Amber Gill Is A Lesson In Owning - And Never Apologising For - Your Post Break-Up Heartbreak
Words: Emmie Harrison-West
We all have the one break-up that defines our understanding of heartache.
I was 20 when I found out that my boyfriend of one year had cheated on me. And just like Greg's alleged 'breakup text', it was unexpected. I was totally shaken - I thought I'd met my future husband, the person that I was going to spend the rest of my life with.
At first, I was shocked into silence. But when I walked away from him, the crushing pain in my chest was unbelievable.
Heartbreak was something I'd read about in books, or watched unfold on the big screen. I truly never thought that it would happen to me.
Yes, I'd been through break-ups before but I was a teenager then - now I was in love, settled. I'd done the sleeping around, I was ready to get married and follow the straightforward path that I'd been set by generations of women before me.
In her interview with Loose Women this week, Amber described the feeling of heartache perfectly; she was "blindsided". I felt like I couldn't breathe, think, or even focus on putting one foot in front of the other.
I was embarrassed, ashamed and asked myself what I possibly could have done wrong to be cheated on.
In my head I went through every kiss, every night in bed, and text message to him to convince myself that it was my fault.
That night I climbed on the 1am Megabus home from Glasgow University to my hometown and vomited for the entire journey.
The next week I didn't leave my bed - my poor sister spent sleepless nights passing me tissues, stroking my forehead as I sobbed, and taking away my phone when I wanted to text him.
I was so ill I gave myself a kidney infection. I lost three dress sizes, and my bubbly, outgoing personality was shattered. I was anxious, afraid of pain, and had lost all my confidence.
When I eventually went back to uni I'd never felt more alone, I even cried in public to the poor old ladies at the bus stop who thrust tissues at me - I even cried to my poor hairdresser. I was grieving for the love that I'd lost and the future I'd planned.
Of course, I went back to him - he was manipulative, as all cheaters are, and I soon found out that he hadn't changed. He was texting scores of other women, feeding them the exact same words he'd fed me when I was his girlfriend.
After finding myself slumped on the floor of a dirty toilet on my way back from seeing him again, something snapped. I realised wasn't this person, I couldn't be defined by his behaviour.
That day, I bleached my dark hair blonde. I told all my friends what had happened to me, blocked him from every corner of my life and cut ties.
I started running for the first time in years, something I'd always loved. I made new friends and had sex with whoever I wanted - I ended up being the fittest and most fun I'd ever been.
Naturally, I had bad days. If I walked past his flat, saw one of his friends, or listened to a song he liked, I'd cry. In one moment of madness instead of unblocking his number, like I had so many times before, I booked a trip to New York the following summer.
I owned my sadness and, little by little, made it my happiness. In time, I realised that there was power in being honest to my friends about how I felt. I talked at length in therapy about my feelings and I was upfront about it. Instead of crying and feeling quietly vulnerable, I opened up.
I vowed to myself that I'd never let another person hurt me like that again, and that summer in New York I met my now-husband. That was five years ago, and while I still feeling the lasting effects of anxiety at being lonely, I'm ultimately a braver, stronger woman for it.
Learning to talk freely about my heartache - just like Amber has - was the making of me. Now in my friendships, and my marriage, I'm not afraid to be open and truthful about my feelings. In fact, it's made my relationships stronger than ever.
To Amber, and anyone else currently going through the sheer pain of a bad break-up, I say this: it may feel like your world is over, but don't be afraid to be heartbroken. You don't owe anyone your vulnerability or honesty except yourself, but talking about it helps.
It may be the end of something you once loved, but it's the start of something brand new, and much, much better. Trust me.
Featured Image Credit: Emmie Harrison-West