Updated: Nov 21, 2020
On March 9th I received a phone call saying that my partner, Jonny, had passed away. He'd been missing for two days, so I knew to expect bad news. In the next 3 months, we found out that Jonny had been battling a heroin addiction, and died of a heroin overdose. I didn't expect myself to find myself grieving for a partner who had an addiction to heroin.
Religion is not everybody's cup of tea, which is absolutely fine, but personally I have found it to be incredibly helpful. I know Jonny has died, and I've come to terms with that, but I don't believe he has gone. He's just somewhere else. I still talk to him, ask him for strength, he visits me in my dreams, and I still consider him to be my boyfriend. If anything, I sometimes feel I am more I closer to him than I was in his last few months. Throughout the last few months of Jonny's life, I knew something was happening. He became paranoid, amongst other new mental health issues, which resulted in us not being able to meet in person often (we lived in separate cities). Now I know he was hiding an addiction to an extremely powerful drug, I can finally see the man behind the illness. It feels like I've been given back the boy who fell in love with me at first sight.
I think one of the biggest changes I've noticed in myself is that in some ways I have become more empathetic. I was initially very angry when finding out it was probably a drug overdose that had probably killed Jonny. At the time we didn't know Jonny had been using long term, so my initial reaction was one of frustration that he could have been so reckless. However, whenever I felt angry, I world have visions of Jonny sobbing. It was clear he felt so awful at putting me through this I forgave him. It took a couple of weeks, but I have genuinely made my peace. Jonny was sick, and I understand that now. When also making a decision that impacts someone else I also now picture Jonny's cheeky face - if I would have the capacity to make the decision which could impact him in that way, I know it's an okay thing to do.
Another welcome change in myself is a new sense of independence. I've loved lockdown, and have plans to move to Scarborough by myself once I have finished my masters, and also am planning on going to liverpool by myself to visit various Beatles sites. I think this newfound confidence comes from the sense of no longer feeling lonely. I feel I have Jonny with me and don't need to rely on external validation any more.
So at 23, what do you do when your partner dies? I don't feel the need to have a new relationship, Jonny was my life partner, and I am happy to wait out my life to see him again. In fact, I feel that my sexuality has changed and that I can proudly identify as grey aromantic/asexual - although I do often just say I'm gay. Of course, things can always change, but I'm honestly really enjoying being in love and not needing validation and company to know that Jonny, and others, love me. I'm honestly feeling hopeful for a future of newfound independence, which ideally involves freelance work, living independently, and a pet dog.
None of this is to say that I've not struggled with my mental health since Jonny's death. I've had panic attacks most days, and find myself repeating patterns of behaviour. The hardest thing to deal with has been managing the people involved, yet I have become the public face of this whole experience. This means I've dealt with very complex emotions from the people I do know and incredibly invasive and insensitive behaviour from complete strangers. Managing people throughout this has been incredibly stressful, but I'm far more confident and decisive than I've ever been before. I don't regret anything I've done because I finally have the conviction to know that what I've done is right.
I still also have really intense bouts of sadness. I don't blame myself in any way for what happened to Jonny, I just feel sad he didn't get the life he deserved. He deserved to live longer than 25 years, he didn't deserve to have his life plagued by mental health issues, he deserved to feel loved by everyone he knew, and he deserved to feel good about himself and to feel accepted. God only knows how amazing I thought he was, but he deserved to feel that way about himself.
Overall, I'm very proud of the last 3 months. I've matured a lot as a person, and have firmly developed a new sense of identity. Of course, I would give anything for Jonny to be back here, and happy, but I'll settle for doing the best I can to make him proud.
About the author:
I'm Lee, and I am a 23-year-old currently studying my masters degree in the Creative and Cultural Industries at Northumbria University. My pronouns are he/him, and I recently decided to start up a blog after the passing of my boyfriend and being diagnosed with EDS. I also write about being LGBT and mental health-related issues.
My Instagram: @bxtbreath
My website: butbreath.com