Love for life
March 29, 2013 § 1 Comment
Listening to: Warmer Climate, Snow Patrol.
I wrote recently on FB about past relationships and the impact they have had on me as a person. Let’s expand on that.
I’ve been with a fair few men over the years. Teenage explorations, one night stands, flings, casual relationships, affairs, boyfriends, serious partners, nearly two fiancées and a husband. Undoubtedly all of them have had some effect on my being and my subsequent place in life, however the relationships which have had a profound impact on both can be counted on one hand.
(Okay, maybe one and a half. All right, two.)
Authors note: This ended up being a colossal post completed over three days. For ease here are some shortcuts to each person.
JP was one of my best friends growing up, mainly in primary school and partly in high school. He was my BFF’s brother, although he was more like my brother (even more than my actual brother). Over the years a strong and very close friendship developed into full blown pubescent love for me, but he never admitted to feeling anything else than brotherly love. We danced around the edges of it for a few years but nothing ever eventuated and slowly over several more years we grew apart.
JP is the sole reason that I am a gamer – I could not count the hundreds and thousands of hours we spent on Nintendo, Playstation and the computer playing Turok, StarCraft, James Bond, South Park, Mario, Zelda… the list goes on and on. He took me for my first ever burnout. He wore shorts and basketball shoes wherever he went and always talked to me like his best mate, never a girl. I doubt the friendship of our adolescence could ever be matched.
The first time I ever met Joe was when we were sat around a mutual friend’s house drinking Midori and lemonade at 10am on a Saturday morning. He was one of the Duchie boys – a group of slightly older bogan guys me and my BFF used to hang out with in my early teenage years. We dated very briefly, around Valentines Day one year. I remember because I won a competition on 96FM and so they sent a cake and flowers to his workplace and all the boys were ribbing him about it. Whilst our relationship didn’t really work out at the time, I have the fondest place in my heart for him.
The period of time around Joe is almost like a sub-genre of my life. It was a different place with different people, different experiences that I’ve never returned to and probably won’t. Our circle of friends was an exceptionally close knit family who displayed great loyalty to and protection for each other and we were just always together. We sat around in mates houses drinking beer from cans, smoking weed, talking about cars and listening to Metallica a lot of the time. We did a lot of road trips in convoys of beat up cars, held and attended a lot of parties, tempted the local law enforcement with community shenanigans and just had a bucket load of fun really. It was one of those really key periods of your life where you do so much growing up.
Joe is the only man I can say “I love you” to other than my husband or my family members. He is one of my oldest friends and whilst probably not one of the closest, it would be fair to say he knows me better than most, if not all. He is a deep, gentle, loving guy who I absolutely adore and the best thing about our relationship is that I can tell him that and it doesn’t mean anything other than it should. He is one of the few that just “get it” when something needs to be understood without words.
I will always think of K as the one who got away. It’s easy to romanticise this because it was a long time ago (we are probably different people by now), but it’s how I have always felt about him.
We dated very briefly sometime after Joe and before JP2. For part of the relationship, we lived together while he housesat for a friend. In this arrangement, we quickly fell into a highly domesticated companionship and I can honestly say it was one of the happiest periods of my whole life. Every night we would cook dinner, sit at the table and eat without the TV on, drink wine, clean up, and then afterwards lie on the couch together and drink more wine, listen to music and talk about sociology, politics or current affairs. Then in the mornings he would get up early and get dressed, have breakfast, kiss me on the forehead and go to work. I would eventually get up, fold his clothes, tidy up the house and go to school. I must have been 15 or 16 at the most.
The relationship ended abruptly when he moved to Launceston for work at short notice. Within a week or two, he was gone and I felt like my world had ended. We wrote to each other for a while afterwards as I desperately tried to ease my heartache. I had totally fallen in love with him over the space of a couple of months. What’s worse were his late confessions of his true feelings for me (masked by the intent of his cold nature towards me in the days leading up to his departure) which, whilst beautiful, somehow seemed to deepen the wounds. He returned a few times over the next year or two, but things were never the same between us. The ideal that had been would never and could never be again. I grieved hard for several months and missed him for years, however the friendship eventually died a natural death. I haven’t spoken to him for a long time now, but every now and then I will think of him, think of this beautiful, unique, amazing, brief time we had together, and smile.
JP2 was my first long term relationship (long for that age anyway). We dated for 15 months – from the end of Year 11 to just after I graduated high school. It was a great relationship at the time. It ended badly, but it was great while it lasted.
JP2 was one of the most romantic guys I ever dated. I still have a shoebox filled with photos, love letters, poems, drawings, cards, gifts and various other sentimental bits and pieces. He was a real sweetheart and very genuine. JP2 taught me how to play guitar – something I’ll always love him for. He introduced me to a different world of music and it was during our relationship that I commenced my love affair with blink-182. He played soccer and basketball and had a group of amazing mates. I got on really well with his family and we spent so much of our time together, growing up.
Like I said, things ended badly between us and I won’t go into detail other than to say we were both young adults, growing up, learning about ourselves, each other and our respective places in the world. It was after my break up with JP2 that I became chronically ill for the first time (and I’ve never fully recovered since) and had my first traumatic experience with depression.
I was really bitter about JP2 and our breakup for a long time afterwards… years in fact. I regret a lot of things knowing what I know now. Regret is a waste of time but something I can’t help, being such a retrospective person. Certainly it doesn’t consume me or do me any real harm though, and so I am happy to be in place where I can look back, understand and know better. I have a lot of fond memories of JP2 and wish we were closer today.
Geez, where do I start with this one? Rome was one of my first real catches. Around the time that we met, I was just starting to understand my ability and skill for chasing and catching a man. In my adolescence I had an extremely arrogant approach toward boys/men. It was all very entertaining for me but I was quite selfish and emotionally detached about it all – much like a guy! As I continued to mature, my approach slowly evolved, and that’s when Chase really started to come into existence.
I went to write that it took me a few months to chase Rome down. In reality, it took me well over three years. He was a much older divorcee when I met him at the tender age of 17. The majority of our relationship which spanned almost five years is documented (in detail) in my old blog but in short I pursued him and the concept of our relationship for several years. We worked through affairs and other women (a LOT of other women), a shared workplace, a lot of drugs, a lot of alcohol, a group of beautiful but dysfunctional friends and a couple of midlife crises to get to the other side. As it turns out “the other side” involved an extremely expensive engagement ring and the prospect of married life, a mortgage and children which in the end wasn’t right for me, at least not at the time.
Rome brought a multitude of new things to my life. The age difference between us was at such an emphatic time of each of our lives that it had a significant impact on both of us. He taught me how to drive a boat, how to scuba dive, how to fish and catch crays and collect abalone. We spent a lot of time at the beach, a lot of time working out together in the evenings, a lot of time taking drugs and clubbing with our friends and a lot of time road-tripping around the state. We bought furniture and decorated his house, stocked up on books and wine and all the things I loved but hadn’t had the means or opportunity to really indulge.
Ironically, not only was Rome one of my first real catches but he was also one of my first real releases. Having got my head well placed around the concept of the chase, I then discovered I had a new lesson to learn – the catch and release.
If I’d thought my break up with JP2 was traumatic, the fallout of leaving Rome was… tragic.. horrific.. devastating and immensely painful. Mainly because I had subconsciously waited until he had finally committed to me before I ripped the rug out from underneath him. To watch a 40-year old thrash and fail about their life is one of the most traumatic things I’ll ever have to go through. It was an incredibly difficult and sad time – for both of us. And certainly I was the cause, but I had no choice. I woke up one day and realised that I had fallen out of love with my almost-fiancée a long time ago.
I don’t believe Rome ever really recovered from our split. He loved me more than anything in the world – more than any man ever could, he used to tell me. He was a really, really good man and I regret hurting him, I regret leaving the relationship the way I did and I regret that we could never forge a friendship out of the ashes of the aftermath. He is married now with a few children and a big boat but I don’t believe his heart ever really got over it. We haven’t spoken in probably over five years.
God knows why I chose the name “Boyd” for this one. Sounds terrible now.
Boyd was the third married man I became involved with. Not only was he married but he was also a senior executive of the company I worked for. We enjoyed a brief, intense affair for about three months. His wife found out about it a few months after we called it off (Rome had also found out about it and took it upon himself to share the news with her in retaliation for all the hurt and suffering I had caused him) and wasn’t that interesting…
Boyd was a much, much older man (over 20 years older than me). Older men have their advantages (stability, maturity, self-knowledge, intelligence) and disadvantages (wrinkles, usually ex-wives and/or leftover children, emotional baggage). Whilst Boyd and I had a very enjoyable affair and I really, really loved our time together, it ultimately just didn’t work out for us. I’m a strong believer in things happening for a reason and so I vehemently believe my relationship with Boyd served some purpose at the time. It worked for the time that it needed to at that point in my life and then I was able to let it go because it stopped working.
Boyd was a highly intelligent man which I loved. He was surprisingly thoughtful and romantic and enjoyed buying me gifts. He was quite full on at times – told me once that he daydreamed about me barefoot and pregnant in his kitchen; another time he offered on a whim to send me plane tickets for a remote tropical island. He gave me keys to his apartment quite early on and was just really comfortable being himself around me (very different to younger men). We spent a lot of time talking and writing to each other about some very deep and meaningful things during our relationship and so for that reason I have and may well always feel quite connected to him. We haven’t spoken in years but I still remain quite impacted by our short time together. I don’t and have never “missed him” but the emotional connection has really lingered for me.
Rich was a guy I knew from high school, though we weren’t really friends at the time. I can’t even remember how we ended up getting together, maybe through FB. We saw each other on and off over several months while I was going through an… interesting.. period of my life (insert smirk here). He was one of a collection of men I was seeing – the Team as I referred to them. I shamelessly kept a list on my desk whiteboard at work and it was a bit of a running joke with my neighbouring colleague. Eventually, the Team was whittled down to two men – Rich and Adam, though they had code names on the board – I think Rich was “the Twin” and Adam was “Sposato” meaning “married” (coined by my Italian neighbouring colleague).
Rich was my age – so considered “young” for me to be dating. After Rome, I swore I would never date a guy my age again (though sex by itself wasn’t a problem, and Rich was somewhere between sex and dating). He was and is the most beautiful soul though and much more mature than his age implies. Rich will always be the artist to me – that gorgeous, gentle man who is deeply touched by music, art, writing, philosophy, theology. We used to have the most amazing, deep conversations about life and love, relationships, family, religion, society, culture. Music was a huge part of his life – we spent a lot of time talking about and listening to music, and he played left-handed guitar beautifully. He was tall and strong and handsome, yet playful, unsure of himself at times and gentle. He was incredibly beautiful.
He is one of the few ex’s that I keep in touch with, though not as much as I would like. Similar to Joe, I know that I can tell or ask him anything and that whatever the ensuing conversation is, it will be meaningful. I reminisce about him more than anyone else – after all, as I have said to Adam before, it could have been Rich that was the last on the whiteboard, not Sposato, and what a different place we would all be in now.
By the time the Team was formed, the concept of the chase was becoming well understood for me. Adam was a reasonably late inclusion to the game. He was an easy catch and I discovered later that this was because he had been deeply lonely in his marriage for many years. All I did was whisper in his ear one night, with his wife standing metres away from him, that I wanted to shag him. And it all sort of snowballed from there.
Friends asked me why I kept “going after” married men and would subsequently roll their eyes as I tried to explain I didn’t – it just seemed to happen that way. I still haven’t really been able to understand what is so attractive about the unattainable, but that’s a discussion for another time…
Whilst I say that Adam was an easy catch, it’s only really in one sense. There is the chase for attention, the chase for sex, the chase for more than sex, the chase for love and finally the chase for commitment. I had Adam wrapped up in my legs but there was so much more to pursue and I did, fiercely. We fell quickly, and after only a few weeks we were staring into the depths of each other’s eyes with words of love tumbling out from our mouths.
As with Rome, I pursued Adam doggedly and soon several months were left behind us. Not long into our relationship I began this pattern of intense self-harm, except there were no razor blades or hard drugs this time. We formed and perpetuated a cycle involving morning sex with me, friendship and flirting during the day at work and then devastation and longing every evening when he went home to his wife. There was the odd special occasion which would warrant a sleepover or time together on the weekend, or attending an event together. But for the most part I was without him and my grief because of him was matched only by my love for him. We did this for 18 months.
Then one day, out of the middle of nowhere, I got a text to say that he’d just told his wife that he was unhappy and wanted to sell their house, end the marriage. My world yawned off its axis and I collapsed in tears under the weight of 18 months of grieving, dreaming, hurting and longing.
The immediate aftermath of his abandonment of his marriage was horrific and seemed like a nightmare that took years to shake. On top of all the trauma with his (ex)wife, I was learning to be a stepmother, and quickly. Like with most things, I threw myself into it 110% and eventually burnt myself out physically and emotionally. There is no way I could describe those years in anything less than a full feature novel (the majority of which has already been written over at my old blog).
But ultimately we survived those first few terrible years and within them infidelity, sickness, financial hardship and an almost-break up. Once we damaged our relationship in all possible ways and still managed to recover, we were able to flourish.
Adam introduced me to owning and riding motorbikes which is something I will never recover from. Together we rediscovered the joys of wine, cooking, fine dining, cocktail bars, books, films, outdoor concerts and traveling again. We remained joined at the hip in everything we did – where I went, he went and vice versa. We worked hard, relaxed hard and did everything together.
Last year we got married. Marriage is a whole other discussion, but it doesn’t change the fact that Adam was and is the love of my life. He is the best friend and best life partner I could ever hope for. He knows more about me and who I am than any other person on Earth and while he doesn’t completely understand it all, strangely enough that’s not what’s important. He loves me more than I can believe.
Nic is the most recent (very recent) addition to this list. I have mused a fair bit about whether he should be included here but it feels like he fits.
Nic is a young guy (the kid, as I refer to him, probably much to his chagrin) who I met through work. We first met several months ago but it was so short lived that I didn’t really commit much effort to pursuit. When we recently met again unexpectedly, I decided not to let the opportunity pass me by again and so once again the chase began. What I hadn’t counted on was how difficult and painful the release would be.
My “relationship” with Nic was different (and thus included on this list) for two reasons. One: my connection to him blew me away. Really seriously blew me away. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve experienced chemistry like I did with him, one-sided as it may be. Two: Nic was the test run for a moral and theoretical position that Adam and I took up several years ago. We both thought that either of us could have a brief, physical experience with another person and not let it affect or interfere with our marriage. However, it didn’t quite work out that way and I suspect in this instance that it is mostly to do with point one above.
The unexpected emotional impact I have experienced with Nic reminds me really strongly of my relationship with K. This in itself is just such a terrifying position because I fucking loved K and I just cannot accept that I can fall in love with someone – concept or individual – from just one night. Not that, in my defence, it was really just one night as we had established a relationship of sorts prior to having sex. But still, I refuse to even consider the possibility – even writing these words is the most I have allowed myself to entertain the idea.
We crammed so much into that one night. We talked about books and music, work and colleagues, relationships and the chase. We got drunk and danced together, we laughed and held hands, we had sex and marvelled at one another. We told the truth and we didn’t judge. Nic was the exception, in so many senses. He was exceptionally young (for me), he was exceptionally beautiful and he was, ultimately, exceptionally unavailable. Working relationships, age, girlfriends, wives, geography to a point – there’s not much that will detract me from the chase. Not much aside from a six hour cross-country flight and the threat of losing my husband.
Regardless of the what, why and how, this kid absolutely knocked me clean off my pedestal and left me reeling, in every sense of the word. When he flew home the next morning, I realised I missed him. I still miss him, like I missed K when he left me and it’s been fucking breaking my heart. There is no explaining it, though that hasn’t stopped me from trying. It’s tested my marriage in cruel and unusual ways and though I am happy to say Adam and I have been able to get through it, there’s still not a day that passes that he isn’t on my mind. My relationship with Adam will never forget this.
I have so many questions and I exhaust myself with trying to find the answers. There is a lesson to be learnt here, there is a reason – I am sure of it – though I haven’t yet been able to put my finger on it. The exploration continues.
The purpose of this post, which I suspect has since been lost, is that every one of my relationships – including those not specifically mentioned above – has been unique, beautiful, painful and life-changing. I’ve had a lot of relationships of varying types and degrees of longevity and intensity. I’ve suffered a lot of heartache and been hurt in most if not all of my relationships, but I have realised that regardless of how long ago it was, how the relationship ended or whether or not we still speak, when I love, I love for life. Each of these beautiful men above have their own special niche in my heart and always will; it’s just the way I’m built. They have all given me something special that cannot ever be taken back – be it knowledge, experience, understanding or just memories – and these things stay with you forever.
I believe that love is an inevitable, unstoppable part of life; a by-product of living, of existence. I believe it leaves marks on your body, on your heart, in your psyche which you will never be able to remove or change. I believe you cannot experience true love without having suffered true pain and my experiences with both have shaped me into the woman I am today. I believe my life has been defined by the people I have had in it, the relationships I have experienced with them and the slow and delicious discovery of myself in the process.
I believe I am extremely lucky to be sitting here writing this post.