In the thoughts of dinner and unpacking and anything else that might have been running through my head there were no thoughts at all about what was actually going to happen when I walked in the door. That I would be faced with a boyfriend with his bags already packed telling me he was leaving me.
He was gone less than 15 minutes later.
Here we are 12 days later and I have only just now even scratched the surface of being able to write down what my feelings are.
Everyone talks about the shock that you experience when something like this happens. What no-one tells you about is how long the shock continues for. 12 days later and I am still in shock. For a while I didn't know it was shock, I just thought that I had composed myself remarkably well.
The day after it had happened, after 3 hours sleep, I was up at 5am to go to London for work. I got up and got dressed and sat on a train and got caught up in tube closures and had to queue for 45 minutes for a taxi and attended the conference and networked and then shut myself in a toilet cubicle and cried all through lunch. I attended the rest of the conference and had to run like the clappers to catch the tube and my train.
The second I set foot on the train home at 7pm I started crying again. I cried the 2.5 hours it takes to get from London St Pancras to East Midlands Parkway. Not great, heaving sobs, just an outpouring of tears from my eyes, the tide of which I couldn't stem.
I went to work the next day and I went to work the next and I have continued to go to work over the last 12 days, I haven't had one day off.
I talked to friends and family about what had happened.
He came and picked up all his belongings from the flat.
At various points over the last 12 days I have cried and I have cried and I have cried and I have cried but if you'd asked me, I couldn't have identified one emotion that I was feeling. I knew I should be angry. I knew that I should be bereft. I knew that I should be confused. But I didn't feel anything. It is a very strange situation to be in to know that you should have feelings but not be able to actually vocalise what they are.
It turns out that I was in shock.
I have worried that people must think that I am heartless. "How can she possibly have come to work every single day for the past two weeks?" they must have thought. "How is she not sat at her desk constantly crying? How is she still managing to laugh and joke with us?" My answer is that I don't know. I really don't know.
What they don't know is that every morning I have woken up after a shocking night's sleep (7 hours is the most I've got by a long shot in any one night in the past 12 days) and not wanted to get out of bed at all. They don't know that at about 5.15pm I go to the toilet and lock the door and take deep breaths and cry a little bit because I don't want to go home at all. I don't want to go back to the flat that was my sanctuary which turned into a place of betrayal.
They don't know that I have been walking around for 12 days wondering why everyone is carrying on as normal. People are doing their weekly shop in Tesco. People are sat in pubs drinking. People are sat in meetings at work. And in every one of these situations I have literally had to stop myself from screaming. And I mean literally. I have had to take deep breaths in the salad aisle to stop myself from shouting "How can you act as if everything is normal, when the world has just ended?"
Weekly work project update calls where people have asked me "And what are you working on?" and I have had to stop myself from saying, "Well, I've actually been working on forcing myself to eat something other than one slice of toast a day and shrivelling up into a ball and rocking in a corner. As for anything else, I really couldn't give a shit, because it turns out that nothing actually matters any more."
I don't know how everything else can be normal when my life has been turned so upside down. Isn't there some kind of butterfly effect? Isn't the ripple of this expanding out in ever decreasing circles to those around me? How can you be stood in the queue to get your Starbucks this morning when I could barely summon the energy to put clothes on?
For 13 years he has been in my life. For about 9 of those he has been one of my closest friends and for the past 4 he has been my best friend. My one and only and my Person. A lot has happened over the past four years - the long distance, his parents breaking up, my redundancy and ensuing unemployment, the crappy jobs we both hated, moving apart, trying to build new lives in a new town. A lot of turmoil has taken place, but the one constant throughout it all, my one security in life, was us. His love for me was one of the only things I was sure about. I don't have a lot of faith in anything or anyone, but us? Us I had faith in. He is the only person I've ever imagined when I have dared to look into the future.
To suddenly discover that not only is that security no longer there, but that it was a mirage is enough to send you in to shock.
You see whilst I was merrily picturing a future with us together, he was imagining a way to make sure there was no future with us together.
When we were out the week before he left and a friend said to us "We were just talking about you guys and saying that you are basically the same person, you are so well suited" - I was basking in the glow of the compliment whilst he was...who even knows what he was thinking.
When I was sat planning the shopping for next week's dinners. He was sat buying furniture for his new flat.
Yes. You read that right. Before allowing me into the secret that he was leaving, he made sure he was set up. When he left, he already had his flat and had been sat about 10 foot away from me buying furniture for his new place. When we went to France for the long weekend he was sat there with my Dad, knowing that he was about to leave that man's daughter. When I sat there talking about plans for maybe coming out next year, he sat there, agreeing, making plans with me, knowing that his furniture from Argos was already on order and the rental checks were being completed on his new place.
You think that you have questions? You should be inside my brain.
As the shock has worn off I have realised that I have been cheated of a proper ending. You can't end 13 years in less than 15 minutes. You can't say "I don't feel the same way any more" and think that that is a sufficient explanation. I am also going to have to come to terms with the fact that these questions will never be answered. Someone that was so cowardly as to not have the conversation in the first place is not going to dignify me with a proper explanation.
I know that I have to move on. It is what it is and there's nothing that can be done about it now. I know that it's better that I know now and not even later down the line. I know that I'm better off without him and that I can do better. I know that worse things happen at sea and that I should be grateful I still have my health and a job.
I know that there's only so long that I can continue to be shaken to the core by this. That sooner or later everyone else will move on and no-one will feel obliged to feel concern for me. No-one will ask me "How are you?" with that look of pity in their eyes. I know that time is running out to come to terms with this because the longer that it goes on, the harder it will become to get over.
I tried to cleanse the flat of every piece of him. But apart from a stack of empty photo frames and a new lamp on the desk that was once his, I have been unable to move any further. The rails on his side of the wardrobe remain bare and the drawers that contained his clothes are still empty.
In a way the stuff was easy to erase, much harder to erase are the memories. I have tried to make myself feel better by delving back into my mind to bring up happy memories, but he taints all of them with his presence. I hate that he was part of watching my best friend get married and I hate that he is intrinsically linked with Manchester, my favourite place in the whole world.
I was supposed to finally get my fairy tale. I was supposed to be with the person that I had known for years. The person that had stuck around even when we weren't together, waiting for me. The person who had pursued me and tried to win me back. I was supposed to get the person that was the extension of me. Because we really were the same person. That friend who said that to us the week before the world ended is not the first person to have said that. I think the one comfort I can take in all of this is that in the past 12 days anyone and everyone that I have spoken to has been completely shocked. Those that have known him from 13 years ago and those that have known him in the past year, they have been as shocked as I am. The phrase "I can't believe it" has become as commonplace to me now as "Good Morning" is.
I have always tried, and I think succeeded, to make sure that I remained my own person no matter what relationship I have been in. I have been proud of my independence and I actually think that is the reason that I have not completely lost it in the past 12 days. But no matter how much I have been sure who I am, I don't know who I am in relation to anything other than him. He was my anchor and the point around which most things revolved. I can't feel sorry about that, I don't think you can be together for any length of time and not have that happen. I was still capable of being my own person and going and doing my own things without him, but it never once occurred to me that I would go and do those things and not come back to him.
The main issue that I have to come to terms with is is that after 13 years of knowing him, I didn't really know him at all.