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.
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.