A writing. No punny, tongue-in-cheek titles. Not a shout for sympathy or attention. A simple PSA to save me being on repeat and to clarify a few things to those who aren’t aware.
To those who haven’t noticed, Callum and I took the decision to separate. The reasons why are, frankly, nobody else’s business unless I choose to speak to you about it, but rest assured that we are amicable, moving on and discovering ourselves, still happily and conveniently cohabiting for the time being (yay for having a 3-bed apartment; and I finally fulfilled my lifelong dream of owning a loft bed..!), and most importantly grateful for the journey we have taken together. We have no regrets about our decision to get married and those who were there would agree that our wedding was truly heartfelt and right for us.
I understand that we have friends and family who are very disappointed, particularly in me, and there are one or two things that I would like to get out in the open, if anything because writing helps me to process things myself. One of the main factors of us deciding we had irreconcilable differences was that I have truly become a very different person since recovering from my life-changing surgery in October last year. I have on multiple occasions since we decided to share the news of our separation (which was only recently, however it’s something that we have been talking about and working on since shortly after our first anniversary in April), been asked the frankly offensive question of “well, why didn’t you think about that before you had your surgery?” The answer to which is in a couple of parts. Firstly, I don’t think anybody could really truly predict how a physical change will completely affect you mentally, or even give you a personality transplant. Particularly when you have spent OVER A DECADE being told that many of your physical symptoms and worries are “all in your head” by professionals, I *massively* play the gravity of things down to myself. Of course I didn’t think things were such a huge deal that it was going to have such a profound affect on me as a person; it’s been persistently ingrained into me over many, many years. Of course in retrospect it makes perfect sense. But unless you have been in that situation you’ll never be able to truly understand. And your understanding isn’t what I’m asking for here; I’m not even asking for approval. I’m asking for respect and support, because these things don’t have to be mutually exclusive to the former.
Another thing people have taken great care to stress has been the amount of time and money we spent on the wedding, the investment we’ve made in our apartment, and so on and so forth. Of course I am aware of these things, but I, we, have a right to be happy and do what’s right for us. At the end of the day we had a wonderful celebration of everything our partnership is/was about and we still share so much. I have no regrets, and of course in the future I would take a long, hard look at myself and my circumstances before getting swept up in a marriage, if it’s something that arose. But neither of us deserve to be judged and I think given the unprecedentedness of our situation, we weren’t to know how things would change. The apartment is an investment that we together are taking very seriously and intend to hold onto, and we will always remain close and support each other.
I have been feeling incredibly alone and isolated in the sense that I am extremely high-functioning. Even at the extremes of my mental health issues from when I moved to Manchester and was studying, over the last decade, and at the peak of my physical difficulties, I feel that nobody has ever truly understood what I have ever had to deal with because I am good at blanking out and numbly getting on with what needs to be done. I am not asking for pity, sympathy or intending any ‘woe is me’ sentiments here; it’s simply how I see things. And my reaction to everything that’s happened with the separation has been the same. I have put my blinkers on and staunchly marched forward. I have gotten on with work, I have launched myself into new friendship groups and explored things that I believe to be right and beneficial to me. I have carried on with chores and appointments and rehearsals and practise because that’s what I’ve needed to do, and ceasing to function has never been an option for me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t mourn. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t cried and hurt and wished for everything to be simple. It doesn’t mean that I am selfish and don’t care and am finding things easy, because I’m not. It doesn’t mean that I’m not having panic attacks and heart palpitations from stress. But within that anxiety and stress and self-loathing I am doing my upmost to continue swimming against the tide and to move on, to make the best of a truly unfortunate and disappointing situation in the only way I know how; by getting on with things, pushing myself and trying to find joy and experiences in the world around me despite the stress that I am going through.
I also read a wonderful article on a website the other day that described how getting back into dating and exploring relationships after a long-term split isn’t a selfish thing to do. It likened a breakup to a huge mistake in a piano recital. You don’t quit the piano for two years and dwell on everything that went wrong. You pick yourself up, get practising, learn from the mistakes and strengthen your technique and go for more piano recitals. A number of people have expressed concern that all of my previous relationships have been long-term ones and questioned whether I am in a ‘cycle’ and stressed that I should remain decidedly single for the long-term now. To that, I am calling bullshit (sorry, folks). I see no problem in that my previous relationships have been steady, committed and long-term events that have encapsulated important chapters of my life and moved on naturally. I have learnt and appreciated so much and apart from one who I never hear from, I am friends with my exes. Yes they all happened close together but it’s not like I go looking for things. I am all for letting things happen naturally and organically and exploring, and I’m sure these same people would have similarly raised eyebrows if I was bringing home somebody different every month (not that there’s anything wrong with that, people…you do you!). I have done an enormous amount of soul-searching and self analysis coupled with a lot of counselling and CBT, and essentially I am a nurturing and giving person. I thrive on having people to care about and on mutual affection. I have so much to give and in return, giving fulfills me and makes me feel whole and happy. Yes, of course I will tread carefully. Of course I won’t be rushing into marriage again. But Cal and I have both been seeing other people and finding great joy in it. We have shared our experiences together and even met people that we’ve been seeing.
I suppose the reason I am getting this all out in the open, the reason I want to share, is this; I don’t mind if people are disappointed or disapproving of me. In fact, I entirely understand. But the thought of being branded a disappointment and a reason to worry, some crisis-ridden off-the-rails madwoman, doesn’t set will with me when I know for a fact that I am strong, rational (for the most part. Just keep me away from the kitten videos on youtube), passionate and driven human being. I love my home. I love that although our marriage didn’t work out, Cal and I are still such an important part of each others’ lives. I love the self-discovery I have been through and the opportunities I have given myself to explore what I need to be fulfilled as a person. And most importantly, I love to love. So judge me all you like, but I’m no longer going to guilt trip myself and have exhausting anxiety attacks over what people think of me. I am a human being. I am an enigma. I am living my life in the fullest sense of the word. I am owning my emotions, insecurities and desires. I am Jay, and I’m going nowhere.