Commencing from the 27th of this last June, has been the most difficult month of my life. After the natural build up of emotions to turning 30, having moved into London, and questioned whether it was in fact for the right job, my boyfriend and I took a romantic mini break away to Venice, to ring in this new decade.
Venice was everything I had hoped it would be. There wasn’t a single angle you could look at this city of love in which she didn’t glow with beauty, history and water. We ate every kind of pasta and pizza and ice cream. We walked through the beautiful maze like streets and watched the sunset on the grand canal. As we ate my birthday meal next to the water, the breeze keeping us cool, the Aperol Spritz in my hand so fresh, and a man I felt understood and truly cared in front of me I thought ‘Well, maybe 30 won’t be so bad.’
Cut to- two weeks later. I am crying on the sofa, a headache from the gin I had drunk the night before, my face tear stained, puffy and pink. A week after we had returned from our trip, my partner ended the relationship after a ghostly few days of silence. To say that it felt like my world had collapsed around me is an understatement. He had become an anchor, a reassurance and source of confidence that not only was I loveable, my life was headed in the right direction at a point at which I was already struggling with a great deal of anxiety and a job I knew I didn’t really suit.
What I mainly remember from this last month, from this hellish July, is a feeling of being totally unanchored. That my life was a mistake and I was simply a mess that no man in his right mind would invest in. Unlovable. Fat. Vapid. Unappealing. All my worst fears about myself and how he saw me, completely confirmed. Friends (the ones I could face telling) did what they could, sending messages of reassurance and anger and love. I reached out to multiple mental health and medical professionals, as I knew and could feel I had never swam in waters this dark and dangerous, and so alone before.
I tried to face going into work, I really did. The few days I did make it back in were a complete embarrassment. I was unable to focus and was crying on and off uncontrollably throughout the day. I got a sick note from my doctor, a diagnosis of severe depression and anxiety, but none of this was enough for them not to terminate my employment. To think we live in a time when mental health is constantly discussed and acknowledged, that companies constantly reiterate how important their employees well being is to them, but when push comes to shove- when you’re at your absolute worst and your mental health is at a dangerous low, if you can’t come in and pretend…. You’re out.
I was, I have to confess, a little relieved at the back of my mind. I knew from the beginning that it was not the right job for me. That working on technical aspects of web content, on descriptions of obscure and mundane building materials was not what I should be doing, and nor were they paying me enough to continue with it long term. Nothing about it was sustainable. And so it ended.
In my better moments I’ve been able to look at both of these endings as a possibility for something more suited and much better to be found. Obviously I have prioritised finding a new job, which thankfully I have. One that pays better, is based in journalism and allows for hybrid working several days of the week. In all honesty the job search was an almost welcome distraction. Something I could put my energies into other than the sheer grief and loss of losing love.
Love. I know I have a long journey of healing ahead. The the gaping wound that has been left in his abrupt and violent absence will only heal in time, with work, perseverance and care. I watched a new Netflix show the other day, in which a wise and biting drag queen/ psychologist turns to our newly single and deeply bitter protagonist and tells him ‘You want to love? Fine! Love yourself. Love the people around you who still want to be there.’ I will try to do this, instead of focusing so much energy on someone who, in the end, made the choice to leave, and made sure in no uncertain terms that I knew he did not, and would never love me.
So hear I sit, just over a month since all of this happened, and only now able to sit and type out the maelstrom which has been my complete headspace for the last 5 weeks. I have lost parents, faced people I care about getting sick, had an abusive partner in the past, an abusive and unwell mother in the present, but I can truly say nothing has ever hit so brutally, so unexpectedly and so catastrophically as this loss. It is of course, still early days. I know there’s lots of steps I need to take to get back to some version of myself that I can actually like. With therapy and time, and a support system of professionals and friends, I hope I can find that version of me again. The one I can look at in the mirror, take out in public, enjoy the company of friends with, and not feel ashamed of what and who I am.
As for looking for love, that one can take a back seat. For the first time in my life I feel wounded enough that my heart needs to be closed for a while. A wall is being built, little by little over the days and empty nights. Whatever interactions there may be, they can exist at arms length. I will never be so vulnerable to heartbreak again. I’m not sure I could survive it a second time.
(Painting at Kenwood House titled: The Spinstress)