I’ve had a weird few months, really weird.
If life was a rollercoaster, like they say, the past two months has been one of those free fall drop rides where you’re in the same place but going up and down, so much you feel sick and you lose your stomach somewhere in between. It’s not always the ride that makes you feel sick either, it’s the anticipation that as soon as you’re up, any second you’re going to come hurtling back down again without warning.
At the start of April my boyfriend and I split up. I’m not going to go into into it, too soon, too painful, but let’s just say it wasn’t my choice.
After an incredible five years together of travelling and living in the same house for four of them it’s been hard to readjust to single life again.
Not even the single life at 24 when we met, but the single life at 29 where every second weekend is filled with some kind of wedding-related activity, and anyone not getting married is preparing to pop a sprog.
Except in London of course – a city where everything else is on the move except for any self respecting Londoner’s desire to grow up.
It feels pretty blummin lonely.
Of course, I’m very happy for my friends and love a good wedding / hen party / big day discussion, but I don’t love when it turns on me. At a recent hen party the bridesmaids had got some naked butlers round – so good so far. A few drinks later and one of the butlers asked us who here was single.
Obviously I tried to shrink back into the sofa as far as I could go – I’d been certified single three weeks at this point – but one over excited friend outed me. Just me. In that room of around 15 girls aged 26 to 34 I was the only one. I felt like shit.
From living in a family home on Abbey Road with the guy I thought I’d be with forever, I’m now in a basement room in Vauxhall. It’s amazing how all the stupid break up songs start to make sense.
The thing is though it’s not like I was even thinking to get married before, or ready to want children. I guess I just thought it would happen in the not too distant future, like it has for everyone else. Now that choice has been taken away though, and the opportunity is even further in the distance, it’s time to act on what I did used to always think about; travel.
Without warning the opportunity is right in front of me and I’m grabbing it.
I’m going travelling.
I’ve handed in my notice at work, I’m busy selling my few valuable worldly possessions on eBay and giving the rest to Cancer Research, and I’m full on planning the next year of my life to go to all the destinations I’ve ever dreamed about.
I’m totally free of any contracts or obligations to anyone and thanks to the previous plan of saving for a house together, I’ve got a bit of cash in the bank too.
Talking to a few friends about the past, present and future, relationships and life, I know I could actually be seen to be in an enviable position at 29 years old. I’m completely free and I feel it’s my duty to make the most of it.
One minute I’m wallowing in self pity – I’m sure you can imagine the sort – why does no one love me? / I’m so alone / what’s wrong with me? etc. More than a few times over the past weeks I’ve pictured myself as Bridget Jones in the bath scene looking out staring at the wall as Gabrielle plays in the background. At times I’ve felt breathlessly alone, overpowered by what’s happened, and all I can do to regain control is to suppress it with thoughts of travel as soon as possible.
Then the next, I’m crazy excited about my trip. I cannot wait. I have no idea where I’ll be physically or emotionally in the next three months, let alone a year. That may scare some people but it excites me intensely. I’ve always got bored of things and circumstances quickly – my nan always used to laugh at me for it. To be honest I’m genuinely amazed I managed to have a relationship for 5 whole years and stayed in London for 6.
Now is the time to do exactly as I please. When I look back I realise I’ve lost a bit of me. Lost some of my passion for life, independence and for being confident in that independence.
I’ve fantasised about doing this trip for years, but never actually thought it would happen, and definitely not by myself. The reason I stayed in London was to be together, to buy a house, like a good little Game of Lifer. But I’ve been thrown a curve ball, a huge one.
I could mope about.
Devalue myself to carry on like everything is ok. Or I could take the shock, the rejection, the dismissal and the deep hurt and try and turn it around to make my life better. I’m still devastated, but moping about at home vs distracting myself with the world, and the latter wins.
Who knows what will happen to either of us but all I need to be able to say is that ‘I did what was right at the time’ – my favourite saying – and this is. It’s time to move on. I’ve got a really exciting few months planned and with the help from my incredible family and friends, and the right attitude, I hope I can come out from all of this a tougher, healthier and happier person.
Next stop: a week in Rhodes with my best friend.
Saturday 11th of June 2022
This is a great blog post. I love the way you write. Well done. Especially as it's so personal. I hope you've had a wonderful trip! Or are you still on the road ;-)?
Saturday 22nd of July 2017
Just found this while looking for a festival packing list (ok looking for ways to smuggly alcohol into a fest). You are su*fucking*perb! Such awe of how you have followed your dreams and claimed yourlife. I hope it continues to be fabulous. From some internet weirdo who is probably too old to be festivaling but yey :)
Sunday 23rd of July 2017
Ah thank you Karen – that's so nice to hear. And thank you for taking the time to message me. Breaking up was totally the best thing that could've happened. Can't imagine my life if we'd stayed together! And you're never too old for festivals!
Tuesday 2nd of February 2016
I know you wrote this ages ago but it really, really helps to see that other women who were going through messy breakups travelled to help them get over the trauma and find themselves outside of the relationship.
I just broke up with my long-term boyfriend on Saturday after I found out he did something horrible. Right now my whole life has changed because I immediately moved out of where we lived together to get away from him and give myself some breathing room. I broke up with him, packed the truck, and moved in the space of a morning, so it's a lot of change and trauma at once.
I'm grieving and in so much agonizing, unbearable pain right now, but I'm planning a trip out to Denver next month for 30 days to see my best friend and try to heal and spend time with her, then I'm embarking on my first solo trip around France for a month this summer. Depending on how that trip goes, I'll probably keep traveling from there if I don't get too homesick. I'm scared and intimidated but also excited for the experience. I really, really hope it will help me get over what feels like a huge loss and betrayal in my life. I don't want him back after what he did, but it still hurts so much that he would do that to me after all we had been through together. It's also agonizing that he didn't have the respect for me or our relationship or the human decency to just break up with me before doing something like that.
Anyway, I've only travelled solo to study abroad before, so this is the first time I'll be doing a trip for pleasure while solo. I really hope it gives me some perspective, reminds me who I am without him, and helps me get over this gargantuan amount of searing pain. I already know intellectually that I don't want to and shouldn't be with someone who would do what he did to me and that I deserve much, much more. I'm hoping this trip will help me know it in my heart as well and get me through this heartache. Thank you so much for this post.
I'd love an update on how you're doing now!
Sunday 14th of February 2016
Hi Ashley, sorry it's taken me a while to answer – regarding your last question, life is awesome now! It's been almost two years now, two years since he cheated anyway, bit less since we split up. I pity him now. Obviously I've looked at his instagram now and then and he's just living the same life we did five years ago, it's like he's just repeating our relationship and doing the same things and going to the same places. I do still hate him which is something I know I need to get over to properly move on. But one day.
I had that same trauma where I lost everything all in one weekend, and then my job too. It's a crazy time but definitely a time to work out what you want and go for all those things you weren't sure of. I felt exactly the same as you – so betrayed and upset and like I didn't know him if he could do something like that.
The trip with your best friend sounds great – the perfect plan for some R+R and good chats. My best mate was SO good to me after we split up and it made our friendship so much stronger. When I look back now I'm glad we split up because my life is amazing now, but I'm still sad and hurt that it happened in the way it did because I still loved him so much and for him to do that to me showed me what he really thought.
I hope the trip has gone well and I'd love an update from you!
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