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Blood on the pillowcase signalled the end of our relationship

Tim*, 59, a surveyor, thought he and his long-term partner, Sarah*, 57, were rock-solid – until a health crisis proved to be her final straw...

After a fall, Tim* was left with blood on his face – and on his partner's pillow, much to her horror. (Yahoo Life UK)
After a fall, Tim* was left with blood on his face – and on his partner's pillow, much to her horror. (Yahoo Life UK)

Sarah and I met 20 years ago, through a mutual friend, soon after our marriages had ended. After my volatile relationship, she seemed like a breath of fresh air. I’m a keen hiker and, unlike my ex, Sarah was up for big adventures in the Highlands. As I was living in a rented flat at the time, it made sense for me to move into Sarah’s place.

At first, it seemed like a honeymoon but after five years it had become clear that we weren’t compatible living under one roof. Sarah is a neat freak and, as time went on, she clearly resented my ‘stuff’, as she put it, encroaching on her territory. I collect books and antiques – collections of old things that didn’t chime with her minimalist aesthetic. She announced that she wanted it all boxed up and stored in her garage, out of sight.

I wasn’t prepared to have my antiquarian books ruined with mildew and damp. So, rather than split up, I suggested buying a flat of my own, a 10-minute drive from Sarah’s place. After I’d moved out, we fell into a pattern of spending three nights a week together – either at Sarah’s or mine. It seemed like the ideal solution.

Our writer's health problems didn't go down too well with his unsympathetic partner. Posed by models. (Getty Images/Yahoo Life UK)
Our writer's health problems didn't go down too well with his unsympathetic partner. Posed by models. (Getty Images/Yahoo Life UK)

A hospital dash

Years rolled on and we still enjoyed our walks and holidays together. We’d met as slightly bruised, newly divorced people, when my son had been 12 – Sarah doesn’t have children – and were looking forward to enjoying even more adventures in retirement. Installed in my flat, I also relished my time alone.

Everything seemed perfect. Then suddenly it wasn’t – as in April I had a heart attack when I was alone in my flat. I managed to alert a neighbour and was taken by ambulance to hospital.

After three weeks in coronary care, I’d recovered enough to be discharged. Sarah and I decided that I’d convalesce at her place.

She was kind at first and seemed happy to look after me. But one day I got up from her sofa, experienced a wave of dizziness and fell, crashing my face into her newly painted white living room wall.

Making a mess

She was kind at first and seemed happy to look after me. But one day I got up from her sofa, experienced a wave of dizziness and fell, crashing my face into her newly painted white living room wall.

My medication means my blood doesn’t clot normally and, as well as staining the wall, I managed to get blood on her cream sofa. After a trip to A&E for adhesive stitches and a dressing over my nose, I returned to Sarah’s, hoping to recuperate. But three days later, my bandaged facial wound still hadn’t clotted, and one morning we woke to find a few specks of blood on her pillowcase.

Sarah was livid and said she couldn’t cope with me any longer, so I’d have to move back to my place. Within an hour, in a fury, she’d bagged up my possessions. I sat on a stool in her hallway, shell-shocked by her reaction and surrounded by bin liners, waiting for my friend to ferry me to my flat, as I was under strict instructions not to drive for six weeks following my heart attack.

I did feel that I’d let Sarah down by having a heart attack. She was impatient for me to get back to being the capable, highly active man she’d fallen in love with.

My new solo life

Back home, I continued to recover and started to wonder if we might manage to repair things. I called Sarah, but she told me in no uncertain terms how unreasonable I’d been and how exhausting it had been to look after me.

We had some incredible times together, and share so many memories of our hikes and barbecues on Hebridean beaches. But I guess the recent past wasn’t quite so good. I did feel that I’d let Sarah down by having a heart attack.

She was impatient for me to get back to being the capable, highly active man she’d fallen in love with. My confidence took a big dent due to that. However, I have settled into a calm, if somewhat solitary existence. I know we’re probably better apart, and my deep sadness has been replaced by something that I can only describe as relief. At least here, I know I won’t cause an international incident by sullying a pillowcase.

Read more: All of Yahoo UK's How I was dumped stories.