How do you turn heartbreak into something good? Lily Mason assures us it’s possible…
‘Uhh hi Mum, do you mind if I don’t pick up your prescription and come straight home. I’ve, I’ve just walked in on my boyfriend in bed with someone that, well, wasn’t me.’
This was something I never thought I would say, at least not at 19. Adultery seems like the kind of thing that happens to 50 year old Upper East Side housewives on reality TV. However, it happened to me, and I suppose it is the reason I am writing this from Italy. Fundamentally, it is the reason I am pursuing contentment in everything – even if it is dancing in my underwear to copious amounts of Northern Soul.
The worst part of this whole Heartbreak Hotel mess was the relationship I had with myself in the 6 months that followed it. It’s only small but, I don’t want to label him a ‘boyfriend’ because we never reached the stage of being exclusive, apparently that requires some kind of discussion nowadays. I guess I know why it never came up: he didn’t want to ruin what was going on with all the other girls. I felt mortified at what I had seen, and that there were more I hadn’t, and that it was my fault. He made me feel completely adored, which is a continuous rarity in my battle of fairly weak self-perception, which he knew about, so in hindsight it was a malicious circle. The concept of him (or her) reading this terrifies me. To admit such fragility in a world of ‘girl power’ and a social media perceived idea makes me feel inadequate. In a sense, I can’t help but feel there isn’t a lot of space to admit weakness anymore. But hey maybe, as Chris Miles from Skins said ‘Fuck it. I’m adequate. What can you do?’ and maybe it is okay to admit this on the Internet where a-n-y-o-n-e can see it. I’m human.
Questions like ‘was it because she’s prettier than me?’ were haunting those first few months, but I pushed on and realised it simply does not matter. This was not my fault. It has been an exceptionally long 6 months with countless sordid messages from him saying ‘Are you out tonight?’ and suddenly, for a moment, messages like that bring all those old feelings rushing to the surface. Recently an ‘I’m listening to our playlist’ made my palms sweat: it felt like it meant something (it didn’t, of course it bloody didn’t). Grab a hairbrush (and some cute underwear), make a ‘This Too Shall Sass’ playlist, and sing until someone inevitably walks in on you mid ‘R.E.S.P.E.C.T’. Because even dancing around in your underwear, you still deserve that: respect. It took a little while for me to realise this.
I can admit, now, that I do deserve better and it is okay to still have insecurities. Giving everything time is the most frustrating and tedious resolution but the most sustainable and efficient. I spent so much time just wanting to be fine – not Ross from Friends fine, actually fine. One time he came and sat on the table next to me at university and my friend said nervously ‘Lil, you aren’t okay are you?’ I don’t know what gave it away maybe the fact I was hysterically drinking my searing hot Venti Starbucks tea in one mouthful. I am waiting for just one moment to redeem the copious volumes of uncomfortable eye contact and nervous exits. Until then, it was really important that something good comes of the ‘French Dog Blues’ playlist, and friends are really essential to this. I had met two American exchange students and they introduced the idea of a semester aboard. I began looking into it to keep me occupied and as of September I will be a student at the Université Catholique de Lyon. A fresh start in a new place; one of the scariest things I’ve ever done and I couldn’t be more excited.
I was sat in a car park with one of my friends at 3:32am and she told me you’ll know when you’re done, and she was right. You really will have enough at soon or later, and there will be a lull. I think writing this has granted even more. Journaling is vastly underrated (and cathartic), get a notebook and exhaust the hindrances until 5am. Sure, it might be cheesy shit that makes Charlotte Bronte turn in her grave but who cares. More than that, take the time to thank your friends for the countless wine/social media fuelled tirades. No one has to be there for you, so appreciate the beauty of it when they stay. I have just messaged mine profusely thanking them for their patience. It is also probably wise to apologize for ignoring their advice, because you really do not know better when you are alternating between Patsy Cline’s ‘Strange’ and ‘Crazy’ for the millionth hour at in one morning.
Do things, especially by yourself. Book the trip you’ve always wanted to go on, Google ‘harmonica for beginners’ and buy that coat. I have booked a one-way trip to Paris, I am attending the festival that has been hidden in my bookmarks for years, and I have committed carbacide everyday for the past 6 weeks. It feels so good to be infinitely curious about what is next. I feel a little bit Eat Pray Love without Javier Bardem (yet, but who knows what the future will bring…)
To know there is more to come throughout the year is just inexplicably heavenly. There will always be more to come. Bizarrely, recognition of gratitude for the cretin(s) that upset you is essential. I’ll be eternally grateful for his stupidity because, quite frankly, I am the most motivated and happiest I have ever been.
Who knows how long it would have been since I’d left my bedroom floor fort if I had not of found his phone on the floor and we had met for the first time. So thank you, profusely, for the drunken ‘come over’ texts, infinite fabrications and heart ache because I’ve healed into someone better for it.
Follow Lily on twitter: @LilyFMason
Illustration: Fern Grant