“I’m going to move out,” he said, before we even got our menus. We were meeting for lunch to talk about things after two days of taking our respective space.
A pregnancy scare—scary for him, not for me—had shaken our relationship to the core. So much truth can be revealed in a pregnancy scare.
He said he didn’t know if he was ready to take responsibility for a relationship with me, a woman seven years older, whose biological clock is ticking. So I asked him to leave. We each needed space to think.
Plus, it hurt me too much to see him. I felt rejected.
We had been together for two years and this was his reaction.
He wanted to move to Brazil, a plan I had always supported him in. Except the plan was to go with him. I was leaving for New Zealand soon and was going to be there for a month. And he would go to Brazil now? Or when I left? Was he moving out today? I had no idea what the hell was happening.
We walked home from the restaurant. He left his suitcase by the front door and went to work. I was stunned. I didn’t understand what had just happened.
I sat in the living room and stared at the silver thing by the door—the suitcase—his suitcase from the last two days he had been away, packed full.
Had it just come back?
Or was it about to leave again?
That’s how 2016 began for me.
New Zealand, My Saving Grace
Luckily, I was going to New Zealand for a month, followed by five days in Bali. I had gotten the opportunity to work with an entrepreneur, Natalie, whom I admired and had been following for about a year.
How did I get that amazing opportunity? By simply emailing her and telling her I wanted to meet her. So we met and we hit it off. And now I had the opportunity to learn and to collaborate on her project about personal freedom.
It was incredible. I’m passionate about traveling and I thrive on exploration and discovery. I love being inspired by people who are doing awesome things in this world that make an impact.
All these things make up my true essence.
I dove in headfirst and disconnected from my life in Spain. He and I would reevaluate the relationship topic when I returned, as he decided to hold off on Brazil.
I worked hard, ate clean, ran in the New Zealand fresh air and didn’t drink any alcohol. I felt great.
I felt like me again.
Side note—I got a message from my friend Matt while I was there. Matt is my age, has a family with two beautiful daughters, runs his own successful company in Los Angeles, and lives in an incredible, huge house. He is the epitome of success in my eyes.
I told Matt I was in New Zealand working on a project about personal freedom. He told me I was his hero. He has all these gifts in his life and I’m his hero??
The grass is always greener on the other side, isn’t it?
The compensation for my work in New Zealand was to attend Natalie’s retreat in Bali, where she and another expert thought-leader would train eight entrepreneurs how to move forward in their businesses. Every day would also consist of yoga, meditation, and organic food.
This place felt so good! And now I was going to have the opportunity to grow, professionally and personally.
I was incredibly grateful.
It all made sense in Bali. I became certain that I was worthy of true love. I was worthy of being with a man who wanted to have a baby with me. I was worthy of having a family of my own.
I had been second-guessing my worthiness for the last several months.
And I knew that I was meant to be a mom.
I met Amy on that trip, a woman I’ve named a soul sister. I would go on meeting up with her later that year.
I went to London a few months after Bali to see Natalie’s TEDx talk, to continue to fill my soul with knowledge and inspiration.
The Return to Madrid
He picked me up from the airport. He was nervous; I was calm. He was holding a red rose for me. It was all really sweet.
We had an amazing two days together when I first got back. Until one morning, over breakfast, the future/kids talk came up again. And once again, I was crushed.
Even though my time away helped bring me at peace with whatever the results would be of my relationship, a part of me was hoping that my distance would trigger something in him—that he would realize how important I was to him—and that he would want to have a family with me.
That wasn’t the case. He had moved out for good.
I was thirty-seven years old and single again.
Happy Life Events with a Side of Misery
Right when this happened, my newly-engaged friend, who’s nine years younger than me, told me what she wanted for her bachelorette party. I was never asked if I wanted to plan it; it was appointed to me. Yes, I could have declined. But I didn’t.
Meanwhile, I was making the realization that I had to move. I LOVED my little apartment. But the fact is it is expensive to live alone in the city center.
After my breakup I started questioning what my future held. Is there anything in Spain for me anymore? Should I go back to the States? Should I freeze my eggs? Should I go back to school?
All these wonderings pointed to one thing—reduce my living expenses so I could save more money quickly. That way I could be better prepared for the next big decisions I was going to have to make.
That meant moving into a shared apartment. A shared apartment?!! At thirty-seven years of age??!! Are you kidding me??
This felt like a huge step backwards. And it made me so sad.
Not only was I one of the only singles in my group of younger friends, a few of my other friends got pregnant at the same time. And I…I was single and moving into an apartment with two strangers I didn’t know.
Comparing myself to my younger friends who were way ahead of me on important life events put me over the edge.
The anxiety took over. I tried my best to take care of myself, but I couldn’t eat. And I started to wither away.
Getting back in the game
I joined Tinder. And then OK Cupid. And it made me so depressed.
What was this inorganic and borderline inhumane way of meeting people, to try to determine if they’re a good match for me??
But I met Nick and he and I had an amazing connection. It was nice to be with a fellow expat. He was fun, interesting, intelligent, and familiar.
And I fell for him.
Unfortunately for me, Nick didn’t want a serious relationship. It didn’t matter that he wanted to travel and share many experiences together, which we did. It didn’t change the fact that he wasn’t emotionally available. We’d get closer and then he’d push me away.
I was completely devastated.
Nick was a thirty-six-year-old egocentric who had no interest in ever committing to me.
I was starting to lose faith in everything I had believed in.
My sign from the Universe
I have always loved the number eleven. As I got older, and became interested in spirituality, I learned that according to some, eleven is the angelic number.
Over the years, I’ve adopted the number eleven as a sign of luck, guidance, and safety, and during this particular time, as the universe has got my back.
This number gave me solace during an excruciating time of change.
I didn’t want to leave my beloved apartment and move into a shared space with strangers.
And once again, I felt rejected and alone.
I felt myself wanting to collapse from sadness as I wandered the city streets with internal conversations like, I’m alone again. Do I move back to my country? What am I doing with my life?
And then I’d look up and find myself under a building with a big number eleven.
At least ten times a day—that’s not an exaggeration!—I’d look at the clock and there would be an eleven. It made me smile every time.
Those are a lot of daily reminders that the universe has got my back.
I went on holidays this summer with my best friend and we stayed at a house with the address, Street of Dreams #11. Seriously. I can’t make this stuff up.
There was a transformational shift in me after that trip, and my creativity flowed.
When you adopt a sign from the universe, whether it’s a number, butterflies, or yellow cars, and you define it however you want, you’ll be surprised how often it shows up.
And that’s the universe whispering to us, you’re right where you’re supposed to be and I’ve got your back.
This one little number saved me. This one little number helped me to surrender and completely trust.
I’m exactly where I need to be. I’m safe. I’m on my own journey and don’t need to compare myself to anyone else. This is my path and my story.
This belief started to blow my mind. Gifts showed up in the most unexpected ways. I felt taken care of in ways that I never experienced before.
Remember my passion for travel? I traveled more in 2016 than any other year to-date.
And this invoked gratitude. And when you’re grateful, the universe continues to take care of you.
Find your sign from the universe. Define it. Adopt it. Believe in it. Trust it.
I found a beautiful apartment to move into.
And two weeks after I moved in, the guys told me they’d be leaving in a few months, so I would have to move again. They insisted they hadn’t known that when I moved in. Yeah, ok.
My nomadic self would have to go through the tortuous process of finding a decent and affordable apartment with strangers in Madrid—again.
My life started to feel like a joke.
It turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise.
They had parties on the weekends that trashed the place. They had no emotional intelligence. One of them screamed at me with threats one night, pointing his finger in my face.
I guess I had some lessons to learn living here: patience, empathy, not taking things personally, self-control, and grace.
Even though I was dealing with some heavy heartache from my experience with Nick…
Even though I felt like a gypsy with no idea where I was going to live once again…
Even though my current home wasn’t a comfortable or happy place…
Even though I was temporarily broke…
All the while planning my friend’s bridal shower, baby shower and bachelorette party with an effortful, happy face…
Life was still great!
Good people kept coming in and reaching out to me, wanting me to be part of their business projects. This resulted in a trip to Morocco and a trip to the gorgeous island of Formentera—all expenses paid—learning and spending time with incredible people who inspired me.
I met up with Amy in Portugal and Spain later in the summer. I needed to be with people who were good for my spirit.
I continued to find my joy and live in gratitude.
And I found the most perfect and peaceful place to live. Although it came at the very last minute, I had trusted it was going to work out, despite the many fall-throughs.
And it did.
Believing in your dreams and not settling
When you turn thirty-eight years old and are still a single woman, decisions can get confusing. I had met a great guy who had all the traits of a respectable partner. We became good friends.
Until he wanted to be much more than friends. He wanted to build a family with me.
He was in love with me and was ready for this step. He reminded me of my age and that I didn’t have much time.
Geez, thank you, Mr. German, I wasn’t aware of that blatant fact.
I found myself rationalizing my relationship with him. Some of my friends told me I’d be crazy to pass him up.
He was a good person, we had so much in common, he treated me well, and he wanted to give me what I wanted.
I tried to be open to him.
There was just one tiny problem. I wasn’t in love with him.
So we went our separate ways.
On December 31, 2016, I began my day with a meditation, followed by a prayer. I don’t know when I started praying, but that morning it felt comforting. I asked whoever, whatever, to please bring me the man I’m meant to be with—I truly believe I’m meant to be with someone I’m madly in love with—that I’m worthy of this kind of love.
A couple of hours later, I met someone. Online.
He lives in the U.S. He had his distance filters set to a twenty-mile radius of where he’s living. My distance filters were set around Madrid.
Yet, I somehow got shuffled into his matches.
We’ve shared so much with each other in a short amount of time, being completely real, raw and vulnerable. It feels incredible. It feels real. It feels like love.
We’re building this strong, spiritual foundation, as he calls it, without having met face-to-face, without the physical stuff. Yet, when I see him on video chat, it’s like I know him.
This could be the prelude to one of the grandest love stories ever written.
And if we don’t end up together, it’s definitely the universe’s way of whispering to me: “See, Maria, what you desire and believe in DOES exist, and it will come to come to you in YOUR time. Don’t stop believing in yourself and know that you’re exactly where you need to be. Don’t ever compare yourself to others. And don’t ever settle. I’ve got your back.”