It was a short journey, I suppose. Less than four hours from my Mum’s house where I was staying at the time, to the small holiday apartment she had rented for me in Tobermory, Isle of Mull. But how far it took me was unthinkable at the time.
I’d been in an incredibly emotionally abusive relationship. He was awful. He bullied me, cheated on me, dismissed my insecurities and made me feel a fool more times than I’d care to recount. I’d dated him during University, when life was simpler. He wasn’t very nice then, looking back, but after a good few years apart, I had convinced myself he had finally ‘grown up’…whatever that meant.
I’ve always been pretty confident and sure of myself, down to earth and - despite my very poor choice in a partner - really pretty smart. Since leaving University I had been on many journeys, and they brought me to a place where I was stronger, wiser and had more empathy for others. I guess, however, I wasn’t wise enough.
We got back together after both living abroad - he was working in Australia, I was working in NYC. I had moved back and ended up in a job in London. We started speaking again and he decided to move to London from Australia to start things up again. He seemed as though he had taken his time abroad to mature, calm down and get his morals in check.
After a couple of months it was apparent I was wrong, but I was convinced I could help him change. When we would fight (often), he would agree, and convinced me I made him a better person. But my old insecurities creeped back. He would comment on weight I had put on, new friends I had, wouldn't want to get involved with any family events, and wouldn't talk about our future.
I should have realised sooner that everything was all wrong… hindsight is a wonderful thing. I won’t get into detail, but what ensued shortly after I had moved back to Glasgow for a new job was very messy, to say the least.
Finally we split up. I was in a horrible place. He had worn me down to a shadow of my former self. I didn't want to leave my Mum’s house (she lives in a wee village outside Stirling), where I was staying at the time. I was sick, couldn't sleep. I had been pushed into a dark place that I never knew existed. I felt that no one could love me, he had made me feel like I was totally crazy. I’d never fully trusted him, but he made out that that was my own insecurity and that I needed to stop over-reacting. He made me think that romance didn't exist, that to expect a partner to be excited to see me, to want to spend time with me, just wasn't how the world worked… That instead of going places together, I was holding him back from life. In reality it was the other way round.
I never appreciated when people tell you, you have to hit rock bottom to come back up again. Well, that’s the only way I can describe it. I was sitting in my Mum’s house, sobbing so much that the tears had long ran out, and my eyes were simply two red circles. She was at a loss, I’m usually a relatively ‘together’ person, but I had lost control and I didn't know what to do. I felt like there was someone sitting on my chest, constricting me. I was trapped in my own depression and I needed to escape.
Mum had taken me to Mull when I was a wee girl, apparently I had loved it. It was July, so lots of places were booked up, when she came across a small apartment to rent for a week she took it straight away. She took some money out of her savings and booked me onto a ferry that evening to Craignure. She didn't tell me what she had done until it was all confirmed. My GP had written me off work for stress, so I was able to go.
I’ll be honest; I cried a lot of the way to Oban. But the closer I got to the coast, the angrier I had become. How dare this man treat me in such a way to make me doubt myself, to make me hurt this much. I was a good, honest and caring person, all I had ever wanted to do was to make life easier for him, for us both to be happy. I had been treated with nothing other than pure disregard and disrespect.
My heart still hurt, it really did. But as soon as I set foot on the ferry and left the mainland behind, I started to feel freer. As the coast dwindled into the distance, things started to fall into perspective. It still hurt, don’t get me wrong, but it was a journey I needed to make to pull me away from the pain that had consumed me.
I started to remember who I was, who I missed being. I spent the rest of the week exploring and getting to grips with what had happened. No one deserved to be treated the way I was, and I realised it was something that I would never, ever put up with again.
They say people come into our lives to enrich it, or to teach us a lesson. I had learnt a valuable one, about how people ought to be treated, about the importance of self worth. I had to get on a boat to remind myself of who I was. It was a journey that emotionally I would never want to take again, and I don’t think I’ll need to. But physically it’s one I’ll take again and again. On that ferry I felt like I was coming home. In a way I was.