Three years ago on this very bridge, me and my then boyfriend decided to do the thing that every couple swears they will never, ever do. We decided to pull the plug on our relationship. Give up. Royally f*ck each other over.
We sat through an awful, awful lunch, where I cried into my salad – a true sign that I was desperately unhappy if ever I did see one. The salad, not the crying – as a pianist quite literally played the C minor song sheet of my breaking heart.
We sat through the meal, barely making eye contact, barely acknowledging that I was crying because I guess, we both knew. No one needed to say anything because we were too late for maybes and what ifs.
So I did what I always do when things get a little bit too much for me, I ran.
He drove me to this river, to this very bridge. We cried – this time together – and for the first time in a long time I felt like we were actually close, but for all the wrong reasons. We were united in our grief – this was our troubled water.
None of us wanted to believe that this thing right here was happening to us and yet we were moving, we were acting and we were preparing to say goodbye. And not just one of those overly dramatic, I’m going to text you in 45 minutes and we’ll get back together goodbye. No, this was a forever goodbye.
He drove away, back to my dad’s house where we were both living, packed up his stuff and left.
I never saw him again.
I ran harder than I’ve ever ran before that day. I was gasping for air, hyperventilating and yet somehow still managing to run because the sharp pain of my breathing was a welcome distraction from the pain I was feeling somewhere deep inside my chest.
And the sound of my feet dragging on the trail was a welcome distraction from the sound of my life falling apart and from the thoughts in my head that were telling me to run the other way – back towards my house to salvage whatever there was left of us.
If I stopped, I’d have to deal with the fact that my heart was on the floor and soon, when he turned up at my house to get his stuff, my dad’s would be too.
Those five years? They faded to sh*t and what did we have to show for them but a few sore Timehop reminders and a worn out Friends box set. Oh, and the jeans that don’t fit me anymore – that’s what’s really retarded about this whole situation, the frigging weight gain. I mean if we’re gonna break up at least be a man about it and take the food babies with you, don’t make this any harder for them.
The toughest thing about a break up is this weird matter-of-fact protocol that from now on, you’ve got to erase that part of your life. Wean yourself off of one another and then, ultimately, pretend you’re nothing but an anonymous sperm donor – in his case anyway, because I don’t have sperm but you probably already knew that.
The pavements we walked together are nothing but an optical illusion – like the folding architecture in Inception or the Penrose staircase. One day we’ll be just like that, a dream within a dream; unable to function in the real world.
For a long time I felt as though it was all my fault, that I was the one giving up and that I was the one walking away and I blamed myself for that.
But it’s only when you look back that you begin to see things how they really were, rather than how you thought they were. Kind of like the opposite of rose tinted glasses.
You see that, yeah ok, you might have been the one that was brave enough to physically say the words, “It’s over” and you might have been the one to speak up on behalf of both the future you and the future him but that doesn’t mean this falls on you.
The thing I realise now is that he didn’t fight for me, not even slightly and he was right not to. He drove off, he went travelling for a year and as much as I always thought it was my decision, it wasn’t. It was ours. We made it together.
As much as it hurt more than I could ever articulate, especially in the first few months – it didn’t kill me, Lemar and Sam Smith played a huge part in that, so thanks boyZ.
The pain felt weirdly natural, like I was meant to be feeling these things because somehow I knew it wouldn’t last and that I’d be ok.
Knowing what I know now, I can understand exactly why I felt that way and that’s because it was the right thing to do.
That’s how it feels when you’ve done something that was hard but honest.
It was best – for both of us.
I didn’t fall apart. It didn’t feel like my heart and been ripped out my chest and stabbed into the wall with drawing pins right next to a break up quote from my MSN archive and a poster of Aaron Carter. This was different. It hurt a lot, but it was a dull ongoing ache rather than a sh*tstorm brewing in my diaphragm. It was an adjustment period.
I still got out of bed, went to work, ran a minimum of 18 miles a week – my coping mechanism since day dot – and kept on going.
And he did the same. He made decisions about his life that he would never have made if we were still together and I take comfort from that. I would never want to do him a disservice because for a long time we had a great relationship. One of love, respect and friendship. But in the end, we were categorically incompatible. Our life ambitions were different and we weren’t willing to compromise on that.
I believe we are on paths in life and sometimes those paths harmonise like a cheese and pickle duo but sometimes they hit a sour note and no amount of fine tuning can change that. It’s out of our control.
Because fellas… people change. Experiences change us, going to uni changes us, landing a job in London changes us and unfortunately that means that however committed and dedicated you both once were, it doesn’t necessarily make you invincible.
You make a choice over time – a subconscious one but a choice nonetheless – to grow together or grow apart and in my case it was the latter. We had outgrown each other – outrun each other, if you will.
But three years on from heartbreak bridge and I’m standing stronger for it, even in wedges #ProudMoment. I’m happier and wiser for it.
I’m at peace with my decisions, my life and who is in it (s/o to the Ginger Wizard) because I’m confident we are running on the same path, at the same pace and I can’t tell you how great that feels.
So, if you’re going through heartbreak now or still very much feeling the effects of a break up, months or years on – give yourself time to catch your breath, don’t force yourself to get over it and at the same time don’t force yourself to feel sad if you’re actually pretty damn ok about it ‘cos it’s like Christina Aguilera once said, (god don’t I sound like an out-of-touch aunt with glasses on a safety chain), you’ve got to learn to trust the voice within.
Break ups can either break you, or they can make you.
I think I could be sick over myself, but please know I am sincere with my sick. Break ups suck, they hurt more than when you fasten your hip chub up in a dress, but when you undo it – slowly, it’ll be ok. A little bruised, but ok.
It’s a lesson learned isn’t it? You know you’re gonna find another dress because there’s a million dresses (I hope you’re reading the that as boyfriend right now, lol) out there that fit your form better. It knows the curves of your beautiful bod so well that it will never chew you up and spit you out again. Unless you like that kind of thing in which it’s probably best you keep that to yourself.
You’ll be just fine. And if you’re not (yet) you can charge the bill for midget strippers and cheap rosé back to me.
Love you bye.
Photography by Olivia Foley