“How can somebody mean so much to you one day and become nobody the next?”
I have spent the last few weeks going through a storm of grief and turbulent emotion; denial, anguish, bitterness, apathy, depression, hope, sadness, fleeting snatched moments of joy and comfort followed by dips of isolation and pure fear of a future unknown. Back in the autumn, I wrote a post about ‘the hardest months of my life’ but these last few weeks have thrown those experiences aside and left me utterly raw and unable to even understand how those things seemed in any way difficult compared to what I feel now. At least then, I had my best friend at my side, ready to see through the storms with me.
It’s not the fear of being alone that’s eating me, it’s the fear of 5 years closed down like a liquidated theme park; memories reduced to unpleasant skeletons of once lively rides and colourful stalls, a place once vibrant and full of joy, just left stagnate, to rust and creak and fall apart. It’s also the fear of ‘what next?’
So what happened? Why did things turn out this way?
George and I had four blissful years of relationship. We rarely had things to truly argue about and despite homesickness in Bath and his struggles with university, we stood strong by each other, comforted each other and skipped on happily thinking that when we got home, all our struggles with finding work and homesickness would vanish and we’d dance off into the sunset.
As I mentioned before, the transition back to Cornwall was messy and difficult and came at a time where bad luck after bad luck came upon us. It was a stressful summer and a stressful autumn and things didn’t seem to be getting any better. We were both becoming run down and miserable by our fortunes and it was hard to focus on the good that was happening.
Things only got worse when we went to live in a cottage on a farm. I thought it was everything I ever wanted in a home but the reality was, it was isolated and we both fell into the treadmill of work > home and winter evenings were spent holed up in this big lonely house not knowing quite what to do because there wasn’t much nearby you could do on a dark, blustery evening. We didn’t even have internet enough to snuggle up and watch netflix.
My mental health took a turn for the worst and I put so much pressure on myself to be this idea I had in my head of who I should be. Successful, adult and ‘together’. I also found out that his friends didn’t like me and that sent me into a downward spiral of self loathing and frustration and fear that he’d start to not like me either… and well, you know when you’re so paranoid about something, you sort of seal your own fate?
I had believed we were strong. I had believed he would support me the way I had supported him when his mental health was low at Uni and I’d drive over at midnight just to check he was okay, spend hours typing up job applications and personal statements for him so he could get a better future, tell him he was beautiful and strong when he felt his worst and share his pain when things weren’t going well for him.
I must have been wrong about our strength. Maybe this year was just too much. Maybe it wasn’t what he was expecting. Graduate life wasn’t what we were expecting. We weren’t having a great time in life, either of us, but just when things were starting to get better and just when winter was beginning to blow itself out and I was filled with hope for better times, he quit us.
Relationships have good years and bad years. There are ups and downs. Trials and tribulations. This year was a down but I honestly thought we’d beat it. With cognitive behavioural therapy lined up to battle my anxiety and George finally settled into a promising career, I was so hopeful for healthier times. Just days before we split, we had shared a truly wonderful valentines day together and I was beginning to feel the sun on my face again.
But we split. It happened. I’ve spent the last two weeks feeling hollow and trying to get my head around it. Living in this house alone, drifting past his things and waiting for each day to pass quickly and get onto the next, a step closer to healing, a step closer to healed.
It’s been an exceedingly dark time. An empty time where I constantly look for distractions but find myself unable to do work properly, unable to find the motivation to write and going over and over in my head how things could have been different if I was only stronger, if I hadn’t done this or had done more of that. If I hadn’t been so anxious.
I’d like to say I’m past that now. I mostly am.
I’m past waiting for him to come home. I’m past torturing myself. I’m doing things. I’m starting to dream things. I’m making new friends, new connections, new hobbies. I’m beginning to pick myself up and move forward. I’ve got a long way to go and I’m nervous. I’m moving in as a lodger temporarily to a place near my work which is still pretty isolated, but it’ll do for now. I’m taking each day as it comes and learning to live without plans. I’m conquering my fears day by day and reconstructing myself like a knocked over tower of toy bricks.
Some days though, I’ll spend all the day building myself up and regaining strength only to fall asleep to nightmares and wake up empty and broken all over again. There’s been a lot of days like that. Days where I wonder how much longer it’ll take. When they will vanish. When will I wake up okay and already strong. It’s like being constantly knocked off a ladder. Next time I hope I’ll be able to hold on tight enough when I reach the top.