Did Someone Say Sandwiches?


You know the internet is crazy when an inanimate object slides into your DMs. And it’s even creepier when said inanimate object messages in reply to one of your instagram stories “hey, that’s my view” when you’ve posted a pic from your balcony. 

The account was a personification of a bar signage board, the type that has witty, daily comments to entice you in to drink their alcohol, watch their sports and play their games. I’d been at the bar a few weeks before, tagged them in a post and I guess that was how they’d found me. But I allowed the conversation to go on far longer than I should have before requesting some personal information about the writer. 

He worked part time at the bar, and wrote the signs, and when I finally got a name I also realised if I scrolled far enough back on the Instagram account there were actually pics of him, and looked fairly normal, which was a relief. But I had to wonder how many times he used the guise of the sandwich board to lure people into convos, far more than if it had just been a personal account I’m guessing. 

It was a long weekend when we started chatting and he was away camping with his friends. I presumed it was going to be a rager but he said while he had certainly taken enough alcohol to sink the ferry he was going over on, it would likely be fairly tame considering all of his friends were taking their kids. 

He was older, and at 39 it wasn’t surprising that most of his friends were settled down but from comments he made and the lifestyle he lived (he had a professional career but still chose to work part time in the bar (and write the signs)) it was clear he was very far away from that point in his life. 

It also turned out we lived across the street from each other. That hadn’t worked out well before but maybe this time would be different. We chatted throughout the weekend and when he was back in the city we made plans to go on a date. 

Somehow, and honestly, I’m not sure how it happened, I truly don’t understand how I didn’t see it happening and stop it before it was too late, but our first date ended up being to a Whitecaps football (/soccer) game. Which would have been fine, except I was still seeing The Whitecaps Player

I could have and should have made an excuse, any excuse!, to get out of it but he had the tickets and I just felt like anything I said would sound sketchy because he knew I liked sports, he knew I was a football fan and I’d already said I was free that night. 

It was another “how the fuck did I get myself here” moment as we walked from the concourse out into the open arena to take our seats and there’s The Whitecaps Player warming up on the pitch. I attempted to distract myself from my internal awkwardness but, while Sandwich Board Guy was nice, from a physical attraction standpoint my eyes were much more drawn to the field than the seat to my left. It was only made worse when The Whitecaps Player got sent off during the game and Sandwich Board Guy and I then had to have a long discussion about what an idiot he was. All the while I was thinking, yeah I’ll be messaging that idiot later, no doubt. 

God, I’m an awful person. As I write this story and admit to the proximity of these two strings of my dating life, I know if it was the other way around I would be less than happy about the situation. Does it absolve me of guilt because Vancouver is so small? Because it wasn’t as if I orchestrated the situation? Because this is just the way dating is nowadays? Ugh. I hate that excuse!!

But I wanted to try and give Sandwich Board Guy a chance, he seemed like a standup guy, he was super nice and he’d had an interesting life so we had a bit to chat about. But it wasn’t my proudest dating moment. 

The date ended with a brief hug after we walked the two minutes back to our joint street corner and discussions of another date. It felt like it would be a slow burn but I was prepared to give it a chance. I just couldn’t work out if his self deprecation was kinda cute or kinda off putting. I mean, I don’t want a guy that can’t get enough of himself but a little bit of confidence doesn’t go amiss. 

On our second date we went to a few different bars near where we lived, and with him working in the industry, albeit just one night a week, he knew a lot of people and seemed to get a lot of free drinks, which included shots of tequila, followed by shots of gin. Those were my idea… but there was method to my madness, honestly! I was drinking gin and didn’t your mother ever tell you not to mix your drinks? Actually, my mother told me a lot of things about drinking that I clearly never took heed of, but in this instance it just seemed sensible to do shots of the same alcohol. But shots of gin are not good. 

Still, I kept my wits about me and when he made a “jokey” comment about coming home with me as we walked the few blocks home, there was no doubt in my mind I was going to bed alone. 

He was nice. Like really nice. Like, one of those guys you can totally see falling into the “last guys finish last” categories, and that turned me off. Because us women just can’t seem to appreciate a good guy, can we? Why is that?! I totally understand men’s frustration when they say we overlook good guys for bad boys. I’m totally guilty of it. Although my retaliation is always that men say they hate drama but will also go for the hot girls despite the drama they bring. Wow, so many generalisations in a paragraph. 

When we next met up, after we’d both separately watched the Mayweather MacGregor boxing match, I knew I wasn’t attracted to him. So I’d love for someone to explain to me how he ended up in my apartment kissing me. I’m in no way suggesting he forced that. I’m just suggesting I make the weirdest fucking decisions, that make no actual sense. Was I lonely? Did I just like the attention? Did I hope maybe a kiss would turn things around? 

Worse still, the moment that brought me back to my senses was when he suggested he stayed and share my ice cream…. Um. No. Absolutely not. Hard pass. Kiss me? Sure. Share my ice cream? Get outta town. 

In the days that followed that night, after I’d swiftly said goodnight and ushered him from my apartment so I could eat my ice cream in private peace, I was as honest as I could be with him and said there were other guys I was dating that I was more interested in. Did it matter that I already knew nothing serious would come of the time with The Whitecaps Player? No. All I knew was that I didn’t feel the same way about Sandwich Board Guy so I had to be honest. 

However, despite the honesty, Sandwich Board Guy was persistent. Not in a forceful way, just in that he kind of hung around on the periphery, texting, making jokes about how he was in love with me and I wouldn’t reciprocate, and telling me I’d inspired him to start running prior to his 40th birthday. Well at least I did one thing right!

I often wonder what depth of feeling he did have for me, and if in any way I perpetuated that and led him on. I tried to be aware of it, I told him about other guys I was dating, I even told him about the blog! (His wish is now granted that he’s included in it) I tried to make sure it was clear that I wouldn’t date him, but I’m also not sure if I made it worse by letting him stay on the periphery. 

Months later, I’d find myself back in the same stadium with him, this time watching rugby sevens after he invited himself to join my group of friends. This time there was no player I was dating on the field, though I was awkwardly covering lovebites on my neck from the night before courtesy of some over eager Irishman, and randomly Malaysian Persuasion had pitched up and was now sat next to me fondling my thigh. Another story for another time. 

To say Sandwich Board Guy was always on the periphery feels pretty apt. I just hope he didn’t stay there because of any false hope I gave him. I’ve been on the receiving end of that and it’s not fun. Knowingly not allowing someone the closure to get over you and move on is one of the most selfish things you can do. To this day, I hope that wasn’t the part I played.

…previous post

Nevertheless, she persisted


I haven’t written for a while. I haven’t written because this year has kicked my ass. There has been man stress, work stress, more man stress, and now more work stress. I haven’t had mental capacity for the blog and, for months now, I haven’t been “properly” dating either, albeit somehow there are still men in my life.

Throughout the man stress I’ve wished work felt more stable, fulfilling and enjoyable. And throughout the work stress I have desperately wished for a partner to walk through it with me, and comfort me on the many nights of tears. I have incredible friends, who have supported me constantly but, at the end of it all, what I’ve had and what I will always continue to have has been solely me, myself and I. 

When I let myself go down the rabbit hole, it’s incredibly easy to feel butt hurt for myself and wonder what I did so bad in a previous life that I’m being dealt so many personal challenges in this one. I can lament the fact that never did I imagine that I’d be 35 with no job, no financial stability and no relationship. I can compare myself to other people who are seemingly thriving and wonder when will it be my turn for success and happiness and love. It can be a pretty quick downward spiral into a full on Joey-esque “why me god, why????”

But there are no answers to any of those questions, especially not down the bottom of a rabbit hole, so what good does it do to ask them. While I believe in allowing yourself to feel the feelings and not just slap on a smile for the sake of it, I also don’t believe in wallowing or perpetuating negative emotions. 

I have no understanding of where my life is taking me, or what exactly this path is leading to, but I’m trying to trust in it, attempting to become comfortable with the uncertainty and instead accept that this is just where I’m at, for now. We often get so wrapped up in where we’re trying to go that getting there just feels like it gets in the way. But I’m coming to terms with the fact that I will perpetually live in the journey and so I should probably get comfortable with it.

And with every challenge, with every “what the actual fuck” moment, I find myself believing in myself a little bit more, less questioning if I’ll be able to get through something and more wondering how I’m going to get through it. Challenges, disappointments and time spent outwith our comfort zones are truly the best place for growth. And, honestly, I feel like it’s going to take something pretty spectacular to “beat” the trauma that my divorce inflicted. Not that I’m hoping to ever have that happen.

Within it all this year I’ve also seen myself start to harden, something that until now I had never let happen. I was always proud of remaining open, and soft, and hopeful, but I guess after a certain amount of shit you get to the point that it just makes sense to put up some walls – finally! I’ve found myself regressing from new social situations and shutting myself off from hope of new relationships. 

I’m hoping it’s a temporary solution while I find my feet, while I try to get some of my shit together – knowing no one ever fully has their shit together. But in the grand scheme of shits being together or not, I’m definitely on the “absolutely do not have them together” end of the spectrum. 

If you’re just joining my dating stories now, know that I write with a fairly large time gap from when the stories happened to me writing about them. Partly to protect everyone involved and partly to allow me to reflect on them in a less emotional way. Also that gap is now much bigger simply because I took time off from posting them. *the date I write at the top of each post is the date the story / thoughts happened, so most of the stories are in the past, but a lot of the thoughts (like this post) are from the present.

So far what we’ve covered is the “finding my feet” stage – where I was like a deer in headlights, realising online dating was some merry hell that a happily married person must have come up with to punish us for the other freedoms we have. Then we moved into the “oh, these men are kinda hot” stage – where I was surprised at my pulling ability and got a little too carried away with gym bods, after having found my own. And now the stories are moving into the “but none of this is working so let’s change it up” stage – where I tried to move out of my comfort zone, go with the less obvious choices and see if anything there worked. It’s been… fun!

But throughout it all, from those very first stories and right up to where I find myself now, one thought, one mantra, has remained in my head – “nevertheless, she persisted”.

…previous post

Should We Build Walls?


Are walls a good thing? Should we be erecting them? No, not the Mexican border kind ordered by an over-tanned, over-inflated world leader. But the kind that protect ourselves, protect our hearts?

We hear all the time about people having built walls up, not letting anyone in and it being a barrier for them to move forward and start new relationships. Often this is the result of a particularly bad breakup or a traumatic past experience.

I don’t have that problem. My problem is I have no walls. I don’t even have a little fence. There’s barely even a step at the front door.

The surprising thing is that I’m like this even after my divorce, hello bad breakup AND traumatic past experience. I had expected I may be battling to let anyone get close, to open up to people, to let myself believe in anything/anyone again. The only thing I do struggle with is trust, and so to a degree maybe there is an element of a barrier, but that doesn’t stop me letting people get as close as they want, as quickly as they want, as has been witnessed here, here, and here… in fact, just read the rest of the blog for examples.

Those experiences have unfortunately all resulted in my heart being hurt, to varying degrees, multiple more times. So while we often read and hear about how we should be breaking down walls, I’ve been wondering if I should in fact attempt at erecting some?

Would it stop me from experiencing the crush of yet another potential relationship failing? Would it stop the feeling of never being good enough? Would it quell the frustration at yet another effort being wasted?

The answer to all of those questions is “possibly”. But the added side effect is that by having those walls in place, I’d also minimise the connections I make, I’d diminish the experiences I could be having, there’s a chance I’d block out the very thing or person that could enrich my life. And surely that is worse than a little heart hurt?

Side note – I don’t call it heartbreak with these dating experiences, mostly because my heart was never fully exposed, it was never love and so, for me, I don’t feel like it was heartbreak. At least not in the way it was with my divorce, which was a heart shattering, million pieces everywhere, kind of a mess. So “heart hurt” feels a little more apt.

After all, you can’t experience love, joy, happiness, fulfilment, if you don’t also experience sadness, hurt, fear. One end of the emotion spectrum simply cannot exist in a vacuum. Brené Brown’s TED Talk ‘The power of vulnerability’ talks exactly to this. Brené states, ‘you can’t selectively numb”. If you numb the “negative” emotions, you also numb the “positive” emotions. And a life void of emotion doesn’t sound like much of a life to me, at least not one I want to live. So being open to all of it, the full gamut of emotions, is what can bring you a truly fulfilling life.

I would love to find a balance though; a happy medium between being wide open and totally closed off. Maybe I need slightly better screening of the applications to enter my heart space? Or trying to keep my emotions in check until I better understand someone’s intentions? Or even just expecting a certain level of respect, kindness and commitment from them? I guess most people would call that having boundaries? Yeah, let’s get some of them.

So instead of walls (which, FYI Trump, cost a fuck tonne), I’ll look to better understand, and uphold, my boundaries while still being open and vulnerable to all of the possible experiences and people and emotions that come with dating. Being an open book with my heart firmly on my sleeve is something I no longer want to feel like I need to change, or feeling shame because “I did it to myself” when another blossoming romance goes south.

I’m controlled and careful in most areas of my life, but when it comes to love I don’t want to be controlled or careful, I don’t think that’s how love is supposed to be experienced. I hope I’m forever an eternal romantic optimist, with no walls required.

“A woman who has endured pain, overcome heartbreaking experiences and still allows herself to be led by hope and faith; is truly unmatched.” – Dau Voire

Next post…

…previous post



How do you ignore your gut? Should you even try? Or should you just always go with it? Even when you want it to be wrong?

After the weekend of distant texting, by the time O texted on the Sunday night my gut was on full red alert. He sent a half assed text telling me they’d won the basketball tournament, and that was about it. My reply was that I guessed we weren’t doing dinner? He replied apologising, saying he didn’t realise he wouldn’t be back til later. It felt insincere. And I was majorly pissed off.  But mostly, I felt panicked. I felt panicked that things were changing and I couldn’t control them and I didn’t understand them.

I told him that I didn’t want to have to deal with inconsistency. He couldn’t go from being the texter of the century (while always claiming he wasn’t a texter) to essentially being MIA for 24 hours.

Here’s the thing with consistency when it comes to communication – I don’t need 24/7 communication but I do need 24/7 consistency. So if you only text me once every three days, that’s fine, but keep doing that. If you text me once every hour (don’t. I don’t think anyone should text someone that much), then you better be setting your alarm to keep that shit going so I don’t think you’ve died. Granted that’s an extreme example but my point is, don’t fuck with the consistency of communication. Yes life happens, yes it’s not always possible, but that’s why it’s important to think about the levels of expectation you’re setting. And that’s why numerous times I’d questioned O about the likelihood of this high bar being kept up there. And he’d always insisted it wasn’t a problem…

We didn’t end up seeing each other on the Sunday night and, in fact, it was eight days until I saw him again. Over the week his texts became less and less frequent and he dodged every opportunity for us to meet – he was busy. We eventually made preliminary plans to meet on Saturday. I was actually busy on Saturday, I was heading out of town to stay with my adopted Canadian Granny, but I didn’t want to be the blocker so I said it worked for me. And as I headed for the skytrain for a night out the city, I got the text I knew was coming from O – “really sorry, I don’t think I can meet today, I’ve thrown my back out”.

I could have written it myself, albeit the back injury was an added flair of an excuse. I had fully expected it. So why did the disappointment sting my eyes? Why did the expected call off still result in brimming tear ducts?

I think I knew at this point things weren’t going to be the same again. There would be no reverting change in his behaviour that could now not make me question him, question his integrity, question his motives, question his honesty.

Despite being on the Skytrain, heading out the city, I replied and suggested I go over with some food for him and asked if there was anything else I could take him. Banking on the fact he’d decline I didn’t pause my trip to White Rock for a single step. Expectedly, he declined the offer but said “maybe tomorrow”. I decided at that point that I’d be seeing him the next day whether it meant I had to doorstep him or not.

Later that afternoon, sat in Granny’s garden, surrounded by her beautiful potted plants with the sun beating down, I told her the whole story over numerous glasses of wine. And what she said to me still sticks in my mind – “when you’ve explained to someone how inconsistency causes you anxiety, you can’t believe someone only has good intentions for you when they then become inconsistent and seem unconcerned for the anxiety they must know they’re causing you.”

It was followed up with some sage advice about trying to draw a line in the sand and not giving anymore of myself to him. I realised I’d already given more than I would have liked, more than I intended to, more than I felt comfortable with. I’d been swept away by the whole thing and now I was left feeling adrift. Granny did a great job at lifting my spirits over dinner but there was no denying the growing sadness and confusion.

The next day as I returned back to Vancouver, I lured him into a false sense of security – I hate games, but fuck you – getting him to confirm he was still at home in bed and his flatmate was out. With that info in hand, I told him I was taking him coffee and his favourite doughnut from Tim Horton’s and I’d be over in half an hour. I didn’t ask, I told him. I left him no choice.

And here’s where I know I differ from some people. For some, as soon as someone backs away from them they put their own walls up, turn the other way and don’t look back. I, on the other hand, like to get right in amongst the shit pile and stir it up. It’s like I can’t be done with it until I’ve tested it to the nth degree. Partly it’s because I’m a hopeless optimist and hope that one day my gut will be wrong and someone backing away will all of a sudden change their mind and come running back. And I know the retort to that is why would you want someone who wasn’t sure about you? Don’t ask me, I’m all sorts of fucked up.

It’s also partly because if someone wants to end something with me I want them to say it. I want to make them say the words. Both for their discomfort and my closure. I’d rather be stabbed with a knife than slapped with a fish. Does that even make sense as a saying? I’m going with it. Like, if you’re going to walk away from me, then tell me, give me the brutally honest reason, don’t just leave me hanging.

So looking to get into the middle of this shit pile, I went round to O’s and for the first time since I’d known him, it was awkward. Not just because his 6’5 frame was barely able to move – apparently the back injury wasn’t a lie – but it was clear something had changed. He was in pain. And I  wasn’t very sympathetic. I couldn’t be. I couldn’t bring myself to give any more of myself. The doughnut and coffee were the extent of it.

In the 45 minutes I was there, one of his best friends came to pick something up with his girlfriend. It was another awkward interaction, with O briefly introducing me, while I sat on the edge of his bed like some pathetic groupie. They left and there was more awkward chat between us. He commented that I seemed to be enjoying his discomfort. He wasn’t wrong. But I wasn’t enjoying mine.

I left him in bed to go and meet friends at the beach, as had always been my Sunday plan before my impromptu home delivery to the invalid. I never intended to stay at his for long, I just wanted to see him, look him in the eyes, try to get a read on the situation. But I think all I’d managed to deduce in my time there was that the situation was fucked up.

He clearly knew I was pissed off but I couldn’t tell if he cared. We texted a little that afternoon, while I was enjoying a sunny beach day and he was feeling sorry for himself in bed. I still couldn’t muster any sympathy.

When he asked me to go round for dinner the next night, I was slightly surprised but I couldn’t decide if it was a good thing or not. Maybe he was going to take the opportunity to chat about things, have those open and honest (and maybe difficult) conversations that we both agreed during our first date we preferred to games and confusion and things left unsaid.

Turns out, he just wanted someone to snuggle with on the sofa. He’d made it to work that day and we met halfway between our apartments as he walked home. His 6’5 frame stood out even more when he walked with a limp. On this occasion I did feel some sympathy for him. He was clearly in a lot of pain, so I offered to take his backpack, cause I’m nice like that and despite how confused I was by the whole situation, I apparently couldn’t help myself. We stopped for food on the way home and continued back to his for a night of laying on the sofa.

There was no explanation for his distance, no reference even made to it. It was like those eight days of us not seeing each other, and the diminishing texts, hadn’t even happened. We had sex that night, despite his back injury – funny what guys can rally for – but even it wasn’t the same. Maybe because he wasn’t his usual energetic self, maybe because part of me wondered how many times this was likely to happen again, or if in fact this might be the last.

The rest of the week was more of the same, infrequent texts and an inability to meet up. I stopped attempting to make plans by the Thursday. I was sick of suggesting times, making myself available, being accommodating in the hope he might actually say yes. There’s only so many times you can be told no. I wish I was one of those people who only needed to be told no once… alas, I’m a sucker for punishment.

My anxiety was out of control, my mind a constant whirring of how the situation might be rectified, why he might have changed his mind, what I could do to change it back… talk about mental torture. I threw myself into working out. And trying to ignore the deafening silence from my phone.

It got to the weekend and I had no idea what his plans were. I made my own and adjusted to the deep, sinking feeling that had been perpetually in my stomach for the last two weeks.

Waking on Sunday morning at 8am I read a text from him that he’d sent at 3am – “any chance you’re having a late night?” Was it a drunk booty call or was he just finishing work (not uncommon for him) and he wanted to talk?

I responded saying I had but clearly not as late as some people and asked if he was ok. And then I waited. And waited. And waited for a reply. At 4pm, I decided I’d pretty much had enough. “So you’re going to text me at 3am, I reply when I wake up and then you go back to ignoring me as you’ve done for much of the past week? Really?”

Interestingly, that got his attention. He replied saying he’d been meaning to call me. “And yet here we are, texting” I replied. My phone rang almost instantly. I gave myself a couple of seconds to compose myself, or at least try to. There was a fairly high chance I was going to lose it – whether “it” was my temper or my tears, I wasn’t sure.

He said he knew he’d been off, he knew he’d been busy, he knew things had been different. I said I was disappointed with the inconsistency. He said he was sorry, he’d never meant to let me down, but that he also knew he didn’t have space in his life for someone right now, for a number of reasons.

He didn’t have space for someone in his life right now.

The very thing I’d asked him a number of times and he said we’d figure it out. Wow. I guess what he meant when he said we’d “figure it out” is that he would just wait til he came to the startling realisation himself that he didn’t have space and choose to do a great impression of a ghost rather than actually talk to me about it.

So then why the fuck would he text me at 3am and ask if I’d “had a late night by any chance” then? Cause he wanted to have the chat then? I’m going to guess not. Because he wanted to see if he could squeeze one more sexscapade out of me before he ghosted me entirely? More likely.

My mind was racing while he spoke. I had so much I wanted to say to him. So much I wanted to shout at him. And instead I just asked “so that’s it?” and he said “yeah, so that’s it.” And just like that it was done. We said goodbye, I hung up and finally lost it. My tears, that is.

To say I was disappointed, is an understatement. Mostly I was disappointed in myself. Mostly because I knew I shouldn’t have allowed myself to be swept along, because I knew I was opening myself up to getting hurt again, because I knew it was going too fast. But he assured me, he said all the right things, convinced me he wouldn’t be leaving an O shaped hole in my life anytime soon. Four weeks later, that’s exactly what I was left with.

I’ll never understand how he ever thought he was going to make it work with his schedule or with whatever other issues he had going on. I’ll never understand how he could sit and talk about consistency and honesty and communication and then let things go the way they did.

And once again with a guy, I had to go looking for the answers. They just start to drift a little, but not far enough that it’s undeniable, they deny anything’s changed or they feel differently, until it gets to a point where I have to call them out on it. I’m not one of these people that can just let it go or fizzle out. I want that last conversation, I want at least some reasoning or explanation even if it’s bullshit & makes no sense. But it’s always me who has to ask the question. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I didn’t.

But once again, that feeling of being cast adrift was with me, making itself at home within me. It had become the thing I feared the most. The feeling I don’t know how to quell and the feeling which causes self doubt in me like nothing else. Wondering if anything will ever work out, if anyone will ever live up to what they say they’re going to do, if there’s something inherently wrong with me. I wasn’t sure I could do it again. I honestly felt like I’d reached the tipping point.

I had more questions than answers, and more concerns than confidences. A friend said to me a while afterwards, realising I was struggling to come to terms with the swiftness of the zero to 100 to zero journey we’d been on – “you don’t need to know why he did what he did, just know that it wasn’t an accident.” I have no clue what happened on his end, what changed in his mind. All I know is how I felt and what I did. And those are the things I can learn from.

I didn’t want to write this story. It still stings. Not because I still harbour feelings. Unless that feeling is confusion. I like closure, I like tying up loose ends, I like closing the loop – I was able to do none of that with this situation. Him saying he didn’t have space for me or anyone in his life right now would have been an acceptable explanation (let’s forget the ghosting that took place to get there), except for the fact that two weeks later, I saw him on Bumble again, with an updated profile which now read “looking to date a tall girl”….

To O,

Fuck you.

Sincerely, this 5’4 shortarse


Next post…

…previous post

I’ve Found It Hard To Write


I’ve found it hard to write because five years after my divorce papers were signed, I’m still single.

I’ve found it hard to write because it’s been difficult to find the humour, and the silver linings, and the lessons in my dating life recently.

I’ve found it hard to write because I didn’t expect my life to be like this.

I’ve found it hard to write because I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining.

I’ve found it hard to write because being vulnerable right now has me on a knife edge and I’m not entirely sure what’s on the other side.

I’ve found it hard to write because I so desperately want just one of the stories to turn out well and I know that, so far, they don’t. (spoiler alert)

I’ve found it hard to write because there are stories I don’t want to have to re-tell (but being true to what I set out to do, which was tell my story in organised, chronological order, means that I just can’t make myself skip them so instead I paused my writing).

I’ve found it hard to write because I’ve always wanted my blog to give hope, and right now I don’t feel hopeful.

I’ve found it hard to write because staring at all these failed dates in black and white on a screen doesn’t bring me comfort right now.

I’ve found it hard to write because I wish I’d made different choices in some of these stories.

I’ve found it hard to write because I’ve been keeping myself busy with all the plans in the world to avoid sitting with the feeling that there is truly something missing in my life.

I’ve found it hard to write because I don’t want to be someone who laments being single.

I’ve found it hard to write because positivity is key to me and it’s been severely lacking in my life as of late.

I’ve found it hard to write because part of me has started to feel bitter and resentful and hard done by, and that is not who I truly am.

I’ve found it hard to write because I don’t want to admit that my life feels incomplete without a relationship in it.

I’ve found it hard to write because I so want to be happy being single.

I’ve found it hard to write because I’m struggling to accept this is where I am.

I’ve found it hard to write because despite wishing the stories were different I know they’re exactly the way they’re supposed to be and one day, at some point, eventually, it’ll all make sense.

Next post…

…previous post

Please Remove The Bullet – Part 2 of 2

I never thought going back would be easy, but I could never have imagined how much it would tax me. To live everyday second guessing what your partner is telling you, trying to determine if they’re lying, looking for telltale signs of the behaviour repeating itself. Meanwhile dealing with the fallout of friends who think you made a mistake by going back, or had so vociferously made their feelings clear when you were separated that now they can’t backtrack the things they said about the man you’re giving it another go with.

We went to couples counselling, well, mostly I went. I think he joined for two sessions. I was familiar with counselling already, having gone after my parents divorce and then seeing a life coach before I got married. I’m not sure how much this particular instance helped but I felt I had to go because it was the right thing to do?

It took around six months for me to stop checking his phone. I did it almost daily for the first few months, and then slowly weaned myself off. I sometimes think I shouldn’t have gone back if I couldn’t not check his phone but it seemed like the minimum viable action to allow me to be present in the marriage but to also feel a tiny bit of peace.

And peace wasn’t something that was easy to come by. My brain and my thoughts and my dreams ran wild. I was in a constant state of turmoil, feeling like I wasn’t trying hard enough to make it work, not appreciating enough that he had seemingly changed, not fully feeling like myself. I wasn’t sure I’d ever feel like her again. In fact, I’m not sure I knew who she was by this stage.

We went to Vegas with some family for his 30th birthday in the March, ten months after the whole sorry mess had come out, 11 months after we got married. My aunt commented while on the trip that it was the most relaxed she’d seen both of us in a long time and it definitely felt like a bit of a line in the sand for us.

Then in the April we were in Portugal to celebrate his parent’s (some important coloured) wedding anniversary. It fell right around the time of our first wedding anniversary and so we didn’t get to properly celebrate our anniversary which actually felt like a bit of a relief to me, I didn’t know if the first year of our marriage was worth celebrating. Sure we’d made it but at what cost?

Instead we moved through spring, past the May date that was ingrained in my head from the year before, hoping there would be no random, unprovoked argument that led to a night of horrors. Thankfully not.

The only thing for me to deal with was a hospital procedure for an abnormal smear result that had come back. Hospital visits had never been something I’d experienced in the past, pretty much since I’d left the hospital as a baby I’d had no reason to return. Yet since I’d been married I had been to hospital twice. Can we say omen?

I’d been warned that after the procedure I would potentially not feel great and may experience some pain – both of which turned out to be true, not least because my body does not deal well with anesthesia. I’d been told I wouldn’t be able to drive and probably shouldn’t go to work and I was glad for the day off. But as I lay still snoozing in bed at the time I would normally be up and in the shower and instead was listening to my husband in the shower earlier than his usual allotted time because I wasn’t going first, his phone pinged with a message.

As I had finally grown able to do, I ignored it and didn’t instantly jump to any stomach churning conclusions. But as it did the usual iPhone second ping to remind you there’s a message, I suddenly thought that it might be one of the guys from his work. He managed a removal company and if one of the workers was texting to say they couldn’t make it in or there was a problem with one of the trucks then I knew my husband would want to know sooner rather than later, as that sort of stuff could really fuck up his days.

There’s something ironic in the fact that I only looked at his phone to make sure his day wasn’t going to be fucked up and instead it fully fucked up, not just my day, but my life. Again. Damn that motherfucking phone.

Opening up a text that came from a name that could have been male or female alongside the name of his company, making me instantly think it was a work text and so continuing to open it I was faced with a picture of a women’s backside in a thong.

Just staring back at me. At 7am in the morning. Some women’s half naked arse. On my husband’s phone.

I put the phone down, rolled back over and pulled the covers over my head. I couldn’t bear to deal with it. I almost, for a split second, thought about ignoring it. I was in so much physical pain already that the thought of dealing with something that I knew already had no good outcome was really past what I was feeling up to at that precise moment in time.

Instead I waited until he was almost dressed, then half sat up in bed and said “you got a text message while you were in the shower, I checked it because I thought it might have been about work, it wasn’t, it was a girls arse, I can’t do this.”

With panic flashing across his face he picked up his phone to look and then instantly tried to excuse it away as a joke from one of the guys. But I knew all the guys he worked with and I’d never heard that name before. Then he tried to tell me it was a contact he met through work and they’d obviously sent it to the wrong number. He told me I was being ridiculous if I thought a girl would just send a photo like that to him at that time on a Thursday morning.

Again, gaslighting in full effect. With no one around to validate you and the person you love more than anyone in the world standing over you telling you you’re wrong and have made a mistake, it’s hard not to start to doubt yourself. It’s funny what the brain can do to you, even as the memory of a lace thong is still burning a hole in your eyes.

But I really didn’t have the energy to fight him on it. I told him “ok, just go to work” and I could see he didn’t trust that it was ok or that in anyway was I accepting of what he was telling me. But I just wanted him out the house. I wanted to not have to deal with it. He finally left for work, promising to come back at lunchtime. As I heard the car drive away, I called my Mum and had her come over from work and pick me and a few suitcase up.

For the second time in 14 months of marriage, I was back living at my Mum’s.

This time, I told even fewer people. I couldn’t bear the questions. The judgement. The pity. I couldn’t stand having to dissect my marriage all over again. And so I kept going to work, I avoided most social situations and instead hibernated at my Mum’s, while she wondered how on earth her daughter was going to navigate this.

The second time felt more cut and dry. All I had to go on was one picture. I didn’t have all the mounting evidence of the first time, I hadn’t seen anything else. I hadn’t witnessed any other inappropriate behaviour and his constant denials and rebuttals that it had been in anyway what I thought really made me question myself.

I moved out, he kept telling me I was wrong, didn’t give me space, begged me to go back. And while not motivated by my vows so much, this time, I couldn’t fathom not going back due to mostly logistical reasons – negative equity on our house, credit card debt, weddings we were already booked to attend later in the summer. So because of stupid financial, travel, RSVP reasons I returned to my cheating husband for a second time.

And in that moment, I knew that as much as I was being judged by others for my choice, no one was judging me more harshly than I was myself. In that decision, I lost respect for myself.

What had I become?

I moved back in sometime in August, and at first it wasn’t too bad. I felt numbed by so much of it, I compartmentalised a lot of what had happened and instead tried to focus on something, anything else. But I was different. I was incredibly tightly wound, I couldn’t relax, I couldn’t enjoy anything. Life became more and more joy-less. Where I once found joy, I would often find tears. Escaping a room full of friends laughing, I would tuck myself away in a bathroom and allow myself to silently weep. For what? I wasn’t sure.

I continued, mostly in silence for around six months, but into the new year I started to notice that the anxiety which had been rising within me was becoming unavoidable. I’ve written about it in a previous post, but that feeling of the wind being physically taken from you when you think about this being the rest of your life. The startling realisation that this “normal” could be your only “normal” for years to come was literally breathtaking to me. And not in a good way. That was happening more and more often. I had started to have panic attacks in the shower before work. I would scream tears but no noise would come. I would fold into the corner of my shower, feeling trapped in a life that I had a thought would be my forever. I needed to be rescued and I couldn’t make a sound.

By the beginning of summer, I realised I had to get help. Paranoia was driving me crazy. And I truly mean that. I was so convinced that he was still doing things behind my back that I had begun to try and catch him out. I would feign being sick at work so I could go home and be there at lunchtime to see if he came back to the house. I would make the bed a certain way, with something specifically placed in a way I’d remember to see if it had been moved when I came home from work, so I’d know if he’d been in bed with someone else. And I started sniffing the seat belt in his car every time I got in. I told you, crazy! But hear me out…

The seat belt was the thing that gave my Dad’s cheating away. I remember he picked me up from school one day, which was an unusual occurrence, and I happened to smell the seat belt as I was pulling it across myself to put it on. And it was a perfume scent I’d never smelled before. In all fairness, it was lovely, but it wasn’t any of the perfumes my Mum wore. And I remember thinking to myself, for the seat belt to smell that strongly of a fragrance, the person wearing it must have been in the car a lot. Long story short, seat belts can be the downfall of a cheater.

Mostly my husband’s passenger seat belt smelled of me but it didn’t stop me having a quick sniff every time as I got in. And with every lunchtime stakeout, precision bed making or seat belt whiff, I was slowly losing my mind. It was absolutely the start of what could have easily ended up in certifiable insanity. I can entirely understand how people go there.

After one particularly tough morning when I wasn’t even sure I could get into work, I texted my Mum and asked if we could meet for coffee. Our offices were near each other and there was a perfectly placed Starbucks in the middle.

Sitting with our coffees at a little corner table, I explained to her how bad things were, the panic attacks, the resignation to a joyless marriage, the anxiety, and she was, naturally, shocked. Everyone thought we were doing so much better and in some respects I’m glad we’d managed to create that facade, I didn’t like the thought of people having to go through this with us. But I realised that it did however mean that if/when I told people about the reality, they were likely to be incredibly surprised.

I told her that when we were in the supermarket I wanted to wring his neck, for no apparent reason. I explained that I had begun to flinch when he wanted to have sex, that it felt like a stranger. And I noted that unlike in the beginning, I no longer felt safe in his arms. It was that last part that I was finding hardest to deal with. I longed to feel secure, protected, safe.

My Mum, having gone through a tumultuous marriage and, possibly, even more horrific divorce with my father, was well placed to offer good advice, which she did. She suggested I set myself a time frame. Be it two months, ten months, whatever I felt comfortable with. And in that time, to really be aware of what was causing me to feel the way I was. Was it solely what had happened in the past, or was it other external factors, that would usually just amount to a bad day.

While she knew I’d obviously been trying like a motherfucker to make it work, she wanted me to be sure that I’d done everything I could before I called time. But she was emphatic that if I knew I’d done that and I was still feeling this way, then I had to walk away, for my own sanity. I was aware that her having to say those words to me were hard. I know she believes in the sanctity of marriage, despite her divorce, and I know she would have have done anything for us to be able to work things out and stay together, she loved both of us even after all he’d done. But her concern, ultimately, was for me.

In my head I gave myself six months. It would take us to November and I hoped that for the first time since we’d been married we could at least make it through the summer, given that the first year shit had blown up in May and in the second year it had been June.

As chance would have it, summer wasn’t to be our favourite season and on the last day of July we returned home from a weekend away with friends. Having taken the Monday off because I wasn’t sure how late we’d be home, I wasn’t in any rush to get to bed. But he needed to be at work in the morning so while he unpacked, I settled onto the sofa with our laptop to go online, having been on an island off the west coast of Scotland for the past 3 nights.

Opening the web browser, I saw an unfamiliar login screen. To an MSN account. With an email address pre-populated in the login field. It was a nickname of his (that I’d always hated) from university. Wondering why he had an email address I didn’t know about, I called him through from the bedroom to ask him about it.

Had he come through and just admitted it was his email address, I don’t know how things might have ended up. However the story he tried to spin me was… incredulous. Initially, he said he knew nothing about the email address. Then he finally (we’re talking five, ten minutes here) admitted that he had previously had that email address but he hadn’t used it since university. When I pressed him as to how it had then ended up on a login screen on our laptop he proceeded to tell me that someone must have logged into it from our computer.

When I feigned shock that he was suggesting someone had broken into our house and we should call the police, as if I was believing a single fucking lie that was coming out of his mouth, he then offered that what must have happened was someone logged onto our wifi, then hacked into our laptop which was connected to the wifi, and finally password hacked the login to an msn email address he used to have at university.

Did he hear himself? Did he genuinely think I was going to believe a single word of that? Even if I hadn’t been working in the tech industry by this stage, I’m hopeful I still would have been aware that it was a big pile of stinking bullshit.

But that was his story and he stuck by it. In fact, he still sticks by it today. It’s fascinating to me.

I gave him every opportunity to provide the true story, to backtrack on what he’d just told me with no repercussions, if he would just tell the truth. But no, he was adamant. Deny, deny, deny. To the point that he stormed out the flat after about an hour of relentless back and forth, apparently hurt by the accusations I was levelling at him.

While he was out I made myself busy hacking into the email account that he insisted he didn’t know about, until he remembered, but definitely didn’t remember the password. I went through all the security questions, had to track down the backup email account, get that reset because it was an old email he definitely didn’t have anymore, reset the security questions and, not long after he’d returned to the apartment, finally I was in.

I didn’t say anything to him about the extreme password reset skills I’d just discovered I possessed and instead gave him one last opportunity to come clean. I vividly remember looking over the back of the sofa at him and saying “I don’t think you understand how crucial what’s happening right now is going to be to our marriage”. He yet again flat out denied there was anything else he wanted to tell me and took himself to bed.

While he was likely drifting off to sleep, I genuinely don’t think he was lying awake and concerned by what was going on, I started to delve into an online world that felt dark and secret and disgusting.

It wasn’t an email account per se, it was a type of MSN account I’d never seen. I didn’t even know MSN still existed at this stage but it turns out it did and my husband appeared to be a seasoned user. All of his friends on there were female, mostly women with profile pics of them in their underwear. There were also a few names of women I knew. Friends of his sisters, a woman he worked with.

There was so much information and I was taking screenshots and trying to get timestamp clarifications on things so I could put together a timeline. It was saying February, but was I just to presume it was February of that year? What if it was from his university days?

Writing this now, I’m aware it doesn’t fucking matter! Either way, it was fucking shady, he’d clearly lied about something and I didn’t need anymore proof. But for me I wanted to be sure. I wanted to be 100% sure before I effectively blew apart my marriage. For what I knew would absolutely be the last time.

I went from looking at the MSN account to Googling how to do a deep dive on your laptop’s history. I knew you could easily wipe the browsing history but I also knew that it didn’t completely clear it. I spent hours reading all sorts of articles and doing all sorts of things in the depths of my laptop. I was truly on a mission.

As I finally discovered browsing history that confirmed my inclination that he had been coming home at lunchtime, I also discovered that while he maybe hadn’t been coming home to have sex with people (though who knows), he had definitely been coming home to go on this MSN account and had also been partaking in dating sites.

I had a chilling realisation that this didn’t even hurt me. My overriding feeling was actually one of relief. Relief that I had a final reason to walk out, that I had validation that the choice I was about to make was the right one, and that finally I was going to be able to end this on my terms.

I barely slept, and as soon as I heard his car leave the next day, I called my Mum who was already at work. I gave her a brief overview of the previous night’s cyberspace investigation and asked her to ask one of her colleagues who works in IT, that I knew, if there could be any other feasible explanation for what I found. I didn’t even care that the guy must have been like “WTF, why are you pulling me into your family drama?!”

I sent her the details of what I needed to know word for word in a text which she relayed to him, ending with “can there be any other explanation?” Her reply came back “no”.

Trying to make a relationship work after cheating can be like being shot and the bullet being lodged in you. The doctor tells you that you could probably survive. So you try, with the bullet still inside, to heal, you hope it’ll just take time.

But you find that the long term effects of having that bullet lodged in you isn’t something you can live with so you choose to remove it. You know that in the act of removing it you’re going to cause yourself far more short term pain. When that bullet’s pulled out, the vacuum it created is soon going to be flooded with blood, pain and tears, and it could well kill you.

It was that day that I decided to remove the bullet and let the flood come.


Next post…

…previous post

In Sickness & In Health & In(fidelity) – Part 1 of 2

The breakdown of my marriage wasn’t the biggest surprise, the biggest surprise was the timescale in which it broke down. Both in its quickness and what, to some people, felt like it’s slow painful death.

While I’ve alluded to my divorce a number of times in previous posts, I’ve never delved into the details too greatly. Partly because I was/am more focused on the present and my life now. But so much of where and who I am now was shaped by that experience that I feel it only makes sense for me to give more of that background that got me to where I am today.

Six weeks – weeks, not months, not years – after our wedding I found out my husband had cheated on me. In numerous fashions. The first being that before we were married he had slept with at least one other person. And that since we were married he had been texting a whole host of females – both known to me/him and strangers from online – with texts that would have been considered inappropriate even if he hadn’t been married.

The way I found out was… a mess. One Friday, not long after we were back from our honeymoon, and while I was still recovering from the gastroenteritis that had landed me in a Mexican hospital on said honeymoon, I got home from work and almost instantly he tried to pick a fight with me. It was so odd, it felt like it could have been a joke. He ended up storming out the house, but not before he’d changed clothes and made plans with his friends all within about five minutes flat. But what guys do you know that make plans that quickly?

Despite the unpleasantness of the whole situation, I was actually glad he was out the house because I was so confused and so it gave me time to figure out if I’d actually just completely lost my mind. This would turn out to be the first real example of gaslighting I can put my finger on.

[Gaslighting – to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.]

I didn’t hear from him all night, until he finally came stumbling in the door at around 4am. Now, I’d seen him drunk before – neither of us had ever held back in our drinking around each other, which wasn’t always the healthiest thing for our relationship – but this was next level drunk. This was incoherent, couldn’t see, couldn’t undress himself, drunk. I let him sleep on the sofa until I gave up on sleep so moved him into the bedroom so I could go into the living room.  After I moved his dead weight of a body to the bed, I undressed him and as I did so his phone fell out his jeans pocket.

I had never checked his phone before, the thought had never even entered my head, was simply never in my consciousness. Until now. His phone lay on the bedroom carpet staring up at me. I looked over at him, dead to the world and there was just something, a feeling I couldn’t explain, something felt different, something didn’t feel “right”.

So for a reason that can only be explained as gut intuition, I picked up the phone and took it with me through to the lounge.

What I didn’t know, or didn’t realise, was that what I would find would lead to the biggest shift in my world that I’d ever experienced. Even more so than when my parents divorced. Things can’t be unseen, truths can’t be untold, hurt can’t always be reversed. What is it they say? Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answers to?

Regardless of the outcome, I did want the answer. I hate being kept in the dark, I don’t like being made a fool of and if the choice is to know something shitty or don’t know at all, I’ll always go with the know something shitty option. My philosophy is; being blind to something doesn’t make it untrue so you may as well know the truth.

And so, sat on the sofa with the early morning Edinburgh sun (yes we do sometimes get sun in Scotland) streaming into our first floor flat, I delved into his phone and my life was changed forever.

Instantly I read texts to some girl the previous night suggesting that she travel through from Glasgow and he get them a hotel room. It was a back and forth, banterful, sexually charged text exchange which only paused at one point when she wrote “I thought you just got married? lol” and he replied with “Oh yeah, so I did”.

Can we talk about a punch in the gut? Can we talk about a stab in the heart? Can we talk about a pain you never thought words staring back at you could cause? There is no way to describe the hurt.

Over the course of the next few days I discovered about the texting and I had someone confirm they’d slept with him before we were married and they were still regularly in touch. In fact I’d only found out about that one when she sent through a very weird photo when I opportunely had his phone. Despite the number being saved under a guys name, I played along, replied as if I was him and then did the bait and switch and told her it was his wife.

He denied it all, told me none of it was true, until I would present him with yet more evidence in black and white at which point he would eventually admit it. But none of it was information he gave up easily. He made me work for every single confirmation – I had to go digging through months of texts, I had to keep his phone & text people as if I were him, I had to offer up suggestions of people he might have inappropriately texted before he would ever admit it.

And so, before the wedding photos had been seen, the wedding gift list delivery had arrived or the thank you cards had even been sent I was questioning whether I could stay married to my husband. It hit me like a train.

I moved to my Mum’s, gathered my best friends around, those same girls who had stood by me at the alter just seven weeks before, and told them what had happened. People rallied, work were understanding, he was desperately sorry, inconsolable almost. And me? I was numb. I could not understand how this was my life. How this had happened. How I could have married someone that would do that. And how I married someone that I didn’t know.

But I took my vows seriously. When my great-uncle had married us, in that cathedral in front of 131 guests, I had meant every word. Testing the strength of those vows so soon was never something I could have foreseen. But here we were and I had a decision to make. I made the decision that I personally felt was to do the only thing I felt I could do – stay and try to make it work.

The biggest difficulty I had with my decision was that in my naive days, before all of this, the days before I truly understood the depths of commitment and the extremes of life, I had always said if someone were to cheat on me there wouldn’t even be a conversation to be had, it would be over before the conversation began. I mostly said that in thinking about my parents marriage and how my mother put up with my father’s infidelity for so much of their marriage. Little did I know then that it wasn’t as simple as black or white, in or out, stay or go.

Context, feelings, emotions, logistics – they are all things that made that decision far more difficult, so much more complex and far more of a head fuck than I had ever anticipated back when I thought a cheating partner would automatically mean the end of a relationship.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Esther Perel’s ‘Where Should We Begin’ podcast recently and if you haven’t heard it, imagine being a fly on the wall at a couple’s counselling session where nothing is censored, emotions are raw and the complications of people, and relationships, and past experiences are laid bare for you to hear. It’s a brutal, often triggering, but beautiful listen.

A number of those sessions (each episode is a different couple’s session) talk to infidelity and in one of the sessions Esther says “the old shame used to be divorce, the new shame is staying when you can leave” and that smacked me in the face like a wet fish.

It’s a rock and a hard place. There’s still an element of shame tied to divorce (as I explored in this post) but Esther’s correct, there is also now shame with staying in a relationship when you’ve been cheated on. People presume you are weak of character if you choose to stay. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

With time off work for stress, I spent a lot of the weeks living at my Mum’s thinking. Questioning. Disbelieving. Talking. There was a lot of talking with people. Family, friends, work colleagues. I just remember it being turmoil. And I hated living at my Mum’s. Yes, it was comfortable and she was/is always an incredibly welcoming hostess to family or friends, or strangers, but I missed my home. I missed my bed. I missed having all my things. It was just an added layer of shitty-ness in an already shitty situation.

Eventually, lost in a world that was full of people constantly asking me how I was doing, of not knowing if I’d be able to move when I woke up in the morning because stress was taking over my body, of dreams so tormenting that proper rest was a long lost memory, of sleeping in my childhood bed but it feeling alien and unwelcoming, of people thinking they had answers for me, of me not being sure I’d ever have the answer to anything ever again, I made the decision.

My vows, my marriage, my husband deserved work. And I needed to know I’d done everything I could to live up to my vows. Mama didn’t raise no quitter and, for me, I knew going back was the right thing to do.


Next post…

…previous post

Gone Fishing… Catfishing


Trusting your gut is all well and good but how do you employ that strategy when the very nature of dating, particularly online dating, is that of having to take things at face value? Where does blind faith stop and healthy suspicion take over? When should you trust and when should you question? In other words, how do you know when you’re being catfished?

A catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances – so says Urban Dictionary. It can also be a verb.

I’ve had a few instances of good old catfishing that I’ve caught before it got too far – tinder profiles with pics that just look too polished, too professional. A quick reverse google image search has unearthed the Instagram of a South American actor, and IMDB pics for a Pakistani Bollywood star. Neither of whom are likely to be in Vancouver looking for a tinder hookup. Neither, I’m pretty sure, was the profile using Cristiano Ronaldo’s likeness. Which is unfortunate because I’ve always been a fan of his greasy good looks.

I always wonder at what point these guys, if they are even men, think their scam will be foiled? They obviously can’t meet anyone in person, so are they just on there purely to message? Is that enough excitement for them? The phrase “get a life” has never been more apt.

But when someone agrees to meet you in person, you presume the likelihood of being catfished is null. And so was my feeling when after chatting to a 35 year old English guy who lived in New Zealand and worked for the Kiwi Navy but was coming to Canada for a possible job here.

There were a few random moments, like when he was going out on a ship with the Canadian Navy so wouldn’t be able to text. But maybe, despite all the technologies of today, they don’t have WiFi on naval ships. Shocking. I actually didn’t think I’d hear from him again after that so when he messaged me once he was back on dry land, I was pleasantly surprised.

Another source of confusion was that he had a Canadian phone number, which I thought odd considering he was hardly here for anytime & most of that he was without the ability to use it on a ship. He also claimed to have never been on Tinder before this trip, which I’m always sceptical about – it’s always everyone’s first time… apparently.

So English Kiwi Naval Officer was flying into Vancouver for the weekend at the end of his… trip? Sailing? Cruise? Whatever they call it…, arriving on a Friday night. He’d likely be coming back for a second visit in a couple of months time for a follow up on this job so I liked that it wasn’t a definitive one & done situation. And in fact could be a lot more if the job came to fruition.

We were going to meet for a drink once he’d checked into his hotel which it turned out was on the opposite side of my city block. As I was sat having an after work drink with girlfriends before I met him & relayed the details to them, they suggested I ask for a selfie, given that the story did just seem a little random. When he messaged to tell me he’d landed, I dutifully asked, more to placate them than anything. Unfortunately, his response only caused to give me concern that I hadn’t necessarily been feeling before.

He made some excuse about how he couldn’t send a pic because his phone didn’t have data enabled, and it was a work phone, and he’d send one when he had WiFi. But we all know airports have free WiFi so something didn’t quite add up…

Nevertheless we persevered because where would be the fun otherwise? And so at 8pm I walked the 50 seconds from building to the entrance of his hotel & there he was. Exactly like his profile photos, the picture of an English gent, with a relieved look on his face.

“I don’t know why I thought you were going to stand me up” were his first words to me as he came towards me with a hug.

A few drinks later at a nearby courtyard bar, while we enjoyed a warm May evening, he reiterated that it was his first time using any dating apps, thanks to his friends encouragement, and they’d warned him that people on apps can often be flakey so he should be prepared for some disappointments. Hence his opening line to me.

He definitely seemed a little green around the edges. He was maybe well versed in naval war strategy but the ways of modern dating? Not so much.

So it was all going swimmingly (does that count as a naval pun if technically they’re on a ship and not meant to be swimming?) until he was telling a story, referencing himself in the third person and used a different name for himself than that which I had known him as up until that point. English Kiwi Naval officer was obviously not all that he seemed.

He caught himself right away and tried to explain it away that it had also been suggested to him by friends that he should use a different name “for work purposes”. I mean, clearly naval strategy is fairly sensitive information but I wasn’t sure those on enemy lines were going to be scouring tinder to source state secrets.

I told him that I knew people sometimes would use another name but generally they would give their real name once they’d met someone in person, once the threat of enemy spies had been cleared, you know? Or maybe he still thought I looked like I was after his classified documents?

He laughed, I laughed, it was laughed off and I didn’t question it further. It was stupid and seemed weird but I let it go. There was something about him that seemed suitably unassuming and naive, or at least that’s what I was choosing to believe.

With the name slip up behind us, we had a really fun night. We had a lot to talk about having both moved away from the UK, we both liked sports, we both kept ourselves in pretty good shape and I enjoyed telling him about Vancouver, particularly when he could be moving here in a month or so.

From the first bar we went to another where we ended up drinking an obscene amount of gin. He was a big gin fan too and when the bar turned out to have a crazy good gin selection we jointly decided to work our way through it.

Throughout the night he was very complimentary, although the “I don’t know how you’re still single” line doesn’t always sit totally well with me. Despite that, it wasn’t the worst thing to have drinks bought for me all night by an attractive man who had definitely awoken a new interest in men in uniform within me. While I was envisaging him in his navy whites (do all navies wear white? In my mind they do so let’s go with it) he had leaned in for a couple of kisses while we were sat at the bar and there had been some suggestive hand, arm and leg touching. The name slip had long been forgotten.

We stayed at the bar until it closed around 1am and then slowly walked back towards my apartment / his hotel. I knew I wasn’t going to invite him up – it didn’t seem “necessary”. As in, despite him only being in the city for another day and a half, we had already spoken so much about when he came back on his next trip that I wasn’t in any hurry to rush things with him. And so instead he kissed me goodnight at the corner of my building and it was a really really nice kiss. A car full of guys passed as he lent in and were hollering at us but I’m not even sure he noticed. I said goodnight and turned to walk away but I was only a couple of steps away from him when he said “can you come back please?” It was so polite and serious and in his proper English accent, I kind of got a surprise. Turns out he just wanted to kiss me again and said my lips were incredible. In fact he kept going on about my mouth… It wasn’t the worst thing to hear.

As I was climbing into bed he texted me a very sweet goodnight text “Thank you for a great night. You looked absolutely incredible and I really enjoyed ‘you’ x” It was maybe the single sweetest post-date message I’d ever received. And he used grammar! We texted a little and then fall asleep.

The next day was my birthday beach day with all my friends. It had been my birthday earlier in the week (yes, the messy night that ended with tearful chats with Malaysian Persuasion) and I was celebrating it in the sunshine with a tonne of friends, snacks and booze. I had lightly invited him, in a “it’s a big group, it’s super chill, if you don’t mind some slight ribbing you’ll be fine” kind of a way. He’d said he wasn’t sure, he’d wanted to go and do some sightseeing, but would let me know. We agreed that if he didn’t come to the beach we’d do something at night anyway, provided a Saturday of sun and day drinking didn’t wipe me out.

As it turned out, he couldn’t wait until the beach or the evening, so around 8am was texting me pretty flirty and suggestive messages from his hotel room – which would have been about 200m away from where I was, also lying in bed. He said he regretted not suggesting we hung out longer the night before, which I took to mean he regretted not suggesting we hookup, given that at 1.30am there’s not a lot of other hanging out you can do?!

After an hour or so of texting, it seemed that just a hint of an invitation was all that English Kiwi Naval Officer needed to jump out of bed and be at mine in less than 5 minutes. I had already started getting ready for my beach day so was in a bikini and not a lot else. It seemed mildly inappropriate to welcome him into my home for the first time wearing so little but nothing that happened within the next 30 minutes, before I was due to be picked up by friends for pre-beach brunch, was appropriate. In the best kind of way.

All the while he still kept up an impeccable level of manners and etiquette, seemingly never wanting to overstep a boundary or go too fast. As a result, full sex was never had and in fact I barely did anything at all. It was mostly him, giving those 25 year olds a run for their money in terms of generosity in the bedroom. To say I had a lazy Saturday morning is an understatement.

When my friends texted to say they were downstairs I had a pep in my step and maybe just a little bit of bed head…

While I was enjoying a day of brilliant sunshine, incredible time with friends and some of the best Pinterest inspired boozy beach snacks I could have imagined, English Kiwi Naval Officer (yah, this nickname doesn’t roll off the tongue so much) was enjoying the delights of Vancouver by bike. He declined the invite to join the beach celebration and instead we planned for drinks later in the evening, though he kept in touch most of the day with sweet messages about how much he was looking forward to seeing me and had been thinking about our morning rendezvous a lot.

That night, the copious amounts of sun and frozen gin lemonade pouches (look them up on Pinterest) made me not good for a whole lot so instead of going out, I suggested he come over to mine for some drinks. Showering was about all I was able to manage, though it was mostly tiredness from all the fresh air and fun, so thankfully he agreed and around 9pm he arrived at my door. I was wearing more than just a bikini this time, which he was mildly disappointed by.

We had a gin each and just chatted for a while on the sofa. It’s a very candid conversation, a lot more sexually orientated after the morning’s activities, and I really enjoyed finding out more about him. We chatted relationships, kids, work, his hate of football, our want to do whatever we desire in life, sexual preferences – it’s pretty wide ranging. And we did a pretty good job of keeping ourselves off each other, until I was getting us each a whisky and he came up behind me at the kitchen counter… Things got a little heated and there was something about him that I just found incredibly sexual. Maybe it’s the navy thing, maybe it’s his age or that he’s English, I don’t know. But he just seemed like… a proper man?!

We had a fun night, chatting and starting to fool around more and then move into the bedroom. It felt super easy and safe. But it started to get late and I was exhausted. We hadn’t had full sex so I suggested he stayed over and middle of the night or morning might change that. He seemed to think about it for a while, as we were both yawning and eventually he decided to go back to his hotel. I mean it’s on the same block so I guess it made sense? He left saying he would be back first thing in the morning to bring me coffee, the joke being that I don’t drink coffee. So he left and I went to sleep looking forward to what tomorrow will bring. Or as he rightly pointed out, when he was texting from back in his room, today – i was now after 3am.

I slept like a log and woke up looking forward to a coffee and maybe a morning walk with a certain English Kiwi Naval Officer, it was a beautiful morning. Instead, I heard… radio silence. I figured we both could do with our sleep though, so stayed in bed a little longer and waited. But it was too nice a day to stay indoors, so around 10am I got up and went for a walk and waited. Knowing all the while that he was leaving for his flight around 2pm and so we were kind of on a timer.

But something was starting to feel very uneasy with me. All the little things that by themselves could maybe be explained away, when I replayed them back in my head, started to pile up into a big, questionable WTF. Him being incommunicado while he was on the ship, not being able to send me a pic from the airport, giving me a false name, not wanting to sleep with me or stay over but doing everything else, as if somehow staying over and having sex crossed some line he was trying to avoid? And now, essentially disappearing on me.

I decided to text him – if we haven’t learnt it by now, know that I do not like loose ends. They don’t sit well with me. I want them tied up and dealt with. He actually did respond with some story about how he overslept then went for a run and twisted his ankle and was now in a rush to get packed and checkout of the hotel.

Knowing how close he was staying to me, it wouldn’t have been an obscene suggestion if he offered a plan of meeting for something to eat before he headed to the airport. Instead nothing. In fact I heard nothing again until he was at the airport, when he then went to the other extreme and was texting me a tonne of stuff about how he was sorry he fucked up the morning, he’d really wanted to see me, I was the best part of his trip, he already couldn’t wait to get back to see me again, he was excited to tell his friends at home about me and he would be in touch as soon as he touched down in Auckland.

Those texts were coming right up until he boarded the plane. And then…. Nothing. I figured out roughly when he’d be landing in New Zealand… Nothing. I figured it might be a couple of days before he was caught up on work and sleep… Nothing.

As the days passed, I was playing the weekend over and over in my head and started to think I had made a judge error in judgement. The gut feeling that had deserted me for the previous couple of days was now in full force like a heavy meal sitting in the pit of your stomach. I couldn’t shake the feeling that the person I thought I’d been getting to know was not a person at all but a facade of someone he’d wanted to portray. How did I know any of it was real? How did I know he even worked for the navy? Ok well I’d seen a pic of him in a naval uniform which a quick google search confirmed was a legit NZ Navy uniform. But how did I know he was here for a potential job move? How did I know he wasn’t here with a wife and two kids tucked up in his hotel? How did I know he even left back to New Zealand?

I didn’t. I don’t. A year later, I still don’t have the answer to any of those questions and for a long time afterwards, every time I walked past the corner of the hotel he stayed at I felt physically sick. Sick that I’d maybe been made a fool of. Sick at the thought of maybe bumping into him there again. Sick that people can be so callous with another person’s feelings and time.

I had taken things at face value but my gut was now definitely telling me all was not what it seemed, though I won’t ever know the true extent of the catfishing expedition. And maybe that’s best.

Next post…

…previous post

The Aftermath – Part 4.1?


I guess you could call this a bonus post? I had thought I’d be able to get the whole godforsaken Filipeen saga wrapped up in 4 parts (you can read part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4) but there’s still more shittery to write about, so here I am.

Having sobbed all the way home, I actually felt better than I thought I would when I settled myself on the sofa to eat my feelings in leftover Christmas chocolate. I absolutely knew I’d done the right thing and I felt relieved it was over, that I didn’t have to deal with Filipeen again, but I couldn’t help but wonder how I’d got myself into the mess to begin with…

Why hadn’t I been quicker to walk away? Why had I let it get so far, to the point he was able to diminish my self worth? Why did I honestly think he might be the only person that would want to date me? Where did that “scarcity fear”, as Julia calls it, come from?

Those weren’t questions I had answers for right at that moment but as I pondered them, my thoughts were interrupted by a text. From him. “So I don’t really know where we left it? Am I ok to contact you? Can we still be friends?”

Mother of fuck, get a clue.

I had no ability to see how we could be friends. I hadn’t been on Bumble to make friends and ultimately when someone has stripped your character down to nothing, why would you want to keep them in your life? It made no sense to me. But he’d done a great job of making me feel guilty even about that. During the discussion yesterday, when he’d made a point about how he hoped we could be friends he commented that people who can’t remain friends after dating clearly aren’t mature. Setting up the narrative that if I said we couldn’t be friends, I was obviously immature. Even now he was manipulating my thoughts.

I didn’t even know what to say in reply, and I was too tired to try to deal with it. So I just said “I don’t know right now. How about text me if you want and I’ll see how I feel?”

That was the Sunday and on the Tuesday he took it literally when he texted me to ask if I’d watched anymore Archer. We’d been watching it together whenever I was over at his place, funnily I hadn’t been tempted to remind myself of those nights by watching more of it in the last couple of days. I replied “no, I’ve been busy seeing friends and taking care of myself”. I was hoping the terse response would help him realise I wasn’t interested in friendly chit chat.

I made it through the rest of the week relatively unscathed, given it was the first week back after the holidays and I was hardly in the best of moods to start with. To celebrate surviving I went out with a girlfriend to eat tacos, drink margaritas and catch up after the holidays. Obviously my festive tales were fairly exclusively focused on Filipeen and as we were knee deep in the pre-NYE character assassination chat, my phone buzzed. Being the terrible friend I am, I checked it mid-sentence and stopped dead.

It was the star of the story and the look on my face obviously said so. My friend’s only response was “tell me how exactly this story turns around to the point where he’s still fucking texting you now?” She was incredulous. I insisted on finishing the story before we dived into this most recent text. And as the story progressed she’d interject every so often with “and he’s STILL texting you??!?! HOW?!?!?”

When the story finally caught up with current day, I read the text out loud to her “hey! Where was that bottomless mimosa brunch place you were saying was good?” Ohhhh, now you want to leverage my downtown party lifestyle knowledge??? What am I, some fucking restaurant concierge?

My friend asked me how I felt. I said not good, I didn’t want his name popping up on my phone and disturbing my days / nights / life, and she was right when she said I needed to tell him that. Fuck what he thought about people who couldn’t stay friends after dating, fuck it if he thought I wasn’t coping, fuck it if he thought he’d got to me. She was pretty resolute about it.

So we spent the next half hour crafting the perfect response as we moved from the restaurant to Forever 21 to look for outfit pieces for an event we were going to in a few weeks. Browsing the racks we put together a text that ultimately said that I didn’t want to be friends with him, I didn’t see how that could bring value to my life, and that in hindsight I had realised that the way he treated me and how he’d acted had been incredibly selfish, confusing and unfair. I wanted to be nice but honest, I wanted to be firm but fair. And ultimately I wanted him to leave me the fuck alone. Text iterated for the 100th time…. and sent!

He replied later that night, with an essay length text, saying it was unfortunate that I saw the situation that way (insinuating, of course, that it wasn’t that way in reality at all) and that as a result he didn’t think we could be friends (when I’d just said in my text that I didn’t want us to be friends, of course he needed the last say in that) but he wished me nothing but the best because I really was an incredible person who deserved to meet someone who was right for me and the life I “really wanted to lead” (a nod to the fact he didn’t think I was honest about the life I wanted to live).

I never replied and instead deleted our entire message history.

I was grateful I had been with my friend when the brunch text came in. I probably would have sent a mindless reply otherwise. Instead we talked through the whole thing. She’s a therapist and while she can’t counsel me professionally (instead she introduced me to the therapist love of my life, Julia), she does an incredible job at putting her knowledge to use when chatting with friends in situations just like this. She’s also one of the most empathetic people I know, which helps massively and I love her for it.

Discussing it with her, I realised he gave so many excuses for why it wouldn’t work, as if he was grasping for any old reason. Yet none of them were reason enough for him to cut it off himself. He had to tell me everything that was wrong with me and leave it to me to decide if I could live with staying in the relationship while knowing he was feeling all of those things.

I don’t believe it was a actually a choice for me to make, rather it was a test to see how much I would put up with and, ultimately, a way of getting me to be the one to break it off rather than him. So that he wasn’t the cause of anymore hurt to me than I’d had in my past, so that he wasn’t the bad guy. Even wanting to stay friends afterwards, always the sign of the good guy right?

It’s bullshit. I wish he’d been man enough to say “this is how I’m feeling, it’s not working for me, I’m sorry but we can’t keep dating”. Instead, by being a coward (or trying to save me hurt, as he put it) it caused me more confusion. And if there’s one thing that causes more lasting damage than hurt, it’s confusion.

Confusion breeds doubt and insecurity. It leads to not trusting your gut and being unable to cut through the noise. I feel like it’s a go to tactic for men – confuse her, that’ll really fuck her up. Because if there’s one thing that’s easy to walk away from and explain why you walked away, it’s a messed up woman.

Well fuck him. I knew what I wanted, I put it out there and I don’t regret it. It’s me – it’s how I am, it’s how I live my life and it’s how I love (not that I loved him – to be clear). I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand the reason behind why he felt the way he did/didn’t or acted the way he did. Were we really not compatible or was he scared? I don’t know and it doesn’t actually matter.

I want someone to be all in with me, someone whose commitment I never have to question or wonder about. And that wasn’t him. End of saga.

Next post…

…previous post

All Kinds of F*&%ed Up – Part 4 of 4


The morning after Boxing Day, Filipeen was back at work but I had an extra day off, so in my “I can’t help but be nice” state of mind, I finished tidying up the rest of his place. We’d done a lot of it the night before but there was still piles of dishes, boxes of drink and generally stuff all out of place. So I let my cleanliness OCD take over and fixed it all up. I also walked the dog and, for the second day in a row, he’d given me the keys to his pride and joy to drive the rental plates and glasses back to the hire place. As you do with someone who the night prior you’d been introducing as “a friend”.

And I did all of that with a hangover and confusion fogged brain, trying to work what in the hell’s name was going on. Dropping off his house key to him at his office as I made my way back downtown I couldn’t help but feel that the thanks and minimal kiss he’d offered on the side of the street weren’t quite enough reward for the bitch of a morning I’d just had.

But had he asked me to do all those chores or had I offered and he’d just taken me up on it? Did it matter? Well, yeah, because I guess I can’t really be mad if I offered and then was pissed off because I didn’t get a big enough pat on the back. But it was more than that. It was because he’d let me do all of that while still clearly not knowing where he was at with his feelings for me. But again, can you blame him? Who wouldn’t take up the offer of a free housemaid for the morning. Especially one who you’d had shower sex with before you went to work.

That’s right, throughout it all, the sex was an unwavering constant. Maybe the only unwavering constant. And it was always great. It was the one time when I wasn’t second guessing myself with him. By this point I felt fairly confident in my own sexuality and I was sure there were no complaints from his side, in fact there was more talk about it being some of the best he’d had than it being a further source of disconnect for us.

But I found myself post-Boxing Day dinner party, post-Christmas Night weirdness, post-Christmas Eve domesticity, having a really hard time getting a grip on what in fuck’s name was going on. I couldn’t understand how we’d gotten to a place with so much confusion and tension and ultimately, where I was feeling worse about myself instead of better.

To add to the festive period trials, New Year’s Eve was coming up. Which would have been fine if we weren’t going to spend it together but a few weeks back, before things had gotten this far down weird street, I’d mentioned that I was going to an engagement party on NYE and that he should come if he didn’t have any plans. It wasn’t like a big “let’s bring in the new year together” or “I want to take you as my plus one to a friend’s engagement party”, it truly was “if you’re not doing anything else that night, come along, it should be a super fun party”.

After everything that had gone before we probably should have rethought the decision and instead taken it as a night for ourselves, apart from each other. But why try and keep things simple when you can add more confusion to the mix?

With the residual feelings from Boxing Day still lingering, I knew I needed to address them before NYE – I hate taking negativity into a new year and I knew if there were underlying issues and I got drunk all hell could break loose. So on the 30th December I, of course, went over to his place where he cooked us dinner and we found ourselves having another chat about our relationship a mere two weeks since the last one.

I started by saying that I knew that despite saying we should slow down and focus more on just spending time the two of us, Christmas had kind of got in the way of that with Boxing Day dinner and now NYE coming up. So we should just forgive ourselves those but come January we’ll try and start afresh again. I just thought we needed to slow down like we spoke about and I knew I needed to stop giving so much of myself by doing things like walking the dog and being domesticated at his house (oh my god I’m having deja vu from the conversation two weeks ago – had I learnt nothing?!).

I presumed he was going to agree, we were going to try (again) to make those changes and things would get better. End of story. But his reaction left me speechless.

He told me right off the bat that he felt like something was missing and he wasn’t sure that our life goals aligned. The trail off at the end of “you tick all the boxes on paper but something feels off, I mean you should be everything I want but…” isn’t really something you want to hear.

He said he felt something was missing with me. The pointedness of making sure I knew it was ME that there was something missing with and not him wasn’t lost on me. But the part that got me the most, the thing that definitely shattered a little piece of my heart was when, looking me in the eye, he told me “I don’t have butterflies about you”. Not to be melodramatic but it felt like a stab, like the quickest insertion of the finest blade deep inside me. My biggest fear – rejection – was staring my squarely in the face.

As I fought back the tears, he continued by telling me he didn’t think I wanted to give up my downtown party lifestyle and that, despite what I’d said, he didn’t believe me when I said I wanted to have kids. The want to cry quickly turned into the want to punch him in the throat.

At what point had all of my trips across the bridge to the suburban North Shore, and walking his dog in the shitting snow, before having cosy quiet nights in at his place made it seem like I wouldn’t want to change my “downtown party lifestyle”? And even that phrase was ridiculous! I am practically a GRANNY! I hardly ever go out and in fact my drinking had increased since I met him. (Possibly because of the mental anguish he caused me.)

And don’t get me started on how insulting it was that he would question my sincerity, my honesty, my vulnerability when opening up about how I felt about having kids. Who the fuck was he to tell me that he thought I wasn’t being honest about it?

As I was sitting on my hands to stop me reaching out to strangle him, what I thought was rock bottom plummeted further when he finished up his character assassination of me with “but look, I’m hoping all those feelings about you change because I would really love this to work. I’m happy to give it time, to work on it, and see if those feelings develop and if maybe our life goals can align. If you are? But I understand you’ve been hurt in the past and the last thing I want to do is hurt you anymore, so I’ll understand if you want to walk away. I’ll let you make the decision. ”

If it hadn’t been for my ex-husband’s incredible displays of psychological manipulation years before, I’d have said this was the most exquisite example of gaslighting I’d ever seen.

I hadn’t even really wanted to be going this fast. Yes it was fun and ultimately domesticated bliss was the long term goal but it was scaring the shit out of me and the confusion it was bringing with it wasn’t worth it. But for some reason I was sat on that sofa actually weighing up the options. Whereas now with a clear head and hindsight all I can scream as I type these words is “RUN, YOU DUMB BITCH.” Trust me, reader, I feel your frustration.

I was so torn and in that moment I felt incredibly alone. Again, in hindsight, I know I could have reached out to any of my friends and they’d have likely uttered the exact same all caps instruction as above, but at the time I felt stuck with this decision all by myself.

My mind was racing but kind of in slow motion: surely we need to be together for those feelings to develop and for him to realise we are on the same page re life goals. i.e. spending time apart isn’t going to convince him of those things, so taking a break or walking away won’t help? But if those feelings aren’t there now, will they ever be? And do I really want to be feeling like I need to try and convince him that we’re right for each other? Does any of this matter right now? It’s still so early. Do we even need to be having these conversations? Is walking away sensible self preservation or is it running scared at the first hint of trouble?

As I was trying to calm my mind to the point I could move or talk or do something, ideally to get up and go home, he outdid himself by coming out with “look, I can tell you’re upset, this wasn’t a fun conversation to have and you shouldn’t be alone tonight, so why don’t you stay?”

Again in hindsight, it should have been a no brainer, I should have already been halfway back across that mother fucking bridge. But I was still there on the couch. And ultimately I ended up staying. I felt so paralysed by the fear of making the wrong decision. Like if I’d gone home that night it would have been over and, despite everything, I really didn’t know if I wanted that.

At the time all I could think was I really wouldn’t not want him in my life. Amidst all the bullshit, he did make me laugh, he was generally sweet and caring, he seemed like such a good person, with good values, he made me want to be better with his motivation and drive, and I loved how family and friends orientated he was. Plus, you know, the sex was incredible.

But that night as we climbed into bed, as we had done countless times before that, I felt like I was drowning in uncertainty and fear. Fear I’d make the wrong choice, fear that once again I was going to have to face the feeling of rejection, fear that I was once more going to have to walk away from something when it wasn’t entirely what I wanted to do but I knew that I should.

When he tried to initiate sex, his lack of true understanding of the situation shocked me. I had to explain to him that I didn’t want to be only enough for him in the bedroom if I wasn’t enough for him sitting on that couch 15 minutes earlier. While he turned over and went to sleep, I replayed everything he said to me, every untruth he told me about myself, over and over in my head and, as the 31st of December dawned, I cried myself to a restless couple of hours of sleep.

The best part (note the sarcasm) of all of this is that the way he’d left the conversation was entirely on my shoulders, the decision was mine to make, I was the ref who had to make the call. And despite the mass of billowing red flags hitting me across the face from all directions, I genuinely didn’t know what to do. So what would you do in that situation? I bet the answer isn’t “still go to your friend’s NYE engagement party with him”? But mine was!

Yup, we got all dressed up that night, having told him I wanted to put the whole thing out of my mind and not think about it, and instead to try and enjoy the night, off we went for him to meet more of my friends and bring in the new year, celebrating love, while feeling like I had fully lost my mind.

The night itself was surprisingly not a complete wash. There were moments I’d catch myself starting to think about it and would have to actively change my train of thought, especially when he’d make comments about how he hoped he would get an invite to the wedding or that he’d love to hang out with my friends again. You don’t even know that you like me, why do you think we’ll be together in 9 months when the wedding is?!?! Otherwise we did pretty good and the friends we were with that night, none of whom had met him before, had no clue anything was wrong and thought he was great.

After we’d successfully seen in 2017 and toasted the upcoming nuptials while I remained sensibly semi-sober, I dutifully went back over the water to his place despite my house only being 10 minutes away from the party, but he had to go home for the dog. Always the damn dog! I loved that dog, she was a sweetheart but fuck me it was an annoying excuse he always had up his sleeve.

On January first he dropped me off back at home for me to go and do the annual New Year’s Day ocean swim with some friends. Before he left he suggested we do dinner the next night, our last night of the festive period before going back to work. At that point I knew I didn’t have another trip across the bridge in me so I insisted he come over to downtown and we go somewhere convenient for me, which he happily agreed to.

A few hours later I was at a bar with a couple of guy friends, trying to warm ourselves up by a heater and with a whisky each having shocked our systems by diving into freezing water, and I told them the story of Filipeen. They knew I was dating someone but hadn’t heard any of the rest of the story. I actually hadn’t really told anyone about the pre-NYE chat, I couldn’t bring myself to because it was just so… embarrassing. It felt embarrassing.

Naturally, both of their reactions were ones of absolute horror that I’d gone to NYE with him, much less that I was even considering what I should do about the whole thing. They were incredibly kind and said some very lovely, and much needed, things about how I deserved better and how he sounded “like a nutter”, as one of my friends so eloquently put it.

I think I had known that would be what everyone had said, but he’d done such a good job of making it seem so normal to say the things he had and turn it around the way he had on me, and of course with his less than stellar review of my character weighing on my mind, I had definitely started to believe that maybe those things were wrong with me and maybe I should just be happy he was willing to try and make it work? Yes, my self worth was entirely MIA by this point.

Lesson learnt that day – always sense check shit a guy says to you with your friends.

The following day I prepared myself for dinner with him, wondering if I should just cut it off with him that night. But I was all too aware that he was the first serious “relationship” I’d had since I started dating and I wasn’t sure if I was running scared or if I was self sabotaging.

Instead I decided to give it a bit more time, have a session with my therapist Julia (have I mentioned her? I LOVE HER) and go from there. Of course, that night we had to get just a little bit of couple domesticity in and went to buy a laundry basket for him – just how every girl wants a dinner date to start – before heading to the restaurant.

Dinner was fine, we kept the conversation light and it did feel like a nice way to finish the holidays. We’d started them together and, in some capacity at least, we were finishing them together. But when he came back upstairs to mine for a bit before he went home things changed. He sat away from me on the sofa – in fact he sat on the only other chair in my apartment – while he told me he felt like “the decision” had been on my mind all night and we wouldn’t get anywhere if I couldn’t let it go.

“If I couldn’t let it go”? “IF I COULDN’T LET IT GO”?!?!?!?!?! I’m sorry, it’s kinda hard to forget that the person you’re sitting across from at dinner, going out to parties with, sleeping in a bed with isn’t sure that you’re right for them and has actively you told you just that, along with all the many fucking reasons, enough to fill your new fucking laundry basket.

And he had the audacity to get annoyed with me as he said it. HE was annoyed with ME. I was speechless, though I did manage to tell him I thought he should leave. I didn’t want to see his face, I didn’t want him near me, I didn’t want him in my house.

He called me that night to try and apologise but it was a short conversation that I ended by telling him I wanted to be left alone for a week. We went back to work the next day and at the end of that week I had an appointment to see Julia. I knew she’d sort me out. I knew she’d be able to help me get back to clarity and unpack the craziness of the last few weeks.

That Friday as I relayed the story to Julia, in her cosy, comfortable, safe space, and as I heard all the words come out of my mouth in the way they’ve tumbled onto this post, I knew. I knew what I should do, I knew that walking away was the only sensible option. But for some reason I needed that reinforced. I needed to be told that it was ok and I was doing the right thing. Because instead of just knowing I should do it, I had this feeling that me walking away was me not doing enough, not trying hard enough. It was mildly reminiscent of when I struggled so much with walking away from my marriage, albeit on a totally different scale. My self worth definitely still needed some work.

Julia’s role isn’t typically to tell me what to do, that’s not how counselling/therapy works. She asks questions to get me to look at things differently, think a little deeper about how things have happened or why I feel the way I do, reflect on things in new ways. But on this occasion she broke with her usual “no opinions given” demeanour and pointedly told me “you know I’m not here to tell you what you should do, but you already know what you need to do – you know you need to walk away and that is absolutely the right thing to do.”

It was all I needed.

I messaged him on the Saturday morning and asked if we could meet up sometime over the weekend to talk. He suggested Sunday afternoon, he would come over to downtown and we’d walk the seawall. So on a bitterly cold early January afternoon, I met him (and the dog) from the seabus and we started to walk.

There were a couple of minutes of catching up generally before he said “it seems like the woman has something on her mind…” with a smile on his face. The patronising tone and the fact he had seemingly very little understanding of the mental anguish this whole situation had been causing me, were perfect reminders of why I was about to say what I was about to say.

I’d gone through it in my head many times over the previous day and a half so I launched straight into it, ensuring I left no breaks for him to interject. It was straightforward – “I don’t want to be with someone who isn’t sure about me. I don’t want someone who questions whether what I tell them about my life goals is the truth or not. I don’t want someone who thinks I drink too much or that I’ve dated too much. I want someone who knows me and that what they know of me makes them want to know more, not less. I need someone whose actions meet their words. I want someone who gets butterflies about me the way I get butterflies about them. I need to feel safe, loved and supported. And you offer me none of these things, so I can’t see you anymore.”

He seemed a little taken aback by my brevity. In fact so was I. He had such a way of making me stumble over my words, and my thoughts, and for once I’d been able to concisely convey just how he made me feel, without worrying about upsetting him.

He responded by saying he had wanted to connect on a deeper level and felt the relationship had become too sexually focused – something he’d never mentioned to me before. That he’d hoped to get to know me more but he felt there were barriers up. He said he thought we would be better as friends and that he didn’t not want me in his life in some way because I was such a great person and my friends were so fun. Ummmm…. how bout no?

A lot of his thoughts, if not all, I disagree with, other than me being such a great person and my friends being so fun, obviously. A perfect example of us being on different pages and I didn’t really think it was worth debating.

After starting to feel my fingers go numb, and my brain from all of his shit talk, I suggested we walk back to the station for him to go back to the North Shore. I had kept myself pretty well together throughout but I could feel the tears start to rise as we got closer to the station. As I hugged him goodbye he did an incredible job of leaving me with the perfect reminder of what a shit bag he was, saying in all seriousness “do you want to feel my arms one last time?”

He knew I had a thing for arms and in that moment all I wanted to do was tell him there were already a pair of Arms in my life that far exceeded his. My friends have since told me I should have. Instead, I took the high road, politely declined and turned to walk home, bursting into tears as soon as I knew I was out of his sight and sobbing all the way home. Whether the tears were out of heartbreak or relief, I wasn’t entirely sure, but the heart was definitely hurting a little.

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