Former Big Brother star Mark Byron opens up about the breakdown of a relationship and how he managed to piece his life back together.

I’d never been a sensitive person. Never emotional, sentimental and you could never say I wore my heart on my sleeve. In fact friends used to joke that I was a bit of a robot. More concerned with material things than with matters of the heart. I never had time for relationships and used to go on dates just for the food. Falling in love was just never part of my plan.

Then it hit me like an absolute tonne of bricks, in the most unlikely situation you could ever imagine. I’d met someone I thought was really special and I couldn’t believe they felt the same way about me.

This was back at the end of 2014. The most insane year of my life. I’d spent time in the Big Brother house and grown up more than I thought possible.

When I first met this person (names are irrelevant), I had an instant spark. I knew it was stronger than friendship but I wasn’t quite sure what it was. We met in the most bizarre situation so I just thought emotions were running high because of our surroundings.

I’d never been in love before and he was seeing someone else so I pretty much ruled anything romantic out of the equation. Also the fact that I lived in Liverpool and he lived in London wasn’t the ideal building block for a relationship.

I think it came as a shock to both of us when we realised how we both felt about each other and then the whirlwind began.

I felt myself physically soften. I’d suddenly become more interested in somebody else than I was myself. Saw him as an absolute superhuman above and beyond everybody else.

I found myself doing silly things like saving the train tickets from the trip I made when we went on our first official date or the time we first used the L word for each other. Such sentimental things were totally brand new for me and I loved it.

A long distance relationship can be tough, I’m well aware of that, but honestly it suited my life a lot more than it did his. I was in such a positive mindset that I’d get so excited about coming down to visit at a weekend. I’d even call the day before I’d visit ‘Christmas Eve’.

It was naive of me and quite childish but it was my first real relationship whereas he had been in a relationship his entire adult life. We were chalk and cheese but I liked that. It suited my life but not his. That’s how it was with most things. It suited my life style but left him feeling neglected or like I always held the reigns. At the time I was totally oblivious.

I always worried that as he had never been single before he must of felt he was missing out on that single gay life we’ve all led. In the back of my mind I felt like that was something he needed to do.

Time went on and we bickered more and more over silly things. Blew small issues way out of proportion and couldn’t see eye to eye. I never thought we would of split up. We loved each other’s friends and families and had so much fun together. Our differences had brought us together and I thought they would’ve kept us together, so in my mind we would never ever split up.

Until we did.

He decided I was better off without me. I was absolutely wounded, devastated in fact, but I convinced myself that after he had experienced single gay life he would come back to me. I remember comforting myself by saying will he be back by Christmas!

I purposely didn’t fight for him or try to win him back as I felt being single for a while was what he needed to do. They always say the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. But this time it couldn’t have been greener if it tried!

Months passed and I realised I’d been left with egg on my face. He wasn’t coming back.

Everyone expected me to just bounce back and be the happy, over the top, hyperactive, animated Mark everyone knows me for. It’s so hard to keep a smile on your face and keep up appearances when you literally feel like your world is ending.

I didn’t feel like I could turn to any friends or family and explain how tough I was finding things as I’ve never been that person. I didn’t want to shove my problems on anybody else. It would’ve been so out of character for me and I hated the thought of people feeling sorry for me. I was ashamed to be feeling weak.

Months went on and it just didn’t really get much easier however zero contact and living 200 miles apart must’ve helped a little. I’d never felt down in my life and I couldn’t even comprehend how low I was feeling.

It was like I’d always been on full beam and someone had turned on a dimmer switch. My light had gone out. Of course nobody knew this as I kept it totally private. Still went to glamorous events, parties, dinners all with a big smile on my face. My social media looked like I was having the time of my life.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I booked a consultation with a therapist in Rodney Street to see if they could help me get my spark back however they were asking me questions when what I wanted was answers. Next I went to see a psychic (Jackie Rocks) to see if she could help. I’ve always been very spiritual so for me that made perfect sense. It did help a lot and I still call her regularly for words of guidance and encouragement.

I had downloaded Tinder and deleted tinder at least five times. I’d made countless excuses to not go on dates with people who I’d usually jump at a chance with. I just didn’t feel ready to move on.

Time had passed and I realised the only thing that would really help would be to confide in my loved ones. It was tough telling them I’d suffered for so long and they were at first sad I hadn’t opened up to them. It was an instant weight off my shoulders and finally granted the closure I had needed for so long.

If I could go back in time I would reassure myself and anybody else in the same situation by saying your loved ones are your loved ones for a reason. Don’t keep problems to yourself. There’s nothing selfish in opening up.

Having a strong friendship group helps so much. I’ve got amazing friends gay and straight from all over the UK. Most of them had been through a similar thing as it’s pretty common. When it’s your own issue you couldn’t ever imagine other people relating to you but it’s the closest ones to you that can help you mend and grow.

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