Closing a Chapter

Friedrich: Woman Before the Rising Sun

I’ve always been very clear about the purpose of this blog. It isn’t a confessional exercise and I’m too English to feel comfortable baring my soul in public. But I’ve decided that I need to write this post for my own well-being and sense of closure. Some of you may remember a short-lived, rather anguished post back in early May, begging for time to deal with a personal crisis. So many of you rallied to me in that moment, and yet I never explained what had happened. I wasn’t going to. But I’ve come to realise that I need to do this, as a way to thank you for your incredible support and, more importantly, to close this chapter in my own mind. I was going to save it for the blog’s 7th birthday post in late July, but I’ve decided that that’s a joyful occasion and this doesn’t belong there. Nor do I want this still to be dominating my thoughts in late July. I want to move on.

The story is this: back in the winter I fell in love, with the wholeheartedness that I bring to everything in life. It was my first relationship and I thought he was perfect: I adored him; I wanted to learn all about his work, his friends, his hometown. I should have seen the warning signs, when he grew indifferent as soon as it was a ‘done deal’ – usually late, never any flowers, not even a Valentine’s card – but I made excuses for him, thinking he was shy. We’d been together six months, everything pointing to the long term (he’d met my parents; I was about to meet his; I’d met his sister; we’d met each other’s friends). Then he suddenly announced, in the middle of a busy park halfway through a romantic weekend, that he was never going to love me, so we were going to end it. I was given no say in the matter. He’d decided: that was that. I stumbled away, sobbing my heart out in the midst of the lazy summer crowds, and never heard a word from him again.

I was destroyed: that’s no exaggeration. My heart was broken, my soul crushed, my self-confidence shattered into smithereens. My friends and parents, especially my mum, have been pillars of strength over the last couple of months as I’ve slowly pieced myself back together. And you were amazing too, in those first few days, when I felt more alone than I’ve ever felt before. Your texts, emails and messages reminded me that there are people out there who do care about me, even if it’s from the other side of a computer screen. Your wise words and love saved me. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

It still takes only a stray thought to cast me back into the grief, humiliation and anger that I feel deep within. Many people have told me that time heals. It turns out that isn’t quite true. Time doesn’t make the feelings go away. It just makes the walls of the oubliette thicker and the door stronger.

That is what happened, but it’s in the past now and please let’s not speak of it again. It’s over and, although it’s a cliché, I’ve emerged from my dark night of the soul as a stronger and much more resilient person. Please don’t imagine me sitting alone in my flat, crying into my bottle of pinot grigio while singing All By Myself. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve cut back on alcohol, started getting up earlier, and embarked on an exercise programme to prepare myself for the Bath Half Marathon next March (which I signed up for months ago, in a flash of ambition). I’m already lighter, slimmer, fitter and stronger than I have been for years and it’s done wonders for my mood. There’s more going on than ever: I’ve joined a book group, thereby ticking off another box on my ‘liberal metropolitan elite’ bingo card, and have also been buying and reading books as if there’s no tomorrow. I have masses of theatre and opera trips planned, either solo or with friends, and I’ve made excellent progress on my research into the Original Idle Woman: I should be in a position to start my first draft soon. So, life is good.

This is not the beginning of a new confessional angle for the blog, I promise you. I’ve written a diary since I was nine: I’ve no need to make the private public. But this particular incident was tied up with the blog in all sorts of ways and I don’t think I can finally put it behind me until I press ‘publish’ on this post. When the proverbial hit the fan, I was astonished and so, so grateful to have support from so many people who had no idea what was going on but still wanted to be there for me. Thank you again. I don’t need sympathy any more, and I certainly don’t need pity, but I will always be immensely grateful for your friendship and support.

With love,


P.S. I will be moderating comments on this post particularly closely, so please think before you write. Real people’s feelings are at stake: his as well as mine.

23 thoughts on “Closing a Chapter

    • The Idle Woman says:

      Thanks Jennifer and, yes, you’re right. We do get stronger but we can’t do that alone: we need the support and love of those around us to make it happen. And in that, I’ve been so very lucky.

  1. Aneta says:

    You can’t even imagine how scared I was when I read the title of your post. I thought you were closing the blog. The horror! I realise that I hardly ever comment and it’s not nice of me. But I always read your posts, enjoy your reviews and take so many book suggestions from your blog. Thank you for all this. Please know that you are not writing to some void. I am sure I will be more courageous very soon and make my presence here more conspicuous.
    Thank you for sharing. All the best! And in spite of everything, life IS beautiful.

    • The Idle Woman says:

      Hello Aneta, and thank you for your courage! I do hope you’ll comment more very soon – just think of it as having a chat with a friend over a cup of tea: that’s how I approach all the comments I get. I’m not remotely scary and nor are the other lovely cuddly people who hang around here. And there is no danger of me closing the blog. At the moment I can’t think of any situation in which that would happen. I’m sorry to have scared you! 🙂

  2. RT says:

    I too thought from the title that you were closing the blog, and am deeply, deeply relieved you are not. This was such a brave post and I very much hope a healing one for you. Much love to you!

    • The Idle Woman says:

      Thanks so much Kathy. Yes, if there’s one lesson I’ve learned from all of this, it’s that mums are awesome: no matter how old you are – thirteen or thirty – there are still times you just need to bury your face in your mum’s lap and have a good cry. She’s been amazing in encouraging my new fitness initiative as well, taking on the role of accountability partner 😉

  3. Helen says:

    I’m another one who had a moment of panic thinking you were planning to stop blogging. Anyway, thank you for sharing this post with us. It’s great that you’ve had so much support from friends and family, and it sounds as though you have plenty of exciting things to look forward to!

    • The Idle Woman says:

      Oh no, now I feel guilty! That never even crossed my mind when I gave it this title. In any case, stopping the blog would be more like ‘Closing the Book’, wouldn’t it?! Yes, I’m very lucky and I’m trying to be much kinder to myself too.

      I’m currently making plans for some time I have off work in the summer and have been wondering whether it’d be completely self-indulgent to come up to Alnwick to see the castle and finally visit Barter Books. If I do decide to come, I’ll drop you an email to see if you might be around for a cup of tea or supper. It would be so lovely finally to meet you.

  4. Chris Weber says:

    being a male, I can’t pretend to understand these things completely, but I have heard some women give two perhaps conflicting pieces of advice: one is “next time, wait for the ring”, and the other was overheard by a shrewd French peasant woman to her daughter: “Never give anything away, that you can sell.”
    Again, however, I am not an expert in these things, but I have very much enjoyed your blog and was only afraid, when I read your first words, that you were no longer going to write it. I am always glad to read your recommendations.

    • The Idle Woman says:

      This made me snort in a very unladylike fashion, Chris, so thank you for making me laugh! How to put this delicately… I’m not complaining, in some Victorian fashion, of being a ruined woman. Not at all. Good heavens, if I have to manipulate a man in that way then he’s not the kind of man for me. I want a happy, equal partnership and the crux of the problem here was that I thought we had one; and he obviously didn’t. But there we go. And thank you for the kind words – I’m happy that you’ve got some good recommendations out of the blog 😊

  5. Jan Malt says:

    Strength is always from within and I’m glad you have rediscovered it. Such a courageous blog amply shows just how strong you are. Look forward xx

    • The Idle Woman says:

      Yes, I will! So lovely to hear from you, Jan. You and Moira have always been my role models for fantastic, strong, independent women. If I can channel some of that panache in my own life, I’ll be happy 😊

    • The Idle Woman says:

      Isn’t it a lovely picture? I really wanted to find a Photoshopped version of Friedrich’s The Wanderer, with a woman staring out over acres of possibilities, but I couldn’t find one – this was a very good substitute though. Thank you very much for your lovely words. Next time I’ll find someone who actually has the good sense to love me back 😉

    • The Idle Woman says:

      ‘Kickass’? Wow! Probably the first time in my life that this adjective has ever been applied to me, but yes! – I’m going to own it 😂 *Strikes power pose while humming M People’s Moving On Up*

  6. cspgarden says:

    I am so glad to hear you are feeling better!! Thanks for sharing this with us, and thanks also for continuing this blog. I have read so many books thanks to your recommendations. I might even develop a taste for Baroque opera, one never knows 😉 Sending warm thoughts across the Atlantic to you!

    • The Idle Woman says:

      Thank you so much Caroline – and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that one day you wake up with a burning desire to listen to Handel 😉 It was a huge relief just to get this out there and not to feel that I was weighed down with it like an albatross around my neck any more. Life isn’t perfect, and there are times when one just needs an outlet to deal with things before one can move on. I’m very grateful everyone is taking it in the spirit that it was intended – an ultimately optimistic look forward to the future and, I am sure, much happier and richer experiences ahead.

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