An Honest Look Back at 2019

January 14, 2020 9 Comments
DREAMY FOREST SHOOT

I want to start this post by saying this isn’t a woe is me what a hard year I had or a plea for pity post. One of the reasons I’ve written any of my posts about starting again is because they give me a form of cathartic release and I think writing an honest look back at 2019 is the best way to move on and close the chapter on what was probably the hardest year of my life. Not only will looking back give me a sense of closure that’s much needed but it’s a good reminder just how much I survived last year and how much stronger I am, much more than I ever give myself credit for. I also hope that, as with any of my starting again content, it gives you the hope that you can push through and survive anything too.

I guess the best place to start is at the beginning. I approached 2019 with a huge amount of trepidation and fear I’m not going to lie. I remember having a bit of a breakdown to Hannah in December 2018 because I was afraid of what I knew 2019 had in store for me. It’s not often you approach a new year knowing what lies ahead for you. The new year should be 365 days of unknown possibilities, that’s why you celebrate the strike of the clock, get drunk and sing Auld Lang syn because the next year is new and full of exciting possibilities. But for me my 2018 held four very clear certainties. 1. I would have to attend two funerals, 2. Eddie my dog would most likely have to be put to sleep, 3. I would have to leave my home and the village I loved  and 4. My divorce would be finalised and I would say goodbye forever to the man who was a huge part of the last 10 years of my life.

I knew all these things were in my future and I had no idea if I would be able to do any of them without falling apart.

January started with me still living in the marital home on my own. The house had been taken off the market after not selling the previous year so there were no immediate prospects for me being able to move. One of the hardest things about 2018 was I spent 2/3 of it living in the home we’d shared together. Surrounded by memories unable to achieve any kind of closure or forward momentum. I felt stuck. He was in his own place by now, living with his girlfriend, they’d just spent their first Christmas together whereas I’d spent my first single Christmas with my family and despite the fact I had a lovely Christmas and I cant emphasise this enough, I didn’t want to be with him anymore, I couldn’t help but resent him for his fresh start and his new life.

I suppose to be 100% honest I also started the year still on antidepressants, albeit a very low dose but I continued to struggle with feeling very low and with lack of motivation. This wasn’t new for me. I’d struggled with this back from 2016 and wrote a post back then all about it An Honest Look Back at 2016.  Later in the year In April I restarted seeing my counsellor after finding CBT a failure for me (I’m not going to go into why, it just didn’t work for me) in an effort to have someone to talk through everything and because despite the fact I was going through a divorce I didn’t want to be on medication.

On the 15th on January I published my breakup story on my blog. It had taken me 8 months to feel like I could write it and even though I was so nervous to put it online, it was the best thing I ever did. My blog traffic went nuts over the next 24hours with the post being shared so much on Twitter and Instagram. I realised the fact was no one ever really talked about this topic and when the messages and comments came in support and those that said they were going through the same thing and it had helped, I knew I’d made the right decision to write it.

 

DREAMY FOREST SHOOT

January also brought me a new friend Lucy. I wrote about her in my Four Friends Every Girl Needs to get over a Breakup post. She was introduced to me by Erica Davies as she was going through EXACTLY what I was too and if you follow me on my social channels you’ll know she has been a huge part of my life ever since and a brilliant friend to have had through 2019.

My friendship group was hit by incredible grief in January when one of my closest friends’ daughter who had been diagnosed with brain cancer in late 2018 passed away. I’ve not experienced many funerals in my life, and I felt a huge amount of fear about the prospect of a child’s funeral. I was afraid that my emotions would get the better of me and I wouldn’t be able to hold it together for my friend who of course we all wanted to support. The funeral in February was one of the hardest days of the entire year. I remember standing at the burial and despite the fact both my best friends arms wrapped around my waist as we stood strong the three of us in support of our friend, I couldn’t help but feel sad that their other hand clasped on to a partner and mine didn’t. And that later they would go home to comfort and cuddles and I would go home to an empty house and to cope with the grief alone.

The one thing an event like this does though is make you really consider your life and how lucky you really are. My friend is an incredible woman to have coped with this the way she has, and it gave me a real push to try and be strong and cope with anything that was to come in my own life.

 February 14th, I embraced my first single valentine’s day with a trip to London and a new tattoo and my first ever Instagram live featuring some chats about Valentines day as a whole all while drinking my favourite Corona. It wasn’t till March that I downloaded some dating apps again. After my first attempts at swiping the previous year had failed as truth be told I wasn’t ready I had my very first dating app date in March. I wrote about it in more detail in my First Dating App Date Post but so began an on and off situation with someone who continually dropped me and broke my heart only to reappear every few weeks. It was emotionally exhausting and I’m ashamed to say continued right through most of the year.

But March held some good news too. The house had gone back on the market in January and finally we had accepted an offer on it. The buyers were chain free and in rented and all the signs looked good that I would be moved in a few months. It was the news I needed and it meant that I could finally start thinking about my life in the future. That’s not to say that this news didn’t come with some fear. I didn’t know where I was going to end up or if I’d even be able to find somewhere that would take me and two dogs. Because I was going back into rented I was told not to start looking until we were exchanged so despite the good news I still wasn’t able to know exactly where I was going to be living and this did cause me quite a lot of anxiety. I also panicked about the timeline a lot and what if I couldn’t find anywhere and I was forced to move into somewhere awful because the sale had to proceed. It was ironic that certainty had been what caused me upset at the beginning of the year and now it was uncertainty and the unknown that kept me awake at night.

March also began a lot of legal to and froing about the divorce. I had now instructed a solicitor to help with the financial/consent order side of the divorce. I think this is something I’d like to talk about more in another post but the next few months were full of tricky conversations about money. Heart breaking if the truth be told to now discuss your marriage from a monetary point of view. Though we managed to remain amicable, to be honest I found this harder. It might have been easier if we shouted and screamed because that would have been so opposite to how we were as couple. Normalcy hurt more. Because at times it felt like nothing had changed, but of course it had. Most times I would cry after we spoke on the phone because conversations about divorce and solicitors were conducted with similar normality to how “what are we having for tea” conversations used to happen back in the day.

In April I started to suffer from a weird illness. It started with a lump in my thigh which got infected so bad I had to be put on two sets of antibiotics and take the week off work because I couldn’t walk without a great deal of pain. Over the next few months I suffered badly from several of these in different places and I’m not gonna lie it really affected me and pulled me into feeling pretty sorry for myself. These lumps were a reoccurring problem right up till the end of the year and apparently down to stress and a weak immune system. Another nice side effect of a crappy year.

I think this had a lot to do with why I sought out to see my counsellor again but also because I wanted to be proactive and do something about the way I felt. I passed through the next couple of months including my wedding anniversary the best I could and in June I re-joined the gym to try and improve my mood alongside slowly weaning myself off my tablets. By September I was tablet free and I also stopped seeing my counsellor too because I’d found that I didn’t need it as much as I had. Also she was based back near my village and by then I had moved and thought returning there every week wouldn’t help me move on and get a fresh start. If I’m honest I think this is my proudest achievement of last year, to begin the year on medication and struggling and despite everything that happened in the year to end it tablet free and much happier in myself.

DREAMY FOREST SHOOT
DREAMY FOREST SHOOT

June though wasn’t easy. From the beginning of the year my dog Eddie had begun to have accidents in the house and show more signs of struggling. He’d always been a sickly dog bless him but in June the vet sedated him to check his bladder etc and found a tumour. The dogs lived with me and I looked after them, but my ex continued to help pay towards any vets bills and still had a say in what treatment etc we gave to them. We were told to prepare for Eddie to get worse and that eventually we would have to decide to put him to sleep and we would know when that time was.

I was heartbroken. I think from that day forward I stopped enjoying him as a dog. I felt like all I did was watch him for symptoms and clean up after his many accidents and administer all his various medications. I struggled. Especially on my own and even more so as he got worse later in the year. I also worried about him in a rented home and whether he would even cope with a move of home. Though to be fair I was no closer to moving. The buyers were still waiting for their money to make it way through probate and I was still in limbo living in the marital home but unable to look for somewhere else to live.

I did head to Lisbon with my best friend for a few days of r&r and although a bit weird, my ex moved back into the house for a few days to look after the dogs while I was away as we thought Eddie didn’t have long. As it was Eddie and the little cheeky chap he was fought on all the way until October. When I got back the guy I liked (the one from my first app date) left town for good and moved away, breaking my heart with a “goodbye forever” message and along with a few other disappointments men wise I wasn’t feeling optimistic about dating at all.

But in July I got the news I had been waiting for months, I could start looking for a house. I headed out that night to the local pub to celebrate with my best friend and there met “Pub guy” I won’t bore you with story as I did write about it in this blog post. But it ended with me being ghosted and after a rough few months men wise, I decided to give up dating and concentrate on finding a house and moving forward with my life.

The excitement of being able to look for a house quickly fell away as it turned out it was so much harder to find something quickly that suited my location needs and would allow me to have two dogs as well as hopefully be a bit instagrammable so I could carry on creating interior content once moved. The buyers and their solicitors started to get impatient despite the fact I’d waited patiently for months and things became very fraught and stressful in August with me feeling forced into choosing a house quickly to avoid the sale falling through. Those couple of weeks of teary phone calls to my estate agent, solicitors, parents and even my ex ringing to add stress to the situation, were the worst of 2019, I think. As it is, I found a house (and one that now I realise I was probably the one I was meant to end up in) and a move date of the 7th of September was set.

July was also the month that one of my close blogger friends Hannah left to move back to Sussex. Over the year she’d been such a support to me, and I looked forward to our weekly meet ups for coffee and photos and I was a bit afraid what I would do without this lifeline each week. Over the year I also grew even closer to Emma who had been there every step of the way through this journey and was there in some of the hard moments to come later in the year too in a way I’ll never be able to repay.

Finally, I could start packing up the house and start planning what my future would look like. But with it came the realisation that I would have to finally leave the village that I loved and the house that was to be honest my dream house and one I had poured so much time and love in to. For a long time, I distanced myself from the village and its people and activities especially while we were going through our separation, but in the year I lived there on my own I embraced the place and made some wonderful friends there. I loved that people knew my name and said hello in the street and I knew my heart would break the day I had to drive away for good. I might write a post about why I chose to leave and also about going back into rented vs buying in another blog post.

 I also had to tackle jobs like clearing out the loft with my ex and dividing up belongings like wedding items. Moments like that were hard and did cause tears but they were something I always knew was coming and that I’d have to deal with in order to move on.

In September I watched his moving guys and him pack up his half of the house and load it into a van that would then head to the new house that he’d got with his girlfriend. Where they would excitedly unpack and celebrate their new home with a glass of fizz surrounded by boxes containing parts of our old life together. I didn’t cry. I was too excited about my own move to be honest, but I thought about that a lot.

On the 7th September I moved. I cried my eyes out as I drove my car out of the village after handing the keys over to the new buyers. But I got to my new place and was soon distracted by a million boxes needing to be unpacked. I celebrated that day with Lucy who helped me move and later that night with my best friend who has been there through countless house moves. I’d filmed the whole thing over three weeks and despite being afraid to publish the video on my YouTube I wanted to document something so hard with honesty but ending on a positive note. The Honest Moving Vlog video went live and has been my second most successful video to date with over 50,000 views and I’m so glad I made it. It boosted all my channels and brought me followers who wanted to see honest and raw content like that which makes me happy.

Later that month I attended funeral number 2. A friend of mine who I’d reconnected with the year before passed away. I’d known it was coming as he’d been diagnosed as terminal, but I was still shocked and upset I hadn’t seen him one last time as I’d been too busy with my house move. My best friend came with me to the funeral and held my hand as I cried.

A few days later I filed for the final part of my divorce. Only filed online with a simple email sent but I was shocked when the next day less than 12 hours later in my inbox appeared my decree absolute. I’d expected it to take weeks and hadn’t been prepared. I burst into tears sat on the bench with Gus’s ball thrower in hand. A mix of sadness and relief, I guess. I didn’t tell anyone online and in fact waited till three weeks later to announce it in true Deb’s style with a video I’d worked for weeks on and one I’m so proud of and still go back and watch now if I need cheering up. If you haven’t watched my Shake it Off video, then watch it here. I also headed out to a Divorce dinner with all my friends who’d been there to support me over the last year and treated them to food and fizz.

 

DREAMY FOREST SHOOT

At the end of October Eddie took a turn for the worst and I made the decision it was time to put him to sleep. I spent a last evening and day with him. Took him to the beach and sat snapping some last photos of him while he sat and sniffed the sea air. Emma came and sat with Gus while that evening me and my ex went to the vets. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything as hard as hold my little furry man as he passed away. I cried so much. I still do whenever I think of him, even writing this now, but I know it was the right thing to do and it was the right time.

Thankfully November was a great month. I’d given up on dating again to focus on work and work wise I had a great month with some collaborations and projects I was super proud of and so happy that work had picked up again after I’d moved house.

In December, I scattered Eddies ashes under his favourite bench back in the village with my ex and afterwards I said goodbye to him for good. Gus will now be only my dog and as we don’t have children there will now be no reason for me to see or speak to him again. It was sad and it was emotional but it held a real sense of closure.

And so my year ended very differently to how 2018 had. Despite having gone through so many painful and difficult things in 2019 I knew I wouldn’t have to do any of them again in 2020. They were all done and dusted and actually I spent New Years eve 2019 on my own just me and Gus because I wasn’t afraid of what 2020 held for me or to start it alone. In fact, I’m excited. And I know if I can get through last year and everything it had to throw at me and end the year happier, stronger and in a much better place then I can cope with anything.

So goodbye 2019. Thank you for all the lessons you taught me and here's to a bloody brilliant year ahead.

 

Debs

x

Photos by Colchester Streets

 

 

 

 

9 Comments

  • Rebecca January 14, 2020 at 10:52 am

    Emotional read, thank you for sharing xx

  • Stella January 14, 2020 at 11:55 am

    I’m really proud of how you managed everything Debs !
    I would say You Go Girl !!! 💋💋

  • Alice Anne January 14, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    Huge chapter closed but I’m so excited to see what is next for you xx

  • Elaine Malone January 14, 2020 at 7:00 pm

    Enjoyed this, very honest read, thanks for sharing Debs. I related to some of what you’ve said and I know how difficult those aspects can be at times, so proud of you for making it through. I hope 2020 is so fricking epic for you, you deserve it Xx

  • Jan Ellis. January 14, 2020 at 8:00 pm

    That was a lovely but sad read Debs. I hope 2020 brings you all the happiness you deserve. Xx

  • Aylee January 15, 2020 at 12:12 am

    Wow 2019 was a tough one for me too many lessons and my dog passed also. But youre absolutely right, lessons have been learned and we’re going to tackle 2020 head on! Keep going debs ;)

  • Caroline January 15, 2020 at 11:50 am

    Oh Debs, you gorgeous inside and out human-being! :)
    I think if there’s anythin to take from last year and even at times throughout the coming year(s), it will be that final sentence. Last year you learned a lot. About yourself. And that is very powerful.
    I know the coming year will be amazing for you as you truly deserve it.

    Caroline.x

  • Mariajose January 16, 2020 at 9:25 am

    I can’t say more than, THANKS FOR SHARING. Last year was a year to learn and full of big changes for me too. I feel really proud of how you managed all this hurtful things. I send you all the love and luck for the years coming!
    M xxx

  • Emma January 19, 2020 at 11:39 am

    Wonderfully written by a wonderful lady! So proud of everything you’ve been through and everything that’s to come
    Em x

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