One Year, One Life

I was recently contacted by one of my readers offering some commentary of their love life.  Whilst this BLOG has typically been about my journey and me, I think that as part of dealing with our own demons, we need to take on what others are going through.  Taking in different perspectives gives us the chance to understand alternative points of view.  This story is different, yet the same.  It is a story of love lost, of hurt, and of internal reflection.  In two parts, our story starts in January 2013.

The names have been changed to protect peoples identity…

Photo’s from this post are credited to;

Steve Markham Photography

https://www.facebook.com/steven.markham.94

University of  Sydney

University of Sydney

ONE YEAR. ONE LIFE

It’s early January 2013 and my beloved wife is acting more remote than usual. I was 55 years old, and this was my third marriage. She stopped intimacy a year earlier, becoming increasingly less available and more evasive. Yet my eyes still adored her – damn she looked good; a svelte sexy brunette aged 46. I adored her despite knowing we had deep issues that recent counselling was slow to unearth.

She’d made a ‘heart’ mistake almost three years earlier in not supporting me through a bad crisis by focussing on how it affected her alone. I’d then made a ‘stupid’ mistake by responding to flirts from a girl on Facebook after thinking she was a friend of my sister in law and failing to realise the wall was public.

But I wasn’t ready for her to rush into an affair, especially with a guy whose multiple identities and desperate situation was unfurled within a thirty-minute search, and angrily rejected by her. ‘I didn’t know I would fall in love’, she said. Clearly we were an epic mismatch.

That was January 2013. I walled off the stairs and set up my temporary kitchen on the deck outside my new bedroom. With en-suite and a side access, I was private yet still near, with my stepsons, dogs and my ex all firmly still in my heart. I wanted to be there.

Just a month later I’m dating a woman of substance and style from across town, and finding the furtive access to my cave is difficult. The ex has been sneaking the guy into her part of the house; I see his vehicle in the street and smell his cigarette on the breeze late at night. I fantasise about confronting him, but realise the futility.

So I move out.

Day one in my new place, I’m unpacking in the summer heat and loneliness has well and truly found me.

My new girl comes around, we are happy; she walks home – three blocks away. I’d negotiated moving into her burb, sought her approval, and even discussed how I’d behave if we broke up. I wouldn’t be there otherwise. The suburb was my childhood haunt, so I felt I was returning home, a vastly gentrified place of renovated terraces and little cottages cheek and jowl by the harbour.

But I had unfinished business. I’d been asking to meet the new guy. I want to know he is a good man like my ex keeps saying he is. I’ve left her, the boys, and the dogs in the dream home and I’m paying the mortgage indefinitely. I feel I have a right to see him and see something good in him. He avoids me.

Then my girlfriend pushes back, ‘I’m freaked out you are here’, she offers. ‘I need time…’ Love it when women say that. Gee thanks. Welcome to the burb.

I text the new guy, I’d found his number on our phone bill. 500 texts from her to him in the first month. ‘Mate I just want to meet you and say hello, to see you are a good guy like she says’. He rings me immediately, 9pm Sunday night, all beer and bravado. Clearly he has a circle of mates around him at his beer garden. ‘I don’t want to meet you’, he snarls in a nasty voice. ‘Why do I need to meet you?’

I explain.

‘I can feel your pain’, he offers in a raised weasel tone for the benefit of his audience. ‘But I never took your wife off you. She was done with you ….’ I hang up in shock and distress.

He calls straight back. ‘She wasn’t your wife anymore. I didn’t take her away from you. She needed a man…’ I hang up again.

I’m spinning out. I ring the now remote girlfriend, who has managed one brief and aloof text that day. It goes to message. “I need to talk, can you please call me?” She doesn’t.

So what do I do? Cut off, isolated, alone in my new rented pad, half unpacked, hot languid late summer night. I go online and start hitting on the dating site. I get a reply almost immediately, and banter by email then by text. It’s always been easy for me with words. I set a coffee date. We meet in the morning, drink coffee, move on without connection. I forget about that.

Girlfriend mellows and ex makes conciliatory noises about her guy being ‘frightened of me’. I remain torn up, worse so knowing he has a dark heart.

Life bumbles along. After time, I meet the guy. He seems ‘ok’ with what was my family!

Barrenjoey Head

Barrenjoey Head

Winter arrives. The guy moves in with the ex – she says they will now pay half the mortgage together, I will pay half now, not all of it. I like that idea, but worry about him and the boys. They say he is OK, and they remain close to me. I take the 12 year old to soccer every Saturday.

Girlfriend has too much happening – career, kids, friends – I start to feel excluded and lonely when I walk her dog as she has another weekend with the girls.

I break up.

A few days of hurting emails later we come together for a talk at a pub, we find peace. We cuddle and kiss. ‘It was good’, I tell her, recounting the best of our six months. Plenty of best!

Her phone is buzzing like usual. Saturday night her social circle text and flow like crazy, she was always in the screen. These are people around 50, and they won’t commit to anything until the moment. It becomes continual. ‘Fiona is down at the next bar with a friend and I’m meeting them soon’, she says by way of explanation, but then she looks startled. The message says I HAVE TO TALK TO YOU RIGHT NOW.

We leave the pub and I walk her down to the bar, intending to come in and say hello to Fiona and her friend. I decide not to, and kiss the girl goodbye. She gives me a look that says ‘we are not over’, and I walk home happy knowing I’ve somehow ended a relationship on good terms.

The next morning when I check messages I have this text from the now ex GF: ‘You will be amazed to learn I met Laura last night with Fi. She had a date with you while you were dating me. You betrayed me….’

Somehow in a city of four million I managed to mess up many months earlier. My fairly unique name flagged the discussion between Fi and Laura the night before and the three of them sat and got drunk and decided I was a serial player. I’d just gone back online to the dating site, so to them I looked like I was there all along when they searched for me at midnight on their phones.

The ex GF had solid ability to channel anger and she did, arriving the next day to collect her odds and ends and giving me both barrels in the quiet street outside. I understood how it looked, and how she felt, and I was ashamed and guilty that I’d hurt her. We had however dodged a worse bullet as one day I would have encountered Laura with Fiona face to face. Imagine that.

I wrote her a series of apologies and explanations, she deserved to know what I was thinking then, and, at the time. But once betrayed, the wall rose high, so the occasional street encounter is strained. Which is a shame, since I like her and respect her and had mostly the best of times with her.

As winter waned, I faced a cascade of challenges in my life that would all hit a crescendo by January 2014 – the anniversary of the start of the rest of my life.

To be continued….

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