I didn’t expect my heartbreak to lead to so much good in my life, but taking control helped me recognize my own potential.
My boyfriend broke up with me when I was 10 weeks pregnant. And it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
I was just 6 months into a relationship when I got pregnant. It was unplanned and a complete shock, but I decided to keep the baby. I wanted to be a mom.
But it turns out that at the time of finding out, I wasn’t actually ready to step into motherhood.
I have borderline personality disorder (BPD), otherwise known as emotionally unstable personality disorder, and it’s something that I never quite accepted due to the stigma attached to the label. The diagnosis causes me to have unstable relationships, act codependently, and live with a fear of abandonment. And these symptoms of mine attached themselves to the relationship with my baby’s dad.
My baby’s dad and I were polar opposites. He values his own space and time and enjoys spending time on his own, whereas for so long, the idea of spending time with just myself seemed daunting. It was almost as if I was scared of doing so — and this is because I’d never done it.
Before getting into this relationship, I was in a relationship for 6 years — and it was toxic. We lived together, and therefore spent most nights together, but over the years we turned more into roommates than partners. We didn’t have sex, we didn’t go out — we merely sat in separate rooms living in completely different worlds, acting as though everything was okay.
My trust was broken, my confidence was ruined, and in the end, he left me for another woman. It left me feeling alone, rejected, and abandoned — which isn’t such a nice mix when you already have a heightened sense of these things because of a mental health diagnosis.
And I feel that not only did this affect me after that initial breakup, but I also took these feelings of rejection and abandonment into my new relationship with my baby’s dad.
I was constantly anxious that I wasn’t good enough for him. I was always scared he was going to leave. I became incredibly clingy and codependent and relied on him a lot. To tell you the truth, I just wasn’t my own person at all. It was like I needed him for me to enjoy life.
I needed to spend the evenings with him because I was too scared to spend them on my own. I was scared of my own company, because I was scared of feeling lonely — so much so that throughout the majority of our relationship, I rarely spent a night alone.
After becoming pregnant I became even more clingy. I was petrified and wanted someone by my side all of the time to remind me that everything was going to be okay and that I could do this.
But 10 weeks into the pregnancy, the father of my child left me. It was unexpected, but as I mentioned, he’s an introvert, and therefore a lot of his feelings were bottled up for a while.
I won’t go into too much detail for his reasonings, because that’s pretty personal — but I will say my clinginess was an issue, as well as the fact I relied on him so that I didn’t have to spend any time by myself.
I was absolutely devastated. I loved this man, and he was the father of my child. How could this be happening? I felt so many emotions all at once. I felt guilty. I felt blame. I felt like I was letting my child down. I felt like a bad girlfriend. A bad mother. I felt like the worst person in the world. And for a few days, this really is all I felt.
I would cry most of the time and feel sorry for myself, going back over the relationship, thinking about all of the things I had done wrong, and all of the things I could have done differently.
But a few days passed, and suddenly something clicked in me.
It was after a crying session that I suddenly stopped and asked myself what I was doing. I was expecting a baby. I was going to be a mum. I had someone else to look after now, a tiny little human who relied on me to do everything. I needed to stop crying, stop reliving the past, stop focusing on all the things I had done wrong and instead start focusing on all the things I needed to do for my baby.
I made a pact with myself to basically grow up and become a mum. I was going to be someone strong, someone powerful, someone independent — someone who my baby could look up to and be proud of.
Over the next couple of weeks, although it was completely out of character for me, I forced myself to do this. It was hard, I will admit — sometimes I just wanted to crawl under the covers and cry, but I constantly reminded myself that I had my child inside of me, and it was my duty to look after them.
I started by spending nights in by myself. This is something I was always scared of doing — but I realized that actually, the only reason I was scared of doing this was because I hadn’t done it in so long and therefore I had forgotten what my own company was actually like. It was almost as though I had forced myself to believe it was the most terrible thing in the world, and therefore did what I could to avoid it.
But this time, I allowed myself to enjoy my own company and stopped thinking negatively about it. And actually, it was great. I spent the evening watching my favorite movie, taking a bath, and cooking myself a nice dinner — and I enjoyed it. So much so that I decided to keep doing it until it felt normal to me.
I contacted friends and family and made plans — something that I hadn’t been doing because I had become so reliant on my baby’s dad.
It was like I had become a new person. I even took the plunge and decided to move closer to home, so I could bring my baby up in a nice area with family around us.
I also decided to seek help for my BPD. During a routine antenatal appointment, I spoke up about it and asked for help. Something I’d never done before, because I had always pushed the label to the back of my mind, scared to acknowledge it. But I knew I wanted to be my healthiest and best self for my baby.
Over the space of just weeks, I had become a completely different person. And I realized how much better I was. How much more independent I was. How much I actually enjoyed this version of myself. I felt proud of myself for putting my baby first — and in turn, putting myself first, too. I no longer blamed my baby’s dad for leaving.
A few weeks after the breakup we actually ended up rekindling things. He saw the changes I had made, and we decided to give things another go. So far, everything has been great and we have been more of a team. Things feel healthier — lighter, even, and we’re excited to become parents.
Although part of me wished he hadn’t left in the first place, and that we could have talked things through instead, I am actually glad he did — grateful that he did, in fact — because it forced me to become a better, healthier person, and mother-to-be.
Hattie Gladwell is a mental health journalist, author, and advocate. She writes about mental illness in hopes of diminishing the stigma and to encourage others to speak out.