Tag Archives: grief

When you’ve been through the most painful experience of your life

2 Dec

I have been through the most painful experience of my life.

I have felt agitated by pain, unable to sit still or sleep through the night. I’ve had grief under my skin. I’ve found myself crying on buses, in shops, at my desk, and not realised I was even thinking about it. About him.

I’ve struggled to get out of bed, only to struggle to shower, and struggle to dress, and struggle to brush my teeth and look in the mirror and try to convince myself I’m better off alive rather than dead. And then struggle through another day, just so I can lay awake all night regretting myself.

I’ve made mistakes. I’ve learned from them. I’ve made more. I’m still learning.

I no longer feel like I am going through this. It no longer controls me.

If you are heartbroken, or hurt, please believe me it will get better.

I had reached the point when I never thought it would. I spent 16 months in hell.

Now, I believe it’s going to be OK.

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Friday with Friends: Liz

5 Sep

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Okaaaayyyy. So I’ve not been too fabby at writing this week. Life is still quite hectic and I’ve been on a bit of a downer. 

But I was not missing yet another Friday with Friends slot. So here goes my second day handing my blog over to a blogger buddy to do with it what they will. 

Today my blog belongs to Liz. Liz is 24. Man, I remember being 24. She just started her first proper teaching job (yay, Liz!). And, to cut a long story short, I think we are partly the same person. If she didn’t live so far away in Maine we would be hanging out regularly to drink iced coffees, buy scented candles, and talk about cats and boys. We bonded over our broken hearts back last year. But I don’t worry about this girl. Because I know she has oodles and oodles to show the world, and she’s going to make some dude very happy one day. She’ll probably be married way before I am. You mark my words. 

I found Liz’s post quite painful to read. Because I’m sad that she’s gone through this. And because when she describes the physical side of grieving her relationship, well, it’s identical to my experience. But – ever the maturest 24 year old I’ve come across – she knows how to learn from it all. And how to move on.

So, over to Liz:

Last September my five-year relationship with the guy I adored, the guy I pictured a family with and loved with all my heart, came to an end. We had been fighting a lot, more so than normal, and yet it still knocked the wind out of me when it happened. I remember sitting in the middle of the living room floor holding a pumpkin Frappuccino in my hand, and squeezing it so hard that it started overflowing all over the carpet. “It’s just not working anymore,” he said.

At the time, I remember not having any emotion. I didn’t cry, talk, or try and fight for our relationship. Instead I just let us go. “Why fight for a relationship that he had already thrown away?” I remember saying to people.

It wasn’t until about a month later, the beginning of October, that it hit me. Why wasn’t he coming over on Saturdays anymore? Why wasn’t he calling me to tell me goodnight? Why wasn’t he smiling at me from across the kitchen table, telling me how “Do You Realize” by the Flaming Lips reminds him of me, that after all these years I still give him butterflies? I felt empty, I was losing weight, my clothes didn’t fit me anymore, and I couldn’t eat. I cried for months, couldn’t sleep for months, and had nightmares every single night where I would re-live him leaving me, telling me that he had had enough.

I finally went out one night to go to a mutual friend’s birthday party a couple months after the breakup and that’s when I first saw him. I remember staring right at him, right through him. I remember his blue eyes, and I could see how much he hurt. I went through one, three, six Grateful Dead’s until I was slurring and couldn’t stand on my own. I needed to leave. I left the bar and started walking home, through the city and past my friends who were shouting, “Liz, do you need a ride?” I walked down the sidewalk, and then he was there. His passenger door open and a whispered, “Liz, just get in, I’ll drive you home” was heard.

I didn’t say anything in the car and neither did he, but all I wanted was for him to say that us not being together anymore was wrong, a mistake. He walked me upstairs to my sister, and when I stumbled in I shrunk to the floor and cried so hard my body shook. I knew he heard me, I could hear my sister outside the doorstep asking what he did. Why was I like this? He asked her if breaking up with me was the right decision; she said she didn’t know. I wish to this day that she had told him “no.” I laid on my bed in the fetal position, weekend after weekend while I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed, drunk and heartbroken while my sister rubbed my back, and whispered, “it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.”

It’s taken until now, a full year later, to feel at least a little bit like myself again; to think of him without crying, to hear a song on the radio that he loved, or even go to a restaurant that we went to without being too miserable to continue. I remember going in to a grocery store and smelling cigarette smoke, and sprinting to the bathroom to throw up because it smelled like him, it smelled like our past. Sometimes I still feel like this.

I think maybe he thought he didn’t mean anything to me, that our relationship had somehow gone numb. Maybe he thought that my reaction a month later, after I had time to process everything, was just about the chase. It wasn’t. It was about me realizing what I had lost, realizing how much I messed up and not being able to take it back. If I could somehow reach back through the past I would tell him, I would tell him over and over again how much I love him, that he’s my favorite person, that I wish we could make this work. I would believe him this time when he tells me that he thinks I’m beautiful, I would tell him that he still takes my breath away, that he still haunts my dreams. That he means everything to me. But I don’t do that, I just move forward, but it never really goes away.

If there is anything that I have taken away from this, it’s that next time I’m in a relationship, with whoever it is, I need to be more honest. I need to say what I’m thinking, feeling, dreaming – because emotions are difficult for me and I know that, but it’s not an excuse to be ungrateful. It wasn’t an excuse for me to act like my love for him didn’t make me woozy. I need to try not to take any part of such a beautiful relationship for granted. I need to be thankful, because if there was just one thing I could go back and change it would have been to tell him every single day how lucky I felt to be with someone who loved and cared for me as much as he did.

I have a lot of people to thank for pulling me through a horrible time that I thought would never end, but continues to get better every day. My friends who have listened to me over and over when I’m sure I’m obnoxious, my family who have insisted that it will get better. More than anything I need to thank my blogger buddies who have related to me more than a lot of people ever have. April is one of those people.

So, thank you.

 

Once year since the break up (and happy birthday, Liz)

3 Aug

Today is the doomaversary. It was the night of the 3rd of August last year that everything fell apart.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about what to do to mark today. In truth, I know it’s just another day. It isn’t going to tangibly change things. But, for me, it’s very meaningful. It feels like crossing the finish line. I officially got through the worst year of my life. And I’m coming out smiling. Yay me.

I asked you all a few weeks ago what I should do to mark the occasion. Obviously pizza had to be involved, and tonight some friends are coming over to eat pizza with me. Homemade pizza, because it’s better than the takeaway stuff he was obsessed with anyway. But what else what else?

One of my dearest blogger buddies recommended that I think of today as her birthday rather than the doomaversary. So, happy birthday, Liz. I hope you enjoy the title of this post. You, my friend, are a perfect example of one of the loveliest things to have come out of this whole mess of a year: new friends.

Another terribly clever blogger buddy (who I can always rely on to call my ex the ass that he is), suggested that I write him a letter telling him how far I’ve come, and post it on here.

I straight up loved this idea. But when I sat down to write it, hmmmmm, I found I had nothing to say to him. Nothing at all.

And, you know what? I love that feeling.

So, let’s focus on something and someone more important: let’s focus on me.

I cried a little this morning. Not because I missed him, but because I remembered how horrifically sad I felt last year. I went over the evening of August 3rd 2013 in my head and it made me want to go back in time and give myself a big hug and lots of reassurance. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Instead of a letter to him, this is a letter to the April of August 3rd last year.

 

Dear April on the 3rd of August, 2013, just after 9.30pm

Sit on the floor. Put your head between your legs. Try to stop the room spinning. It will stop eventually, and you will get your breath back. I know it’s scary, but this is your body dealing with trauma in its own way. And you’re supposed to feel this way: the man you thought you were going to marry just broke your heart.

You’ve never felt like this before. You can’t make sense of it. And for the next two days you aren’t going to sleep at all as you go over and over and over and over what’s just happened. You’re going to tell yourself that it will never feel as bad as it does in this moment. Unfortunately, that’s not quite true. Right now you’re in shock. When that wears off, the confusion will kick in, then the sadness. I hate to tell you, but you’re going to feel sad for a very long time. You’re not going to sleep properly for a very long time. Go to the doctor. He can help.

At your worst, you’ll wish not to wake up in the morning. You’ll stand on train platforms wondering what would happen if you just stepped forward. Months from now you’ll come to a plateau where these thoughts stop, but you have no idea why you’re alive, or why you would want to be. Because life has no meaning when you’re alone. And if he didn’t want you, well, doesn’t that mean you’re worthless?

You’re not worthless. You help people. You care for people. You make people smile, and there are people who love you. He says that he never did. But your parents do. And your best friends do. And that doesn’t make you pathetic. Because the people who know you best see the good in you. He was blind. And a c***.

Five weeks from now you’re going to start your new job. Two days before, he’ll call you. Because it would be beyond him to realise what bad timing this is. It’s going to be tough. Prepare to hate this job for the first few months. Your confidence just hit rock bottom. How are you supposed to concentrate? But be kind to yourself. Because a year from now you’ll look back and feel proud of how you stuck this job out. In fact, it’s going to rank right up there with your greatest achievements, just the fact that you got out of bed every day and made it to the office. You’ll have been to Boston, New York and Paris with work. And you’ll be planning a trip to Belgium. You’ll have made new friends. It’s a challenge, but if anyone can deal with that, you can.

Christmas will suck. Just saying.

Do what you know how to do. Find your therapy in your writing. Start a blog. You’ll find friends in the strangest of places. You’ll build your support network. And when it comes to support, the bigger the better. You can try new things too. You don’t know it yet, but you really love yoga.

You’re not going to fall in love again in a hurry. For a long time the very thought of someone else is going to make you feel physically sick. But there will be other guys. To date. To kiss. Someone will come along and have the best sex of your life with you. He’s not boyfriend material, but he’s going to turn out to be a good friend. Trust him. He’s odd, but he means well.

If there’s one thing I want you to know right now, it’s that it will be OK. But not for a long time. So don’t panic if you’re still crying months for now. You were madly in love. Take comfort from the fact that your feelings were real. You know what love is. And you need to grieve to move on.

Next spring the darkness will lift. In the sun of next summer, you’ll plan a new future. You’ll get involved in new activities and realise all the new people who have come into your life.

I can’t tell you if this will ever stop hurting. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen to you. I can tell you that opportunities will come your way. And that maybe not knowing what the future holds is more exciting than a future with a man who never loved you, anyway. I can tell you that you’re too good for that.

And, I promise, you will eat pizza again.

Lots of love,

April on the 3rd of August 2014, just after 3.30pm

 

 

Should it feel the same?

30 Jul

I saw my therapist tonight. I’m only seeing her once a month now. Really as a way of saying goodbye more than anything. When I first showed up a blubbering mess on her doorstep back in September I didn’t think I would ever feel OK again. Now, I do (most of the time). And I owe much of that to her.

Anyway, tonight we talked about how busy I am at work, and with seeing friends and trying new hobbies. I told her I don’t have the energy to date right now. It feels too complicated, too much of an investment. And maybe there’s just nobody out there for me.

She asked me, “Would you like to meet someone?”

Yes. I want to meet someone. But, I explained, I can’t imagine feeling anything for anyone right now. I just need to trust that if the right person comes along then my feelings will kick in.

Then she asked, “Do you want it to feel like it did with your ex?”

Wow. That’s a question and a half.

Because – yes – falling in love with my ex made me the happiest that I’ve ever been in my life. It was so exciting. I felt so loved. I felt special and important and pretty and fun and like my whole future was falling into place.

And then, of course, he ate half a pizza and told me he had never been in love with me. So it was all fake. It didn’t mean what I thought it did. The feelings I experienced were real, but they were based on fantasy. So can I ever feel that way again? Should I ever feel that way again?

Only time will tell, buddies. And if I never feel that happy again, then maybe I’ll also never feel as low as I did after the pizza of doom.

That, my friends, would be what we call a silver lining.

You never know what’s coming

27 Jul

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Well, a year ago tonight was my last “date” with him.

We were in New York. We went to an incredible little Mexican place in the East Village and ate tacos, drank cocktails, and talked. He was talking about, “if we had a daughter”. Little did I know he was weighing up his options there and then. I remember walking home, and him telling me I looked cute as a button. I didn’t know he was saying goodbye. And when I got on a flight the next day to head home, I didn’t know that just a week later I would be on a last-minute flight to my parents’ house in Scotland, numbed with vodka. And that when I got there I’d lie in bed and cry. For four days.

Because he was never in love with me.

Today I met up with my old flatmate. We moved into a flatshare together seven years ago, and lived there for three years. A lot of sh** went down in that flat. I was the dumper and the dumpee repeatedly, while she was in a long-term relationship, then an engagement.

That engagement ended when the guy she was engaged to, well, ended it.

She’s a mum now. And – I am delighted to report – not an annoying mum in the least. In fact, probably the most chilled out mum I’ve come across. Her career is still hugely important to her. She works five days a week. She can hold a conversation without stopping mid-sentence to dramatically stage an intervention as her baby eats a leaf. I know the pain that she went through four years ago. And I think it has helped make her into the woman she is today.

She thought she had her happy ending.

I thought I had mine.

You never know what’s waiting, just a week away.

Nothing in this world will ever break my heart again

23 Jul

The morning is my thinking time.

Before my brain gets all messed up with work and conversations and ‘to do’ lists, I enjoy my journey into work, sitting on the bus daydreaming. But my mind can go to some very odd places. I don’t always even realise what it’s up to, or what I’m thinking, until the thoughts resurface later in the day.

When I got off the bus this morning I was deep in a conversation with myself. I was asking myself, “Could you go through another break up like this?”.

So, could I?

Last year in the days of torture immediately after the pizza of doom, I remember a friend telling me that I’m someone who feels extreme highs and lows (he was right about this). He told me you’ve got to feel the lows to feel the highs (true story). And then he said, “Things will get good again. You’ll feel great again. And then something like this might happen all over again and you’ll feel low. But the highs will make it worthwhile.”

Ummm. No. I looked him straight in the eye (as much as I could with tears and mascara streaming from my face) and said, “I can never feel this bad again.”

I think I was right. I think the past year has taught me all sorts of resourcefulness, but has also taught me to protect myself. And listen to alarm bells. And not fall head-over-heels-over-head-over-heels for a man with robots tattooed up his arm.

I know I will most probably experience more failed relationships in my lifetime. But when I think back to August 2013, no. No. No. No. No.

I can never feel that bad again.

I can’t.

I won’t.

A year ago in New York

20 Jul

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Last year at this time I was with him in New York. I thought everything was OK. We were coming to the end of him working away for the summer. I felt kind of relieved, and just so damn excited for him to come home.

Of course I didn’t know that within a few hours of getting home he would break up with me.

Just writing that makes my stomach flip.

Because the time I spent in New York was obviously the final test. The final week that led him to feel completely sure: he didn’t want me.

The week that I used to leave him surprises of an ice cream variety in the freezer whenever I was out. And buy him stuff in the Penguin sale. And take photos everywhere I went of things I thought he’d like to see. The week I surprised him with tickets to Wicked. And had noisy sex on a creaky bed.

Ultimately, when I try and understand what I feel about that week is boils down to utter humiliation. With a capital H-UMILIATION. I travelled 4,000 miles to convince the person I loved that he had never been in love with me. Wow. I have such an effect on people. Go me.

It still hurts.

I’m doing so much better these days. I’m looking forward to passing the one-year mark. But I met an old friend for breakfast today, and out of my mouth plopped the words I haven’t yet been able to articulate.

“I’m scared that I’ll never be able to connect to someone else.”

How can I? A year ago in New York I thought I was kissing and hugging and sleeping with a man who loved me.

He didn’t.