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Why running away to Italy after my divorce helped me heal

Joanne Michelle

Helping women through their break-up recovery has often made me think about my own marriage break-up, so I wanted to share how going to Italy made me realise your life doesn’t end because of divorce.

My dream for about 20 years has always been to go to Italy. Specifically Tuscany.

As it was coming up to my 40th birthday, I went searching on the internet looking for a holiday to celebrate. A holiday for myself. At the time I was very into yoga, so with that in mind, I came across EAT.PRAY.MOVE retreats. The excitement within me was full of so much joy. I’d found the destination. The retreat. Yoga.

I booked my retreat as an escape – a treat for my birthday – however when it came time to go on the retreat, I was in the midst of divorce. Going through my divorce was a tough and emotional time, but I needed to remind myself it didn’t mean it was my end. I needed to keep my dreams alive and that first dream was destination: Tuscany.

But when it came to leaving, on the outside, the holiday was still the same, but on the inside it was completely different.

Here I was, just turned 40 and single.

I was numb. Numb of not knowing what my future would hold. Numb because of not knowing how my children were going to cope. There were tears, there was anxiety, but there was some joy… joy that I was going to a destination I had never been before, joy of going to the other side of the world.

Everything was happening in the lead up to the trip. I sold the family home, I started a new job, the realisation set in that my marriage was over and there was a lot of sadness for my children…there were so many emotions going on within me and trying to deal with the changes at times were challenging and confusing.

The day my house settled from the sale was the day I flew out of the country. The transformation was empowering. I was buzzing.

But when I landed in Italy and began exploring Rome prior to the retreat, the sadness found its way back.

I saw couples in love, I saw families happy, and it was really hard to deal with at first. Had this break-up ruined my thoughts on life? I found myself sobbing and feeling incredibly sorry for myself, angry that this happened to me, angry at the happy couples and families I walked past.

Eventually I had to realise I was being unrealistic with my emotions. I wasn’t feeling them, I was angry with them. I knew my marriage was over, I knew when I went back to Australia it would never be the same. So with this realisation I decided to embrace it. Embrace my emotions, feel them, look at the loving couples with love and be happy, happy for the families I saw.

Destination Tuscany

Meeting Erin Lewis, the founder of EAT.PRAY.MOVE, changed my outlook on life. Here was this beautiful soul full of so much energy and love. Erin was my angel, my angel of realisation that life doesn’t end. Spending a week with amazing women from all parts of the world showed me we are all here on the planet for different reasons. What we all had in common is that we all want to be happy, we want love in our life. We want the best for ourselves.

Over the week, I began to journal and really enjoyed getting to know myself. What I learned was that I had lost myself a little towards the end of my marriage. I realised now that my life isn’t going to finish the way I dreamed it would with my then-husband.

We were no longer going to grow old together, but that didn’t mean my dreams still can’t happen – they’re just going to be different.

My dreams would just need to be redesigned. Nothing was going to stop me except me.

I see it often when people break-up and the depression kicks in – the realisation that the future isn’t going to be the way it was planned.

What I learned in Italy, however, was we need to remember we have a choice and we can make anything happen. You need to release the expectation of what was or what was going to be and embrace what will be.

I will be forever grateful for EAT.PRAY.MOVE and the lesson learned of living my dreams no matter what life throws at you.

Remember during your break-up to give yourself time to heal, feel all your emotions, don’t push them away, don’t be too hard on yourself, and take the time to get to know yourself. You are doing your best.

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Joanne Michelle

Joanne is Founder of Joanne Michelle and is a certified Health Coach and Divorcee who has set up Canberra’s first one-on-one break-up coaching program; offering health and wellness advice and practical techniques to help provide much needed support to women after their break-up or divorce. Joanne’s mission is to support and EMPOWER women to rediscover their identity after their break-up or divorce. With lack of support during her own personal experience, Joanne wanted to ensure women have the much needed support on offer. Going through a break-up or divorce can often be a mentally and emotionally devastating time, not to mention stressful. With this in mind, Joanne is now providing a coaching service to support women after their break-up. Joanne is caring and approachable, and knows first-hand, life doesn’t end once you divorce. For more information, please visit www.joannemichelle.com.au or email [email protected] More about the Author

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