A second life in Australia

Seven months ago, in December 2012, Lisa and I separated.

A lot of you already know this, but I’m an open person and I prefer playing my cards face up.  I’d rather have my friends know what’s going on than keep everyone in the dark.  The last seven months have not been easy.  My heart was broken, my world was turned upside down, and I couldn’t think of anything else.

What happened?  I don’t think it’s useful going through all the details, and of course I see things from my own biased perspective.  The simplest explanation is that Lisa wanted to separate.  After two months of trying to find a way to work things out, we separated permanently.   While we’re still legally married, we now have completely separate lives and we’ll legally be divorced in December of this coming year once the year waiting period in Australia is done.

I often have a habit of only telling a personal story when there’s a positive bent at the end – so maybe I should have posted this six months ago in the turbulence and aftermath, but I’m not sure I knew what was happening or could have talked about it in a healthy fashion.

The day the decision to separate was made, I took a ferry out to Manly, a beach community where my friends Kyle and Jill live.  They welcomed me, knowing why I was there and what had happened.  On that ferry ride, my mind was a cocktail of pain, sadness and strange relief.   Pain and sadnesss: a seven year relationship had just dissolved in front of me in just 60 days.  Strange relief:  I would no longer be pouring myself into a relationship where I was not wanted, where the other person did not love me.  Years ago, a close friend taught me a mantra that he had learned: that every relationship is 100% the responsibility of each person.  And I believe that.

As I held on to the front railing of the ferry, I couldn’t help gag at how hollywood this seemed.  Facing into the wind, like a cheesy Chris Isaac music video, I looked into the waves and ocean in front of me.  And I imagined a better life.   I imagined training for triathlons again.  I imagined being surrounded by friends who I care about.  I imagined loving work.   Over the last seven months I have created that life.

For the last two years, my closest friends (and probably even acquaintances) would have told you that I wasn’t happy in Sydney.  At times I was miserable.  I held Sydney and work at arms length, not willing to personally embrace it.  I blamed my unhappiness on the city, on the people in the city, on work (despite at the same time saying it was the most amazing company I had ever worked for… yet somehow the cognitive dissonance didn’t fully take over), on not having a set of friends like those I had left back in Austin.   On that same ferry ride, I realized my unhappiness came from my relationship, and that I couldn’t admit it for almost two years; I had been blaming everything else.

My life changed quickly from that moment on:

I opened my eyes and realized I was surrounded by friends.  People had been there all along, waiting.  Opportunities for incredible friendships were right next to me, and I had closed myself to the point where I was numb to them.

In January I joined a triathlon club in Manly, and I’m signed up for a couple of big races.

In February I moved to Manly, with my apartment right on the beach, where I can see the ocean from my living and dining rooms.

In April I took a new role at work.  I loved my previous role, and the new one is as exciting and even more challenging.

I have a set of friends in Sydney who mean the world to me.

I have no plans to leave Australia.

I’m writing/blogging again (sorry, you’re going to have to once again put up with both Bryan J. Rollins and “BJR”).

I am still healing, still figuring things out.  But I am happy.  There it is.

I’m my usual open book self – when you talk to me, there’s no reason to avoid the topic if you want to talk about it.  There’s really nothing you need to do other than keep being the same great friend you have been.

4 thoughts on “A second life in Australia

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Bryan. I had a similar experience shortly after moving to Sydney. It’s always hard to lose a life partner, even (or especially) if the relationship had been unhealthy for a while, but a good attitude and sense of self-determination make all the difference, and I know you have both in spades. Glad to hear that you’re embracing the new opportunities in life.

  2. Thanks for sharing Byran. We miss you here in Austin and really hope we make it back to Australia next year. Good luck with your upcoming races. Looking forward to reading more post from you in the coming months.

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