*back in August*
I haven’t checked my emails in months. Mainly because I’ve been afraid of my inbox. Last month, the teaching post which I hadn’t got round to officially withdrawing from kept asking why I haven’t been replying to my emails since May. So I just stopped opening my emails. But, yesterday, I officially withdrew my PGCE application, and figured that, since nobody had fired me yet, my work emails couldn’t be that bad. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was an email from my ex-boyfriend.
To some of you, that won’t seem like such a big deal. And I wouldn’t blame you. I’d even agree with you – I maintain a good friendship with most of my exes and I have the privilege of calling yet another one of my best friends. As a rule, the only ones I don’t keep in contact with are ones that cheated or told me I was worth nothing. Definitely fair enough. This email though, was different. This was from a guy that left me to go and work on a cruise ship, and dumped me 3 months later via email because I ‘wanted kids eventually’ and I ‘would never live in London’, neither of which are true. I’m most likely infertile, absolutely hate children under the age of 10, and I’m actually planning to move to London in January of next year. If this blog works out for me, I’m thinking I might try pursue this writing lark as a professional. But anyway, I digress.
The worst thing about it is that in the past week, two separate friends have asked me how I’m doing, a year on from the break-up. And for the first time ever, I felt myself being able to honestly say, ‘I think I’m finally starting to get over it completely. It still hurts, but it’s not raw. I think I’ll forget it soon.’
‘That’s good,’ they say. ‘You really thought he was something special, it was always going to take a while. But I’m glad.’
And I said, ‘But I’m getting there. I really am. And I can see that everything happened for the best, and it was the right thing to have done.’
And I really believed it. I really did.
When I read his email, I made the strangest noise. Somewhere between a gasp and a strangled cry. My dog came running into my bedroom with his toy to check that I was ok. I wasn’t. I burst into tears and cried for ten minutes straight. In that moment, it felt like no time had passed at all since July last year. That I was sat on my new bed, on my first day of moving 400 miles away from home the day after my graduation, having only told my parents about the move a day before that. In a strange city, without a job, knowing nobody except my housemate. And reading an email that told me I wasn’t good enough.
I ended up moving back to Bournemouth for a month after the break-up. It hit me harder than I expected. Whenever I was alone, I just cried and cried. And being at home, it was easier to keep myself busy with family and friends. But that feeling, the fear of being alone, that didn’t leave for a long time.
*3 months later*
I left this post where it was three long months ago, because I felt I was in danger of being too emotional. To cut a long story short, I was given a window of two months to meet up with this ex-boyfriend to ‘sort things out’. I didn’t feel that I needed to be given a blow-by-blow account of why he dumped me, so I never responded, and now he is back at sea. I intend to write a reply eventually. I will say that I would like to be friends and it would be nice for us to meet up the next time he is in England. I think by that point, I will be ready to face him. Or rather, I hope that I will.
The lesson I learnt from this break-up was that self-care is important. I’d imagine that almost everybody feels a slump in their self-esteem after being dumped; it’s never easy to be told you’re not wanted. So, first and foremost, I thought about my friendships and how willingly my friends put up with all my stupid quirks and habits. I know I’m a handful, and it’s easy for me to believe that I’m unlovable after a relationship goes down the pan, but my friends are quick to tell me they love me and they never liked him anyway (they usually have a pre-prepared list of all the things my ex did that they weren’t happy about). It’s not like I’m a totally different person around my partners and my friends (if you are, that’s a warning sign right there) and my mates wouldn’t stick around if they didn’t want to. We all know it’s very easy to ‘dump’ a friend: you don’t even have to tell them, much less buy them a meal and explain your reasons and ask if you can go for a coffee next week because no hard feelings amirite? Ghosting toxic friends is wholeheartedly promoted as the best way to do it. And I’ve still got a full set of shoulders to cry on, should I need it.
After this all happened, I made a rash promise to myself that I was done believing in love. I’m not sure if I believe the credibility of this stance anymore. I appreciate that pheromones exist and I understand that I’m likely to form emotional bonds with people I am attracted to, because this is biology and nothing more. I am almost willing to concede that I’ve experienced something that could constitute love since making this twisted decision and I’m just in a state of denial.
Love is an unavoidable symptom of the human condition (unless we are among the arguably fortunate asexual community demographic) and, as such, should not be avoided. This was not my first heartbreak and it certainly won’t be my last. My advice to anybody else going through anything akin to this would be to look after yourself. Foster your own interests, do what makes you happy. Dress how you want and go where you want and say whatever you like.
Soon you’ll be wondering why people even bother with relationships.