As I begin this blog entry, it’s the 13th of March and exactly 6 months to the day that I worked up the courage to tell someone I loved them after a very long time. It just so happened to be a Friday the 13th, because who the fuck needs luck when you’re in love, right?
Turns out I do.
That’s no exaggeration, because within a week, it was all over. Yes, it’s as daft as it sounds and the kind of thing you read about in a gossip magazines and snort “Ha! Well I didn’t see THAT coming.” Even with my track record, this was a first for me. It wasn’t the only unusual thing about this particular relationship though. Everything about it was different, because you see, for roughly 6 months last year, I completely lost my mind.
It’s the only way I can describe it. I acted completely out of character, I did things I wouldn’t ordinarily do and looking back, while I remember how it felt, I don’t recognise that person at all. It’s really quite frightening if you pride yourself on knowing your own mind. I’ve been in love before, where I’ve arguably fallen much harder for someone, but I’ve always managed to remain objective, in my head at least. I may have ignored that nagging voice in my head on occasion, but it was always there. I can honestly say I’ve never really been shocked by any of my boyfriends or their behaviour. It’s one of the best things about being friends with someone first. You may get into a relationship knowing they’re bad for you, but you take the chance anyway.
This time, I didn’t see it, which is particularly terrifying because there weren’t so much signs as neon fucking billboards saying ‘DON’T DO IT,’ but I genuinely didn’t see it until a couple of weeks ago when I finally decided to talk to someone about it properly.
Yes, it took me 6 months to talk about it.
I’d told a few friends bits and pieces here and there, but not the whole story. There are a number of reasons why that is. Shame is one of them. I’m not proud of what I did and the guilt has yet to go. Feeling even now, months after we stopped talking, that I’m being disloyal to him, is another. Even though in all likelihood, I’ll never speak to him again, I’d never want to hurt him, so I waited until I knew for sure he no longer read my blog. Although one of the first things he did when we broke up, was remove the link for my blog from his website, so it wasn’t really an issue. It wasn’t until I said it out loud that it really hit me how blinkered I was. I’m still struggling now to understand what came over me. So this blog isn’t about him, it’s about me. I just can’t write it without mentioning him. Mentioning us.
I’ve struggled with whether or not I should write about this. There was no mention of it anywhere in the end of the year blog and even now I’m not sure if I’ll post it. Earlier, I was reluctant because I didn’t want it to be about revenge or slagging anyone off. As Destiny’s Child put it, you shouldn’t diss people on the internet, “cos my mama taught me better than that.” However, I figured this rule doesn’t apply to dissing yourself, so writing about my own stupidity is probably okay.
I’ve always considered myself a strong minded person and a good judge of character. I’ve talked about bad relationships in previous blogs and how since hitting my 30s, I’m far more comfortable in my own skin and unlike a lot of women my age, am even less inclined to settle for someone. I’ve always been stubborn and since a particularly difficult relationship I spoke about in a previous post, I pretty much gave up on love for years. So nobody was more surprised than me when I met someone last year.
It happened on twitter of all places, another first, through mutual friends who would often tag us into group discussions. I wasn’t keen on him initially, since most of his tweets appeared to involve flirting with women in skimpy clothes. He was incredibly secretive, not even telling anyone his age or occupation. Nor did he have a profile picture of his face, usually the first signs of a troll. After almost 5 years on twitter, I can usually spot a wrong ‘un within seconds of talking to them. My suspicions were confirmed when a friend told me he’d sent her some pretty awful tweets which started out funny, but soon turned nasty and she blocked him. I saw the exchange and was disgusted. Ordinarily, I’d have blocked him straight away, but something stopped me.
Almost immediately after this conversation, he started following me. I ignored him for a few days, even in group conversations, but he continued to send me the odd tweet here and there and I had to concede that he was actually very funny. It wasn’t until late one night, when through mutual friends, we started having a serious conversation, that I started to think there may be more to him than I’d initially thought. The others went to bed and we carried on talking. Me, about the time someone tried to assault me on a train, and him, about something equally serious that had happened to him.
I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and follow him back, but I was still worried about the way he’d treated my friend, so I sent him a Direct Message asking him why he’d done it. He gave me an explanation and I believed him. Again, I’d ordinarily have been more wary, but I believed him completely. It may have been because I barely knew him and had fully expected him to tell me it was none of my business, not hold his hands up to it. He seemed genuine.
From that moment on, we just never stopped talking. All day, every day, long into the night, we were constantly Direct Messaging each other. Without my having to ask, he told me how old he was and what he did for work, something he refused to share on twitter despite a number of people pressing the issue. He once joked that it was one long conversation that spanned weeks. The only time we didn’t speak was when I took my week off from twitter once a month.
On regular twitter however, we became the friends who argued. I even came close to blocking him once during a heated debate about equality for women because he genuinely didn’t seem to think it was an issue and I’m a proud feminist. Even then, something stopped me and he later admitted he just liked to play devil’s advocate which was true. I’d seen him do it with others. Mostly though, it was just harmless leg pulling and affectionate name calling, though occasionally it’d confuse other people who would think we were arguing. The thing I teased him about the most was his profile picture and eventually, I convinced him to change it to a picture of his face, albeit briefly. I thought he looked nice enough, but there was no instant attraction. That happened over time, without me even realising it.
During one of our daily DM chats, the subject of partners came up. He knew I was single. I bang on about it relentlessly both in my blog and on twitter. I jokingly asked him if he had any girlfriends squirreled away and he told me there were none. I’d started following his blog at this stage and signed up to Facebook alerts for new entries. He was a regular blogger back then and within a few days, a new alert popped up on my news feed. I noticed someone had ‘liked’ it and out of curiosity that it may be a mutual friend from twitter, I clicked on it. The profile was private, but the picture that popped up was of him with a woman. One of the comments under it read, “My sexy husband.” I clicked through the other profile pictures on her account and there was no doubt about it. He was married.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. I had no real reason to be upset with him. There was absolutely nothing going on between us and I knew he was a private person, though I was now starting to understand why. It niggled a bit that he’d lied to me. Only an idiot would argue that technically, he didn’t have a ‘girlfriend’ which is what I’d asked. It was still a lie from someone I’d spent weeks talking to pretty much for every waking hour. I kept quiet about it at first, knowing that telling him what I’d discovered would make it look as though I was checking up on him. I’ve done that with people before, but on this occasion I’d found out completely by accident. In the end I told him we should stop talking on DM and stick to tweeting how we used to.
For anyone who doesn’t use twitter, a DM is a private message, whereas regular tweets can be seen by all your followers. He asked me why and I made up some excuse, I can’t remember what. He kept asking until I eventually made some quip on twitter about hidden wives and girlfriends, at which point he realised I knew. He told me we weren’t doing anything wrong. That we were just friends and he liked talking to me. This was true. I’d noticed he didn’t flirt with me like he did with other women. There was nothing remotely sexual about our conversations. We traded insults more than anything else. I ignored his DMs for a while, but he persisted until I caved.
I couldn’t deny that I loved talking to him. I don’t often click with people in that way. He was bright, incredibly funny, and talking to him was easy. There was no effort required. We never ran out of things to say. There was no awkwardness. I didn’t have to think about what to say next, it just flowed. An easy back and forth. Rightly or wrongly, we carried on talking, until a week or so later, he suddenly disappeared.
The first couple of days, I just figured he was busy, then I got a little annoyed that he hadn’t though to let me know, which once a couple of weeks went by, turned into concern. Just days after telling me he didn’t want to stop talking to me, he’d done exactly that. I didn’t know what to think and I couldn’t help worrying something was wrong. It may sound like an overreaction, but at that point, we’d been talking all day for weeks. From the moment we woke up, to the moment we went to bed. Almost 2 weeks later, he started tweeting again as if he’d never been away. No DM to me, just general tweets. I watched him talking to other people and couldn’t help feeling a little upset, but not wanting him to know that, I decided to ignore him and carry on tweeting as normal.
Eventually, he replied to something I said. I was quite short with him and he finally twigged and told me he’d hate to go for days without speaking to me. The irony of his words, more than anything, had me fuming. He’d done exactly that and just days after insisting we should carry on talking because he’d miss me. This was the first time I felt as if I was being played. Just to clarify, it wasn’t that I expected him to speak to me all the time. It was the fact that it was all on his terms. When I wanted to stop talking, I was overridden. When he wanted to stop, he disappeared without a word. I take a week off twitter every month but I’d always let him know first. It was just the polite thing to do. I hadn’t had that same courtesy back and it hurt. Especially when it turned out that he had no reason for it. He just didn’t tweet. “I couldn’t let you know, because I didn’t know myself,” was his explanation. I asked him if he’d have been concerned if I’d done the same thing and he admitted he would. He held his hands up to it and apologised and unwilling to show just how upset I was, I let it go, though it did come up in conversation a couple of times.
Looking back, I don’t know why I carried on talking to him. I can’t see it. I don’t recognise myself. Usually, the fact that he was married would’ve been enough for me to keep my distance, but even the fact that he lied about it, casually ignored me when it suited him, seemed to feel no guilt about flirting outrageously on twitter, nothing put me off talking to him. Even writing this is making me want to shake the person I turned into. Ridicule her for being so weak, but I didn’t see it that way at the time. Everytime I confronted him about something, he woupdn’t get angry. He calmly explained, apologised and listened to me. I’m not sure how he did it, but I believed every word he said, despite all the evidence to the contrary. I’ve stopped talking to people for a lot less, but somehow we soon went back to how we were.
As the day of my next week off from twitter arrived, he gave me his number so we could stay in touch. It just seemed like the natural thing to do, which sounds strange when you consider the fact that I often unfollow married men or even those with a girlfriend who ask for my number or even try to flirt with me on DM. I’ve been quite vocal about it on twitter and most take the hint. I’d turned into a hypocrite. We picked up on WhatsApp where we’d left off on twitter and now we could send each other pictures and he would send me silly little voice clips and videos and I would send him pictures of me pulling silly faces. It was all very childish and some would say innocent, but it wasn’t, not really. I know if I had a boyfriend, I wouldn’t want him texting another woman all day and half the night without my knowledge, no matter how innocent it was.
It wasn’t all fun and laughter. I told him about my family, past relationships, friends, work and he did too. He spoke about his wife, had done almost as soon as I’d found out about her. She was a few years older than him, had 3 grown up children from a previous relationship and was a lovely person and a good wife in every way, but he’d fallen out of love with her a couple of years earlier. They had a joint mortgage and he was worried about all the financial implications, not to mention breaking up a family, should he choose to walk out. He’d married young and become a step dad overnight and I think he’d struggled with growing up so quickly. I never gave an opinion either way on what he should do. I could never tell anyone walk away from their family, though I did say on more than one occasion that he wasn’t being fair on her and he agreed with me. He frequently said how unhappy he was and explained that things had changed for him after a life changing event in his life when he felt she wasn’t there for him.
One thing I did notice, was he never blamed her for the breakdown of their marriage. I’m always wary of men who talk about how their wives don’t understand them and paint them as the villain, unreasonable or jealous and possessive and I also know those women often have a good reason for behaving that way. Every step of the way, he was clear about the fact that she was a good person and in no way to blame, that it was him who had changed. We had the same conversation over and over again. He wanted to leave. He didn’t know what to do. Her children loved him, he didn’t want to let them down. I tried to just be there and listen.
At the beginning of July, he told me he was going away on holiday in a couple of weeks time for his wife’s birthday with her and a few of their friends. I wondered what it’d be like for us to not be in constant contact for 2 whole weeks after months of constant texting, whether it would change things between us, or the holiday would change things between them. A couple of days before they were due to leave, I’d been on a work night out and was a little drunk. We’d been texting each other something silly about my having a croaky voice that I put down to alcohol. He asked if I’d answer the phone if he called me and I refused. So of course he started calling my number and leaving nonsensical voicemails. He then told me he’d changed his voicemail greeting for if I ever chose to call him, promising that if I called him then, he’d put me straight through to voicemail so I could hear it. Feeling a little emboldened by the alcohol, I told him I wouldn’t mind speaking to him and dialled his number.
He sounded quite surprised when he answered, clearly not expecting me to go through with it. More surprisingly, he sounded a little nervous. I’d expected him to be far more cocky and confident. There was no awkwardness though and we were exactly the same on the phone. An easy flow of conversation, a lot of humour and much name calling. We didn’t stop talking until my battery ran out in the early hours of the morning. Something changed that night. I knew there was something between us, but I didn’t want to admit it. I was worried what it said about me.
The following day, he said pretty much the same thing to me. We were more than friends and talking to me the night before had confirmed it for him. I wasn’t ready to hear that and kept changing the subject. He was going on holiday the next day after all, with his wife. He called me again that day while he was running an errand and kept telling me he could speak to me all day.
Finally, the big day arrived. He’d mentioned his holiday on twitter a while ago, so I tweeted that I was looking forward to the peace and quiet while he was away. He texted me immediately, saying “I wonder what people on twitter will think about the fact that you seem to know I’m going away?” I reminded him that he’d already mentioned it a while ago, though admittedly not the date. I knew it was a throwaway remark, but I deleted the tweet. It felt as if he didn’t want anyone to know that we spoke beyond twitter. The reality is, unless anyone was paying close attention to his twitter feed, they’d never have known and even if they had, they’d just assume we’d exchanged a few DMs. I’d been led to believe nobody on twitter knew him personally, so I didn’t see why it mattered. He insisted he didn’t mind, but I felt a little uneasy about the whole thing. No more was said about it and I wished him a good holiday.
I wasn’t expecting to hear from him while he was away and had prepared myself for it, but he sent me messages and photos whenever he could get WiFi and even called me a couple of times. He made a point of sending me an update at least once a day, everyday except one. There had been no signal he later told me, but I suspected it was probably his wife’s birthday and understood completely. I was surprised he’d made such an effort to stay in touch. I hadn’t been expecting it.
Summer had well and truly started by this time. Everything looked beautiful. I was floating around in a bubble, telling anyone who’d listen, how romantic everything seemed in this weather. I didn’t know if it was the weather affecting my mood, or the fact that for the first time in years, I found myself drawn to someone on every level. I’m the world’s biggest cynic and rarely just let myself be without over thinking everything. I decided to just take each day as it comes and see what happened. I wasn’t thinking it was going anywhere, it was enough for me that he cared about and understood me. He’d allayed my fears about changing during his holiday. I had no expectations. I didn’t want to make any demands. I was scared, but also content. “Enough,” I told myself, but I soon realised I hadn’t prepared myself for the change in him on his return.
<a href=”Brilliant Disguise“>Wordpress Prompt