(I apologise in advance for all the cunts in this story. It’s just hard to tell it without quoting the source directly).
After our breakup, and all the confusing messages from Whippersnapper, I was only certain of two things
- I was worried about him
- I was still bananas about him
I was worried because he’d told me he hated himself and wished he was dead. He had also told me he was struggling not to self-harm.
His body image problems seemed really bad. I had previously suggested CBT could help, and he seemed up for it, but the last I knew, he hadn’t referred himself.
There were two things I desperately wanted
- for him to feel better and be safe
- to see him again, to either get closure, or to get him back (I had a strong preference for the second one).
I thought those two things could dovetail together pretty well; it seemed like the main reason we weren’t together was his Body Dysmorphic Disorder, so if he felt better and had some hope, he might think he could be with me.
I knew it would be much better for him to have therapy from someone neutral, who he doesn’t know personally and definitely hasn’t slept with, but failing that, I wanted to give him some basic things to help him cope in the meantime.
I texted him:
“I keep thinking about things you said on Saturday. I can’t bear thinking of you being so unhappy.
“I know it was alcohol-fuelled but it sounds like some of that stuff you really do think, some of the time?
“I’ve got some stuff I want to share with you – some cutting edge Psychology inside knowledge*.
“It’s basically some things that can take the edge off bad feelings really effectively. It’s too complicated to explain over text though.
“So I wondered if you wanted to catch up for a drink and a chat. (This isn’t an elaborate plot to get off with you**, I just really care about you.)
“I do have some stuff you might be able to help me with too though – to help me make sense of what happened with us, so I can learn from it and move on more easily.
“But also, if we meet up for a chat, it might feel like we can’t be bothered to talk about that hardcore stuff right now and that’s cool too***.
“What do you think?”
* Here I’m trying to make him feel like a Psychology insider rather than a patient. (And it is true, I partly wanted to talk to him about compassion-focused therapy, and that stuff is quite cutting edge.)
** Actually, it absolutely was an elaborate plot to get off with him.
*** Here I’m trying to be carefree, laidback and cazh, to show that even though we’d be talking about mental health and our relationship, it’d be fun or whatevs!!
He replied straight away, saying
“I think that would be cool potentially [Dater Analysis]. The only thing the whole next week I’m pretty busy with interviews and signing off to agencies. But maybe the week after?
“Ah yeah. Most of it I do think quite a lot. Every hour in fact. And thank you for the offer of help! Sounds good.”
We arranged to meet in about a week and a half, with the caveat that he’d confirm nearer the time, because he might have an interview (he had recently quit his job).
I did so much planning in my head, for this drink. I constructed the perfect outfit, so it’d just look like what I wore to work that day, but was actually my most likely outfit to win him back.
I thought I’d do my bikini line, just in case.
I put a lot of thought into what CBT I’d go through with him, and had printed out some sheets and things for him to read.
I thought first we could map out the vicious circle he gets stuck in, when he’s on a night out and feeling out of place. It might look something like this:
Then I thought we could map out what happens on a good night out, which he also seems to have lots of:
Then we could figure out how he can move from the negative one to the positive one, when he starts feeling bad on a night out; breaking the cycle by changing what he does, his focus of attention, his thoughts or alleviating physical symptoms.
Then we could end with me giving him some Compassion-focused exercises he could use, to help him be kinder to himself when he’s being self-critical and wanting to self harm.
I thought it was pretty likely he would reschedule; whatever usually made him cancel, this time would be ramped up to 11. As long as it went ahead eventually, for once I didn’t think I’d mind.
We were due to meet on a Tuesday. I predicted he’d contact me at the weekend and ask if we could postpone it. But he didn’t.
God. We might actually be going ahead with this!
On the Monday night, the night before, I texted him at about 6:30pm, checking we were still on. As I pressed send, my heart was pounding so hard, I was practically vibrating on the sofa.
Then, I kept checking my phone all night, but he didn’t reply. By the time I went to bed at 11pm, I still hadn’t heard back. I was stressed and pissed off.
Is this it? Is he ghosting me now? What the hell is happening tomorrow?
I was wide awake in bed for ages, but somehow I fell asleep.
Then my phone went off, just before 1am.
“Hey [Dater Analysis]. Probably best if we leave it til some other week. I’m drunk with my mates yet supposedly have an interview soon x”.
I was absolutely furious.
Some other week?
Drunk with my mates?
Yet supposedly have an interview soon?
These are not acceptable reasons to cancel. 1am is not an acceptable time to cancel. Especially when someone is trying to help you.
Absolute piss take.
I was livid. As I’d been asleep a few moments earlier, my normal filter was off.
“I was trying to help you. This is a new low. Don’t ever talk to me again.
“I was completely open to the idea that it would be a big deal to meet up and talk to me about anything, especially about your body image, so I completely expected you to cancel and I would’ve been fine with that.
“But not letting me even know until so late? This is bollocks.
“I wanted to help you. I had so many ideas to help you make your life better. And you can’t even tell me either way if you’re up for it until this late?
“Please don’t send me anymore streams of consciousness about your body image because you won’t let me do anything about it. Don’t tell me you love me again because you won’t let me do anything about it. It’s just cruel, you’re not letting me move on.”
I think it was reasonable that I was pissed off, but I also think I overreacted a bit.
About 10 minutes went by, and I tried to compose myself and get ready to go back to sleep. I took some deep breaths and tried to switch off.
Then I got a message from him.
“Alright then fuck it and fuck you. Fuck off; I’m happy just being a cunt. Fuck off and i hope I die.”
This is really bad. He’s never talked to me like this before.
I was trying to work out whether I was more upset he’d told me to fuck off, or more worried he ‘hopes he dies’, when he sent another message:
“Fuck off u cunt”
WOW! Oh my god.
I couldn’t believe it.
He never normally spelt ‘you’ with just a ‘u’.
I actually thought someone else must’ve had his phone, at first.
It felt necessary to turn the shower temperature up to blazing hot. I didn’t want to get out, even though it was after 1:30am.
I put my phone on airplane mode because I didn’t want to receive any more horrible messages.
I wasn’t replying, but they just kept coming.
A few minutes later, I couldn’t resist taking it back off airplane mode. I wanted to see what he’d say next. It was like a car accident I couldn’t look away from.
I don’t understand the ‘fuck off parade’ bit.
It annoyed me that he was berating me for saying nothing, when 10 angry messages ago he’d said “don’t message me again”.
I wasn’t saying anything because I knew from my relationship with Matthew, that once someone is this angry, it’s impossible to reason with them. They can find something to fuel their fire in the most placid statements.
Overall he’d sent me 18 messages over 40 minutes, called me a cunt 5 times, told me to fuck off 9 times, plus other miscellaneous abuse.
The next morning, I got ready for work. I’d hardly slept. I felt a bit delirious, really upset and spaced out.
The messages seemed so out of character. For a start, the spelling and punctuation were terrible.
In the past, I’d told WS about things that Matthew and the Amersham guy had said to me, which were slightly abusive. He’d been appalled and said “I can’t imagine saying something like that to a woman!”
He’d always been so calm and gentle.
I couldn’t stop re-reading the messages. By the time I was standing in the aisle of my packed train, reading them again, I knew them off by heart.
I saw my supervisor when I got off the train and was weirdly, abrasively cheerful with him when we queued up in Costa together.
My first patient didn’t turn up, so I sat at my desk re-reading the messages.
I was really worried about WS. He was clearly drunk and came across like a man unravelling. He was being self-destructive, and I was scared what happened after the messages – basically I was scared he might’ve killed himself. Especially with all the “I hope I die” and “you and everyone else ain’t got a clue so fuck all of you”.
I spend a lot of time assessing risk with my patients, and I think talking about suicide all day every day keeps it at the forefront of my mind.
Suddenly I saw he was online on WhatsApp.
Oh, thank god! He’s alive!
I completely assumed he’d woken up that morning, and immediately thought ‘oh GOD, what happened last night? Where’s my phone…’
I assumed he’d be absolutely mortified.
I knew the onus wasn’t on me to make amends, but I thought we’d both feel better as soon as he apologised, so I sent him a nice message to make it easy.
I felt like I’d been kicked in the head.
That ‘yeah’ was worse than any of the cunts.
It all felt so much worse when he still meant it, in the cold light of day.
I muddled through until lunchtime, and then I went home from work.