Other opinions

The opinions of others influenced my decision making and behaviour throughout my breakup.  Support of friends and family is crucial, I believe, in being able to cope with the process.  But can the opinions of others become harmful?  While I welcomed advice, I still made sure I understood their standpoint and what they had invested in our relationship.  When I first told my parents that I was unhappy with my relationship their initial response was that I must try and fix it, full stop.  This was similar to the response I got from our mutual friends.  My own friends on the other hand were a bit different, their advice was ‘try to fix it, if that’s what you want but it’s ok to just not want to’.  With the constant toing and froing that was going on in my own head, these other opinions often just added more into the mix, when all I wanted was for things to be simple.  Ultimately most people understand that a breakup is a very personal decision, and that even though the result may have an impact on their lives, you may not take their advice.  But the advice doesn’t stop following a breaking.

Three months into my separation there are still plenty of opinions coming my way, mainly about how I should be feeling and when I should be moving on.  Everybody seems to have a different idea and with such a personal thing I have found it surprising how confident people are with their timescales. I have been told that I should get myself back out there and talk to guys on the same day as being told that I should give myself a year, to focus on me. I have been told that it will hurt me to see my ex with another girl and thanks to Facebook that has already happened, yesterday in fact.  A photo of him and another girl that I’ve never heard of, I have no idea about the context – maybe they’re just friends, maybe not.  But either way seeing the photo did not make me feel hurt, which was a surprise to me.  Instead I felt like I could let go.  I had been so worried that as the instigator of the breakup I had ruined his life and he would never find anyone again, although I recognise that this is irrational and unlikely, it’s still how I felt.  Now I feel like he’s going to be ok, and I’m glad.  I feel like I can think about my own life without feeling guilty about what I’ve done to his.

So what is the timescale for moving on?  I feel like I would quite like to spend time with a man who likes me, to feel butterflies and nerves before a date.  But instead of looking forward to that I focus on what others will say, my parents that it’s far too soon, that our mutual friends will wonder how I’ve moved on so quickly.   So is it ok to shame people for how quickly they move on?  Whether they move on quickly or take years, should people support you regardless of their own opinions?  I appreciate that people care for me and worry, but to put pressure on me to move on only when they think an acceptable amount of time has passed is unfair.  I am the only single person in my group of friends and I enjoy being in a relationship,  I am not interested in playing the field and am comfortable with who I am and what I like.  Perhaps there is a magic formula for being ready to move on.  I want nothing but good things for my ex and nothing but good things for me, could this be a healthy measure of moving on, rather than weeks and months?

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Mind games and me

Why is it, that after the agony of ending a relationship and a period of great torment, your mind decides then to really start confusing you?  It took me months to come to the decision to leave my husband.  Months of thinking constantly about whether I could be satisfied with this relationship for the rest of my life.  Months of picking apart every iota of the relationship trying to figure out if it could be saved.  The damage to me seemed irreversible and permanent, and it also seemed that I was in a lose/lose situation.

I could end my unhappy relationship which would leave me without the man I’ve spent 12 years loving, without my companion, without a part of myself.  It would leave me alone in an adult world that I had never participated in.  Lose.  On the other hand I could stay.  I could keep the love of my life, keep the man that had upset me with the same behaviour over and over during 4 years of cohabitation.  Keep the man that would lose him temper over the smallest things,  causing the biggest arguments and ruining  whole weekends.  I could carry on lying in bed next to my love while fantasising about what a different relationship could be like if I wasn’t with him.  Lose.

So I picked what I saw as the lesser of two evils.  I thought a life spent thinking ‘what if I’d been brave enough to leave, to see what else is out there?’ was worse than not even trying.  I believed that the resentment that was creeping in would fester and grow until I hated him.  The thought of instead regretting that I hadn’t stayed was almost equally terrifying.  Almost.

So it’s done.  Decision made, and time to try and move on.  Why now does the mind seem to so easily forget that there was anything wrong with the relationship?  Why does my mind insist that he’s ‘the one’?  When I don’t even believe there is such a thing?  Instead of thinking constantly during the breakup about the times he’d upset me, the times he’d promised ‘never again’, now my mind has decided instead to replay our happiest moments.  I am reminded of how intimately we know each other, and bombarded with flashbacks of a blissful honeymoon in Morocco.  I see only his good qualities, us at school at 16 with no worries and how we have the same sense of humour.

We have been completely separated for 3 months and now I have to force myself to remember why.  When I am daydreaming about holding hands with him as we used to do in the cinema, or how we’d talk in the kitchen every evening when I was cooking dinner, I have to force myself to stop.  Yes those things happened.  And yes there were many good aspects of the relationship, but there was a reason I was so unhappy before the split.  I was so focussed on the negatives prior to ending the relationship that I could hardly see the positives that now haunt me.  Perhaps he was so ingrained in my life that it will take many more months before I can be free of this.  Perhaps this is so traumatic for me that my mind is trying desperately to get me to go back to my comfort zone.  I know when I am being my rational self that the reasons are real.  And I know that while I still love him and there are so many parts of our relationship that I will miss, that negatives caused me to feel trapped, resentful, hurt and restless.   Rarely is a relationship all good or all bad and most people deal with peaks and troughs.  I hope that I recognised that my relationship was broken before we got to the point of hating each other, and despite what my mind tells me, it wasn’t just a trough.

 

 

 

Best friend breakups

So you’ve done it.  You’ve (somewhat) come to a decision and you’re embarking on a break up.  There is so much information and advice out there for those that have been dumped, but what about those of us who have instigated the breakup?  It’s not an easy thing to do, especially when you still consider your partner a friend.  Both parties have usually contributed to the demise of a relationship in some way, and I believe that it takes courage to call time on it.  Humans are creatures of habit, we don’t like being out of our comfort zones and feel most at ease when we are in a settled routine.  Ending a relationship is just like breaking any other habit.  There are withdrawal symptoms, doubt, fear, loneliness and an overwhelming urge to go back to what you know.

The times I have wished to be back on the sofa with my ex husband watching our favourite tv series are countless.  I miss the security, familiarity and routine of a long term relationship.  I have longed to just go through our bedtime routine, back to the times when I would wake up without a care in the world.  The urge to call or text him has been overwhelming at times because he’s my best friend, and he’s the person I go to when I’m upset.  Surely feeling this low must mean I’ve made a mistake?

The only thing that has stopped me calling him is one thought: ‘what then?’.  I could call him upset and tell him I’m struggling to cope, or I could call him and just casually ask how he’s doing. But then what? Do I want to get back together? I don’t think so, not really.  Do I want to give him mixed messages? No.  No I don’t. I want this breakup to be as amicable and painless as possible for both of us.  Going back and asking for his support and comfort is unfair and selfish and yet so, so tempting.

I imagine how a reconciliation would go.  The first few weeks we’d both be on our best behaviour and it might even feel like a honeymoon period again.  We might rediscover ourselves and enjoy relaxing back into the comfort of the relationship.  But before long old grievances would rise to the surface.  Perhaps we could have worked through many of our issues but there were some fundamental differences that just cause us to clash.  And then how much harder it would be to start the process all over again.  This is a (hopefully) a once in a lifetime breakup, it has almost destroyed me and I will never be the same.  That is not something I could put myself through over and over again while we try desperately to cling on to something that once was.

For some people there may be a sense of relief following a breakup.  You are the instigator and you’re now out of a situation that was unfulfilling.  I envy those people as I learn to manage the guilt that has rested on my shoulders ever since.

 

Uncertain uncoupling

Breakups rarely start with a conversation or an argument, they start in that first instant that you acknowledge that you are unhappy.  But what happens between the time you recognise that and the time you take action?

This period of time is a minefield where you try to make sense of an abundance of emotions.  For me this meant trying to process confusion, fear, guilt, depression, anxiety and the very rare glimmer of hope, often all within minutes.  And often while you’re sat next to your spouse on the sofa.  It has been said that divorce is the second most stressful life event after the death of a loved one and I would absolutely attest to that.

I met my husband in school when we were 16 years old.  We grew up together and know each other better than we know ourselves.  There’s a sit down chip shop in Newport city centre called Vacara’s where we would go occasionally for our favourite – gravy, cheese and chips (try it.  Seriously).  The average age of the patron must be 70 and we would often joke that that would be us.  It had never occurred to me that we wouldn’t grow old together.  Despite his and my faults, we had always made it work.  He was completely my other half and not being with him has left a gaping, ragged hole that will probably never quite heal properly.

There was no moment where I ever felt sure that breaking up was the right thing to do, and ultimately that was the hardest part of it.  It’s still the hardest part.  I am not 100% sure that I have done the right thing.  The only thing I could base my decision on was how I felt then because, as a wonderful friend told me – “you cannot try to predict how you’re going to feel in 6 months time, but you do know that you are not happy now”.

And I was unhappy.  I agonised constantly about what the hell I was going to do.  I had married my best friend, and now I was hurting him, the last person I would ever want to hurt.  Was this just a low?  Would we laugh about this in a year?  What does life look like without him?  Am I just depressed?  It took me 3 months to confess to someone how I was feeling, that person was my mum and then some friends, I still hadn’t opened up to my husband.  I felt ashamed that after 9 months of marriage and 9 months after the beautiful wedding my parents had spent thousands on, that I wasn’t sure anymore.  I spent another 3 months ‘trying’ to see if I would get over whatever it was I was going through.  My husband was patient and tried to understand, he let me cry and sleep away my time, but things got worse and I went to stay with my parents.

I could not get any clarity on the situation.  I didn’t like parts of my relationship, I didn’t like who we had both become and I felt like I wanted more, that there was more out there for me.  I didn’t want to settle at the grand old age of 28 for a relationship that I wasn’t completely satisfied with.  And while thinking all of this I simultaneously felt overbearing guilt for the man that I had recently married.  I had promised him that I would always try, that I would always love him.  And I do.  I love him so deeply that I couldn’t continue to be in a relationship that would have lead to bitterness.  I love him without wanting to be married to him.  That is such a hard thing to try and explain to him, and to anyone.

After a month at my parents (never again) I told him that I needed to come home and he needed to move out.  I told him that I needed space, he told me he needed an answer and that’s where the decision had to be made.  I was in no place to be a wife and could not say to him that time would save the relationship, so I did the only thing that was fair.  I told him it was over. This conversation was 6 months after I first started having doubts and was the hardest time of my life.  It’s now been 3 months and I am still not sure that I made the right decision, but I’m getting there.

 

 

 

Rebecca writes

Blogging is new to me.  I feel very cosmopolitan writing this, like ‘they’ should be making a series about me, whoever they are.

Divorcing my husband and best friend of 12 years at the age of 28 and after less than a year of marriage was not where I thought I would be right now.  But it is.  I’m the first of my friends to marry, and the first to divorce.  Support for me is there in friends and family, but limited in experience.  Naturally I turned to the web for support and searched for people just like me and was left unsatisfied.

Where are all the women without kids, in their 20s, who still-love-their-ex-but-don’t-want-the-relationship, hiding?  Perhaps a bit niche?

I desperately wanted to find some comfort in the words of women who had been where I had and were now ok.  Or even better – better than ok.

In this blog I will write about my relationships, old and new.  Perhaps I’ll find out that I’m not as unique as I feel.