Whippersnapper and I have kind of reconnected. Because of terrorism and politics.
We hadn’t been in touch for months.
To recap, we started out having amazing time dating, last year. Being with him was better than drugs and he made me consider believing in soulmatey bollocks like The One.
The only problem was he stressed me out by always rescheduling our dates (partly because he had balanitis, then genital warts, then balanitis again, then genital warts again, plus a constant background level of body dysmorphic disorder).
I gave him an ultimatum to stop cancelling. He gave me the answer I didn’t want and ended things.
Then, over the next few weeks, in a series of 3am drunk texts:
- a couple of times he told me he loved me
- one night he told me he wanted to die
- one night he called me a cunt several times
- one night he apologised
- one night he promised to explain everything the next day
- the next day he said nothing.
We’re like a modern day Romeo and Juliet.
We hadn’t spoken for months but I still thought about him constantly.
Then, when I heard about the terror attack on a Saturday night in London, my first thought was to check he was safe (I knew all my friends my own age would be safely tucked up in bed).
Then, the next week, I texted all Whippersnappers I’d dated to remind them to vote in the general election, and as we’d just been in touch about the terror attack, I included him.
The night after the election, he texted me at 2am saying he still loved me. I sent a deliberately ambiguous response, even though I was thrilled.
Over the next week, I kept thinking about that text. I had feared he was dating again, so it felt amazing to hear he hadn’t just forgotten about me and moved on.
I had sent the last message, so the ball was really in his court, but I felt like I wanted to say something else. I thought about cautiously asking if he wanted to meet for drink as friends.
I had some really good, logical reasons why this seemed like a good next step, but I can’t remember what they were now. Maybe something about me still having his shirt and being worried about him.
I thought I’d wait until at least Friday, when I was seeing my friend Ruth, before sending anything.
Ruth has an amazing ability to make sense of the most incomprehensible, dickish behaviour and her interpretations with WS had a high success rate. I wanted her to help me write my next message.
But then she cancelled.
I’m going to have to figure this out on my own.
I started writing a message about cautiously meeting as friends, but it just wasn’t coming out right.
This isn’t it.
I decided to say something different instead.
I realised, although we’ve had a lot of late night, heartfelt text conversations, I haven’t really been honest about how I feel since we broke up. He’s tended to be drunk and open, I’ve been sober and either therapisty or guarded.
I decided to say everything I felt.
I wrote it as a draft first, to see what came out.
“I love you too, in case that wasn’t clear.
“I’ve tried everything to make these feelings go away but so far nothing has worked. I’ve tried dating other men but I can’t forgive them for not being you.
“It’s so unfair for us both – you said your problems make you wish you were someone else, and yet I spend so much time wishing everyone else was you.
“I tried talking about how I felt. I tried saying nothing. I tried getting smashed all the time. I tried looking after myself. I tried to use my best CBT on myself, to make it feel better.
“I just think you’re really great, and gorgeous. No one else is as funny and warm and insightful as you, or they don’t get me like you did.
“I so regret giving you that bloody letter. I also think it was really unfair to have my say and then fuck off abroad and not let you have yours.
“I just looked forward to your lovely company so much, I felt sad when it didn’t happen, and it got out of hand in my head because I let it stagnate.
“I still think being with someone kind and understanding, who gets it, could be a great way to overcome your problems. Now I’d know not to pressure you and to be more patient.
“Imagine my sinewy legs wrapped around your waist again.”
(It was probably a bit manipulative to end on a sexual image, but you have to work with what you’ve got. ‘Sinewy’ was an injoke we had, and he seemed to like legs around waists.)
It was about 9:30pm. I decided to have a drink, watch TV before sending it.
At 11ish, I thought OK. If I look at the time and it’s an even number, I’ll send it. If it’s an odd number, I won’t.
It was 11:02.
I’m just not sure!
I tried again.
I don’t know!
I went and got another drink from the kitchen.
It was a warm evening and I went out onto the balcony and stared into the darkness.
Sometimes I feel like my ex-boyfriend who died can talk to me, in my head. I think about something, and what he would’ve said pops into my head.
I think it’s probably a psychological thing, where my brain creates what he would’ve said, and it feels realistic because I knew him so well, but I like to imagine he’s somewhere watching and sending love and encouragement.
(When I was on my way to Amersham Sex Weekend, I felt like he said This is a bad idea! in my head, and it did turn out to be a disaster. When I had just met WS and was feeling excited, I felt like he said I like this guy. This is going to be good! It was yet another reason I was gutted when it didn’t work out with WS; it seemed like evidence against my dead ex-boyfriend sitting on a cloud, live-tweeting my life into my head).
That night I felt like he said You should send this text.
I decided to send it. First I had to reinstate him on WhatsApp, because I had previously deleted our conversation; our recent messages had been normal text messages.
His latest WhatsApp profile wasn’t massively flattering, which I found quite cheering.
I pressed send.
Oh my god oh my god!
I waited for the room to stop swaying and went back to my TV programme.
In the break, I looked back at WhatsApp.
Still only one tick.
The message hadn’t reached his phone yet.
When I went to bed, I checked again.
Still only one tick.
Surely he hasn’t blocked me?
Last weekend he told me he loves me. Presumably it’s more likely he’s got no signal or battery.
In the morning, I checked again.
Still only one tick.
By lunchtime, there was still only one tick.
I accepted he probably had blocked me.
He could’ve done that at any point over the last few months, I guessed, as our most recent messages had been by text.
I sent a really long message to my friend Joy, saying what had happened. I went through every possible reaction someone might have to being blocked and why I did or didn’t have each one.
Then I sent another saying “sorry, you’ve probably never known anyone get so much material out of an amount of ticks.”
Then a minute later “Oh, ignore the above – WE HAVE TWO TICKS.”
He hadn’t blocked me! And now he had read my message.
That afternoon, he sent this reply:
“Hey Dater Analysis I’m really sorry you’re feeling this way. You know I feel the same. But you shouldn’t be drinking or feeling sad because of me!
“None of it is your fault…it’s just the way I feel, it’s so much better if I’m just on my own from now on…at least until I clear my head. If you hadn’t written that letter I would’ve carried on treating you badly and neither of us want that to happen…”
I’m not a massive fan of people overusing the ellipsis (…). It strikes me as a bit lazy grammatically, not bothering to end your sentences properly. One of my colleagues is terrible for it – every email is liberally peppered with ellipses…
Also “if you hadn’t written that letter I would’ve carried on treating you badly…”
Yes. Phew! Thank God we side-stepped that landmine. I thought, thinking about Cuntgate.
I wasn’t surprised by his response. I hadn’t really hoped he’d change his mind, I just wanted to say how I felt to get it off my chest.
“I know. I actually already feel better just for saying it. Thanks for letting me.
“I think the difficult thing to get my head around, is that the massive barrier between us is exactly the kind of thing I get paid to fix every day.
“It’s like if we were on opposite sides of a river but my job was building bridges and I just needed you to pass me the tools but you couldn’t.
“I know how much better things could be for you and I want that for you more than I want it for us/me.
“But I know that nothing I can say can change this. You can’t feel differently until you’re ready. It involves doing things that probably feel terrifying.
“I hope what you take away from knowing me is that someone fancied and loved and accepted every bit of you unconditionally.
“I hope when you’re ready, whenever that is, the memory of that helps you see what we all see when we look at you.”
I assumed that was the end of that, although when I went to bed, I wondered if I would get a 3am text that night.