Letting Go Of Your First Love Abroad

November was the month that marked the end of my two year relationship with South Korea. A loving, caring, supportive and secure relationship. Yes, a real relationship. Oh, if you were expecting this to be about a person, I am sorry to disappoint but I will not be divulging the details of my love life at this time (or probably at any future time). However, I am here to tell you that you can easily be as heartbroken over a place as a person; and that the two really don’t feel that much different.

The weeks prior to leaving you were probably the hardest. The anticipation of it all was enough to stir up feelings I didn’t know were possible when it came to a place. How could I feel so deeply for somewhere that was so foreign to me two years ago? How could one place generate so much emotion? When I should have been tirelessly packing, all I could muster was simply laying in bed, paralyzed in my own sadness. It was my own decision to leave you. But from the wise words of a friend, “that doesn’t make it any easier”.  Every day was a challenge. Waking up with puffy eyes, wondering what the trigger would be that day to leave me in tears. I always knew it would be hard to leave you, but I never imagined something like this. The days eventually passed, much too quickly, but probably for the best. We said our farewells: goodbye dinners, goodbye coffees, goodbye parties. November 2nd, we said our real and final farewell at the airport. I spent the next 10 days after that in Vietnam- a hectic and exhilarating ten days. My mind was occupied, I was surrounded by two close friends. I was happy. “Maybe I’ll be fine after all.” It wasn’t until I arrived in Australia November 13th, when I started to feel the sadness creep back. I was out of Asia. I left you. This is real. (And reverse culture shock; also real). I was travelling in Vietnam. On “holiday”. But Australia was different. I had no set end date and was planning on working there or New Zealand. I was adjusting back to Western life, my life outside of you. There I was in Australia, surrounded by the most gorgeous beaches and beautiful scenery, yet I felt numb; unable to appreciate the present moment or any of my surroundings. Things that would normally make me feel alive and energized lost their effect. The people around me seemed so fulfilled and content, why couldn’t I feel what they were feeling? You were always in the back of my mind; you still are. I compare everything to you, for better or worse. Your flaws, your quirks, your antics. I feel like I know you like the back of my hand, yet that there is still so much to learn and uncover.

Here I am now, back in Canada, exactly a month and a half after I left you. I decided to come home for Christmas this year. Something you and I know a thing or two about; celebrating Christmas. I needed you those two Christmases, and you were there. Your support, festive decorations, the friends-turned-family you gave me, and your semi-understanding of how special this time of year is. I’m not there this year, I’m in my other home. My first home. Life without you is still strange, but I know I’ll be ok. I’m learning to thank you for all that you gave me; the opportunities, friends, independence, culture, and understanding. I’m learning to grow from you, to take what you gave me and turn it into something bigger. It was love, it will still always be love, but it wasn’t forever. You were a key chapter in this book we call life, and I can never repay you for the joy and knowledge you imprinted onto my pages. I’ll look back on our time together with such fondness, and relive our memories through the pictures and journal entries you inspired into me; simply because. It may hurt sometimes, but doesn’t the deepest and greatest kind of love hurt the most?

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” – Winnie the Pooh

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