February 14, 2015

In Times of Chaos: Fight or Flight?


The broken heart’s existential crisis: have faith an issue will work out, or try to take matters into our own hands and fight for what we want.

It’s a question that may sneak into our minds post major life change, plague our thoughts through a breakup or leave us straining in the dark when already feeling lost.

There comes a time between love and love loss, between a path and oblivion, where pain and struggle take hold and questions are all that remain. We find ourselves asking, “What the hell are we to do in this space?”

And the answer I will give my may not be a permanent fix, but here it is:

Get out. Travel. Grow.

Not necessarily in that order.

When we start to push our comfort zones, we begin to find answers. Why not try something different, explore a new place, switch up routines and seek something fresh, because when our patterns do not change, it can be difficult to realize that life can—that every moment we hold is in flux.

It is possible that the feelings we are having right now may be the worst we experience in our lifetime, and if so, I would love to be the first to say “welcome to tomorrow.” But for now, the best advice I can give in times of change is to get out of our heads and get away.

Two days after my most recent breakup I bought tickets to Iceland. I had been asking my partner to travel with me for some time and, excuses aside, it never materialized. I hadn’t even begun to plan the trip or consider the implications of traveling alone internationally when it came time to pack up and leave. I boarded the flight a bit overwhelmed, carrying a broken heart and a fresh guide book elephant-eared on page 17. Three years of love lost and a vision of the future can quickly fade when you find yourself 40,000 feet in the air surrounded by strangers.

But this is where healing begins. This is where we want to be.

Maybe it will not take something as extreme as escaping abroad, but when I was able to completely change my surroundings, I was able to see in a new light.

A dear friend once told me that we cannot examine our patterns while we are living them, but I had never truly understood that until breaking away.

Somewhere between searching for my hostel along the dimly lit streets of Reykjavík and watching that final sunset over the mountains of a new land, I realized that the weight in my chest had lifted and the knot in my throat was gone.

Nothing spectacular happened on this short trip that changed me, but among the beautiful sites, solo café visits, new faces and fast friends, I realized I would be okay. I would be okay by myself and my paths were not limited.

There is nothing to fight for except for ourselves.

Fight for our space, our happiness and our time to heal. If our lives remain out of order, our thoughts will, too. If getting out of town is not an option, fight for a few moments alone, meditate, take that yoga class or treat ourselves to a day at home.

When we’re surrounded by only our thoughts, we can realize that the love we have for ourselves is the love that matters the most.

For a long time now I have been yearning for “something more,” it was a feeling I struggled to define, but it was clear I was missing something. It was not until I gave myself the chance to get out, travel and grow that I finally realized it was not something more I needed, it was something less.

I needed a break from unhealthy patterns; I needed space to be alone. I cannot guarantee that this time will help to permanently heal or provide immediate answers, but giving ourselves this necessary space creates the opportunity for finding a new path.

I must admit that as my plane made its final descent, and the all-too-familiar skyline began peeking through, those crushing feelings came rushing back. But I knew that with time and presence I would be able to get back to the tranquility I felt, that I had it in me to be centered again.

I was going back with a fresh set of tools, and with the unwavering notion that things can change.

So if you find yourself asking fight or flight—I would suggest both.

Fight for yourself, fly somewhere new, and along the way focus on self-love and have faith that we will stumble in the right direction.



The Art of Putting Yourself Back Together: Moving Through Difficult Times.


Author: Annaliese Reutemann

Apprentice Editor: Guenevere Neufeld / Editor: Emily Bartran

Image: Author’s own

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