After discovering via his Facebook that my beloved one and only, my best friend, my forever-boyfriend of 8 years had a penchant for indulging in gross internet sex-chat sessions with other women while I was sitting across the room from him, running away was the only option.
Turns out that he was planning a steamy real-life encounter with one of them.
On Valentine's Day.
What. A. Douche-canoe. [can I steal douche-canoe? Sorry, I realise that’s not the most important bit of this story... ]
Tear-stained and heart-broken, I wanted to get as far from our home and the life that we'd built together as I could. My mates and I decided that Paris was a good call, "It's close enough for us to come and get you if you go crazy" and so two months after Devastation Day (the earliest I felt able to travel alone without lying in the road and sobbing), off I went on the Eurostar to the flat I'd found on Craigslist in Montparnasse.
I'm pretty good in French. But I have no idea how to say "Black-hearted, lying asshat" so I couldn't talk about what had happened. No one in Paris had ever known me as one half of what I'd always believed was a very happy couple. Everyone just took me as Nikki. Not 'Nikki and...'. And that was great too.
My future and past tenses were pretty sketchy, so I tended to speak and think - and live - in the present. It's hard to hang on to being miserable when you're not focused on what's been or what's ahead. I spent my days not knowing what was next and not caring one bit. Yes, Paris is packed with lovers sighing and snogging at every turn, but hey - so is everywhere.
And if you're going to try and mend a broken heart, I figured the best place to do it was surrounded by dazzling beauty at every corner, with excellent bread, cheese, cake and wine never more than a few minutes away.
I'm telling you, it worked. Yes, I was scared. But I felt I'd already lost everything, so had nothing left to lose. All that 'face your problems' stuff is all well and good, but sometimes things are just so terrible, that leaving is the only option.
By forcing myself into a strange situation, far from everything familiar, I fast-tracked myself through the grieving and healing process by doing things I'd never done before. Learning to hula hoop, eating snails, waking before dawn to cycle under the Eiffel Tower as the sun rose... and learning how to be happy being alone.