Earlier this year I went through a break up.
It was a Tuesday, around 5pm, we were in our apartment in Sweden.
By 6pm, I was booking a flight home to Sydney from Stockholm and by 9am the next morning, I had left the country. The break up was fast, disorientating and incredibly sad.
The taxi ride to the airport was probably more difficult for the driver than it was for me. A stoic Swedish man who had most likely never seen someone crying as much as I was, he was clearly uncomfortable with me expressing my hurting heart. Things got particularly emotional when I text my sweet friend Alexa and she called immediately, my tears flowed as I spoke with her. Alexa kept saying, “I am here, I am here” and every single day since that phone call she has shown up in my life, to remind me that she is there. (How to survive a break up: your girlfriends).
I arrived at the airport, the driver helped me get my 237 million bags out of the boot and then he literally ran back to the car as fast as he could. As my ex-partner and I had previously been living in Sweden and our plan was for me to be based there, I had quite a lot of stuff with me. Packing the night before, I started to worry about the amount of luggage I had. I anticipated a conversation about my luggage situation at the check in counter but I was not prepared for this:
“Your excess luggage comes to $1893, how would you like to pay for that?”
I looked at my luggage. I was clear there was nothing in my suitcases I would be leaving in an airport rubbish bin. Everything that had ended up in my bags was important to me. I had left a bunch of my things in Sweden, and gifted some of my belongings to a dear friend Kelsey, who had travelled across the city the night before to help me pack (how to survive a break up: your girlfriends + pizza). So while I wasn’t going to take anything out of my suitcases, I was also clear that I didn’t have $1893.
The man at the check in counter didn’t seem up for helping me out so I asked to speak to his supervisor, and then his supervisor's supervisor, feeling hopeful someone would help me to find a solution. But that wasn’t happening. I was once again a hot mess of tears and emotions. My gate was closing and I was no closer to getting my luggage home. So I reached out to a person back home that I knew would help me out. “Hi, I’m at the airport, about to fly home. Can I please borrow $1893? Thank you.” (How to survive a break up: family + credit cards).
I took myself, and my now foul mood and momentary hatred for everyone and everything to the gate and boarded my flight. As I walked on the plane I thought to myself, I cannot wait to get the fuck out of this place. But as I took my seat and the reality of what had happened the night before (and the reality of what had happened on the many nights before that) hit me, the anger subsided and painful, uncontrollable tears came flooding out of me.
A flight attendant walked past, asked if I was ok, and if I had a problem she needed to be aware of. I told her my boyfriend and I had broken up. She reached out and placed her hand on my shoulder, sharing she was going through the same thing and if she wasn’t at work she would sit with me and we could cry together. She offered me some alcohol, which I said no to. A lady in the row in front of me offered me some prescription medications from her toiletry bag stash, which I also declined. Despite the pain I was in I was determined to feel every single feeling that was now surging through my body with great intensity. It was my intention to dive deep into the terrifying depths of these feelings, not knowing when they would end, but knowing one day, they would. My only way out was through. Thank God the flight was nearly empty, I was not an ideal passenger that day.
My body seemed to be in chaos. I hadn’t slept, I had hardly eaten, I was vomiting up the water I trying to drink. I looked as terrible as I felt. A few hours into the flight I managed to close my eyes for a short rest.
As I was starting to wake up, before I opened my eyes, I asked for a miracle. I had no idea when, where, how or even what would show up but I completely believed that a miracle would reveal itself to me. I prayed for guidance, for clarity, for support. I asked the Universe to show me the beauty of this break up.
I breathed deeply, opened my eyes and looked down at my tray. I saw this:
Anna and Kateryna, two flight attendants from the Ukraine, both going through their own heart-break experiences, had created this colorful plate of beauty for me while I rested.
Just like that, the miracle had appeared.
Seeing this plate and reading it’s message, I once again burst into tears, but this time the tears flowed from such a different place. They flowed from a place of deep appreciation for this gift, and reverence for my prayers of a miracle being answered. The beauty of the break up had shown itself to me and reminded me that life is beautiful and that love, care and support is all around me, always available.
Anna, Kateryna and Sheetal the economy cabin supervisor, appeared moments after I saw the plate and knelt down in the isle next to my seat. Sheetal gently held my face and wiped the tears from my cheeks as I cried. Her soft hands, her soft gaze, allowed me to soften into my sadness and surprisingly, connected me with my strength. Anna and Kateryna put their arms around me, Kateryna resting her head on my shoulder.
Up there above the clouds, on a relatively empty flight from Stockholm to Doha, four women sat silently holding one another, deepening into one of the most precious moments of heart I have experienced. In that moment time seemed to stand still. There we were, a group of strangers, embracing one another in a profound expression of loving. The kind of loving that has the power to change our world. The kind of loving that transcends time, language, race and place. The kind of loving that allowed me to see the beauty of my break up and allowed my heart to heal.
In my unsuccessful attempt to decrease the weight of my luggage I had moved some copies of my book Reflections into my carry-on bag(s). As a thank you for their loving care, I gifted each of these women a copy of my book. After receiving her book, Sheetal came to see me. She appeared determined, looking me directly in the eyes, holding up my book, flipping through the pages she had marked up.
“Rosie, this is who you are.” She pointed to my words, my photo, my reflections.
“Rosie, this is who you are.”
Sheetal read out this passage from my book:
“There are words than can only be spoken through your voice.
These words need to be heard. They will heal. They will inspire.
The time has come. Speak your truth, share your heart.”
I looked at Sheetal, seeing her as an angel sent to me to remind me, despite the chaos and pain I was in, of the truth of who I was and what I was here to do. She reminded that that everything would be ok and to believe in the message on that plate, that life is beautiful. Tens of thousands of feet above the Earth I made a sacred contract with Sheetal to honour that the time had come, to speak my truth and share my heart.
When I landed in Sydney on the Thursday evening I collected all of my bags. As I walked towards the exit I suddenly I felt paralyzed, confronted by the reality of life. I had unexpectedly, quickly, returned to Sydney, a place that had not really been my home for quite some time. I had returned home, single and now in debt. I felt overwhelmed. I wanted to stay in the airport. I wanted to stay in the in-between. I felt stuck. I couldn’t, nor did I want, to go back but I didn’t know how to move forward.
I text my friend who replied “What are you going to do if you stay in the luggage claim area for the rest of your life? Open a book shop?” (How to survive a break up: make jokes with friends who know you travel with a lot books…Books that may or may not contributed to the amount of excess luggage I had). I laughed, and slowly started to put one foot in front of the other, reminding myself of my conversation with Sheetal,
The time had come.
I am more thankful than words can express for the three angels that carried me home that day on their Qatar Airline wings. Thank you Anna, Kateryna and Sheetal for reminding me that life is beautiful and that there is indeed beauty to be found in a break up, all you need to do is ask for it to be shown to you.
If, right now, you are one of the brave ones who are feeling their feelings, whether you are going through a break-up or riding the waves of life, know that you are not alone and there are angels waiting to wrap you in their wings and love you.
I would love for you to share your stories of beauty in the comments below. And if you have anyone in your life who may need a gentle reminder, like I did, that life is beautiful, I would love for you to share this blog with them.
With loving, from my heart to yours, Rosie
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