Stifling.

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Saw my ex today. He rang at lunchtime (after a week of no contact), told me I could see the dogs this evening, so I dropped everything to see them. We went for a beautiful walk up on the common, with views for miles and miles around. Was absolutely gorgeous to get out in the breeze with just me and the boys. 6 months ago I wasn’t really sure if he would let me see them, so to still have them as part of my life is such a brilliant blessing.

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Seeing the ex was weird. He has a new girlfriend now – things seem to be going well and he was all coy about her. I had a cry and we talked for a while; mostly I tried to reassure him that I am not wishing we were together or anything like that… I just desperately wish my life was more sorted, more like his.

When we split he kept everything. Nothing in his life changed except one less mouth to feed, and all the numerous chores around the house he had to take up (or stop being so fussy about). For me, though, everything changed. Everything from where I lived (the house was his), my hobbies (…his), my friends (…mostly his), right through to losing our neighbours and not having a bloody Tesco near to my house. It all changed for me, every single thing. Getting a girlfriend was the final piece of his puzzle. He has the house, the job, the social life. He just needed that final piece. Whereas for me… it feels like the last 6 months have just been about counting all the pieces to make sure I have them all. I have barely even begun to start sorting them. He is complete; I am a work in progress.

I recently read ‘The Defining Decade’ by Meg Jay. In it, she talks about twentysomethings finding their “identity capital”. The book gave me a real kick up the backside to stop me floundering and start to really cement the things I like, the things I hate, the passions and hobbies I have, and finding who I am. Today’s tearful panic was that this journey isn’t complete yet, but I am trying to mindfully tell myself that it isn’t meant to be the finished article yet. It’s only been 6 months, and in that time, I’ve found out…

Playing the piano soothes my soul. I played all the time as a kid, but didn’t prioritise it when we were together – recently I bought a piano, and being able to find my feelings and emotions through melody again is just the most blissful thing.

Fresh flowers make me happy. They are totally decadent, by their very nature fragile and disposable, and probably a huge waste of money – but I absolutely love them. I love choosing them, cutting and arranging them, and picking up the petals when they finally fall. I love them, and I love treating myself to them.

Onesie days. I love nothing more than having my Joules onesie on, scraggy knitted jumper over the top, fluffy socks with slipper boots on too… Padding around the house in them, hair loose and messy… I feel free, and young and comforted by the comfort. In our relationship, that would have been horrifically lazy and looked down upon… so I absolutely love them now.

I feel I’m in the right career. My job is stressful and the workplace is not a fun place to be right now – but despite that, I have a very clear sense of being in the right career. This makes my degree worthwhile, and it means I’m settled in work… when I wasn’t, 6 months ago. Work is also progressing, with me taking on skills because of strengths I’m noticing I have, which is very empowering and rewarding.

I am happy where I live. When we split, my parents wanted me to move home. I was adamant about staying in the local area, and I am so glad I was – I live in a breathtakingly beautiful part of the world, and being here complements all my hobbies and loves perfectly – countryside, cities nearby but not too close, friendly people etc.. This came up for me again recently because my housemate (who I absolutely adore) is moving out – I’m pretty heartbroken, but still absolutely adamant that I am in the right part of the world.

I enjoy salsa dancing (or: stepping out my comfort zone.) A friend got me to join in with a salsa taster session and despite being so body-conscious and embarrassed, I really enjoyed myself! It was amazing and proved to me that I can take risks and enjoy the results.

I love feeling pretty. In the last 6 months, I’ve gone from jeans and hoodies all the time with my hair messy and nails gross, to dresses and tunics, with regular hair cuts and beautifully manicured nails. At the moment I have a henna pattern on my foot – it’s so beautiful and it has been amazing to recognise that I can be beautiful. With our previous outdoorsy lifestyle, it felt a complete impossibility. Now, it feels more compatible, and I really enjoy it.

Massages are so healing for me. I have a brilliant massage therapist who I wouldn’t have found if the last 6 months hadn’t happened. She is utterly fabulous and has helped me begin to connect body and soul again (as well as working out all the stresses from the week!). I would never have looked after myself in this way when I was with him; now I can say without too much guilt that I love them.

Therapy is working. It’s messy, ugly, painful and full of hurting, but I am making progress. My eating is much better (ok, so I had a brownie for dinner…. but I didn’t throw it up and at least I ate..!).
Therapy with T feels like there has been some overwhelmingly painful sessions, but ultimately it’s going well. There is progress.

I sobbed down the phone to T tonight, balled about his puzzle is complete but mine is still a huge mess. She said something which she immediately wanted to take back, because it’s an opinion and therapists shouldn’t show those… But she said, “he stifled you”. She told me how she always felt that I would leave him when I was ready to fly, when I felt safe enough – and here I am. I did, I survived.

It may not be all sorted, and I feel like I’m looking at puzzle pieces and trying to find the best way to start, but at least I have puzzle pieces. I am mindful of the difficulties I’m having in finding them and soothing there. But I am a lot younger than him, and comparing myself to other people is often panic and fear of being left behind. But thank you to all those I have spoken to tonight – for reminding me that I’m getting my puzzle pieces in order, which is half the battle.

I’m free now, no longer stifled by him. I love the freedom, but the freed is petrifying in equal proportion. Love and fear; they follow me around these days.

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