The end of my fucking world

A.K.A The painful, messy process of exiting a toxic relationship.

The few weeks immediately surrounding the end of my long term relationship were, without a doubt, the most difficult of my life. Even though I instigated it, even though I’m the one who finally walked away, it felt like the bottom had dropped out of my world.

It began, as it so often does, with an argument. He had hardly been home for a week; he was spending all of his free time with Swiss Miss, out of the house and avoiding us. My GF was deeply upset. By this stage, she was much more emotionally involved with him than I was, so while the disrespect and indiscretions made me angry, they wounded her deeply. I was angry with him, disgusted with his behaviour, and furious to see how badly he’d hurt this woman that I loved. My relationship with her was rocky – we’d gotten engaged the previous May but decided to call off the wedding until things settled down. It was the first in a long line of heartbreaks, but I didn’t stop loving her. If anything, it made me cling harder to my relationship with her. It was the only positive thing left in my life. 

It was January, and the holiday period had been stressful. First, BF had insisted on inviting Swiss Miss to join us for Christmas. He’d met her just three months previously and his obsession with this 22 year old had already caused multiple arguments. Suddenly all of our family activities had to be tailored around her. Then there was a New Year’s Eve party at a friend’s house, where GF walked into a sitting room to find him on the sofa, Swiss Miss laying with her head in his lap while he stroked her hair. GF walked out in tears, and he hit the roof because she was causing a scene in front of our friends. She was causing a scene. 

We were talking in the kitchen one Saturday night after he’d stormed off again, not long after the NYE party, and we were talking about his behaviour. It was dark outside, the kids were in bed upstairs, and the kitchen was a quiet haven. I looked into her eyes, held her hand and told her that she and the kids were the only reason I was staying in this relationship. I said that if it was just me and him I’d have left by now. I felt strongly that she deserved much better than the way he’d been treating her, and I told her so. He’d been flaunting his infatuation with this much younger girl in front of all of our friends and it was disgraceful. 

The next day, he said he needed to talk to me. He sat on the big bed that the three of us shared and looked at me solemnly. “[GF] says that you don’t want to be with me any more.

That wasn’t how I remembered last night’s conversation, but I was blind-sided that she’d told him so I didn’t argue the point.I don’t remember many details, but at some point he insisted GF come join the conversation. She mostly sat silently on the bed and watched. We shouted, we cried, and eventually we came to an agreement. I couldn’t do this anymore. He and I were over.

What did that mean for me and her, for her and him? We didn’t know, and it felt like too much to decide then. She said that she wasn’t ready to give up on her relationship with him, he said he didn’t know what he wanted. It was a mess.

I moved into the spare room that night, unable to bring myself to stay in bed with him. I cried for hours. GF stayed upstairs, slept in the bed with him and didn’t come to check on me. That was my first clue.

There was so much to sort out – the kids, the house. He and I had a joint mortgage. Would we have to sell it? Could he remortgage and buy me out? The kids were confused and didn’t understand what was happening, so we tried to keep things as normal as possible. He stayed out of the house as much as he could. Every night that week he came into the spare room to talk to me. We would stay up late into the night; sometimes I cried, sometimes he did. We consoled ourselves that we’d tried everything to make it work. It wasn’t that we didn’t love each other, it was just too much. Even now, 18 months later, I am tearful remembering. I felt closer to him than I had in years. GF didn’t come to see me once.

The following weekend, just 5 days after my world blew up, I went to visit an old university friend. My mental health was in pieces and I needed the break. I’d been in a relationship with BF for my entire adult life, from 17 to 28. What the hell was I going to do without him? I needed the comfort of an old friend to help me see a way forward. I left Saturday and got back on Sunday, the one week anniversary of the lowest point of my life. GF was in the kitchen making a hot drink, but she didn’t offer me one. I suggested watching a TV show we’d been watching together, but she said she’d caught up on the episodes while I was away. She was more distant than ever, and I desperately needed reassurance. Perhaps that’s why I wasn’t subtle.

“Have you changed your mind?” I blurted. She looked up at me, eyes wide. I continued, “You said last week that you thought we could make this work. Have you changed your mind?” She paused, looked down at the kettle.

“Yes.”

That was it. I cried, but she didn’t. At no point over the following weeks did she cry for me. 


“Did you ever really love me?”

“I cared about you.”

“That’s not the same and you know it. When did you know you didn’t love me? When I proposed? Before?”

She didn’t answer. I can guess, but I’ll never know


Two down, one to go.

I really was alone now. A 9-year relationship and a 7-year relationship, both dead in a week. I left him; she left me. A week later, he left her. It was a clusterfuck. He said he couldn’t handle the stress of the kids any more; he wanted a fresh start. 

She fell apart. There weren’t enough spare rooms, so he moved into the spare room, and I moved in with a friend. I was on the mortgage, but she had the kids, so it seemed fair. She got so depressed, she wouldn’t leave the master bedroom. I heard about it from him. He went public with his relationship with Swiss Miss a week after he broke up with ExGF. I told him he was a classless arsehole. He insisted nothing had happened before we broke up. As though anyone was going to believe that. 

I can’t remember why, but I remember he walked me back from his house to the house where I was staying with Friend. It was dark, and cold, and he paused in an alleyway. We were talking, and he said that he missed me. The house wasn’t the same without me. I was his best friend, and my leaving left a hole in his life. He was sweet and articulate, the way he used to be when it was just the two of us and he’d been my whole world. He kissed me, and the conversation got explicit. He missed fucking me. I remember being tempted, so tempted. I’d been alone and grieving for weeks, and I so desperately wanted to feel safe and loved again. But I pulled away. I told him that he’d made his choices, and I’d made mine. I went ‘home’ to my friend’s house, to the inch-thick futon on the floor where I was sleeping, and cried myself to sleep.

Later, I found out that he was still sleeping with ExGF at that point. They’d been sleeping together intermittently since I moved out. I feel sick when I think how smug he must have felt that week, thinking that he had three women who wanted him.

It took three months for him to remortgage the house and buy me out, so that I could get the money for a deposit on a place of my own. They were the longest, most awkward months of my life. All of our friends were mutual, and they made it clear that they wouldn’t take sides. Neither of us would have asked them to, so that was ok. He continued running weekly game nights at his house, but I only attended one and then decided to drop out. It was too hard.

The icing on the cake was when Swiss Miss, who has returned to Switzerland, came back to the UK for a visit. She had planned to stay with ExBF, but ExGF and her children were still living there. ExBF thought that ExGF didn’t have a right to complain because it wasn’t her house. I told him he was a selfish arsehole. To compromise, Swiss Miss came to stay with the same friend I was crashing with. Perfect. I should have kept my fucking mouth shut. ExBF spent all his free time at Friend’s house, hanging out with Swiss Miss. Not only did I lose my home and my relationships, but I still got to enjoy all their PDA while effectively homeless. Brilliant. Did I mention that Friend also wanted to bang Swiss Miss? He spent the whole time she was staying sulking around the house because another older man got there first. I had little sympathy. 

For a while, friends visited me where I was staying with Friend. But the visits got fewer and fewer. By the time I moved into my own place, most of them had stopped speaking to me. I still don’t know why. Was it something the Exes had said? Something I did? I lay awake at night wondering.

When it came time to move into my new house only two of my long term friends offered to help. One couldn’t make it, because I had to move on a weekday, and the other only stayed for half a morning and didn’t leave the ex’s house. I got the feeling he was more there for ExBF than me, to make sure I didn’t take anything. ExGF had moved out just a week before, into a little flat with the kids. She couldn’t afford a house, and even needed ExBF to be her guarantor. That couldn’t have been a fun discussion. Her car was already in his name because her credit score was so poor. She’d taken all the food out of the cupboards and hired movers who trashed the place. Evidently he was worried I’d do the same.

We’d boxed up everything together, he and I, going over who had what in a reasonably civil way. In an effort to ‘help’ he had taken it upon himself to move all my boxes from the dining room to the shed. When I finally unpacked and discovered things missing – things that mutual friends spotted on his bookshelf later – he insisted that I was either crazy or had lost them. It wasn’t the worst thing he’d done but for some reason I was more offended by this than the more obvious indiscretions. It was just so damn petty.

My parents drove up to help me move: 240-mile round trip to get there, two more 40-mile round trips to get the stuff from his place to mine. It was just me, them, and a guy I’d only just met, who was a hero getting all the big stuff moved. When the Ex turned up unexpectedly at lunchtime to ‘help’ (read: monitor), he was furious that I’d brought a stranger. Sure, he could go public with Swiss Miss after a week, but I was a whore for starting to see other people after three months.

It’s probably worth noting that he was especially bitter by this point. You see, Swiss Miss had dumped him after only two months. She said he was ‘clingy and controlling’. I imagine it made it harder for him to see me moving on, when his own poor life choices had blown up in his face. That was the last time my parents saw him, and dad said that he looked like a broken man, that he felt sorry for him. I didn’t. 

A couple of days after the big move, I moved my stuff out of the friend’s house where I had been staying. I did that on my own. It was a weekend this time, but neither he nor my friends were free. My closest friend said that she had a gig at 7 pm that night, so she couldn’t help me during the day. Sure, that makes sense. I was only a bridesmaid at your wedding, it’s not like you could spare me an hour or two.

It turned out that the ‘friend’ I was staying with was upset that I’d lived there three months and hadn’t slept with him. I didn’t realise it was a condition of him putting me up, but I guess I should have seen it coming. Maybe that’s why my closest friend has stopped speaking to me? She and he were close, I have no way of knowing what was said.

The first night in my new house I slept on a mattress on the floor. In three months I’d lost two long term relationships (my fiance and the love of my life), my step kids, my house and apparently my friends. I was truly, genuinely alone. I wanted to feel hopeful, but I cried all night long. I couldn’t imagine how on earth I was going to build my life back up again.


I didn’t realise how unhappy I was in that relationship until I left it. It’s easy to look back now and see all the ways that I allowed my own needs to take a back seat for the sake of others, easy to see all the ways that I was made to feel less-than. But it didn’t feel like that at the time. My relationship with my ex-bf was so intense that at times it was more like an obsession, it superseded everything else in my life. I thought that he was the only chance I would ever have to be loved or happy, so I poured everything I had into trying to make that relationship work, despite all the signs that it was never going to be healthy. Like a frog in a cooking pot, I didn’t notice the water starting to boil around me as the heat built up. Dropped into that situation from the get-go I surely would have rejected it, but it built up so slowly over such a long time that the dysfunction became my new normal. My baseline happiness was so low that being not-actively-unhappy counted as a good day, and I dreaded the uncertainty of change more than I hated my stable unhappiness. 

Years later, after I’d started to build my life up again, my dad told me that watching me struggle had changed his views on women who stay in bad relationships. He said to me, “You’ve always come across so confident, you don’t take any shit. I realised if it can happen to you it can happen to anyone. He wore you down. I saw you being miserable, but I couldn’t stop it.”

He’s right there. I had so much of my self worth invested in that relationship that any attempt to criticise the relationship would have felt like a personal attack; it would only have made me hold on harder. 

I’m a champion at that; I feel like I spent that whole relationship carrying a heavy weight by a thick rope. Any attempt to make me let go just made me hold on harder, even when it started to hurt me. Skin blistering and bleeding, I was determined to hold on. I’d made the decision to pick it up, so dropping it would have meant failure and I couldn’t bear that. Instead, I defined myself by how much I could tolerate. I put so much effort into carrying that burden that it never occurred to me that I could just choose to put it down and walk away. 

Published by QuirkyCnt

I've spent 10 years living with chronic pelvic pain. Vulvodynia, vestibulodynia, vaginismus - I've got the set. I've even got lichen planus, which is an autoimmune disorder, and adenomyosis. This blog documents my experience with chronic pain, sexual dysfunction and all the ways I've tried to manage it. Expect fetish clubs, polygamy and explicit conversations about sex and sexuality.

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