I don’t like rides that go round and round. Take me to a theme park and I’ll be the one on the rollercoaster. Upside down, stomach-dropping plunges, breakneck speeds – yes. Round and round and round – no. Just the idea of Waltzers makes me feel a bit sicky.
To say my life has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride lately would be something of an understatement. The last year can be neatly bookended with my husband leaving and my Dad dying, and that would be enough, but just for a laugh there have been some heart-stopping plunges and sick-making loop-the-loops along the way. A whole lot of turmoil. A sense that I’m not really in control, a passenger on board my own life. My rollercoaster carriage has broken free from its neighbours and is doing its own thing. Forget going that way! We’re going this way! Weeeeeeeeeeeee!
So obviously the best thing to do is seek comfort in the emotional equivalent of the bloody Waltzers.
I wrote in my last entry that it was over between me and The Pirate, but that I wasn’t ready to talk about it. In the time it’s taken me to find the words, we appear to be back together again. If we ever were together… Let me start again: The Pirate and I are having sex again.
OK, it isn’t just sex. We saw each other last night, we went out for a drink, we watched TV, we went to bed, he came in my hair (ugh ugh ugh) after giving me a lovebite on my inner thigh (classy sex all round, then). And we woke up this morning and had less tawdry and more emotionally connected sex. And in between all the sexing there was talking and comfortable silences and all the things you’d expect from a couple – except we’re not.
And this is the sticking point, the Waltzers part. Because now, he really knows what I want. The essay-length email from me that precipitated our blink-and-you’ll-miss-it split saw to that (sent at 12.45am – note to self: quit sending potentially life-changing emails in the dead of the night. Everything is worse in the dead of the night. Save as draft, lady. SAVE AS DRAFT). And his response to this email (also dead of nighty) was less ‘I don’t want a relationship’ than I’d expected and more ‘I can’t give you what you need right now’ – which is basically saying the same thing in a different way. I hear his words, but I don’t seem to be able to listen to them.
And so we’ve fallen back into the same groove we ever had, the groove of calling and texting and talking loosely of ‘next time’ without making any firm plans. Round and round and round we go. He now holds all the cards. I told him to commit or it was over. He couldn’t or wouldn’t commit and discovered the laughable emptiness of my threat. What has that taught him, huh? I’m a mother. I know all about making sure you follow through on any threats you make. I can do it with The Boy – why not The Pirate?
Because I’m arrogant enough to believe that I can change him. That I’ll be the one to make him abandon his buccaneering ways and settle down to appreciate the joys of domesticity and co-parenting and true love and hot sex on tap. That I can turn a Waltzer into something more sedate and less stomach-churning – the swans at Alton Towers, perhaps. Ha! Even as I write that, my lips are twitching with mirth. As if!
And would I want him quite as much if he wasn’t such a heady ride? Do I really want a swan when I’ve got me a pirate?
I talk to my friends about The Pirate a lot. Yeah. They’re pretty much sick of hearing about him already. And they all offer advice that’s basically a variation on a theme: he’s as into you as he can be, he’s giving you as much as he can, it’s unlikely to get any better than this, shouldn’t you quit while you’re ahead?
Well yes. Obviously that’s the sensible thing to do. But where’s the fun in that?
I never, ever imagined I’d find myself here. When I said my wedding vows, I meant them. When my husband told me he didn’t love me anymore and wanted to leave, I begged him to come to Relate with me. I offered to turn my world upside down to try and make him happy and stay, because I believe in family. He didn’t. He left.
And now I’m glad he did. Because we weren’t right for each other. Yes, we could probably have bumbled along and made do forever. It wasn’t an unhappy marriage. It just wasn’t especially happy either. Kinda neutral. No-one wants that in their obituary. I deserve better.
I ventured out into the city last Friday night. It confirmed my belief that I am not a going out into the city kind of girl. So loud! So busy! So full of nubile blonde creatures who aren’t the wrong side of 30! I’m not revolting. But I’m not 20 either. I’ve had a baby and I’ve got the scars and stretchmarks to prove it.
And I’ve tried online dating. So far, it’s resulted in:
- A coffee with a man who talked non-stop about his ex-wife and her family and their various problems. I properly ran away from him. Actual running.
- A summer evening’s walk around a reservoir with a man who seemed OKish, but then halfway through the night went to the loo in the pub and came back clearly having taken some drugs. He stood up and embraced the old stone walls in the beer garden, cheek pressed against rock, jawing frantically as he invited me to join him: “Feel the stone! It’s warm!”
- A short relationship with a perfectly lovely boy. Note use of the word ‘boy’. He was 28 going on 14. I already have one son, and frankly he’s a lot less hard work. It ended when, in a fit of temper, I growled at him to stop telling me to calm down or I’d carve his eye out with a spoon, and he really believed I would. He still believed everything grown ups told him! Yeah. Bye.
- An even shorter ‘relationship’ with The Pirate, about whom I could write forever but it would get me nowhere. It ended today and it hurts much more than I imagined it would. I thought I had my guard up. Who knew?! I’m not ready to talk about it properly, not yet.
So I’ve cancelled my online dating subscription. It’s not for me.
I’m feeling a bit battered at the minute. Really emotionally raw. And so tired at the prospect of having to pick myself up, dust myself down, dig out my best smile and get out there again at some point. Because while it isn’t like I need a man to ‘complete me’ (vom vom vom), I am not good on my own. At night, when the boy’s gone to be bed, there’s just me in my living room. I hate it. I want family, someone to talk about my day with, to have filthy, filthy sex with, to make Sunday lunch for. Fuck it, I want to iron someone’s shirts.
Which means dating. Ugh. Any tips for a recluse?
It started as a flirty in-joke between two people who’d just met, been on a great date and had lots of awesome sex. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So the date in question sails – has dreams of conquering all the world’s oceans, in fact. He has longish curly dark hair and big greenish eyes. On our second date, I sat astride him and applied smudgy black eyeliner. Dear Lord. Think Michael Hutchence crossed with Captain Jack Sparrow – be still my beating heart!
And so he became The Pirate. So much so that, after three and a half months of dating, I still have to stop and think if I want to use his actual name. He is, and ever will be, The Pirate.
Unfortunately, this moniker proved remarkably prescient. He doesn’t just look like a pirate. He acts like one too. Unreliable, unpredictable, emotionally unavailable (see previous post) and all the more attractive for it.
Seriously. Why do I do this to myself? I know I’m not the only idiot woman who does this. There are lots of us, mooning and swooning over men that we KNOW are not good enough for us.
Dating The Pirate isn’t fun. As well as the bleeding from my bum bits, there’s the crushing insecurity, the ‘will he or won’t he call?’, the leaping on crumbs of kindness as if they’re manna from heaven and then hating myself for it.
He has only once told me I look nice, and it was so out of character I didn’t believe him. He doesn’t kiss or hold hands in public, which makes me feel like he’s ashamed of being seen with me. Come to that, he doesn’t really kiss or hold hands in private. The night before my Dad’s funeral, we managed to have sex twice without him kissing OR hugging me. Impressive.
Yeah. When I write it down, he’s a real catch… He does have redeeming features. We can talk and talk and talk about anything. He was very supportive practically when my Dad unexpectedly died. He’s full of practical ideas actually, a real problem solver. And I don’t think he’s an emotionally retarded fuckwit on purpose. I don’t think he’s doing it to spite me.
But still. He’s an emotionally retarded fuckwit, and I am a fool.
One of us is bleeding quietly from her backside. The other is quietly nursing a monstrous hangover. Yes. Last night somehow turned into a big one.
I gingerly note that gin and rum and fizzy red wine and port and champagne and whisky are poor substitutes for a good handful of lubricant. He greenly notes that eating cockles on Scarborough seafront the morning after the night before might not have been a good idea.
But bleeding and biliousness aside, it’s been a good weekend. A weekend of Let’s Pretend.
Let’s Pretend we can afford this rather expensive hotel – it’s worth every penny, but that’s not the point when neither of us have any pennies.
Let’s Pretend I’m not a dedicated single mother, handsomely furnished with baggage.
Let’s Pretend he’s not a dedicated singleton – handsome, yes, but having somewhat worryingly reached the age of 38 with absolutely no baggage at all.
Let’s Pretend this whole sorry affair wasn’t doomed from the start.
We’re just past Copmanthorpe when the game ends. It’s my own fault – I’m a big ruiner. He knows the ins and outs of my sorry failed marriage in almost pornographic detail, but is persistently evasive about his own relationship history. I am, however, persistently persistent. He is stuck in a small red car with me behind a painfully slow-moving Romany caravan. There is no escape unless he opens the door and runs, runs for the hills!
“So tell me about your ex-girlfriends. I don’t want to know about them all. Just the biggies.”
His eyes dart to the door handle and up past it, gazing longingly at yonder hills, and he shakes his head. I don’t think he even knows that he’s shaking it. It’s quite an impressive flight response. Stag caught in cross hair.
“No – no No-ing! You know all about me. Spill! Who was the one that got away? The big love of your life?”
“Me,” he replies.
I laugh. Ha ha – you’re so funny! Except he isn’t joking.
“There hasn’t been a significant relationship. I guess I haven’t been lucky enough to find The One.”
He could have stopped there and the game of Let’s Pretend could have carried on for a bit longer. Do I think I’m The One for him? Not any more, no – but did I think I could have been 5 minutes before we started this conversation? Maybe, perhaps, possibly, one day. And is he The One for me? Again, with the benefit of hindsight, no – but at the time he was showing potential.
He continues: “It’s only society that dictates you should settle down with one person. I see my friends in long-term relationships and they’re desperately unhappy, desperate to escape their wives for a night out. When I had money, I was happy. I could do what I wanted, when I wanted, without answering to anyone. It was wicked, you know? I don’t think I’m even capable of being in a relationship any more. I’ve never even lived with a girl, not properly – I’ve always had my own bolthole, kept all my clothes there. I’m… what’s the word?… Institutionalised. I like being on my own too much.”
First thought: You could have mentioned this before drunkenly and enthusiastically fucking my arse last night WITHOUT LUBE.
Second thought: Well, that told me.
What can I do? I quietly say, “I think you’re right. I think you are institutionalised,” and get back to my quiet bleeding.
You’d think that would be the end of it. He knows what I want – I’ve told him enough times in the past, and it must be blindingly obvious anyway. My heart lives on my sleeve, always has and forever will.
So he knows what I want, and I know that he is unable and/or unwilling to give it me. You’d think we’d just shake hands and go our separate ways or something. Be sporting about it all. “You made my bum bleed for 4 days, I spilled red wine on your North Face hoodie and as I haven’t seen it since I assume it’s ruined – let’s quit while we’re ahead.”
Except the A64 was 8 days ago, and here I am, sitting waiting for his call – we’ve spoken most days since we met, and nothing has changed since he declared his undying love for himself.
Can someone find me my backbone? It’s gone missing. Disappeared around about the same time as my self-respect.
In my defence, he’s very handsome. This is all.