4 Ways My Heartbreak Abroad Changed My Life For The Better
Six years ago, I moved to Germany for a guy who I thought was the one.
I gave up my family, my job, and my cozy life in Canada and completely changed everything by moving across the world to an unknown land where I knew I would be an outsider. I am always someone who does crazy things for love, and this was on the furthest side of my craziness.
Fast forward a few years and everything was kind-of perfect; I finally stopped feeling like an outsider. After three years of working a job that wasn’t for me, I managed to land my dream job as a global event planner, where I got to travel the world for work, made a home in a beautiful flat with him, lived in a gorgeous European city and beautiful neighborhood, became part of his family, spoke German and found some amazing friends through attending meet-ups and putting myself out there.
I felt so lucky to have my loving German ‘prince’ and the life we created together. At the time, he was my biggest supporter and I knew he cared for me so much.
But, around this time last year, over a meal together, the ground was ripped from under me.
As my boyfriend took a bite into his evening ‘German’ bread, he looked up at me with guilty eyes and said, “I just don’t know if I love you anymore.” From that point on the only thing I remember is smashing a picture frame with a picture of us on the floor, calling my mother, taking a taxi to the airport and checking into the airport hotel. I distraughtly looked online for a flight home, calling all my friends for support, but everyone was out of town.
The following morning, I caught the next flight home to Canada. On his credit card.
While I was in Canada by the comfort of my family, I felt lost, I looked in the mirror to see a girl with sad eyes, full of anxiety. I wondered what the ‘eff’ I should do with my life. All of a sudden, I had to choose if I wanted to be alone in a country I never wanted to be alone in. I felt thrown away, like the trash. I knew the challenges that were going to come, to set myself up in Germany without him or his family.
I didn’t hear much from him again and later I found out within weeks he had a new girlfriend & three months later, he even moved her into the flat we shared, the last place I thought was home in such a foreign land. Let’s just say I was devastated and did everything I could to fight off a lingering depression.
Everything that was normal to me, changed. Someone who I thought was my biggest supporter, decided to exit my life without warning and took the life I thought I loved with it.
But I came back to Germany, with vengeance. That was the best decision I’ve ever made.
And then my life started to change for the better… and the void of the heartbreak slowly diminished.
I become more independent than I ever have been in my life.
I never had the opportunity to live alone. The closest I’d come was University dorms. I went from living with my mom to moving across the world and living with him. I always had someone taking care of me. I never had to take care of only myself.
When I got the keys to my own flat in Germany and went to the grocery store, knowing I had only to cook for one, it was a weird feeling. I remember crying in the grocery store because I didn’t even know what a single person should eat and I didn’t want to sleep alone every night. I felt so alone at that moment knowing I no longer had the company I was so used to having in my life, in a country that didn’t feel like home without him… But I knew it could only go up from there.
Now I am thrilled that I can cook any meal I want, and not have to cater to someone else’s needs. I feel liberated from living with someone who would judge my sleeping habits.
I have my own beautiful flat in an even-better neighborhood, I have the best of friends and I even landed a promotion at work. I can afford my life without a second income to support it. I was able to find a home within myself. I now feel happier than ever, my soul feels on fire from new things in my life and everything completely turned around, after a time It had been flipped upside down.
I walk the streets confidently like a local. If someone asks me why I am here, I tell them, “Well I came for a man, but now I’m here for me.”
I realized I wasn’t loving myself enough.
I always thought I loved myself, but when I look back, I see that I didn’t. I thought loving myself was cooking healthy, going to the gym three times a week, spending time ‘relaxing’ watching endless Netflix and scrolling on my phone (with my ex by my side).
I was comfortable with myself but that didn’t provide me with space to grow.
This breaks up and the shift of living alone in Germany pushed me to realize how much I needed to love myself more. I realized I was living an uninspired life of a schedule that lacked creativity or passion. I was missing the connection, and I saw that everything in my relationship before was very surface level.
I became a person who took on too many traits of my partner, which were never me. I took the void from the relationship I felt and filled it with my passions that I always had too much anxiety to explore in Germany. I finally attended the dance class I was always too nervous to go to. I even got a membership at a yoga studio.
I took time to improve friendships and made some friends into better ones; I read empowering books, invested in therapy, and took care of my body inside & out, and focused on my career.
I did my best to keep my heart open. I felt empowered by my choice to overcome this challenge of living abroad, not for anyone, but myself. This gave me new confidence, that I can do anything that I want. I was going to make my life better here than it was before. I became my biggest supporter and made myself my number one priority.
My friends became my family here, and my passions and self-improvement became my new love.
I learned how much communication matters in relationships and friendships.
If I had seen the signs before and wasn’t wearing my rose-colored glasses in the relationship, it wouldn’t have ended that way. There were many times in the relationship, I saw red flags, like when I asked if he would move back to Canada with me and he said no, many times.
I thought this was strange, that I would change my life for someone, but they wouldn’t do the same in return. However, with the fear of leaving him and being alone, I just ignored this and just hoped one day he would change his mind. I was too afraid to have difficult conversations. Maybe if I had, I would have realized his intentions weren’t as pure as I thought, his love was only conditional, that maybe he just wanted me to fit into his life in Germany, and not vice versa.
Now with the fear of wasting my time with relationships or friendships, I am not afraid of communicating my wants and desires. I invest so much of my time into reading books and listening to podcasts about the relationship and effective communication. This is something that I never thought I should take the time to do before because I thought everything was just fine – when it’s it wasn’t.
I found my passion for empowering international women abroad.
Surprisingly, a lot of women I meet in Germany have moved here for love. I am not saying it is a bad thing, but if I had not built the life I had before the breakup, I would have been in a much more devastating position.
Fortunately, I only lost him and his circle, but still had my career and my friends here. Some women only have their partner abroad and do not take the time for building a career or a social life apart from their partner.
I wanted to inspire other women to live their best lives abroad, so I started a meet-up group on Facebook for international women who are ambitious in creating their best lives abroad in Germany.
Now this group has 200 members and we’ve had five meetups where we share stories of our victories, pain-points, and discoveries. It’s an amazing group of women, and without my break up, I would have never thought have created this strong community. Soon, I hope to even make it into a business offering workshops and events.
It has become a passion I didn’t even know existed, and I am very fulfilled from it in more ways than I was from my previous relationship.
I found new best friends and was able to connect with others through our shared experiences.
I joined an online community (Mend) with other people going through heart-breaks and these people became a huge support system. I found that many people had the same thing happen to them and that in fact, I wasn’t alone in my journey alone in a foreign country.
I connected with them on a different level than any of my other friends, and through our shared experience we were able to overcome our painful heartbreaks together. I loved seeing their growth, and know that I contributed to it like they contributed to mine. We all realized that the break-ups abroad enriched our lives, the change was for the better and we wouldn’t exchange our friendships for anything else.
From these five things, the void from the relationship and my lonesome feeling eventually diminished and is now filled with an authentic life that I never thought I was brave enough to achieve in a country that isn’t home, by myself.
And now, a year later (which feels like a milestone), I look at everything I’ve built and achieved, and I know the change was for the better.
Sometimes people need to leave your life, to make space for better things.
I am still healing every day from the trauma, but I know that a part of healing is sharing your story, and I hope even if you just moved cities and broke up, that you know that it doesn’t mean your only option is to go home. Perhaps you coming there for your relationship was only the start of something bigger.
The change might be scary, but know that you just need to keep pushing. Good things will eventually come around. You are not alone in this.