I can’t clearly remember what we spoke about, but I know it was small talk and nothing to do with the problems of the last few days. I was struggling to understand why he’d made the journey when he didn’t seem to have any intention of talking things through, but a part of me was relieved because it meant I was less likely to get emotional. He must have noticed I wasn’t being my usual self, because at one point, he got up and put his arms around me from behind, while I sat stiffly in my chair, willing myself not to cry. There was a match on in the pub and it wasn’t the best place to talk, so we decided to go for a walk instead.
Outside, he the took my hand once again and we walked down the high street. Again, I can’t remember what we talked about, other than my trying to persuade him to eat something. He said he couldn’t stomach it. Eventually, he spotted a bench on one of the side streets and we sat down. I asked him about his operation, which had been postponed for a couple of weeks and we talked for a while before he kissed me and unable to pull away, I kissed him back. I’d thought I’d never see him again and despite everything that had happened, it felt good to be with him again. I don’t know how long we’d sat there, but it had started to get colder and he was wearing only a T-shirt so I got up to go.
As we started walking back to the car, we’d cheered up a little and were back to throwing insults at each other, him retaliating by tickling me until I cried with laughter. I was in my own little world and not being the most observant person, I walked straight past his car which made him laugh and gave him all the excuse he needed to make fun of me. Just as I was about to start sulking, he opened the car dash and took out a Galaxy bar. Then he pulled down my sun visor where another bar was hidden and I found a third just inside the car door on my side. I couldn’t help laughing while he wore his trademark deadpan expression and I leaned over and kissed him hard, catching him by surprise. It had always been silly little things like that I’d loved about him and after the coldness of the last few days, it felt like he was back. He drove me home, parked the car and we talked for a bit.
Still no attempt was made to address any of the things we’d argued about, but he did say he was sorry for not being there and he’d just wanted to respect my decision. I didn’t push it for fear I’d get upset. He told me he didn’t want to lose me and would do whatever it took to sort things out. I made it clear that the things that bothered me would come up again. I needed to address them, not being good at brushing things under the carpet. After the numerous times he’d told me he didn’t want to go around in circles, I had to make this clear to him. If he couldn’t handle it, there was no point in carrying on. He said he understood and always wanted me to tell him about anything that bothered me. Feeling slightly happier, I finally left him to drive home with one last hug. It was late by the time he got home, but he called me and it felt so nice to talk to him again before going to bed.
The next couple of days, things went almost back to normal. We were back to speaking at lunchtime and bedtime. I hadn’t brought up anything that’d start an argument, but I still felt a little uncertain about everything that had happened. One day, we were in the middle of one of our lunchtime conversations when the subject of how we met on twitter came up. We would touch on it every once in a while, how we had managed to carry on speaking against all odds.
We moved onto talking about the kind of people we followed on twitter. I teased him about how he mostly followed girls with little clothing on in their pictures and he disagreed saying he tended to follow people he found funny and who he could joke around with. Initially, a group of my twitter friends had followed him and through them, he had found me. I pointed out how it was strange that he’d never gone on to follow any of my friends after we started talking. We had a similar sense of humour, he’d even been included in group conversations with some of them, but he’d never once followed any of them. He said he just hadn’t and cut the conversation dead. It felt abrupt and I wasn’t sure why it bothered me, but his demeanour had changed again and I didn’t understand why when it had just been a throwaway remark. This time, he changed the subject.
Our break was finished and I told myself I was just being oversensitive, when I got a text from him. “We were going around in circles so I thought it best to change the subject.” I felt like a small child who’d been chastised for doing something wrong. I went quiet after that, still trying to work out what had just happened there. It felt cold, particularly after I had spent months listening to how unhappy he was in his marriage over and over again, without telling him to do something about it instead of going around in circles.
He was busy that evening, visiting family and I took that time to think about what it was I wanted from the relationship. I knew I wasn’t happy with being told what I could and couldn’t talk about after our conversation in the car. There was no doubt in my mind that I loved him, but something had changed and he no longer understood me like he once did and worse, didn’t seem to want to either. He’d been the first ever person who’d known exactly how to make things better when I’d been upset. I’d been right in thinking everything had changed the previous week and things were never going to be the same again.
When he called me that evening, we both agreed quite calmly, that we couldn’t carry on like this and it was best to call it a day. There were no tears this time, just a quiet acceptance. Earlier in the week, we had decided to go to the cinema that Saturday and celebrate his birthday early. His operation had been delayed for a couple of weeks and was now due the day before his birthday. Since it would render him immobile for a few days, I had wanted to do something to celebrate that weekend. He’d already booked the cinema tickets when we broke up. We didn’t speak for the next few days bar a couple of YouTube videos he sent me that we’d talked about before. He could no longer claim he’d stayed away because it was what I wanted, but deep down I’d already known that anyway. Gone was the man who couldn’t stay away from me.
That Friday, he texted to ask if I wanted to go to the cinema the following day. He didn’t sound too keen and I replied to say it wouldn’t feel right, but it’d be silly to waste the tickets and he should take a friend and celebrate his birthday. He texted back to say OK, he just thought he’d ask and I told him to enjoy himself. I felt a little sick at the thought of him taking someone else, but it was none of my business anymore and I decided to go out and drown my sorrows with friends after work. It was late when I got home and as usual, I checked to see who was still up on twitter. He was tweeting from a friend’s birthday party and sounded incredibly drunk. Somehow we ended up tweeting each other and he promised he’d let me know he was OK in the morning. He signed off with a term of endearment. It was the first and last time he ever said anything remotely affectionate to me in front of others.
The following day, the day we were supposed to have spent together, was a long one. He let me know he was fine and I told him to enjoy himself that evening. It was only then he said he wasn’t going, that he’d only wanted to go with me. The conversation carried on and somehow, it became a question and and answer session, with me making it clear he didn’t have to answer, but trying to make sense of why he’d done the things he’d done, so I could put it all behind me and move on. Like it was that simple.
His story changed every time the Facebook incident came up, going from wanting to protect me, to just not thinking of it, to saying he hardly used it. Similarly, with how he was with me on twitter, it went from being a privacy issue (one that didn’t apply to his other friends, one of whom he’d suggested meeting for a drink the day before) to being guilt ridden about his wife (so guilty, he’d built his whole twitter character around explicitly flirting with women.) He squared this in his mind by saying they didn’t mean anything to him, whereas I did. Raking it all up again hurt, and feeling disappointed about how a day I had carefully planned had gone, I was completely and utterly devastated.
A couple of hours before the film was due to start, he suggested going to see it again. If he’d done that in the morning, I’d probably have accepted, but I resented him for letting me think he was taking someone else and by this stage, I wasn’t in any fit state be around people. To make things worse, it was a Richard Curtis film and the last thing I was in the mood for was romance. He insisted he’d done nothing to make me think he’d go with someone else, I disagreed saying he could’ve said no when I’d suggested it.
The conversation wasn’t getting us anywhere and we both sounded exhausted, so in the end, I told him we should part ways, but to let me know how his operation went. This was the first time he showed any emotion, asking me why I was I bothered about his operation if I wouldn’t care about him after that. That he could have an accident after that and I’d never know. He didn’t want to text me on the day and it was best if he just cut me off now, before saying as much as he wanted to, he couldn’t block me and this was tearing him apart. How everything with his wife was affecting him and he normally would’ve behaved differently. She was still calling him and members of his family and he was struggling. I pointed out that despite knowing how upset I’d been, he hadn’t called me once since the day we’d agreed it was over. He said he’d thought it was what I’d wanted, which I’m sure sounded as hollow to him as it did to me, but I couldn’t stand the thought of him being upset, so I told him I wouldn’t text him, I’d leave him alone and would check with the hospital myself. He said what he really wanted, was for me to be there when he opened his eyes after the operation.
The reason the question of me being there hadn’t arisen before, was because it had been assumed his wife would be. Now, from what I’d heard from snippets here and there, things were bad between them and it was looking unlikely that she would turn up. Even if she did, he didn’t want her there and he’d made this clear to her. Whatever else had happened between us, I still loved him and couldn’t bear the thought that he mightn’t have anyone there with him. There were issues with his family and I didn’t want him to be any more stressed than he already was, especially as I knew there had been complications during his first operation and he was lucky to be alive. I agreed to be there on the day and booked my ticket the following morning.
The next couple of days were awkward. He said he wasn’t feeling well and went to bed very early the following evening. I was at my sister’s, so wasn’t speaking as much anyway, but I did notice he was on WhatsApp off and on after he had told me he was going to sleep. It wasn’t that I expected him to speak to me, but along with everything else, it just made it harder to trust anything he said anymore. All he had to do was say he wasn’t interested, but he didn’t, not once. We’d broken up anyway, there was no need to continue to lie to me, but the mixed messages I was constantly getting from him, really messed with my head at the time. They still do.
He had the week of his operation off, so I saw he was tweeting from bed the following morning and sent him a WhatsApp message asking if he was feeling better. Though he was in bed, he wasn’t answering for so long, in the end, I said I’d leave him to it. He said he was just tired, at which point I snapped for the first time.
All the stress of the past few weeks finally took its toll and I really let him have it. Telling him how he wouldn’t stop talking about wanting to try anything, yet not even picking up the phone, managing to tweet, but not reply to my texts, how his mixed messages were driving me mad and he was playing games and if everything he’d done wasn’t just an elaborate way of getting rid of me, then he needed to ask himself why he’d behaved the way he had done. I called him selfish and unable to think of anyone beyond himself and in the end, he only replied with “Wow, the truth hurts.” To which I responded, “So do lies.
This time, I didn’t expect to hear from him for the next few days, so I wasn’t at all surprised at his disappearance. It had become an endless repetitive cycle and I just wanted Friday to be over so it could stop. Again, the same thing happened where he’d apologise for disappearing, I’d see he was online, text him and he’d disappear. It wasn’t paranoia, it happened every single time. He put it down to driving at the time or visiting solicitors, but there’s only so many times you can believe the same story and in the end, I simply gave up.
Two days before his operation, he texted me, apologising for his disappearing act (again) and asking if I fancied meeting him for a drink. He was quick to put me off, telling me not to worry if I felt uncomfortable/unsure etc, which I pointed out to him. It was obvious he wasn’t keen and only saying it so he could tell himself and me that he’d tried. I said no, telling him it was painful after the last time when he’d been really keen and I also had a really bad headache. This was true, not helped by the crying and the stress. He didn’t push it, telling me the following day that he’d been helping a friend with a water leak and been up half the night. It may or may not have been his way of explaining why he was online in the middle of the night, but I hadn’t checked and by this point, didn’t care. It didn’t sound plausible though, since he didn’t have many friends I knew of who were close enough to ask such a favour of him in the middle of the night, apart from the one he lived with. It wasn’t my business anyway and we went back to not talking. I didn’t hear from him again until late the night before his op. Just one text with a kiss. I replied, saying good luck
He’d told me to get there for after his operation in the afternoon, but I had booked an early ticket, wanting to see him before he went in. I knew he’d be alone and I didn’t want him going into the theatre, with things so bad between us. It meant waking up while it was still dark outside and a 3 hour journey to Kent.
What I hadn’t expected, was how nervous I would feel. I hadn’t spoken to him for days, he’d been cold for weeks, things were really bad between us and I felt horribly awkward about seeing him. A sharp contrast to our first meeting. I made my way to the right ward where he was waiting for me and between talking to the nurse, we made polite conversation. He noticed I was fidgeting, as I often do when I’m uncomfortable, and avoiding eye contact.
We had a good laugh when he changed into his hospital gown and it broke the tension a little, but I still felt nervous. When he was asked to get on the bed, I went to give him a hug and he pulled me in for a quick kiss. I was shocked and put it down to nerves. He was wheeled back onto the ward to wait a little longer while they got theatre ready for him and he looked terrified as he confessed just how scared he was about the operation. I squeezed his hand to reassure him and he kissed me again as they took him away.
The next few hours were spent worrying about him. I didn’t move from the waiting room, or eat all day, wanting to be there for any news. Eventually, I went to ask after him and was told he’d been moved to a private room. As I walked in, he was still groggy from the anaesthetic, but alert. Apparently they’d wanted him to stay in recovery a little longer, but he’d insisted on wanting to be with me until they’d agreed. It was difficult seeing him in pain and there was a problem with the IV that made things worse. I made him eat dinner and held his hand. Today was about him and I didn’t want to say or do anything that’d upset him.
He held my hand and stared at it, suddenly going very quiet. I asked him what was wrong and after a long pause, he said “Everything.” I told him to stop worrying and just concentrate on getting better. He asked for a hug, I suspected it was to say goodbye. I felt incredibly sad as I sat on the bed, holding him tight. I knew it would probably be the last time I saw him. The man I’d come to love so much in such a short space of time. He looked miserable too and I couldn’t stop asking myself how it had all gone so horribly wrong. I didn’t know what was going through his head at the time, but when I finally told him I had to go, he looked bereft. I said to let me know when he got home the following day and I’d give him a call to say happy birthday.
I don’t know if he was trying to delay the inevitable, but he asked if he could take a picture of me on his phone. I hate having my picture taken and told him I’d let him do it on the condition that he was in it too. Neither of us looked our best, but despite the operation, he still looked better than me. It had been a long day, the past few weeks hadn’t been kind and it showed, not helped by the hospital lights, but he seemed happy with it. It was only at that point that I noticed he’d replaced his phone wallpaper of me with a picture of a sunset. I should’ve expected it, but it felt like a slap in the face.
The pain was unbearable and I said goodbye, worried I’d start crying. As I walked out of the room, he shouted out my name. I’d brought him a card and chocolates, which I’d given to him earlier and when I walked back in to ask what was wrong, I saw him struggle to think of something to say before asking me if I’d given him his chocolates. We both knew I had, but I showed him again where I’d put them, before walking out again. It was the last time I saw him.
He texted me on my journey home. I didn’t get back till late at night. I’d spent the whole day at the hospital, but I was glad I’d been there and relieved he was okay. The following day, he continued to update me on what was happening. Sending pictures, as was his way. Once he’d been discharged, and settled in back at his friend’s house, I called to wish him a happy birthday.
Though he was home, I was still worried about him. His friend was away for the weekend and he was struggling to get around. I didn’t want to get back to our usual routine, but I also couldn’t break contact at that time. Over the course of the next few days, we settled back into old texting habits. He started calling again during my lunch breaks and at night. I should have stopped it, but he was being warm again and I wasn’t ready to let go yet, but I knew it would come to an end this time. Nothing had been resolved and for all the things he said to me during this time, still talking about loving me and wanting to do anything for me, we both knew it wasn’t true. I was just waiting for the right time to tell him this and it came during a conversation one night when he was telling me how much he wanted us to be a proper couple.
I told him that was only true as long as I kept quiet if something was wrong, and he replied “yes.” It was late and he was still on heavy medication, but I also knew it was true. I got upset and told him this was why we’d never be happy, before hanging up. He tried calling back a couple of times, but I didn’t answer. I knew it was the right time and though we exchanged a few texts, it was the last time we spoke to each other. In his texts, he blamed the medication and tiredness for what he’d said and I agreed that I knew he wouldn’t have said it otherwise, but it was still true and I’d just been waiting for the right moment to put an end to whatever it was we had been playing at. I made it clear that it had been coming anyway and what he said that night was irrelevant.
The truth was, ever since we’d first broken up, he’d been contradicting himself. Telling me he’d only given me space because he thought it was what I wanted, then doing it again and again. All the different excuses about Facebook. Insisting I tell him if anything was wrong, then immediately changing the subject. In fact, even early on in the relationship, he’d often cut me off if I started talking about myself. We used to laugh about it, but it didn’t seem funny anymore. It wasn’t the kind of relationship I wanted and above all, I didn’t believe anything he said to me anymore because he’d stopped showing it a while back.
I didn’t expect to hear from him after that, but when I woke up, I saw he’d been texting me in the early hours of the morning. One of them was the length of a long email where he asked me why I’d let things get back to normal if I’d known all along that we weren’t getting back together? Why I’d come to the hospital? Why I’d held his hand and why I’d let him kiss me? He also said I’d been the perfect girlfriend and that’d make it much harder for him than for me to move on. How I’d find someone else and fall in love again. How I shouldn’t let what had happened with him skew my judgement of men in general. That he’d always loved me and had wanted to be there for me except for the last few weeks where everything had gotten on top of him. How he’d give anything to hear me say his name again and tell him I loved him. (Though evidently not enough to call me. Something he never did again. Not once.)
I owed him an explanation and told him the truth. That I still loved him, nothing he’d done had changed that and I’d found it hard to walk away without knowing he’d be okay. At no point had I said I wanted us to get back together again, and I had cut certain topics of conversation dead. He’d known I was still hurt and he’d never once apologised for anything that had happened. I couldn’t see how we could’ve carried on. He told me I’d got it all wrong and that he did love me. I said from his behaviour, it was clear that was no longer true. At one point, he said “I owe you so much.” I was quick to tell him he didn’t owe me anything. I didn’t want him to stay out of a sense of duty or to return any favours. The only thing he’d ever owed me was honesty and I knew by that stage that he was incapable of giving me that.
He got angry at me for the first time in all the time I’d known him. How dare I tell him how he felt. Who was I to accuse him of being insincere? I told him if anger helped him to move on, if blaming me was what he needed to put it all behind him, then I was glad he’d got it out of his system. I’d seen how he’d been with his wife. The moment he’d pushed her to breaking point and she’d reacted, he’d found it easy to push the guilt away. I saw that happening with me and I told him I understood that was his way of justifying it to himself. He calmed down immediately and told me he was finding it all just as difficult as I was. That he loved me and he was hurting and it was frustrating for him that I couldn’t see it. He’d realised too late what he should’ve done all along. But clearly not enough to want to do anything about it.
I hadn’t meant to, but I couldn’t not tell him how much it had hurt to see he’d taken my picture off his phone. He said he’d done it so I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. This made me laugh because it sounded so absurd. If he’d still felt the same, he’d have wanted me to know that. The only possible reason he could’ve had for taking it off would’ve either been so no one else would see it, or because he’d decided it really was over. We carried on texting for a while but nothing he said rang true and in the end we just stopped, possibly from fatigue. I felt exhausted.
He continued to send the odd text here and there for the next few days. Just everyday mundane things. Asking how work was or what I’d eaten, telling me about what his flatmate was doing. Just regular small talk. I hated it. I kept my replies short and tried not to get drawn into a conversation. I also noticed that though he claimed he’d been doing nothing but watching TV and reading, he’d still take a long time to reply. He felt like a stranger and it was incredibly painful.
A couple of days later, I got a long email. In it, he told me he’d read through our entire chat and email history and finally realised everything he’d done wrong. He also told me he’d discovered that we had exchanged half a million words over the course of the Summer. How he was ashamed of himself and how he’d never get over me and didn’t want to try because I was the love of his life and if I’d agree to it, he’d go to relationship counselling with me, but he knew it was too late and he’d broken my heart, said things without showing them and he understood why I felt how I did. He reiterated what he’d said before about only removing my picture from his phone for my benefit and other things that we’d talked about. How he’d been afraid I’d only been at the hospital out of a sense of duty. He ended it by saying he’d never shut me out, would always be there for me and he’d always be mine, not even wanting to look at anyone else because he’d feel like he was cheating on me. He also said that the day I stopped loving him, he’d sense it and know, no matter where he was. I’m not sure why he said that, as I’d sensed he’d stopped loving me the day we’d met. He also mentioned that it was sad how such few people knew about me. Like it was out of his hands. Like he hadn’t chosen to do that.
He was very good with words and it would’ve sounded convincing to anyone, but to me they were just more words with nothing to back them up. He’d said things like this on and off for the past month and then done nothing to show any of it was true. Since the night of our argument, I hadn’t had a single phone call from him. Nothing at all to suggest that he was willing to try. No mention of talking through our problems or not shutting me down when I needed to talk. No way to actively save the relationship. He just wanted the problems to magically be fixed and that was never going to happen. I also don’t believe that you could tell someone you love to be happy with someone else, even encourage them to be with another. I knew how painful it was for me to think of him with another woman. He wanted to push me into being with someone else. Possibly to take the heat off himself or ease the guilt, I don’t know. He’d said on a couple of occasions that he wished his wife had cheated on him, so he could feel less guilty about leaving her.
By now, I was so sick and hurt by his conflicting messages, I emailed him back to reply to the things he’d said, but ended up sounding more angry than I’d intended to. I told him he was living in a fantasy world, that he only thought he loved me because I was there unconditionally. What he’d said to me about being at the hospital out of a sense of duty really bothered me. I told him I didn’t owe him anything. We’d broken up and he’d stopped talking to me long before his operation. I had no duty to be there, I’d *wanted* to be there because I loved him.
He’d tried to, on numerous occasions, get me to say I hated him, but I didn’t. Not once. I never wanted to give him that excuse. I knew he’d have used it not only to walk away, but to also be the martyr who walked away for my benefit. Just like he got rid of the picture for me, left me alone for me, wasn’t honest with me for me. I was sick of hearing it and told him so, bluntly. They were excuses and I couldn’t listen to them anymore. I told him to stop playing games. How could he keep saying those things and not even pick up the phone to call me? I started thinking back to all our time together. How he’d often walk away when I was upset, to hang his washing out or clear a table. I’d constantly be asking if I was boring him, because he couldn’t stick around long enough to listen during an argument. No wonder he’d been touched at my tiny gesture of making coffee and staying up to listen to him. How he’d told me he’d stuck by his exes through thick and thin out of a sense of duty. How he couldn’t do that with me, the only person he claimed he’d ever loved.
I understood how low I came in the pecking order. I understood that my doubts about meeting up had been right. It was no coincidence he’d changed immediately after that evening. It’s not possible to convey in words, how that knocks your confidence in everything from the way you look, to your worth. Even now, I haven’t managed to get over that feeling. It never leaves you, even long after the person who made you feel that way is gone. Questioning why he chose to do all of this with me, when there were plenty of girls without my history, without my issues, who weren’t damaged already. Was it a game? Was it more fun for the challenge it presented? Was he just shallow? The one thing he despised in his father. Or was he, as I’d suspected all along, just embarrassed of me?
It was a badly written email, typed out furiously and amid a lot of tears. It felt like I’d been crying forever by this point. I was even angry with the tears that refused to stop. This wasn’t me. It wasn’t how I behaved and I wasn’t weak, but sitting there at my desk on that day, looking at the patches on my clothes from all the tears, I’d never felt so weak, so tired, so completely and utterly bereft about the death of something that had meant so much to me. It wasn’t the worst heartbreak I’d ever experienced. Not even close, but it was the most let down I’d ever felt by anyone. At that moment, my faith in people died.
He continued the small talk on WhatsApp, saying he had tried to call me every night. When I questioned him further, he admitted it had been on the phone I didn’t use or even turn on except to speak to him at night. The excuses hurt. That in a weird way, he’d decided to leave it up to fate. If I answered the phone against all odds, then he’d speak to me, otherwise he wouldn’t bother. It was again a way to justify his actions to himself, that it was somehow meant to be. This, from the man who’d once told me he hated people who did that and we were in control of and responsible for our own fate. I couldn’t listen to any more and blocked him. What hurt the most, wasn’t that his feelings had changed for whatever reason. It was that he didn’t have enough respect for me as a friend, or even a person, to care about my feelings after we broke up.
Not only that, every exchange after that had been about making me feel as though it was my decision, despite being left with no choice. He switched everything off overnight after that email exchange. He did the same with his wife and from what he’d told me, his previous girlfriends. Just a click of the fingers and they no longer mattered. I don’t think that’s possible if you’ve cared about someone beyond a superficial level or for more than what they could give you. He was never interested in us as people in our own right. Their feelings didn’t matter after they had ceased to be of use. People aren’t disposable, they aren’t commodities, they are human beings. I felt many things, but I refused to feel guilty.
It’s funny how little we value our minds compared to our bodies. If someone were to take the time and effort to destroy my body physically, there’s a name for that. It’s a crime. They would be treated with disdain. Yet someone spending months to find out every little thing about you, slowly peeling back all the layers, step by step, taking down all your defences, finding out all your weaknesses, making endless promises, building you up, then in one fell swoop, deliberately destroying it and you until you lose everything that makes you, *you* There’s no word for that. It’s not a crime. They get to carry on as if nothing happened. You find yourself broken beyond repair. That’s how much we value our hearts and minds. Not at all.
Almost immediately, I felt guilty and unblocked him to explain why I’d done it. He blocked me in return. A completely pointless gesture, no doubt driven by anger. A couple of days later, I emailed him to ask how his follow up appointment had gone with the doctor. I apologised first for bothering him and he said I’d never bothered him, why would I think that? “Because you blocked me,” I reminded him. “Then you must’ve unblocked me at some stage” was all the explanation I got. He went on to say it was pointless emailing since we’d blocked each other and so we stopped, but not before he told me he’d deleted his twitter account. It hurt to hear that, since it was where we’d met. The coldness had crept back in and his tone had changed completely from the last email. That was when it was over from his end. I could tell. He switched his feelings off immediately.
That was it, neither of us tried to contact each other until I got a text a few days later telling me his wife and her son had somehow found out about me and he didn’t know how, but he’d wanted to warn me in case they got in touch. He said he was sorry I’d gotten dragged into it, all because he’d been “nice” and left his computer behind for her. He was in complete denial about his part in it all. Before I could even process what he’d said, an email popped up from his wife saying only that the man I’d been messaging on his website, was her husband. He’d told me to ignore anything she sent me, but I wouldn’t have known what to say anyway. What could I say? I understood how hard it must have been for her to send it. The hours, days she must have spent looking for answers. Feeling desperate enough to go through everything, looking for some kind of explanation. I didn’t only feel guilt, I felt the waste of it all. This woman had been through so much, and for what? A pointless relationship that never really got started.
Looking at it objectively, I knew I wasn’t the real reason he’d left her. It had been on the cards long before I’d met him. The comfort of having me there, having ANYONE there for him during that time probably gave him the impetus to go through with it. But back then, I insisted on punishing myself by taking the blame. It was entirely for selfish reasons, because briefly, it stopped me from feeling sorry for myself. So that’s what I did, especially the next day, when during my monthly clear out of my ‘other messages’ folder on Facebook, I discovered another message from her that had been sent a couple of weeks earlier.
Reading it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I walked out of work and went and sat in a nearby park, just staring at my phone, working up the courage to open it. When I did, I felt worse than I’d expected to. There was no anger, no blame. She explained who she was, told me her husband had walked out on her and her children a few weeks ago and said she wasn’t on a witch hunt, but needed some answers so she could move on. She hadn’t known what was going on in her husband’s head for months and had now discovered a lot of things that suggested she’d never really known him at all. She promised never to bother me again if I could give her any insight into why he’d done what he had. I knew I couldn’t ignore this message and just leave her hanging. I was responsible and I owed her an explanation. What I wanted to do, was to tell her the truth, but it wasn’t my place and I was worried about the repercussions for him, not just with the divorce, but to contradict what, if anything, he’d told her. I didn’t want to get him into any more trouble, nor did I want to look like the bitter ex who was after revenge.
I texted him to tell him she’d been in touch. As expected, he told me to ignore her. I explained I couldn’t do that, she needed answers. He replied that I should do as I see fit. I asked him how much she knew and he told me he’d mentioned I’d been at the hospital. Getting answers was like pulling teeth, waiting endlessly for his texts to come through. I was getting increasingly nervous about what I should say and in the end, I asked him if he was busy. He said he wasn’t, so I called him. The phone rang and went through to voicemail. I tried again but he didn’t answer. Then I got a text saying he couldn’t speak to me as he was feeling panicky and I should just do what I thought was best. I told him I didn’t want to talk about us, I just needed to find out what he’d told his wife, but he refused to speak to me. It was the first time I remembered ever asking him for help and he flat out refused. For the first time, I felt a degree of resentment towards him. I had been sat there worrying about getting him into trouble and he wouldn’t even speak to me. He said we could talk later but he couldn’t do it then. I told him if the idea of talking to me was giving him panic attacks, there was no need. In hindsight, maybe there was some other reason why he couldn’t speak to me then. Who knows?
In the end, I sent his wife an honest but vague reply, telling her I knew what had happened, that I didn’t know what was going on in his head any more than she did and he had issues he needed to resolve himself and if it wasn’t for his operation, he and I would’ve lost touch weeks ago. She replied with a “Thank you,” and true to her word, left me alone after that. I couldn’t believe how dignified she was, under the circumstances. There was no name calling, no accusations, no threats. He didn’t seem to appreciate just how reasonable she’d been. I couldn’t get my head around that. Nor could I understand why he was panicking, but he’d mentioned he’d thought he was having panic attacks on a few occasions and he’d texted earlier to say he was now dreading leaving the house because of them.
I couldn’t help but worry about him and sent him an email to say to say I’d always be his friend if he needed any help. For the first time, I got an honest reply telling me he was going to stop “pretending” now. He hadn’t been ready for any of this, he wasn’t sure if he couldn’t let anyone in or just didn’t want to. I told him in future, he should perhaps think about that before taking things that far with anyone. After all, I hadn’t pushed him into anything. If anything, I’d always been the more reluctant one. He thanked me for what I’d said to his wife and that was that. Over the next few days, I got the odd text from him, mostly telling me he was off to the pub. He wouldn’t reply if I texted him in the evenings. Clearly the agoraphobia had passed. One thing stuck in my head for months though, the word “pretending.” To this day, I don’t know if he meant about the whole relationship, the fact that he loved me, that he’d fallen out of love with me, or something else entirely. I never asked him because I’m not sure I could’ve coped with knowing that’s what he’d been doing for the weeks after we met.
He knew I was attending an engagement party the following weekend and asked me how it had gone. That weekend I had managed to catch a bug and was sicker than I’d been in years, having to leave the party early and spending all weekend in bed. I told him this. There wasn’t even the slightest flicker of concern. He made a joke about it and that was it. Not so much as a “how are you feeling?” the following day. A couple of weeks later, he went away for the weekend and returned sounding much happier, telling me he’d found a place to live. I was happy for him, knowing how hard he’d found it adjusting to living in his friend’s spare room and told him to let me know the address so I could send him a card. True to his word, he did.
By this time, we were only sending the odd text every few days and he still wouldn’t reply in the evenings. I remember one day, him sending me a Bitstrips picture of him surrounded by colourful bubbles and the caption “Suddenly I see all the colours.” I knew it was from Facebook, which was going through a Bitstrips phase at the time. I remembered early on in our relationship,how he’d told me falling in love with me had opened his eyes. How it had been like someone who’d been colour blind all his life, finally seeing all the colours. When he sent me that picture, I knew without a doubt he was saying the same thing to someone else. I knew how his mind worked and I knew how he phrased things.
I knew eventually there would come a point where he’d meet someone else and I would work it out. I wasn’t ready for this and decided to change my number when my contract was up for renewal in a couple of weeks time. I told him this and he said to give him the new number. A funny thing during this time, amongst all the broken promises and lies, he kept his word about not drinking for a week after his operation because I’d made him promise. He emailed me to ask if the week was up, so he could drink. Everything else was in tatters, but he was a man of his word when it came to that. It made me laugh at how people operate. Their thought processes. Their quirks. Their ways of kidding themselves.
The only time I heard from him the following weeks was a thank you when he got my card and a few pictures of his new place. I felt an ache in my chest, knowing I’d never see it. That if things had been different, that could’ve been our space to spend time in together. It hurt so much, I knew I couldn’t carry on pretending everything was fine anymore.
The night before my contract expired, I sent him an email to say goodbye. In it, I told him there was no point in giving him my new number since we hardly ever spoke anymore. I told him I forgave him for everything, that I wanted him to let go of any guilt he felt and just be happy. I also said he should try to make things right with his wife, that it wasn’t his niceness that led to her finding out about me, it was our dishonesty that had left her with no other option. I thanked him for a perfect Summer and told him I’d always be there for him no matter what. He could always find me online if he needed a friend once we’d both moved on properly. I told him to be more careful in future, not to rush into anything and to only say things if he meant them. I also promised I’d never contact him again. It was late by the time I pressed send and let it and him go. Thankfully I had decided to keep the old number as a PAYG just in case and got a new contract. I had endless problems with it and reverted back to the old one, but I didn’t tell him that.
I hadn’t cried once while I’d written the email and thought I was making progress. It had been my way of drawing a line under everything and the goodbye I’d never really got from him. I was fine for the next few weeks. I missed him terribly, but not how we’d been the final few weeks. I’d even written in the email that though I’d always be his friend, I never ever wanted to go down the polite acquaintance route again. Small talk with someone who had meant everything to me was worse than never speaking to him again. I had some suspicions, unfounded ones, about him being interested in someone else. I mentioned them in passing in the email, but that was just guesswork on my part. I have a feeling that he was already talking to someone else by that stage though, but it was none of my business. He could even have been moving in with someone into the new house. That’s how effectively he’d kept me away from his real life. I wouldn’t have even known.
While I wanted to be there during his operation for nothing in return, I know I couldn’t have asked him for anything without promising him more. All the talk of staying friends or being soulmates or getting to know me properly, they were all erased the day we broke up. For all his words, I could tell he’d moved on overnight. I’ve never regretted a relationship before, but I will always regret falling for someone like that. We’d even had a conversation in late August, about what would happen if we ever fell out. I’d said it’d be a shame after the initial hurt was over, to not stay friends because we understood each other so well. He’d agreed, but along with everything else, it didn’t translate beyond words. I still can’t get my head around the sheer amount of things that were said, that were never meant or shown. I still don’t understand why.
Maybe he’d say it was my choice to stop talking to him, but with everything I’ve explained here, it’s fair to say he left me no choice. I know he’ll have moved on straight away. He’ll say it was unexpected, but aren’t all relationships? He was never one to get bogged down with thinking or analysing or addressing feelings and situations. He simply boxed them up and discarded. We all have ways of coping. I’d have loved to have been able to do that. I do know that because I explained everything, every single action, all the things that hurt me, he’ll be a better boyfriend next time. He’ll know exactly what to say and do and he probably won’t hide her away.
I didn’t know what to do with myself during this time. He’d filled all the hours of my days for so long, I felt completely lost. I wrote things down a lot, in a notebook. Just how I was feeling and notes about what was happening. It was a way of keeping sane and some of it later became this blog. At the time, I wrote a poem for my blog. He texted me to say he’d read it and it was “sad,” right before he took down the link for my blog from his. I later deleted the poem. It felt too personal.
In all this time, I’d only told one person about us and even then I’d said the bare minimum. I’d been seeing someone and it hadn’t worked out. No details. As time went on, I realised I needed to talk about it. Not tell them everything, but I was starting to feel like I had imagined it all. Suddenly cut off from him after months of doing nothing but talking to him and carrying on as if nothing had happened didn’t seem real. I was struggling to understand how someone could become such an important part of my life, only to disappear without a trace and for things to continue as if he’d never existed.
I couldn’t make sense of any of it and it sounds daft, but it was only weeks after we split up, that I started to wonder if he’d been lying to me all along. The thought had never even occurred to me in all our time together. I think there was an element of just filling the void, I didn’t really believe I’d been played. He’d always seemed sincere and why would he lie to me? One day, out of sheer boredom and idle curiosity, I typed his old username (he had changed it soon after we started talking) into twitter. A profile came up that was undeniably his. The profile picture wasn’t of a person, but I’d recognise his writing anywhere. It hadn’t been used for months, except one tweet that had been posted 5 days after our conversation about different twitter profiles and just days after his split from his wife. I looked at the time on it. Sent 2 minutes before he called me one lunchtime. He hadn’t mentioned it to me. In itself there was nothing incriminating about it, but I wondered why he hadn’t told me. It also seemed strange to me that he hadn’t deleted the account if he didn’t use it, like he’d been quick to do with the other one.
I knew his Facebook profile was private, but I did a search for it anyway. It’s only recently that I found out the Facebook rules had just changed around that time, so you could have a private profile, but no longer keep it hidden. His profile picture came up and I looked at the comments underneath. I wished I hadn’t. For all that talk about not even wanting to look at anyone else again, there it was in black and white. Just weeks after telling me (after we’d broken up) that his twitter persona had never really been him and he knew he didn’t have to or want to behave like that anymore, there he was flirting in his own distinctive way with various women. That wasn’t the worst part. I noticed straight away that one of the women he was talking to was from twitter. So clearly he did talk to people from twitter outside of it and again he’d thought to add her but not his own girlfriend. I found out other things too. Little things he’d lied about.
It was a strange feeling. I wasn’t remotely jealous, it was more an overwhelming feeling of ‘Who AM I? Why didn’t I expect to see this when anyone else would have seen it coming a mile off?’ Of course, technically he hadn’t done anything wrong. We’d broken up and he was flirting on Facebook. Everyone does it. But feelings and relationships aren’t built on technicalities. Only I know the things he said to me. Only we know what we shared. Only I know what he promised me and looking at those comments, at the very least, he’d lied to me. At worst, he’d betrayed me. I couldn’t understand why, what his motives were and I was furious with myself. I’ve never felt so low and I’ve known real lows. If he’d taken a knife and plunged it into my heart, it would’ve hurt less than the drip effect of all the little discoveries, the realisations, the untruths, the games, the discrepancies I should’ve picked up on. At one point, he’d even hung up on me when his housemate had walked in. I hadn’t even questioned it. All coming back, bit by bit in hindsight. Even now. I didn’t understand him, but worse, I didn’t understand myself.
I had CHOSEN to turn a blind eye every step of the way. I’d believed him when he’d said he’d tried everything in his power to save his marriage. That he hadn’t planned on anything happening with us. You don’t save a marriage by creating a secret profile online. You choose to cheat, because that’s what it was, cheating, by flirting with women and conducting relationships online. He wasn’t using twitter for any other reason that I could see. It was a secret life. One his partner didn’t know about. He even left a comment on one of my blog posts about cheating once, saying that both the partner and the other woman are equally to blame. He was aware of what he was doing, yet in denial.
I did some more digging and found more old twitter accounts. He’d even created one the day he’d given me his number that was unused, but of course I wouldn’t know if he’d used it to talk to someone privately. On the first account I’d discovered, I could see he’d struck up a relationship with another woman before he’d met me. I don’t know if it was someone he knew in person, but there was talk of texting and meeting up. I knew he followed work colleagues on that account and couldn’t help but feel even worse for his wife. These were people she had met and her husband wasn’t even trying to hide anything. So much for being a private person.
By now I was furious with myself. I’d known he was married. I’d known how he acted with women on twitter. Why had I assumed he’d be different with me? Why had I blindly believed everything he’d told me? What made me so fucking special? Finally, I discovered his vine account. He used to make them when we first started talking and he’d soon lost interest, but he hadn’t shown me all of them. I found a few he’d made specifically for someone on twitter. They’d been posted late at night on the occasions when he’d suddenly disappear in the middle of a conversation because he had to do housework, or so he’d told me. In them, he claimed he was bored and thinking about her, only in far more detail than that.
After seeing all of this and discovering a whole new side to him, I decided enough was enough. I spent the first week of December reading through my entire WhatsApp history, deleting it as I went along. It was only then I realised he couldn’t possibly have done the same in 2 days as he’d claimed to in his email. It took me well over a week to do it. He could only have skimmed through it. Reading it with new cynical eyes, I grew even more angry with myself for having been so naive. I deleted the last of the messages after getting drunk at the work Christmas party with the help of a friend. Finally, I deleted his number from my phone. No more torturing myself with seeing if he was online or not. I wouldn’t advise anyone to delete a number when they’re drunk as I pressed and held the button to delete it, it started dialling out which led to much panic, flapping and swearing before I managed to cut it off (I hope) in time.
I cried some more that week, but this time it was different. It really was goodbye. Needless to say, I didn’t hear from him again. Not so much as a Merry Christmas or even a Happy Birthday in February. He’d always said he wasn’t one for looking back. That part, at least, was true.
I decided the new year would be a new start and I’ve kept to that. I’ve long since given up trying to work out why he did what he did. That way madness lies. Only he knows that and the answer could be as simple as ‘because he could,’ or he didn’t want to introduce me to his family because I wasn’t like them. He’d told me how his sister had an issue with Indians. Yes, really. The thing I decided to concentrate on was why I behaved in the way *I* did. I’ve yet to work it out and that was partly my reason for writing this blog.
A couple of months ago, I finally told a friend the whole story. The first time I’ve spoken to anyone at length about it. Most people I’ve spoken to or who’ve read this blog have been incredibly supportive and told me we all do stupid things in love. Though that’s true and I’ve done more than most, I can’t say I’ve ever been blinded by love before. I’ve gone along with things against my better judgement out of love for someone, but deep down I’ve always known I couldn’t trust them or that they were lying. He used to tell me I was intuitive, so I knew when I was being lied to. I don’t believe in intuition. I’ve only ever had boyfriends who were friends first, so I’ve just gotten to know them well enough to read them.
As my friend pointed out after hearing the whole story, I may think I was blinded and naive, but I still managed to walk away this time as soon as I realised there was a lack of honesty. People put up with a lot more in relationships and I’ve come a long way since my last significant one where I stood by someone who lied to me repeatedly for far longer than I should have. As difficult as it was, I kept my cool where once I would’ve been screaming and shouting and begging. I ended it by wishing him well and an offer of friendship one day, and meaning it, where once I’d have been telling him to fuck off and hoping he’d be miserable. I didn’t fall for him out of desperation or because he gave me attention.
Having thought long and hard about it, I think I fell for him because it was the right time for me. I hadn’t been interested in anyone for so long, I’d thought I’d lost the ability to feel anything for anyone. In an earlier blog, I mentioned how that had started to change in 2012 and finally last Summer, I thought I’d met the right person. As for the trust issue, I think on some level, I believed I had jeopardised my previous relationship with my lack of trust. Looking back now, I know that wasn’t true. I’d had every reason not to trust my ex. I’m not a suspicious person by nature in relationships, but when someone spends years telling you it’s all in your head, you start to believe it and doubt yourself. Subconsciously, I think this time I chose to be less cynical and put my faith in someone and hope it wasn’t misplaced. I made a mistake and I should’ve seen the signs, I’ll know better next time, but at least I know I have the strength to walk away, even when it feels like doing so is the end of the world.
I have come a long way. This blog has helped more than I could ever have imagined. There’s a clarity that can only be gained by seeing things through new eyes. Writing everything down and knowing people were going to read it made me see things from a different perspective. I still disagree with most of you, I wasn’t stupid because I was in love or I didn’t want to face up to the truth, I’m an objective person, even with those I’m closest to (which can bring its own problems.) I just wanted a relationship where no one could ever tell me I sabotaged it.
To his credit, he never blamed me. Certainly not to my face. Nor did I write this blog to blame him. I also don’t think meeting him online made a huge difference to the outcome. Though it’s not how I would choose to meet a partner, chances are we would have ended up having the same problems even if we’d met elsewhere. These days, it’s only a matter of time before people follow each other on facebook or any other social media site. It’s important to remember this is my account of it, from my side and my point of view. He may see things differently, though I’ve tried to be as fair as I can be, not exactly painting myself in a flattering light in any shape or form.
He wasn’t a bad boyfriend. For the most part, he was kind, loving, and extremely patient. We had an incredible Summer. We all make mistakes and from learning about his background and upbringing, a part of me can see why he is the way he is. We are the sum of our experiences. He never shouted at me, called me names, belittled me, or cheated on me (as far as I know, though by some definition, he probably did.) I don’t think there was any malicious intent.
One of the last things he said to me was, “You know me better than I know myself, you have no idea how terrifying that is for me.” When I first found out about his secret accounts, I thought about him saying that and I wanted to laugh. How could he possibly think that when I hadn’t known about any of it? Since writing this blog, I’ve realised how he must have seen it. Based on nothing but his reaction about Facebook, I’d ended things with him and then got back together, only to split up about a row over mutual twitter friends. Though I hadn’t known it at the time, clearly he spoke to other women outside twitter, so following my friends would’ve been too dangerous and the Facebook thing, well we know what happened there. I’d obviously had no idea about any of these things at the time. I hadn’t even known why him not following my friends had been such an issue for me back then. So in a way, he was right. I did know him. His reaction was the only thing I’d had to go on and I was right. He didn’t try very hard to sort things out because he must’ve known that once I’d started to suspect, I would eventually find out. He wouldn’t speak to me when his wife got in touch with me because clearly she had found out things about him and she might have told me if I’d asked. I like to think that the fact that he couldn’t face me, means he felt at least an element of guilt or shame. I only wish he could’ve been honest with me. It was all I’d ever asked for.
I hope he’s happy wherever he is and whatever he’s doing now. I genuinely mean that. I miss my friend. He’s been through a lot in his life and I don’t think he’s ever experienced real happiness or love. For all the pain it brings, I wouldn’t swap that feeling for the world. Despite everything I’ve discovered since I wrote it, I still stand by everything I said in that last email. I’ll always be his friend as promised. He may have gone back on everything he said to me, but I don’t say things I don’t mean. If I had to guess, I’d say he’s probably got a twitter account out there somewhere, with a silly profile picture that isn’t of him and a username that’s a double entendre. I doubt he’ll be honest about where he’s from or what he does, for fear of being discovered. I’ve no doubt he’ll be talking to someone else like he once spoke to me. I have no interest in finding out. It’s none of my business anymore. I only hope the next relationship makes him feel how he told me I did. That indescribable heady feeling, the goosebumps, how everything seems that much better. I used to joke that he rushed into everything, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he was married by Christmas!
Because it’s so rare for me to trust someone or to fall in love, he will always be special to me. I will always care about him and a part of me will always love him like I love all the people I care about. Even knowing what I know now, I’d still have been there for him all those times he needed me. The only thing I can’t forgive, is the lack of explanation and the fact he never came clean, instead, choosing to string me along for weeks after we broke up. I didn’t deserve that and I know he knows that. He could’ve explained if not at the time, then later on. I always left the door open. I was there for him even after all that and I didn’t do it to get anything in return.
Though I was saying it months before it was really true, I know I’m over him now. I couldn’t talk about it or write this blog until I was. It was at around this time last year that he and I first started talking, so I thought the time was right. In a funny way, since I started writing it, I’ve thought about him far less. It’s helped to switch off once I stop writing. I’ve been far more candid than I would be ordinarily, but then it was no ordinary blog. I didn’t plan it or draft it, I just poured my heart out. I know he doesn’t read my blog anymore and I’ve not given away his identity, so I hope the privacy issue only applies to me. I know some people will disapprove, but it’s helped me enormously to discover who I am, so I can’t regret it. I’m sorry for the poor writing, but ever so grateful to you for reading and for all your support and lack of judgement, but most of all, for not calling me a fucking idiot.