Catching the rebound: people who have grown up to overcome their breakups | Relationships


FFive thousand feet above the ground, I struck up a conversation with the woman next to me, trying to ignore the skydiving instructor strapped to my back. We had something in common: I had just been dumped; she was celebrating the arrival of her divorce papers. Come to us, earth.

A breakup is a great time for a radical act, and maybe even something more lasting than getting out of a plane. Guardian Australia spoke to five people who broke new ground during the rebound.

“Finally, you will arrive at your destination”

Sarah Darlison, climbed Everest

Sarah Darlison at Everest Base Camp. Photography: Sarah Darlison

Sarah Darlison is a midwife who discovered that taking care of others had also infiltrated her personal life. She had gotten lost trying to help her partner with his sanity. “When it all ended, I needed to find myself,” she says.

She had seen the movie Wild, in which the protagonist comes out of grief and, inspired, she booked a trip to Everest base camp with a tour operator. The feeling of having a mission helped immediately, even just training at home while hiking with his dad. Once in Nepal, being overwhelmed by the beauty and scale of Everest took her renewed focus to the next level.

“I went on my own, but your group stays in small villages along the way, and there were people from all over the world,” she said. “I just remember laughing all the time. It was the best possible thing for my sanity.

Darlison says this epic journey taught her perseverance. “It was a really tough experience because of the altitude, and people were getting helicoptered, but you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then you will eventually get to your destination,” she says. . “It struck me when I got home. If I keep putting one foot in front of the other, I’ll get through it eventually.

“There were low blows”

Sami Shah, turned his breakup into a stand-up

Sami Shah poses for her 2021 Melbourne International Comedy Festival show, Cuck.
Sami Shah poses for her 2021 Melbourne International Comedy Festival show, Cuck. Photography: Sami Shah

The best writing comes from a painful experience. For a comedian, it would be next to impossible to ignore the experience of being traded in for a younger model.

“Tragedy plus time equals comedy,” confirms Sami Shah. His show for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2021 was called Cuck, and while much of it documents the tumultuous political times of 2020, the last 15 minutes have detailed his own crisis – his former partner having an affair.

She didn’t call it an affair. She said she was polyamorous. Who is the hipster to “cheat”. “

“There have been some cheap shots that I’m not proud of,” he admits, “but I avoid ‘slut shaming’ and things like that. Being the injured party was not the interesting thing to explore. The thing that resonates with people is when I ask if anyone else has been cheated. It would always surprise me how much people hurt their eyes. The wound is still there.

Shah’s material in Cuck ranges from explosions to discussing depression. (“I’m a dark-haired man on a plane, hoping it crashes… is this terrorism?“) It seems wrong to admit how funny the pictures are, but then the show gave Shah back its comedy mojo. ‘Couldn’t understand my voice anymore, “he said.” Doing this show made me feel invigorated. It’s something I love to do; it’s a way of dealing with the world that matters to me; and he connects with other people.

And, Shah said, Cuck helped him move on. “I had done Zoom therapy sessions and got drunk with friends and cried, but by the end of the four weeks that I played this every night, I was so emotionally advanced that I was more focused on where to take a break for dramatic effect, ”he says. “You get a level of control over it and you can put it behind you.”

“I danced in the moonlight”

Pippa Coram, learned survival skills

Pippa Coram stood in front of the makeshift hut she had built herself.
Pippa Coram in front of the makeshift hut she built herself.

Pippa Coram is an international touring circus performer whose life was rooted in turmoil when international borders closed, separating her from her romantic and professional partner, with whom she had a double act. Their relationship did not survive the dilemma of who should leave her family during the pandemic and join each other, and her career was crushed as well. “I lost my identity,” she says.

As her mental health deteriorated, she made some unusual choices. “Stopping alcohol and focusing on personal care were powerful ways to support me,” she says. She took an RV north to the mental health rehabilitation center in Byron Bay.

“I drove crying all the time, but it was also really special because I saw a random traffic sign, turned off and explored, finding these beautiful gorges where it was just me. and the eagles above me. ” Every event seemed important on this trip, perhaps because Coram’s usual distractions had vanished.

Deciding to say yes to everything, she accepted a therapist’s suggestion and, after checking in, signed up for a women’s rewilding retreat. Having learned to build shelters and fires, each participant endured 24 hours alone deep in the forest, without food. Coram spent the whole day building his shelter. “I had an incredible sense of pride when I finished, like I can’t believe I actually did. I danced in the moonlight until I had the courage to come in, ”she says. “The experience made me feel that if I could survive this, I can survive anything.”

“Becoming stronger was transformative”

Emma Thomas, now powerlifting champion

Emma Thomas during a powerlifting session.
Emma Thomas during a powerlifting session.

After losing her 29th Muay Thai fight, Emma Thomas’ partner “told me I had to give up,” she said. “It made me realize that he was not on my side at all.” Thomas is a professional Muay Thai veteran living in Bangkok who writes the Under the Ropes blog. When her relationship broke, her ex, another fighter, admitted that he had only been with her because it meant he could live in Thailand.

With his confidence at its lowest, Thomas embarked on a new sport: powerlifting. Although she had been a fighter, Thomas hadn’t considered herself particularly strong. “I had to be small to fight, and I also made myself smaller around [my ex], “she says.” People have described me as a shy or a doormat. “

Now her mission was to feel powerful. “I was intimidated to try the classes, and I wasn’t naturally good at it, but I fell in love with it,” she says. Soon she went from training to competing, placing first in her weight class in her first competition.

Now she volunteers with Bangkok Rising, organizing community events for women. “I really wanted to expand on the benefits I had experienced so I contacted the Thai Powerlifting Federation and we held three workshops with instructors and athletes as part of a fundraiser for a shelter for fleeing women. domestic violence, ”she said. said.

“In powerlifting you can see your progress very clearly. Seeing more weight on the bar and knowing that I was getting stronger was a transformation for me. “

“Life is too short, I have to go”

Gemma Cannizzaro Rent, moved to Cambodia

Gemma Cannizzaro, on her stay in Cambodia.
Gemma Cannizzaro during her stay in Cambodia.

When Gemma Cannizzaro Loyer’s partner ended their relationship, she wanted to get as far away from home – even from the people she loved – as possible. “It affected me in a way I had never experienced,” she says. “I completely lost my appetite and didn’t eat a full meal for two months.

Loyer quit his job at a law firm to find work with an NGO in Cambodia that supports the rights of older people.

“I had wanted to move to Cambodia for many years, but it was now that I was like ‘life is too short, I have to go’,” she says.

Two weeks before Loyer left, her ex said he made a huge mistake. They decided to try a long distance relationship. “It’s hard to rebuild trust while living in two separate countries,” Loyer says, but she knew it was vital that she maintain her outlook on life in Cambodia. The placement was to last for a year, but within four months the volunteers were flown back as Covid-19 grabbed the headlines.

Back in Melbourne, the relationship fell under the strains of the pandemic, but this time Loyer knew they had at least given him a good chance. Inspired by her stay in Cambodia, she started her own social enterprise, an event agency that supports community programs. Not only has grief resulted in a complete career change – which she feels more ethically aligned with – it has opened up a whole new state of mind.

“Grieving can be the most beautiful thing,” says Loyer. “It can lead to these new adventures and to open and vulnerable conversations with people.”

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