One year ago today, I split from my partner of seven years. We had been living together for four years – we had a beautiful house, beautiful horses, two beautiful dogs. We split because we weren’t making each other happy anymore. There was no big row, no huge drama, just a conversation sat on the sofa. It’s over.
The main overriding feeling in the first day was “oh, shit”. He owned our house, he owned our dogs, he was the only one earning any money. My only ‘close family’ were actually his family. My only friends were his friends. He had everything, he held every card – and I had absolutely nothing, except for an eating disorder, a history of childhood abuse, and a whole shit load of therapy.
I am immensely proud of what I have achieved in the last year. The first step was finding a house – after a number of horrific viewings, I found a lovely place to rent. In the last year, I’ve made it into my own safe haven and I feel genuinely happy here. Then I got a job. I absolutely adore my career – I work damn hard, but I am quite good at it and I love feeling like I make a difference. I work with children, and there is something intensely healing in being able to play a part in writing their futures in a much more positive way than some people tried to write mine. Next, I got myself financially balanced (okay, it’s not perfect, but it’s not anywhere near as red as it used to be!). Then I found some friends – for some of them, I ate humble pie and apologised for vanishing into my relationship bubble. For some of them, including my now-best friend, it involved opening myself up to new friendships and being brave in those new relationships. It was horribly overwhelming, in a time when my self-esteem was at rock bottom, to be open enough to make friends, but I did and it’s paid off – particularly with my best friend, that love and support has been absolutely invaluable. Alongside this, I built a relationship with my parents that is not perfect, it won’t ever be – but it is unrecognisably better. After that, I tackled my eating disorder – not successfully in one sense, as my therapist stopped therapy. But I lasted in CBT long enough to make a difference – I make myself sick so infrequently now it is almost non-existent. I’ve lost over 10kg in weight (from bingeing) and now I’m hovering just above a healthy weight for the first time in my adult life. I eat, not always perfectly, but at least twice daily. And finally, I’ve started to get to the core of working on myself. My relationship with T is absolutely beautiful – painful, messy sometimes, but always meaningful. We are neck deep, now – and yesterday, we got so close to me breaking open the final secret, the final silence, the final taboo. It’s been hard work, but I am healing, and healing is feeling so good. Through all the pain it brings, I have more self-esteem, more confidence, more love. Healing is overwhelming, but the last year in therapy has been incredible. I am so proud of myself.
The second feeling has had a little more longevity to it. Grief. Splitting from M has been like one long grieving process. It has happened much in the same way grief does – initial, overwhelming pain, followed by waves of being okay, and dips of really not being okay. Two weekends ago, I had a ‘can’t get out of bed for heartbreak’ day – but then today, which I expected to be horrid, has been okay. We loved each other, so much, and we had so many of the ingredients needed for the perfect life. M and I could have been soulmates – with a little more time, and perhaps a little more healing on both our parts. Although there are innumerable ways in which us having such an amicable break up was brilliant (we’re still friends now, speak weekly, see each other and the dogs lots), it has been much harder than I anticipated to split up without the ‘support’ of a screaming row, a cheating partner or another reason to cling to. It’s been so tricky to grieve for the loss, without blaming him – at times I’ve blamed myself because it just feels easier with blame. In truth, we are both blameless. We loved to the best of our abilities, and it wasn’t enough.
One year on, I am still single. I haven’t dated, I have been completely removed from anything to do with boys to be honest. I have so much work to do before that stage comes round again for me – so much therapy work to do on sex, intimacy and being with someone without giving up everything I am. It terrifies me that I will be alone forever, and that is the one fear that still keeps me up at night. But I am holding onto faith that I need to get the groundwork right, before I share my life with someone again. I couldn’t bear to be back in a relationship where I sell my soul for love again. I cannot ever let myself be in a place where I am stifled in the way M had a habit of doing. Realistically, that means I have many more hours in therapy before I start dating! Being alone terrifies me, but not as much as being that lonely again terrifies me.
Today has been a miracle. I have been worried about it all month, worried about the grief, the loss and the fear of ‘what next’ overwhelms me. It hasn’t been anything like what I expected. I slept in, then went for a wander round my local town in the name of ‘being kind to myself’ (otherwise known as, ‘spending money on myself’). Now I’m sat in bed, in my little safe haven, watching Homeland, and waiting for my beautiful best friend to come and stay the night. Life is good.
Lush flowers, even more lush new fluffy socks!
My best friend, who is coming to stay tonight, sent me a beautiful quote this morning; “a bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch, but on her own wings. Believe in yourself.” It is absolutely beautiful, and very apt. I bought myself a charm for my necklace today:
…a reminder to believe in my own wings.
I read poetry like I breathe air. I would like to share some of the most beautiful ones here – as a reminder for me, one on of those grief-filled days in the future.
To all those who have stood next to me, propped me up, or metaphorically dragged me up off the floor, wiped my knees down and brushed my hair out of my eyes in the last, most incredible, growth-filled year of my life – thank you. I love you. To him – thank you for loving me through the best and the worst, thank you for holding on, and thank you for setting us free. And to myself – don’t forget your own wings.