How it feels

July 11, 2012 — 26 Comments

It has been one month and 4 days since I made the promise to myself to turn my back on love and be single for 1000 days…35 days in.

So how does it feel? Am I lonely? Do I miss being with someone and having someone close?

What does it feel like late at night when I’m used to reaching out and feeling someone next to me and knowing I’m not alone in the nightness, to now reach out and feel nothing more than the cold side of an empty bed?

I’ll tell you honestly.

My boyfriend and I broke up several weeks before I decided to take a vow of singledom, so there were several weeks to feel lost and ring my girlfriends every day carrying on as if I was the first and only person in the world to ever go through a break up and feel as heart broken and sad and hopeless as I felt.

Yes, the first few weeks were difficult and bitter-sweet. Very bitter. And yet, very sweet. And very strange.

I found myself doing unusual things to cope with what I was going through. I developed a massive crush on bleach. Yes, that’s what I said.

There is this bleach gel that the Easy off Bam! Company make that I have developed a creepy obsession for, or rather, for the incredible way it gets mould and stains off EVERYTHING and makes everything pure again.

So I am sitting on my lounge one day and saw a mark on the inside of my front door. It sat there in the corner of my eye whispering ‘clean me, clean me, clean me’ until I got up and grabbed my bleach gel and cleaned that little spot. Wow, it came up SO clean and white. So I did the whole door. Incredible, I have never seen the door so clean. So I did the wall surrounding the door, then the wall adjacent. Then the ceiling above the wall adjacent!!… And so it began.

For three days I bleached and bleached and bleached.  Everything in the whole, entire house. Every door, every handle of every door, every window frame, every tile, every inch of grout between every tile.


Looking back, I can see it was insanity. I would bleach until late at night, when I was so exhausted I would fall into bed.

It was 2 days in before I bought gloves, so my hands aged 20 years during this time, and it was touch and go a few times there when I would be stuck in a small ensuite with enough bleach fumes to melt your eyeballs, but I was like a mad woman. It became my favorite thing to do. There is not one surface or fixture in my home that has not been bleached. The smell of bleach lingered for days.

I didn’t stop to register that this behavior might be unusual until I was skyping my sister Nelly, who lives in Nice, France. I was telling her about how much I was loving bleach, and how clean everything was and how white everything was and how I had been scrubbing and scrubbing on my hands and knees to get to the far corners of my floors and then on tippy toes on chairs to get to the highest reaches of my ceiling and at one point she stops me and she gave me that look and said ‘You know you sound bat-shit crazy right?’

Do I?

In reflection, yes, crazy. Definitely crazy. But I see what I was trying to do. I was trying to wash him away. The memories of him. The presence of him. His smell off the pillows and off the blankets. I was trying to scrub it all off, and exorcise the ghost of our dead relationship from our home.

I did this like a crazy woman for nearly 72 hours straight, only pausing to sleep and feed the children and it all came to a head when I was scrubbing furiously, on hands and knees and I just broke into uncontrollable sobbing. You know the kind – The kind where you double over and clutch your stomach and gasp for breath as if you are drowning and once it starts, there is no stopping it. Once the floodgates open, the dam will empty out whether it is convenient or not, whether you are ready for it or not.

So there I was, sitting in a puddle of bleach and water on my kitchen floor falling apart. I hadn’t really cried about the break up yet. It had been weeks and I had just pushed it aside, filing it away into the ‘I’m not ready to deal with this just now’ box. I cried until I was physically worn out, until I couldn’t walk. So I crawled to the couch, and then I slept. When I woke up I decided I would never put myself through that again. I had lost my first love when I was only 17 years old, I had been through a divorce and here I was again, at only 27 years old, on the floor, crippled with this shitty and painful aftermath of this thing we are so addicted to called love.

“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life…You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like ‘maybe we should be just friends’ turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It’s a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.”

-Neil Gaiman


So that’s how it began. The next day was day 1 of what I had decided would be 1000 days of rest.

‘How do people do this’ I thought to myself ‘How does the world continue to spin when people go through break ups and heart break like this and just act like it’s a normal part of growing up?

I just don’t understand. This should not be a part of normal life. It hurts far too much. This is something I may not fully recover from for years, if ever. I mean, am I missing something here? Does this kind of dance with extreme love and extreme pain not cause anyone else to just tear their hair out and refuse to participate in any of it ever again! How do you people not hate what this does to you! I hated it. I hate what it did to me. So I refuse to ever go through that ever, ever, ever again.

I’m allowed to decide that. I don’t care what anyone says about it, I don’t have to endure that ever again if I don’t want to.

So now it is day 35. Do I feel lonely? In all honesty? Not yet.

Not yet.

I’m not expecting that I wont face that battle. I know that 1000 days will have its fair share of nights of loneliness and I know it is nothing to brush off as a ‘I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it’ thing, because loneliness is serious. Loneliness is a terrible poverty, and even now I am preparing myself to face it, because it will come. But for now, I am enjoying something that is ‘being alone’ without being lonely. Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone. But solitude express’s the glory of being alone. And that is where I am right now. In the glory of being alone.


I don’t reach out in my bed at night anymore, hoping to feel the warm back of someone I love. I enjoy feeling the cold. It reminds me I can stretch out if I want to.

I don’t mind sitting at home knowing someone isn’t driving home to see me. It reminds me that I can read and write all night without needing to be present for someone else. Right now, being alone is very sweet.

I do have sharp pangs of pain every now and then at the most unexpected times when I am reminded of my pre-single life. I was at the supermarket last week to get sugar. I found myself in the aisle that stocks the soymilk. “He really liked soy milk” ……’I can remember when he first bought a carton of it and I couldn’t believe he was into it” And then, there I was again. In pain.

I was cleaning out my bathroom cupboard and when I found an old can of his body spray I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.  I began to draw the can up to my nose so I could breath him in, and then stopped myself. Don’t do that to yourself Ness, you’ll cry, and you’ve done enough of that for now’ So I threw it in the rubbish bag along with everything else.

Yes. Those moments have been difficult. Some to the point of feeling physically ill. But I turn to face it and stare it in the eye knowing that trauma cannot heal without time and without taking a few ‘sick days’ and I am not the first person to go through this, and I wont be the last.

So now those moments have become more few and further between and I am trying to navigate my way around a new state of being… being at peace. I feel so calm and so relaxed and so at peace in my life right now. It is beyond description. I am also very, very, very happy.

I do miss kissing. I do miss having two arms reaching around my waist from behind to draw me close while I’m preparing dinner. Yes, there are things about love I do miss. But anything worth achieving comes with sacrifice.

Motivation is remembering why you started; you have to keep the reason for it all in the forefront of your mind because the day I forget that, will be the day the loneliness envelops me. Readers, being alone should not necessarily be associated with loneliness. Like I said several days ago, separating is not separating from love altogether. It is just learning to discover different forms of love, and when you realize how much of it you have around you, singleness becomes doable.

I promise to tell you as soon as I hit that wall where I feel alone and lonely if I do indeed hit it, but don’t bank on it happening any time soon.


26 responses to How it feels


    Ah ha!! finally got in… now we can talk……Love hurts!! In love, out of love, old love,new love, pre-loved, unconditional love, loving to clean, (ummmmm question….. answer…nurse.
    I just get on my knees and clean those corners cause I love to have clean corners,…and grout.
    Keep posting little ness, you write beautifully.


    Hi Vanessa. Im a friend on Teraza’s from South Africa. Absolutely love your blog! Well done! Love, Jen


    Reblogged this on Organized Chaos and commented:
    A beautiful account of the pain I’m experiencing right now. Maybe I should take a vow of singledom (although 1000 days seems pretty long…)?


    Loved the post! My obsession was laundry – cleaning white clothes. And I hope you heal completely and find what you’re looking for! 🙂


    Your honesty is striking and amazing. Good luck on your journey. x x x x x


    Every single word is true in here. Swim in the loneliness but always keep your head above water.For us who have been there, we can say that there is indeed joy in solitude.
    We’re happy you’re doing good! 🙂

    I think I found a Long distance-“blogging” friendship with you, I love your writing.Be coming back for more. 🙂


      Nearly 100 days in and I am still enjoying the solitude. I thought that by now I may perhaps start being weary, and desire someone close, but no. Not at all. In only 80 days I have learned so much about myself and my family and life. It has been nothing but wonderful and I look forward to every new day. I wish everyone could spend a certain part of their life alone, I really believe there would be a lot less divorce and broken relationships and sadness.


    This is the most passionate writing I’ve read in some time. Wonderful stuff.


    I think it’s definitely worth making yourself stay single – though you’re clearly not in the ‘making yourself’ stage yet. At some point, it becomes very tempting to say ‘yes’ to someone else just to be with someone. But it’s good to be able to stick it out beyond that.


    Where were you when I was divorced ten years ago 🙂 ?! I could have used your words! I am new to blogging (thank you for being among the first to “like” my “Tucker Everlasting”) but unfortunately was very seasoned in pain and loneliness…luckily, that is now behind me! I greatly admire your strength…but I hope you’ll forgive the romantic in me, who is hoping someone will sweep you off your feet before the thousand days are up :).


    I’ve been alone for as long as I can remember. I don’t feel nor do I long the warmth of my favorite person by my side at night, because I’ve never felt it before. I rely on myself for everything I want and need. I trust only myself with my secrets. I live a life within that no one has ever seen. I’ve tried to find someone I can be completely open with but everyone I’ve ever known, I’ve idolized, hated, liked, and so on … I’ve felt everything at least once for one person or another — everything but love. I’ve never truly loved a person. Nor do I believe I’ve ever been loved.
    You are doing better than I am, and I’m speaking from personal experience: It’s survivable. Keep it up, and you will learn a lot about yourself and learn independence.
    “Better to have loved and lost, than to not have loved at all.” Right?


    That is some of the best writing I have seen in a long time. Don’t give up on love or writing. They go together! Thank you for sharing your story and your skills.


    Thanks for visiting my blog. This is very nice. Both as someone who has been married for 33 years and as a therapist I am interested in seeing where you go with this. I think there’s great potential for growth. Keep up the good work!


    Excellent writing! Thank you!


    I couldn’t do this, there’s a reason we love Shakespeare/Greek tragedies. It burns, but it reminds you you’re still alive and gives you something to write about.


    I am coming up to 730 days of ‘singleness’ after the complete and rapid meltdown of an 11 year marriage. Well, there was one ‘random’ moment in there but barely a blip on the scale…so really won’t count that. But how I like to phrase it is that I am single but in no way alone or lonely. I have two grounded effervescent girls, a job a I adore, and a hectic social schedule supported by family and friends. I love being the sole decision maker and not having to share my closet. Oops – this is almost turing into my own post. What is amazing me at the moment though is how many strong, dynamic women I have met lately who all have their own bizarre stories to share…some are shattered by it, and some are empowered. Really enjoying your writing…..Slay dragons I say!


    I should get another blog going that I have not dated in 16 years! I am not heavy, I had a good job and my own home. Not one bite from the opposite sex since I ended a long term relationship years ago. My job did consist of me working in a cubible from sun up to sun down & I don’t like to go out after work. Now I know why old bitties are old bitties!


    Wow I’m speechless,that is deep & heartfelt.


    Detail-by-detail, line-by-line it made me feel so connected with your blog. This loneliness is so painful, it is a more of a question answer game which you keep playing with your mind. You convince yourself to avoid any single thought, any moment that strikes your mind suddenly.
    Hats-off to you Vanessa you are motivating lot many people around who just broke-up or are in the healing phase(like me). You have surely found another blog reader of yours 🙂 🙂 Keep up the good work.


    I have just started reading all of your blogs today since the beginning of this experience you’re going through. Clearly I haven’t made it through all of them to get caught up yet, but i can’t tell you how much these are already impacting me. Everything you write hits me in a place i have, like you had, put aside to deal with later. I connect with every word and every experience you write about. You are such an inspiration to me. Please keep doing this, for me and all of us brokenhearted, hopeless-romantics out there.


    This post of yours is so honest, so spontaneous and so true… I feel like I am reading my story, my current mental situation, though I haven’t tried bleach yet… but I have started reading and writing … I do want to be healed and I’ll be healed. Thank you for giving me a “feel good” feeling through your wonderful post.


    Love this–you have expressed honestly and clearly what I have felt on and off for years. I’ve gone through so many side-project phases where trivial things become the sole objective of each day. And I have been single for over 1,300 days now. It can be done and it can be beautiful. Thanks so much for following me! I’ve followed you back 🙂

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. revelations. | Coco in México - October 8, 2012

    […] reading another blog when more pieces of the puzzle fell into place. The blogger was saying that being alone doesn´t have to mean you´re lonely. And I have been. I have been so lonely that just functioning at school takes massive amounts of […]

I would love to hear from you, please feel free to comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s