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Surviving a Breakup Through Bird Watching

It had only been a month since I discovered the secret texts on his phone. The texts made it obvious - there was no question he was having an affair with his coworker who was at least twice our age.


My alarm was going off 4 hours before work so I could continue my new routine of hitting snooze 20 times before I actually get out of bed. I hit snooze once and rolled over. Then I heard a crash at my window. And a friendly scream. I got out of bed and looked out the window and saw a Blue Jay looking up at me with a little apple in front of it. We looked at each other and it flew off, leaving the apple behind. 


I knew it was a Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) because, in my severely depressed, post-discovering the cheating texts hysteria, I went and bought some bird feeders and started watching the birds congregate on my back porch. It made me a little bit happier, sometimes snapping me out of my ruminating thought patterns. Then I started studying them and learning which birds were visiting, what they sounded like, where they were from, and so on. 


Life still generally sucked. The majority of my thoughts were still clouded with the shock of realizing my ex was a cheating, gaslighting, manipulator. But, as I started watching the birds, the days started to get a little bit brighter. My focus also seemed to move from within my head and my house to the sky and outside, every walk was now a chance to spot a new species or hear a new call. 


I don’t know if the Blue Jay that crashed into my window and screamed and left me an apple intended to wake me up and snap me out of the post-breakup blues, but I want to think that it did.  

Tree Swallow taking flight from a branch

It’s kind of funny that we have terms like Birding and Bird-Watching. It almost seems to stigmatize being aware of the beauty around you. If you want to go on a hike and watch the sunset, we don’t say you’re “Sunsetting.” 


When things aren’t going your way and your thoughts are racing, a lot of people recommend exercises that help with grounding. Getting out in the sun, walking quietly, listening for birds, looking for birds, and then seeing really beautiful new creatures we may have taken for granted is one of the best grounding exercises I’ve ever practiced. 


If anyone reading this is going through a breakup or infidelity, I know how hard it is and I’m sending you a giant internet hug. Know that this process will make you stronger. And, don’t forget to try to find joy in little things that reignite your childlike sense of wonder (Yes, it still exists!) For me that was birds, they gave me my wings back.