On the 30th December 2017, I thought my life had ended. Everything I had known and loved for the past five and a half years was about to walk out the front door, never to be felt or experienced again. My wife left me with no explanation or warning other than that she no longer wanted to be in a relationship.
The ‘what’s, why’s and how’s’ are no longer important to me. What is important is the most incredible journey of self- discovery that I’ve been living over these past nine months and that’s what I want to share, because there is hope and I believe that if you’re lucky, you could end up with an even better life than the one you had before.
During those early months, I couldn’t eat or sleep, but I somehow managed to keep going. I thought my body would give up on me, but it didn’t and I thanked it every day for that. Some people say take each day as it comes, but I had to take each hour as it came and in my darkest days I had to live minute by minute.
I became a little manic. I was unable to sit still so I filled my time. I cleaned, I sorted, I sold stuff, I gave things to the charity shop and stripped my house of anything that held a painful memory for me. Although it didn’t leave me with much (!), this process was incredibly cathartic for me. I’m still living in the same home now, but almost everything is new. I’ve filled it with antique furniture which I adore and it just feels so ‘Me’. It used to be a place of pain but now it’s my sanctuary.
Alongside focusing on my home, I focused on me. I have been in a relationship since I was 16 years old and the most terrifying thing about the breakup was learning how to be alone. Appreciating and enjoying my own company was something I had never actually done. I realised that I had never just been ‘Lindsay’, I had always been ‘Lindsay and…. (someone else)’ I didn’t actually know who I was on my own.
People told me to date myself and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I’ve got a whole new wardrobe, I’ve changed my hairstyle, I’ve gotten new piercings and tattoos and I do exactly what I want to do every single day. It’s absolutely liberating!
Previously I wanted to leave London but now I am so grateful to be living in one of the worlds’ best cities and now most weekends I am exploring a whole new world of things and often alone (well I usually have my partner in crime with me in the form of a little sausage dog called Bruno). He deserves a whole blog post to himself because quite honestly, he was my Knight in shining armour and he forced me to get out of bed when I thought I literally couldn’t move. He made me eat a slice of bread each day and to drink water because at times I often thought I’d faint from dehydration and I knew I’d lose him if I went into hospital.
Quite soon after the breakup I decided to start therapy, which enabled me to learn about my vulnerabilities and why I do some of the things I do. I am now able to spot when I’m slipping back into bad habits and if I’m able to, then I’ll make a change. One of the biggest things I learned about myself was that I avoid anything that will make me feel uncomfortable and that has actually resulted in me missing out on things in my life.
Now I try to be aware of when I’m not doing something purely because I’m scared or I feel uncomfortable and somehow, I try to push through the fear. When I’ve been able to do this, I’ve experienced the biggest surge of endorphins and a real sense of self-worth and accomplishment because I’ve put myself first, I’ve stated my needs and I haven’t sold out on myself, which is something I used to do before.
It’s important to mention the role of social media in my healing. I’m already active on Instagram (Bruno has a large following! @brunotheminidachshund) so I decided to start my own account and to share my journey and healing process. Some people might consider it crazy bearing your heart and soul to the whole world via the internet but during those manic months and the moments when I felt like being alone was too much Instagram was a God send.
No matter what time of day, I knew there were always people around that I could talk to. I gained a large group of followers who already felt connected to me from Bruno’s page, which in the past had included my engagement and my wedding so they really have come full circle with me. I think that’s why I felt less vulnerable sharing because I knew that this group of people really did have my best interests at heart.
Every day I’d wake up to hundreds of comments and personal messages of support. They gave me hope and replying filled my time when I needed to keep busy. I discovered that I love writing and it’s still incredibly therapeutic for me to put my thoughts into words. It’s helpful for me to be able to look back through my posts, as it really does show me how far I’ve come. I wanted my account to be honest and raw. I wanted to share the highs and the lows of heartbreak because let’s face it we’ve all been there, but sadly some people feel that they can’t truly express how they’re feeling because we live in a society where we always try to put on a brave face. I discovered the hashtag #itsoktonotbeok and this became my driving force.
Of course, social media has it downsides, but used well it can be a powerful tool to promote important causes. Nowadays I use my account to instil hope and to show people that it really does get better with time. I’ll be forever grateful to that group of people that kept me going- complete strangers with so much kindness in their hearts. Humanity at its best!
Today, I have never felt so alive and I am grateful to have experienced one of the most overwhelming levels of pain, because without that, I would not be living the wonderful life that I am living now. So, I’d like to say thank you to my ex-wife for walking out of that door nine months ago. You gave me my life back, you gave me things I never thought I would experience- a chance to reflect on what I really want from life (something different to what I previously thought); a different way to connect to people, to myself and the knowledge that great things are coming.