“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ~ Sylvia Plath
So, I wrote this way back when I’d just broken up with H. I just never had the bravery to post it. It shows how deeply I hurt. It shows how much I feel. It shows my vulnerable underbelly.
When I saw the Quote Quest Prompt this week my mind flew directly to this. I’ve re-written it a little. I first wrote it in present tense and just 2 weeks after the break up. I’ve added extra things in that I’ve observed since.
I hesitated, quite a lot really, to be this open but I hope that my experience might help others who are hurting to get through. I feel *a lot* I don’t think it’s a secret. But I am much easier to hurt than my brave masochist would lead you to believe.
I’d never really broken up with anyone before.
Not properly. I was much more about unrequited love…well, fancying as a teen and most of my relationships happened via letter. Yes, I’m *that* old.
There was the one guy, when I was 18 who I was waiting for him to come back from Uni to dump, I was doing the grown up thing. He dumped me by letter. But we’d had about 2 dates and he bored me stiff so I wasn’t precisely heart broken.
So Last November I went through my first break up at 41. Fuck me, it was hard. I mean, I’m not going to win any prizes for that statement, everyone knows that little fact. However, I really had no idea how hard.
The only thing I have to compare it to is grief. It’s not exactly the same of course, I can’t contact my Dad or Nanna no matter how much I want to, they’re dead. But there are definite similarities.
It wasn’t my decision that the relationship ended, so maybe it’s different if you’re the one making the decision. But I was hit immediately with shock. I’d known something wasn’t quite right but I didn’t know what.
When they told me, I couldn’t stop crying. For days and days it was my response to feeling anything at all and I was feeling *a lot* all the time. So even if something good happened, someone said something nice or showed me support, I would break down in tears because I was overwhelmed by positive emotions running through me.
Every day something would make me cry in relation to the relationship that’d ended. For weeks, months actually.
I felt like I was grieving. Even though I knew it wasn’t the end of everything it was still the cessation of something that was very much part of my everyday life.
When I woke up and when I went to bed was the worst.
When my Dad died, the first thing I thought as I woke was ‘My dad is dead’ and at night I couldn’t stop thinking about that as I lay in bed trying to sleep.
The same thing happened with my break up. I woke with an image of their face and the immediate recollection that they were no longer my partner. I’d lie in bed at night and try to think of anything else but my mind would lead me back to the fact over and over again.
It was something I did, I sent a morning and a good night message each day and not doing that hit me hard. I took a few months before I was waking up without that being the first thought in my brain.
It’s been nearly 3 years since my Dad died, 8 since my Nanna died and I can still be hit out of the blue by memories that completely floor me. It’s not something I can predict or control and when it hits it hurts rawly as I’m reminded that they’re no longer in my life. Even if the memory is a fun, loving one.
I experienced reminders of my ex everywhere in the first month after we parted ways. The smell of leather coats in a department store as I walked round with my mum, Sweet Dreams playing on the kink club play list, roast potatoes on TV, the ‘wrong’ kind of squishies at the corner shop. Each reminder hit hard. Some jabbed through me like a thrusting sword, suffusing my body with uncomfortable heat. Some overwhelmed me with sadness and I just couldn’t do anything else but sob and cry. Some actually brought a smile to my lips but even that was always tinged with sorrow.
6 months after the split I was sat watching a silly Disney sing along thing with the hubby and my kid and a song came on. One I love, actually. From Mulan. And I was fine at first. Yes, memories jumped to mind of being beaten to the rhythm but as soon as a particular line was sung I just exploded in sobs, scaring my son half to death. And when I explained I felt ridiculous. I was over that all, wasn’t I?
Nope, apparently not completely, no.
For 3 or 4 weeks I couldn’t eat. I mean, I did but I had no appetite at all. I ate because I had to and for a few days I barely ate anything at all. The only full meals I ate were ones that had been prepared for me and even then I’d not eat half the amount I usually would. I found no joy in food. And wow, do I usually enjoy my food.
I remember that for the few days before my Dad died, when he was in the hospice and we were waiting for him to die and the days after, all I ate was lemon curd on GF bread. On the day of his funeral I had sushi (the only GF thing in the tesco’s opposite the pub we had the wake in) because the buffet was chock full of gluten. I really don’t remember when my appetite came back but it did, eventually.
Such deep sorrow and anger and regret strips away my desire to eat it seems.
My ability to do everyday tasks was impaired. Having to go out among people was the hardest thing. Crowds of strangers especially. Going to the shops was very stressful. Any little bit of waiting around made me anxious. Making decisions was agonising and I walked away without things on more than one occasion because I just couldn’t decide which one to get.
Cleaning, cooking, washing (clothes, pots, me), working (writing and smut event prep), life admin like ringing for appointments or putting out the bins, remembering, well, anything…was all so much harder than usual. It took me a long time to do anything and if I even start to think in terms of what I needed to do, I got overwhelmed with panic.
I was like a zombie in the days after Dad died. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t make decisions. I remember vividly breaking down one day when my hubby asked me what I wanted for tea. I just didn’t know. Everything felt like pressure.
And after my break up everything felt like pressure. Even the fun stuff.
I felt like I was physically weighed down, like I couldn’t quite catch my breath. I heard things through a layer of fuzziness, I ask the same questions time and again because I forget they’d been answered already. I couldn’t retain information. The smallest task lead to heart-shaking panic, the thought of the future turned my stomach. I couldn’t plan. I simply survived each day as it arrived.
I couldn’t even prep for my kid’s 18th birthday properly. I made myself do things. We went out for a meal. We’d prepped a party to introduce them to our Kink friends and I managed to hold it together to do that. Just. But I’d planned to do so much more, to make such a thing of my child’s birthday but I just didn’t have the spoons. They understood but I felt guilty for that.
We had a Smut Market at the end of November and it was so hard on me. I had people primed to take over if I couldn’t carry on any more. I didn’t need them, but they were around and helped so much on the day.
I was so anxious in the run up. Ridiculously so. But the day went well and I spent time with friends and oh, I needed that, I needed it so much.
I was and am surrounded by love. My husband, my child, my friends and family all looked out for me. The messages of support, the meals made, the hugs given meant the world to me. The understanding for the parties missed and the invites to do quiet things, to distract me but not stress me. I sometimes felt bad for feeling so bad when I have so many good people who love me and they were doing all they could to make me feel better.
I’m mostly over it now. And I’m 9 months on from it. Some things still hurt but it’s usually a bolt out of the blue and goes as quickly as it hits. There’s still songs I can’t listen to and photos I can’t look at. That’s the thing, when you’re kinky, exs leave physical marks. And I can’t bear to look at them yet. As beautiful as many of them were. It’s still too hard to bear.
Years down the line I still can’t listen to ‘You raise me up’ which was Nanna’s funeral song.
I can’t watch horse racing because it was Dad’s very favourite thing.
But I know this will change with time. Because I’m learning to cope with the holes left in my life, now.
And though the break up of a 7 month relationship is not exactly the same as the death of a person you’ve known and loved all your life, it’s still a loss, still brings a lot of grief.
What I learnt from my 1st Break up:
• Be gentle with yourself. I know that when I was, I had less anxiety to deal with. And Anxiety on top of sad is definitely a bad combination.
• It’s okay to feel. I caused myself a lot of extra pain by trying to belittle my emotions. To push them down and not feel them. It’s much better to embrace them and try to understand the feels than deny they exist.
• There’s no shame in being upset. I felt like I was too upset, like I was grieving too hard. After all, I have a husband still, I wasn’t losing *everything* but I was losing something that had been very important to me. And I needed time to grieve that loss.
I’m eternally grateful to all the people who helped me get through. Who gave me support and love and hugs and beats and spaces to vent until the emotions had the time needed to process through to a point where I could deal again.