Lucie Loves... Life // Breaking up is hard to do. A well-timed escape to Ibiza and a bit of photo-therapy courtesy of the new Huawei P20 (not an ad, more of a life-line)
"I'm leaving you."
How many times have you had to utter those other three words in your life? Maybe you were on the receiving end? I don't know... But either way, it's pretty shit for everyone involved, whoever pulls the plug. Being heartbroken sucks.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I've just come to the end of another chapter of my adult life, marking the grisly demise of a turbulent 18 month relationship – the first proper serious one since splitting with my most significant ex. The husband.
I was moping around, trying to stop myself from being a snotty mess, when I got an email from Huawei inviting me to join them on a press trip to Ibiza. Never has an invitation been more welcome. For two whole nights I would be able to leave my relationship mess at home and attempt to clear my head. It would also mean that I'd get my hands on the new Huawei P20 smartphone and allow the photographer in me to bask in the most perfect of Ibizan sunsets and seascapes, in the company of perfect strangers. I'm bloody lucky, I know... I had to pinch myself and thank whoever it is that's got my back up there!
Anyway, back to the break-up saga... this time around, after a whole 15 months of singledom, I'd fallen in love quickly – a little more tentatively than before, but still... Like everyone says it does, it happened when I least expected it.
We met on a dating app. Tinder. Had a couple of dates. A few weeks later, he declared his love, first. I was terrified. But I was smitten. Never had I been so physically attracted to someone. I couldn't get enough. Was I even ready for this? But by that point, I knew it was too late. I was in too deep – head and heart over heels, I was a goner.
I felt safe in his arms from the first moment I lay my head on that beautiful chest. From the first night we spent together, when we shared the most personal of revelations about ourselves.
I remember early on in that post-marriage relationship, being on a date and getting all emotional over margaritas in Wahaca. There I was, crying at him, as I shared my fear of wasting another 7.5 years of my life. I knew he wasn't ready to settle down there and then, but I'd hoped that this time around – I might be lucky – I might just have met the love of my life. The man who would do anything to make me happy. The man who would fight to make us work. A man who would prioritise my happiness and our relationship over everything else. But that wasn't to be.
As the plane took off from London Heathrow, I'd just finished ugly crying down the phone to one of my best mates, Katie, in the departure lounge. She reminded me that I'd been through worse, and I'd come out stronger. I felt so utterly miserable. But I knew that there was nothing I could do but battle on through it. I'd made my decision and I had to stick by it, or I'd still be as desperately unhappy another few years down the line.
He was the second adult male I've ever lived (read as: got tangled up) with romantically and domestically. We were like the cracked pot and the broken lid that just fitted perfectly.
When I was 26, I had imagined that by 32, I'd maybe be married, have a house and possibly even a few kids in tow. I’ve seen all of my friends and family get to this next level shit, but I just keep getting defeated by the boss at the end and hearing gameover.
The reality is I'm 32, I have a good life, but I'm about as far away from any of that now than I've ever been. I've had a series of long-term relationships, an expensive wedding, a short-lived marriage, and a messy divorce. Next month I turn 33 and I'm now wondering what life is going to throw at me next.
This is the first time I've ever had to leave someone I still loved. That's the most devastating part.
This most recent love saw more peaks and troughs than any I'd ever experienced before. There were great times, travels, lots of laughs and great music. But I realise now, after speaking to a friend, that I was addicted to the times he made me feel good. So much so that I was willing to put up with more lows than anyone should ever have to. There were times when I felt so desperately unhappy, but would stick it out, in the hope that things would change, that he would change and the good times would return.
Q. How do you decide to break up with someone if they don’t want to break up with you?
I watched a YouTube video about how to decide if a relationship is over and if you should break up with the person (to stop you dwelling on the time, money, energy and love you have invested) which said: “if you knew the next relationship you were going to get into would be like the last 6-months of this one, would you still decide to get yourself involved?!” That hit the nail on the head for me.
But, if I've learnt anything from this recent loss, it's that no matter how much you love someone, no matter how much you do for them, no matter how much of yourself you give to them, if they are not happy in themselves, there's nothing in the world that you can do to change that.
Everyone has the potential to be a good person. Everyone has the potential to change – to be happy. But sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you cannot save someone who does not want to be saved. They need to help themselves first. And in the process, I forgot to put me first.
For almost 12 months now, I have forfeited my own happiness for his. I have put up with behaviour that – if a friend was telling me it was happening in their relationship – I would scream is utterly unacceptable. My friends and family have been incredible patient. They've sat through my tears, through my moments of despair and bit their tongues, time and time again.
Love is blind, deaf and dumb. But if we fell in love with our heads, we probably wouldn’t ever get into another relationship ever again, for fear of being hurt.
When deciding whether to someone is truly over, you have to hit a wall – probably the same one – several times over before you come to your senses and realise that your relationship is toxic. I found myself becoming quiet and subdued, not doing as much of the things I loved, not seeing as much of the friends I cherished. I was neglecting myself and my happiness and it was exhausting.
All that I wish for him is that he finds a way to be healthy and happy. Because he deserves that, even if he doesn't believe it right now. He is one of the smartest people I've ever met, and I love him more than I have ever loved anyone. I just can't stand by and watch him self-destruct.
It was whilst in Ibiza that I met a fellow journalist, Z, who had not long ago gone through exactly the same thing. It was such a relief to be able to speak openly (and without judgement) with someone who knew how I was feeling and what I'd been going through. She too had had to leave a man that she loved, because he did not love himself enough to see that he was destroying himself.
We spent a few days basking in the sun at the brand new luxury 5-star hotel, 7 Pines Resort Ibiza, having heart to hearts and putting the Huawei P20's sublime cameras - fuelled by Leica optics – through its paces, photographing (and devouring) beautiful food and drink in rather surreal but breath-taking locations.
We covered ourselves in colourful gems and glitter with The Gypsy Shrine girls and danced until the early hours at famous Ibiza night spot Destino (part of the Pacha family) I can honestly say that photographing glorious views and having the best of conversations with new friends did wonders for my soul and soothing my broken sense of self. I felt truly blessed to have been invited.
Since returning from the trip I'm using my Huawei P20 as my main smartphone camera, whenever the opportunity arises. I’ve shot a couple of outfit shoots, I’ve snapped photos of an art exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, I’ve took photos for the #super_ordinarylife Instagram community I’m part of and toward to exploring its capabilities so much more. I'm an iOS girl through and through, by it has to be said, the Huawei P20's photographic might throws a whole lot of shade onto my existing iPhone 7 Plus camera. Sorry, Apple.
Ever since I studied Documentary Photography at university, some ten years ago now, I've always dreamt of owning my own Leica camera. Unfortunately, I'm not *quite* at that point, financially, where I can justify splashing a few grand on a piece of kit. But for now, I'm quite happy to play around with the Huawei P20 and get my creative fix that way, for just a little longer...
I appreciate that this is a very personal post and quite different to what I usually share on here (the last time I wrote anything like this was when I split with my ex) but I think it's really important to be transparent and honest about what is reality versus what you think you see on Instagram. I hope that it helps some of you who might be going through something similar have the strength to put your own happiness first.
Follow me on Instagram @LucieLoves to follow my #HuaweiP20 visual journey
Photography © Lucie Kerley