(This may or may not be based on personal experience.)
It’s the slighly more expensive version of cutting one’s hair into a drastically short bob or dyeing it into a shocking shade of blond. There’s the appeal, first of all, in putting actual physical distance between yourself and everything that reminds you of what you’ve sob lost. There is the mental diversion of trying to plan where to go and trying not to get lost/mugged/laughed at once you’re there. And then there’s just a petty satisfaction in the fact that you’re in Europe (or wherever you are) and he’s…well…um…actually, you’re better off not thinking of where he might be. In a hellhole, ideally.
But also: there’s just something therapeutic in doing something by yourself. When you’re down in the dumps, it’s empowering and uplifting to take on a challenge alone. When you come out victoriously (or at least in one piece) at the other end, you realize: perhaps you can do more. Do better. Travel lets you do that; it gives you the opportunity to prove to yourself that you’ll be okay, no matter what.
So if you’re thinking of jetting off to Europe (Don’t you feel better already at the thought of “jetting off to Europe”? No?) here are a few suggestions on where to go and what to do.
Ahh, yes. The City of Love can be tricky to navigate emotionally if you’ve just had your heart broken, but with the right perspective, it can be a transformative experience.
One of the most crushing things about a failed relationship is the feeling that you weren’t good enough; that if you’d somehow been more beautiful or more attentive or more…I don’t know, whatever…then the two of you would be living happily ever after. You probably know, from a cerebral perspective, that that’s just not true, but the feeling that you’ve been judged and found wanting still lurks and lingers, whispering insecurities into your ear.
I don’t know if you will find some comfort in comparing yourself to an inanimate object, but the Eiffel Tower went through a similar period of rejection. In the late 1800s, Parisian artists wrote a petition to halt construction on the tower, calling it “useless,” “monstrous,” “ridiculous,” “barbaric,” “ghastly,” “a gigantic black smokestack.” (Gee, guys, tell us how you really feel.) Guy de Maupassant was even said to have lunch at the base of the Eiffel Tower every day, because it was the one place in Paris where he couldn’t see it. Today, the Eiffel Tower is an indelible symbol of France and has arguably inspired more people than all of M. de Maupassant’s works put together. Whenever you start doubting your own value, think of the Eiffel Tower. Put on some ridiculously red lipstick and sing, ala Christina Aguilera, “I am beautiful no matter what they say. Words can’t bring me down.”
See any love locks? Depressing, huh? But reflect on this:
After a while
you learn the subtle difference
between holding a hand and chaining a soul…
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up.
(Actually, you also eventually learn that even contracts aren’t contracts — not unbreakable ones at any rate. Hold your head up anyway.)
And then (I am SERIOUS about this!) take a walk along the River Seine and sing “On My Own.”
No, really! It’s fun! Try it.
You will feel silly but that is sort of the point. You’ll begin to laugh at yourself, and that’s a whole lot better than feeling sorry for yourself. Eponine didn’t get her happy ending (because of, you know, the insurmountable obstacle of her death) but, as you’re alive, you still have a great big shot at yours. Don’t waste it.