The emotional portcullis

I’ve been terribly unhappy for a few days. I was fine one day, then the next I felt really bad.

I’m OK when I’m with other people, but on my own, I can’t stop crying. It’s hard to get out of bed.

I’ve had two epiphanies and one bit of bad news.

Bad News
On Friday night, I accidentally saw Whippersnapper’s dating profile on OkCupid – he’s probably dating again.

It’s annoying I saw this, because I really wasn’t doing anything stalkerish, on this occasion.

There’s a bug in my OkCupid app so it always looks like I have an unread message, when I don’t. This was annoying me, so I scrolled right back to the start of my messages, to try and sort it out.

I got back as far as my conversation with WS, and I could see his profile picture.

He had changed it since he was on OkCupid before, when we were dating. I assume this means he’s dating again.

In some ways, this isn’t the end of world – I was back on OkCupid within 24 hours of our breakup, and it didn’t mean anything.

However, when he ended things he said “the way I see dating and sex is just intrinsically wrong. It’s like I need a year off dating and relationships before I even have sex again.”

I don’t like to think of him with other women. It makes me sad.

I talked to Joe, my flatmate, and he said “he might be cooking again, but he’s still got shit ingredients.”

It doesn’t seem like he’s got any help yet, so he’ll have the same issues with the next person, but she probably won’t be as nice about it.

Epiphany One
All this time, with WS, the worst thing is that he felt like The One. I have never had such good chemistry with someone. It felt like, if we hadn’t fucked it up, he could’ve been the person I grew old with.

Then this weekend, it hit me.

He would never have been the one.

I had a sudden image of how it would’ve ended. It would’ve ended just like it ended with my ex-boyfriend who died.

Just like it also ended with my first proper boyfriend.

We would’ve had a couple of really intense, mainly good years together, where I helped him through his problems and he supported me.

Then, after a few years, I would’ve fallen out of love.

With each of my long term boyfriends, we started out at the same life stages, doing the same things, but then I moved on several steps and they were stuck behind.

With Rob, my first proper boyfriend, we were both still living at home when we met. I was 17. He was 19 and had tried to go to Uni but came back after 6 weeks because he had really bad OCD and couldn’t cope. We were great together. Until I went to uni, 2 years later. I started to feel like I’d outgrown him. We stayed together for another 3 years.

With Balthazar, who died, we were both working as healthcare assistants when we met. He fell into that line of work by chance, after doing an art degree, but he was good at it. Four years on, I had changed jobs a few times and was now a lecturer and supervising people. It bothered me that he hated his job, and he wouldn’t do anything about it. It felt like it got in the way of him being happy for me. He was 12 years older and I worried he was wasting his potential.

With both guys, it wasn’t just our life stages that made me feel I’d outgrown them. It was the dynamics and their problems. Rob had OCD and I supported him (he did support me with my problems too).

With Balthazar, he had an addiction to prescription painkillers before we met. A few months into our relationship he got suspended from work for going in drunk. He had an accident on his bike when he was cycling to see me drunk. He regularly lied to me about drinking and had a phase of being very depressed.

It got better. He also supported me with things too.

But with both, after an initial few years of their struggles bringing us together, somehow their struggles drove us apart. They took me for granted. Their problems held them back and came between us.

I’m so certain this would’ve happened with WS. This time, we weren’t even starting at the same life stage. Although I really liked his youth, because he seemed so enthusiastic and unjaded, I was conscious from our first date that he’d never moved out from his parents, never been to uni, never learnt to drive. He told me he’d had ‘one long term relationship’ but I always wondered if he was rounding up a bit. Somehow his life seemed a bit smaller than mine.

There were already times he didn’t support me as I hoped. The day he had that first STI outbreak, I wrote about how we bonded over it, but deep down, I was a tiny bit pissed off; that day, I also found out the flat I was buying fell through. This is still affecting my everyday life now, as I’m living somewhere totally different to where I should be. I told him, that day, but he didn’t seem that interested – he was too preoccupied with his penis.

This realisation is kind of a relief – he wasn’t The One who got away after all.

But for some reason, it’s made me feel desperately sad. I don’t know why.

If being rejected by the person you love is the most heartbreaking feeling in the world, I know what comes a close second: it’s the sick, guilty feeling you get, when you stare out of a rainy window and realise you’re falling out of love with someone who needs you.

The last few days, one of the top 5 worst memories of my entire life has been playing over and over in my head.

It was a week or two after I broke up with my ex-boyfriend who died. I had nowhere to live, so I was staying on a different friend’s sofa every night.

He texted me and asked me to go and see him, because he wanted to talk about something.

When I got there, he had prepared a speech about how much of a better boyfriend he’d be if I gave him a second chance. He knew he’d been taking me for granted.

“I can be so much better than this.” He said. He had prepared notes, which he’d written in this notebook with monkeys on, which I bought him for his birthday. He’d drawn a flow chart of things he could say, depending on what I said.

He kept saying “this all sounded a lot cooler in my head.”

I saw the flow chart and asked about it, and he sheepishly showed me. He pointed to one arrow and said “and that was if you said you didn’t love me anymore, and that would be bad…”.

I said No to giving him another chance. I never even considered saying yes. I just knew the answer was no.

I don’t know why. Now I miss him and regret it so much.

I said no, and we both ended up sitting on the sofa, crying.

I said “how can I make it hurt less?”

He was curled up in a ball. He said “Don’t… leave… me…” in between sobs.

I held him and kept saying I was sorry. We both sobbed our hearts out.

After a while, I said we both needed to pull ourselves together. I decided to make us some food.

He used to be really big and muscly. He wasn’t obsessed with the gym, but he had weights at home which he never talked about, and he was incredibly strong. He used to carry my bike up the steps to our street like it was made of paper.

He’d halved in size since I’d moved out. He wasn’t eating. I wasn’t either.

I said I would make us boiled eggs, but once I boiled the water, I saw there was only one egg in the box. I boiled that and said we’d have half each.

I tried to make soldiers but the bread was mouldy.

There was hardly anything in the fridge except some Roule cheese I’d bought weeks earlier.

“I left you your whirly cheese.” He said.

When the egg was done, I couldn’t get him to eat his half, so I ate most of it. All he ate was the tiny bit of egg in the top of the shell.

After a while, I left.

As I drove past our house from the street below, I saw him watching me drive away, through the window. Sometimes I used to stand there, in the mornings, when I was getting ready for work, and I was waiting for him to come home from night shifts.

This was one of the last times I saw him, before he died.

Now I’ve decided this is how it would’ve ended with WS, I can’t stop thinking about this memory. It keeps making me cry, when I’m on my own.

I recently felt like I turned a corner, with my grief, so it’s a surprise to be feeling like this. This memory happened in 2011.

I suppose I have tried to avoid remembering this since 2011. It used to feel like a burn, when I remembered it. It used to feel like the kind of pain where you’ve pulled your hand away before you’ve even felt it. Now it hurts but it feels like an ache I can stand. Maybe this week, all this crying, it part of it finally healing.

Yesterday I was making a cup of tea at work and I got choked up about it.

I tried to imagine what he would’ve said.

He would’ve said “you were so nice to me. You did make it hurt less. I would’ve got over this. Maybe you would’ve come back. Maybe you wouldn’t, and we both would’ve recovered. You don’t need to feel bad about this anymore.”

Second epiphany:
I’ve started remembering things that happened in my relationship with Matthew, and feeling sad. I broke up with Matthew in June 2016, so it’s nearly a year. We broke up because he had anger management problems and was very slightly, borderline emotionally abusive to me.

I’ve felt pretty much nothing about that breakup, apart from the week he moved back in, in December, and I felt scared.

I’ve just started to remember happy times, and thought It’s sad that it didn’t work out. 

I don’t want to get back together with him, but I’ve started feeling sad about how it turned out.

I suddenly remembered when we watched True Detective on my laptop in bed, and I fell asleep. When I woke up, I was so tired I didn’t want to go and clean my teeth before bed. I said “can you clean my teeth for me?” He jokingly put his finger in my mouth and pretended to try and clean my teeth. I sleepily said “It’s rubbish! It’s not even minty!” We were happy then. I’ve found little things he bought me, out of love, and felt sad.

The epiphany is that this is the first time I’ve felt sad about our breakup. Actually, it’s weird I have felt nothing about him, because I did love him, and we were together for 3 years.

I realised I’ve been numb about it for nearly a year, because I had to be numb when I was with him.

When he was saying a tirade of horrible things to me, I knew there was nothing I could do to make it stop.

So I used to stand there, letting all the horrible things he said wash over me. I started naming the things I could see around me, in my head.

He would be saying all these awful things about me and my personality, and I would be thinking sofa, rug, coffee table, window, tree, cat…

I was numb.

I think that’s why my feelings for WS were so strong. It’s like when the dentist numbs your mouth, and when you start getting the feeling back later, it feels weird and intense. I was weird and intense about WS because I’d been numb.

I’ve kept the emotional portcullis closed, to keep out these very different painful, sad feelings.

It’s probably not great timing, that the emotional portcullis started to open, the same week that I found out WS is dating again.

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2 thoughts on “The emotional portcullis

  1. Pingback: An emotionally confusing landscape  | Dater Analysis

  2. Pingback: Why are we whispering? | Dater Analysis

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