• Alyssa Piperis

How 'Wild' Helped Me Through My Breakup (Thank You, Cheryl Strayed)

*The following piece of writing is from November 2016. I refer to my ex as “W” so I don’t have to keep saying “my ex.” :)

I bought the book “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed right after my relationship ended about a month ago. I found myself alone at night and not sure what to do with the time and pain, so I picked myself up and went to Barnes & Noble specifically for “Wild.” I hadn’t seen the movie, but W’s mom got me Cheryl Strayed’s book of quotes, “Brave Enough,” for my birthday when I visited W’s hometown, and the book was such a positive addition to my life. It was empowering, funny, and heartbreaking, and it reminded me that other people feel as deeply as I do— something that’s so easy to forget when you’re going through something difficult. Like a break-up. So, I bought “Wild.” I thought I would read it each night before bed, but I quickly realized that I enjoyed reading it outside by the mountains or in this one coffee shop that stays open late—when I was surrounded by either nature or people, or both. The book urged me to get outside and out in public, especially at night when I couldn’t bare to be in my apartment with my solemn thoughts and overwhelming loneliness. Now that I’m getting to the end of the book, I’m reading it less and less. I think I’m realizing that I kind of view my finishing it as a chapter of my life closing. I bought the book when the nights were nearly unbearable for me. Now they’re getting easier, and my relationship is becoming more and more a part of my past with each passing day. And night. I have to come to terms with the fact that something, and someone, that was such a positive part of my life for the last year can’t be to me now what it, or he, once was. And that’s okay. It’s sad, but it’s okay. That’s life. This is life. I was in a wonderful relationship with a wonderful person whom I cherish, but I know that he’s not the person. My person. And that’s why I’m not with him, as good as he is. Strayed lost her mother, cheated her way out of a marriage with her husband-slash-best-friend, and set off on a grueling journey of a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail that she was not prepared for. But she got through it. And now her experiences are comforting me through mine. That’s what life is about. I don’t need to hike the Pacific Crest Trail to find myself. But she did. My journey will be personal to me, and I’m grateful I have her story to keep me company as I move from one chapter to the next. I have so much to look forward to in this life, but also so much to live for right now. Without the security of a relationship and a partner I know is there for me to turn to at any time, I’m forced to put things into perspective and focus on myself—something I didn’t mean to stop doing when I got into a relationship, but did. Sometimes you just get too comfortable. Now I’m getting out of my comfort zone and being more productive with my days and nights. I’m losing one great thing, but I’m gaining so many others. So, I’ll work through the rest of the book until I get to the end. And then I’ll pick up the next one.

Update: I finished the book at the coffee shop I mentioned, right before the shop closed one night. I felt so many bittersweet feelings, called my mom to share them, sent my ex a mushy/goofy closure kinda text, and went to bed. It’s been onward and upward since that night!

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