Lets flash back to 2018, year of the break ups. So many people I know ended serious relationships last year, myself included.
My ex and I got together in late 2013, towards the end of university and not long after he had ended a very toxic 4 year relationship where his ex was trying to force him down the aisle. Looking back, I think at the time he thought I was the answer to all of his problems, he was single, he liked me and he didn’t want to be alone so we got together. I wasn’t getting what I needed from the casual relationship I was in, he was interested in me so we got together. When I think about our relationship, there were A LOT of signs that it just wasn’t meant to be, but in typical me fashion, I ignored them.
I hope I’m not coming off sounding like it was a terrible relationship, because it was great for the most part. I think in the beginning I was just blinded by love and it took until the late stages of the relationship for us to realise we wanted very different things in life, and that we moved too fast in the beginning.
We moved in together when we had been together only about 4 months. Looking back I cringe when I think about this. That was WAY TOO SOON! We played house for a while before we settled into a routine that became our life. I started going out less and less, we started to put on weight, we became homebodies. Now this is fine for some people, but I am not generally that type of person, I love going out, I love socialising, I love trying new things, but I stopped doing most of the things I loved aside from reading (which was something I could do at home).
We got a dog, which livened things up a bit (and changed my life for the better, she is the love of my life). I was starting to feel trapped, and wanted to travel more, we went on a couple of overseas holidays which paused the trapped feeling for a while, but as the famous saying goes, you can sweep feelings under the rug but eventually you’ll trip over them.
The first feeling that things weren’t right anymore came in April 2016 when we attended my best friend’s wedding. For a long time, his family had been asking about marriage and kids, and at that time I still thought we were on the path of society’s expectations so I would always say “soon, probably in 5 years” or something similar. I always thought I wanted kids, but I was beginning to realise that maybe I only wanted them because I thought I had to have them. Anyway, back to the wedding. We had an amazing time dancing and drinking, but at one point in the evening he said something like “I can’t wait for our wedding”. I wasn’t even that drunk, but I went into the bathroom and threw up, then had a panic attack. I hoped it was just a freak coincidence, but any wedding talk or engagement parties we went to gave me intense anxiety. But, I had already been with this guy for 3 years, and I didn’t want that time to have been a waste of my life, so I brushed over it and ignored it.
Not long after this, we decided to build a house. Having a common goal and a distraction from my anxieties, things were great for a while. The house was a really fun project, and I was genuinely excited. We were building in a small town outside of the city but not far from our places of work, because when we got together we both had a love of the show Escape to the Country and had hoped to eventually make the tree change.
About a week before we moved into the new house, I was having crippling anxiety and crying myself to sleep every night. I could only describe this as cold feet, but I didn’t want the last year of building and 4 years of relationship to be a waste, so we made the move.
The first couple of months were lovely, I loved the town and our dog was so happy.
But we were basically glorified room mates. Not even glorified, we barely had sex at all.
One day, we were walking our dog in the morning and his temper snapped at something ridiculous, and he got up in my face and yelled at me in the street at 6am. This was the beginning of the end.
I started staying at work late so I wouldn’t have to be home with him, the thought of him touching me made me feel physically sick. I curled further and further into myself.
Eventually I rang my mother to talk about it. I didn’t ring her for a while about it because I honestly thought she would encourage me to stay with him, since we had been together so long. In the back of my mind, I think a part of the reason I stayed with him was because he was (at that time) my best chance at having kids, and I wanted my parents (who are a bit older) to have grandkids. And I expressed this to her.
But, my mums advice made me feel like a weight had been lifted, “Just because you have been with someone for a long time is not a good enough reason to stay with someone… I don’t care if you have kids, have 100 dogs if you want.” This made me feel lighter than I had in months. But I was still too scared to say goodbye.
After some deliberation, I decided to give it another chance. I gave him an ultimatum: get some counselling about your anger or I’m gone. I honestly think I almost wanted him not to get it so I could walk, but to his credit, he went. I don’t want anyone to think he was a bad guy, he wasn’t. He literally would do everything for me, but this in turn made me lose some independence.
For another couple of months, things were on the improve, but then I started feeling trapped again. Yes, we were living in a really cute town and on paper our life was lovely. But, the town was so far from my friends and family and I felt so isolated. I could barely go out without having to go and stay with someone in the city and having planned it weeks in advance, and it took me ages to drive anywhere to see anyone. My happiness was deteriorating quickly.
I started feeling like maybe if I went and did some solo travel or worked overseas for a while that would cure my feeling of entrapment. But, when I floated the idea in bed one night, the response was, “well, if you want to work overseas, when are we going to have kids?” This was the moment I realised that I didn’t want kids yet, for years at least if at all. That did not go down well. Finally, I realised that we just had different visions of the perfect life, and I had spent so long trying to fit into his version of a perfect life that I had forgotten what my own version looked like. It was like I had been caught in a haze and ignored my own desires for years.
We drifted apart quickly after that, arguing more than we ever had and barely speaking apart from that. One night when I went out and another guy caught my eye and I actually considered hooking up with him, I knew that it was time to call it quits. We argued again one night and we agreed to take a break, and at the end of that break we ended things for good. We sold the house, I got the dog and moved in with a friend, he moved back in with his parents.
Its’ been over a year now, and I will talk in another post about the plights of being freshly single and my process in getting to where I am today, but I can say that even though its been a process, I am more myself now than I have ever been.
Some things I learned through this experience:
– Just because you’ve been together a long time, doesn’t mean you have to stay together.
– Don’t have children just to please other people, you’re the one who has to raise them.
– It is better to be single and alone than in a relationship and miserable. Your happiness should not come from whether or not you are in a relationship! There are more important things in life!
– Don’t lose your own identity in a relationship.
– Don’t waste time if you’re not happy, you are stopping both people in the relationship from finding true happiness.
This was probably very rambly but oh well. That’s the story of what caused my break up. In long term relationships, it is rarely one instance that causes a break up, it is a myriad of things. I lost myself, and now I am finding myself again. I hope that if you are in a situation that you’re not happy with, you can find the strength to fix it or leave it. It will all work out for the best.