a new culture, the kindness of strangers and other backpackers, a bottle (or two, but not six, trust me) of the local wine and a completely spontaneous approach to future plans. I can tell you now, I would have been sacked immediately had I had to go in to work, for the rivers I would have cried into people’s coffee cups.
Do what works for you.
Analytical and like to break things down? Don’t worry, I even downloaded e-books. I ugly cried in hammocks, over the fresh download Getting Past Your Breakup: How To Turn a Devastating Loss Into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You by Susan J. Elliot – I admire your positivity Susan – but it was then that I realised I could do this. I was not going to fall apart. Some part of me started to be relieved that this break up had happened. Your inner strength will surprise even you.
Do you have too much time to think?
Team up with another traveller or a group. Time for distraction! Like they were heaven sent, in walked in a group of delightful backpackers just like me and I tossed the e-book. A couple and two guys: one German and one English, who had all come to South East Asia by themselves. The couple were great – their eyes stayed happily in their sockets, as they didn’t have ridiculously high levels (and quite frankly unnecessary) of PDA and approached life side by side, rather than more intertwined than the trees in Angkor Wat. Their company during this difficult time was healing.
Put aside 10 minutes or so a day
To just sit quietly in a space of your own to let the questions come and go in your head. Write them down. Write a letter you’ll never send. All your feelings are completely normal. Then, at the end of this fixed time, let yourself get up and continue enjoying the rest of the day. This will also help damage control yourself by privately venting – publicising your break up, especially on Facebook, is not a good idea. All the details can be shared with your friends and they’re the only people who really need to know.
When you go back to your city
Their friends were yours as well, but until asked, try not to tell them what’s happened. It’s their story and if they choose not to tell them, then it’s not your place. They will find out eventually. I was lucky enough that his friends were mature enough to still talk to me and even meet up with me. Their support went such a long way – the rejection didn’t feel quite so big anymore. Whether they still stay in touch or not, their loyalty will always be marginally to your ex.
Be in control if you’re going back to a shared apartment!
Don’t wait around for them to kick you out. Go to a friend’s place as soon as you get back, have a drink and then deploy a team to the flat to pack your things as fast as possible. Arrange a time, through the one channel of contact that you have left open (I suggest email), for them to be out of the flat when you go over. This gives you a set time to quickly gather your things and also avoids you going over by yourself for an almighty row and/or break-up sex. Unwise, so very unwise. But if you do, leave straight after! Vite, vite! (HQ: translation: quick, quick)
Revenge vs maturity.
It’s a tough one…but I say be as mature as possible. My ex still doesn’t know that I nearly poured out his collection of vintage cocktail alcohol and spirits, to replace it with dyed water. Revenge, oh sweet revenge! But my dears, it won’t bring back what you’ve lost, nor will it sound good to his friends and will only invite his rage and petty comebacks, though the satisfaction of pissing him off is incredibly tempting. So, when he comes after you for the most ridiculous things e.g a tub of sugar (I know, right), you can easily brush it off. There’s nothing like holding the higher ground, after all.
Did you start your travels together?
Don’t be afraid to use this opportunity to the full – say “fine, this is showing me something has gone wrong and it is my responsibility to make sure that I put my healing first”. Traveling by yourself can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life!
As I checked out of Wish You Were Here – no, I am not joking, that was actually the name of the hostel I was staying at; the bloody irony did not escape me – I knew that this was for the better.
It feels good to cut off contact with them and imagine them getting run over, Mean Girls style, but at the end of the day, don’t be afraid to let go of your disappointment and hate. It is destructive and mars that they were a huge part of your life – a part that you greatly valued. You need to grieve that but also look back on the good times. That will help you heal too. They are just as human as you are and whether they made a mistake or not, it’s theirs to realise. You can only control how you react – so try your hardest to look after yourself and carry on with your head high!
My ex and I are now friends but only in real life. I still don’t have him on Facebook and I am reluctant to talk to each other apart from on the phone. This way doesn’t allow things to drag on or for texts to be misread. I dread the day he is a new relationship but I know I’ll be happy for him and I won’t be forced to look at their happy photos. I am thankful for our time together. It taught me so much about love, about myself, and how to make a relationship healthy.
The day after being dumped I wandered along the riverfront, tears streaming down my face. I spotted a quirky little café with nice-looking people and ordered a huge pot of tea. I’m British, what can I say? It arrived with a hand knitted tea cosy, with a bobble on the top. It made me suddenly smile! Smiling through tears, but still smiling. Happiness is in the small things. After phoning my mum on Viber for her to soothe me through yet another recount, the couple next to me got up to leave. The woman was about the same age as my mum and a very cuddly looking person. She leant over and asked me what had happened. I just about managed to say it. She looked at me kindly, patted my hand and said: “Have courage, dear.” I’ll never forget that.
You can do it. Go on, pick up that gold superglue and put that beautiful heart back together. Have courage.
UK | 24 | Currently Exploring Sydney, Australia | https://instagram.com/wanderlustvines