How a Family Vacation Led Me to Breakup Enlightenment

I was in a long-term relationship in high school that lasted more than four years.

While we had our fair share of ups, the relationship liked to hang in the downs more often than I'd like to admit.

With friends singing a chorus of breakup tunes and family members rescinding their extended invites to get-togethers, I still wasn't convinced that this relationship was headed south.

Unexpectedly, a family vacation to Mexico one summer was everything I needed to reach break up enlightenment. Read my full tale below:

I was a senior in high school when my family decided to take an unexpected trip to Mexico. Unexpected because, while that was our go-to destination during my childhood, we hadn't been to Mexico, let alone taken a family vacay, in years. Perhaps it was my parents' one last hurrah before I flew the coop, not leaving them empty nesters, but being the first college send-off nonetheless.

Everyone loved my boyfriend when we first got together. He was funny, smart, cute and didn't seem to try to be any of these things. On the outside he wore black and listened to bands I would never consider to be music, but on the inside he read books for fun and sent me love letters.

And then subtle things began to change. Lighthearted conversations turned argumentative, days spent with my friends rather than him became a betrayal, and times he was busy helping his mom turned out to be lies.

While each and every one of my friends noticed these red flags, I ignored the "Stop" and "Do not enter" signs and kept driving forward. It made me feel defensive that the people closest to me were calling my first love names like "liar" and "bad influence."

Crying girl being consoled by friend

(via Shutterstock)

We had broken up once before a couple years prior and it was the worst week of my life. Having this knowledge certainly didn't make me yearn to relive this sad and tear-filled time. Yet every time we got into a fight, which was pretty often by this point in our relationship, a different friend would sit by my side and lightly suggest that he wasn't my penguin. While they always had my best interest in mind, I felt angry, betrayed and embarrassed.

To make things even more complicated, I had another person in my sights who was becoming more and more crush-worthy as the days went by. I tried to ignore my feelings but this new person was always sweet when my boyfriend was sour and it was hard to keep them off my mind. But I was dedicated to my long term BF and that's just the way things had to be.

That's when we packed our SoCal bags for a two-week trip to Mexico. I was really resistant to go on this vacation because it was my last summer before college and I wanted to spend my days off with friends and, of course, my boyfriend (even though summer days with him were always completely boring). To make matters worse, I was definitely going through an angsty phase and quality time with my family was the last thing on my to-do list.

As we boarded the plane I frantically sent out a series of "I love you" texts to my BF who I wouldn't be able to talk with for nearly two weeks—our longest time apart in four years. And sure, there may have been one or two texts to my crush saying that I'd miss them, or whatever.

When we touched down in Mexico my resistance instantly faded away. Not only was it beautiful, but the weather was thick and warm in a tropical way, filled with delicious smells and the promise of a good time. A bumpy car ride led us to our resort, which was more than I could have ever imagined. My aunt, being a travel agent, hooked us up big time. We're talking a timeshare suite, three different pools and private beach access.

Pool and palm trees at Mexico resort

(via Shutterstock)

While all of the amenities gave me heart-eyes for this resort, it was the shift in attitude towards my family that made this stay amazing. It was like we all suddenly turned into kids again and couldn't wait to hit the pool and the beach and the all-inclusive buffet at the same time.

Day in and day out was filled with laughter, pool games which we hadn't played in a decade, good food and better company. I couldn't remember the last time I smiled so much and I was straight up giddy about it. I was happy, and this was a new feeling for me.

It was safe to say that my family and I didn't always get along, but during this trip, we didn't fight once, which might be a record in my household. While I know that my family always loves me no matter what, it felt so good to be reminded of that strong bond. Love wasn't about longevity, it was about sharing good times and enjoying each other's company.

Family having fun on the beach

(via Shutterstock)

During one of the days I came back to the hotel room by myself to shower off before dinner. Something about the beautiful hotel room with a view filled my heart so deeply that I laughed out loud to myself and yelled, "I love you!"

Only it wasn't my boyfriend I had in my thoughts. I was exclaiming this spontaneous love for myself. I think that I spent so much time getting used to lies and disappointment that I forgot what it felt like to actually be happy. And in this process I forgot how much I meant to myself.

After two weeks it was time to go home, and while the vacation was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I was ready to be back in California. Once again we boarded a plane, but this time I felt like a new person.

Wing of plane flying over tropical island and ocean

(via Shutterstock)

The second we were given the go-ahead I turned my phone back on. I had many missed texts, including from my boyfriend, but the one that stood out was from my secret crush. Before this trip I would have felt guilty and ignored this person, but now I knew what I had to do.

Within a matter of days I mustered up the courage to break things off with my boyfriend. My family trip to Mexico made me remember what happiness felt like and there was no way I was turning back. I finally let myself feel all of the feelings I had for this new person and it wasn't fair to any of us to drag on a relationship that was completely over.

Want to know a secret? I'm still with that new crush today. And I owe it all to a family vacation that, given the option, I would have bailed out on.

While my friends and family knew all along that my boyfriend and I weren't meant to be high school sweethearts, it was something I needed to learn on my own. Reaching breakup enlightenment was an empowering feeling because I was acting in the best interest of myself rather than just listening to the opinions of others.


My first love may have ended, but that doesn't mean everyone's does. For a truly romantic tale, click HERE to learn about this preschool love that ended happily ever after.