Adam and I got on well from the start. We clicked and were at ease with each other in a way I've never felt in another relationship, and may not feel again. Maybe it was the circumstance or maybe it was the science that matched us. It was always difficult to know where to draw the line when things weren't quite right. Ad first got cold feet a couple of weeks in but we decided to keep living together and see where it would go. It left a doubt in my head though and even though he came around a few weeks later and said he wanted to give it a go and asked me to move in with him, the seed of doubt had already been planted and I felt like I was treading on eggshells to be the most attractive person to him that I could be. I wouldn't say I changed myself but I wasn't totally at ease with who I was any more. Any jibes meant as a bit of fun started to hurt more and I started to feel insecure about who I was, how I looked, what I said and how I said it.
But, and here's the biggie, I married this guy. It wasn't a casual dating relationship that we could just walk away from and never speak again, it was a lifelong commitment that I took very seriously. And on top of that it was being filmed for national tv and we would have to live it out all over again with Joe Public scrutinising the every move of our heavily edited relationship. So I kept sticking it out. In my head I knew it couldn't be like this forever but I hoped that things would ease up, I'd feel like he liked me more and it would work. You need more than hope though. Especially if you want to be happy.
Don't get me wrong, there were times when Ad made me really happy, and we had a lot of fun together, but something was missing. In the end Ad called it. We sat down and he held my hand, as he did from the very beginning. We hugged and he didn't really need to say anything. We both knew it was over.
I had put so much emotionally into this relationship I didn't know how to handle it. There's no textbook to dealing with marrying a stranger, or separating from one either. I knew deep down inside that it was the right thing to do but I missed him every day. Songs would remind me of him, places we went together, Facebook reminding me of the Crystal Place score that week or seeing someone in the street with tattoos. It was one of the shortest relationships I've had but the hardest to get over. I couldn't speak about it for bursting into tears and the thought of it all airing on tv and going through it all over again terrified me. My anxiety came back big time and I worried about going out in public once the show aired in case I was recognised. We had agreed not to speak and have a bit of distance from each other after I moved out....which went well until 3 days later when I was sat minding my own business in a train packed full of people and I got a tap on my shoulder. Ad. Stood right in front of me. I went into shock, I think I stared at him for a solid 10 seconds before I could say anything. After that we messaged occasionally but I was still hurting from it all and seriously struggling.
So with nobody to turn to who could relate to my situation, how did I get over it?
Problem: I was still living with Ad for 4 weeks after we split. I gave up my room in south west london to move in with him so while I was looking for a new place, every night I was going back to his to sleep, seeing him every morning when I woke up.
Solution: go and stay with your best friend in the countryside and get distracted by babies and the new puppy!
Problem: cannot stop bursting into tears at any given second with the slightest reminder of it being over and missing him terribly.
Solution: cry. No really. Just let it out. People are kind and offer you tissues, hugs, tea and chocolate. Acknowledge the pain, experience it, then move forward.
Problem: feeling totally overwhelmed and like the upset will never end (although the logical you knows it really will).
Solution: talk to a therapist! This was one of the biggest things I've taken from this experience. It's good to talk about your problems honestly and what's upsetting you. In fact it's very healthy, even it it's through sobs and tears and piles of tissues. Sometimes you need to speak to someone who doesn't know you, doesn't love you and won't be objective with their advice. Now I'm not saying don't speak to friends and family, or that I didn't (I did and they were equally as amazing and helpful) but a neutral environment with a neutral voice did me no end of good.
Armed with my coping mechanisms, a bag full of tissues, and enough makeup to keep reapplying over and over again, I was ready for the first episode to air. 2 days before the air date I achieved something huge...I went a whole 48 hours without crying. I had a massive sense of achievement and this sudden confidence boost. I felt ready.
I still see my therapist. I've had wobbles and tears and the odd day of feeling shit and helpless and lonely. But i can acknowledge it and cope with it now. It's ok to feel shit sometimes. It's normal. It's healthy....in small doses, nobody wants to feel shit too much! It's ok to need help and it's empowering to admit that you need it and ask for it. Whether it's a friend, a therapist or someone else, it's ok.
I went through this horrible dark tunnel of feeling inadequate, lonely, unattractive, miserable, but I knew deep down that there was a light at the end of it. I just needed a little help to find it.