There’s supposed to be light at the end of the tunnel. Yet as I sat there on the steps in our too large apartment it felt like I was sitting alone in the darkness. The seconds and minutes of silence just seemed to stretch on. Had I really just uttered one short sentence that would bring an end to us?
It was the end of July in 2013, my life had been a mess for months and I was done. The long drive had somehow focussed my mind and I just wanted to be able to be happy again, to feel like myself and to figure out what the hell was going on between Megan and I.
That one sentence seemed to hang in the air for all eternity. ‘What’s going on with us because you haven’t been my girlfriend for months?’ I was waiting for an answer. I don’t remember getting one, I started to randomly talk into the silence.
I told Megan that I wasn’t happy the way things were between us, I couldn’t imagine that she could be either. I told Megan that I had bent over backwards trying to make us both happy again, yet I couldn’t help but notice that she didn’t seem to be trying at all. I asked again, what does that mean for us?
I don’t know how long it took exactly for Megan to acknowledge that for her it was over. After the arguments we’d been having she didn’t see a way back to our happy days anymore. To begin with I took it all on the chin, then I was suddenly overwhelmed by it all. The hurt, the anger, the confusion all turning through my mind dragging up questions I would never get answers to.
A million questions tumbled through my head about how she could do this to me, what had made her stop loving me, why didn’t she want to be together anymore? As far as I saw it, the only problem there had ever been between us was when Megan started to pull away from our relationship, the problem of course exploded in our faces when I tried to resolve this with her and lost my temper. Yet that was all I knew of our situation, after how convincingly she’d assured me that nothing could tear us apart, that we were for keeps. That our first kiss was destined to be each of ours last first kiss.
You could say that I felt cheated. I had genuinely believed that what we had wouldn’t end. I had accepted that throughout the course of our lives together there would be hard times. I just thought we’d manage to pull through them together. Then here she was, telling me that wasn’t how she saw it anymore. How can you argue with that?
We both started to think about what that meant for our immediate future, we were living together in this large apartment and we’d have to give two months notice if we wanted to move out. Neither of us could afford to take it on our own.
Then there was the fact that we were now sharing a car, I had sold mine when we moved in together. I sure as hell wasn’t going to keep paying half her car loan and filling the damn thing with petrol. It didn’t take me long to feel bitter about that. We had so many things we bought together in the apartment too, furniture and all sorts.
We had been so keen to make a life together in those early days, everything started so promising. Our apartment had us stamped all the way through it. From the pictures hanging on the walls, photo albums stuffed full of memories from our dates, weekends away and much more.
I suddenly loathed the place, but I had nowhere else to go. I was losing it and I didn’t know what to do. Megan could see I was on the edge, she wasn’t going to let me calm down. If I shouted, she’d shout back. In the end she left the house, it wasn’t our worst argument. I can’t remember why or what was said. I just remember being absolutely livid.
After Megan had left the house it took a long time for me to work through the rage. I ransacked our apartment. Cut down all the hearts and kitsch crap hanging from the walls and stairs. Took all the photos out of the frames and ripped apart every single photograph I could find of ours. I didn’t want to see a single reminder that everything we had shared was supposed to be forever, was supposed to have been so promising when all the promises were now broken.
It didn’t take much time at all to completely trash the place. When I was done I stood still for the first time that night and looked at the chaos around me. I felt oddly calm in that horribly hollow way. I grabbed a bin bag from under the sink and started to clean everything away.
When the room was tidy and there were two full bags waiting to be taken down to the dumpsters I felt exhausted. I heard the familiar sound of the key in the door as Megan returned home. I didn’t have a clue where she had been and I didn’t even want to ask. When she entered the room she was upset.
She wasn’t upset out of any compassion for me because of the decisions she had made that led us here. Instead she was sad because I had trashed everything, because I had destroyed all the memories she claimed to cherish. She tearfully scolded me for what I had done, asking me how I could do such a thing when I knew she had trouble remembering things. It didn’t reach me, I was already bitter and wondering why on Earth she’d want to remember a relationship she was now so desperate to be free from. I certainly wouldn’t be able to look back at any of the memories as fondly as I could have when I thought we had a future.
She must have still had some hold on me, when she had stopped crying and we had arranged on temporary sleeping arrangements I was upstairs in what had been our room for so many months while Megan set up the sofa bed. I spotted the box of trinkets from our early days, the movie tickets, receipts with silly notes on them, love notes and ‘just because’ presents. Even the list of things we’d written down over Christmas of all the things we wanted to do in 2013 together.
Instead of throw it all away, I offered it all to Megan. If she wanted to remember us and the happy times we had shared then she could have it. None of it would mean the same to me anymore. I know that some people can end relationships peaceably and move on without leaving too much damage and destruction in their wake. Perhaps I should have been grateful for the happy times we got to share together and let myself think fondly of her. I didn’t, I felt abused.
The last four months of my life had been spent vying for her attention. Listening to a relentless stream of ‘it’s not you it’s me’ while all the time she was chastising me for not being good enough. Whether it was helping around the flat, or not being supportive enough with her health problems, being too needy or any other number of things she’d used to beat me down over time.
Yet in all that time all I had ever wanted was to feel loved by her again. My unconscious or my intuition must have known that I’d really been screwed over. That’s why there was anger, bitterness and stubbornness in those final days. The person I was now sharing a flat with could only be recognised as a stranger, she was so far from the woman I had fallen in love with that it was easy to be angry with her. I didn’t think the girl I had loved was even real anymore. Had she deceived me from the start or had something happened to change her?
It would be months before I’d find out what was really going on, when it didn’t really matter so much anymore except to prove to myself that I was right. But before that would happen there would be other obstacles to overcome, not to mention two months notice to live through together. If we couldn’t afford the place solo we certainly couldn’t afford to pay rent in two locations in London simultaneously. Things would get even worse, I didn’t know they could.