The moment my world changed

My dad told me his girlfriend was ill not long after she told him. Their relationship was in its early days but I can still vividly remember the moment the joy I felt that he’d found someone to share his remaining days with was crushed by the news that not only did she have cancer, but it was breast cancer, the same cancer that killed my mother. The whirlwind of emotions that swept through me then and in the following days was intense, but as they settled I made a more or less conscious decision not to let myself get too close to this new woman who would (undoubtedly, the cynic inside me said) break my father’s heart again.

As was her want they kept the last days of her illness relatively quiet. I had known that her condition was slowly deteriorating, but my father had finally convinced her to sign up for a clinical trial that, whilst only offering a 50/50 chance of treatment, at least offered some hope. As they waited for the trial to begin my dad stayed by her side constantly, seeing to her needs as they arose and enjoying the few good days as and when they happened.

He wasn’t by her side when she passed. I don’t think it’s an accident that she collapsed and died on the only day in almost 6 weeks that my dad wasn’t there, I think she was trying to save him the pain of watching the light fade from the eyes of yet another woman he loved whole heartedly.

The funeral was a beautifully non-traditional event, no church or religious speaker but rather friends and family sharing their thoughts and memories in a wonderfully open and fluid ceremony. I was even accorded the honour of acting as a pall bearer (my father being too unsteady to do it at the time), and as we lifted the willow cot on which her shroud wrapped form lay and carried it into the hall I found some peace amidst the grief.

As people slowly left from the wake I found myself reflecting on how this wholly unorthodox ceremony had put me somehow at ease. The shock was over, the pain of the burial was done, we could start dealing with our grief now.

Two days after the funeral I got a video call from my dad and I knew within seconds of accepting it that something wasn’t right. His speech was slow and rambling, his face twitched down one side as he stuttered out certain words and his assertion that he wasn’t having a stroke sounded like classic denial to me. As soon as he had finished assuring me that he was ok and didn’t need any help I packed a bag and headed straight there.

Staying composed in the moments between recieving that call and walking into his house wasn’t easy. In an odd sort of way I had been proud of how I’d delt with the death and funeral of his girlfriend – I’d managed to remain relatively strong and composed simply because I wanted to be there to support him. But now my world was once again in turmoil, seeing him so unlike himself bring up thoughts I’d hoped not to have to face for some time. Would he recover or would he be left forever as this twitching, stammering shadow of the man I had once known? Would he die, forcing me to remember and enact all the many and various last wishes he’d been so fond of reminding me of when he’d had one too many to drink? My mind reeled and the journey passed in a numb blur.

Opening the door and walking into his house to confront him was frightening. His surprise was tempered with relief, he’d said not to worry about him but here I was. After hugs and hello’s he settled back into his usual spot on the sofa and I listened as he explained how the doctor was wrong, that this wasn’t a stroke but a natural manifestation of grief made physical, all the while silently hoping he was right but somehow doubting it.

Over the next 24hrs the twitches and stammers eased somewhat (although he remained worryingly unsteady on his feet) but it wasn’t until we finally got to his hospital appointment that he was proved right – the consultant neurologist concluding that this was indeed grief related rather than any kind of stroke. I had come to the same conclusion soon after we sat down in the waiting room; the noticeable increase in his stammering and twitching as we waited for the appointment to start suggesting the condition was most likely stress related rather than physiological in cause.

It was quite the relief to be able to message the numerous people who had enquired as to my dad’s condition once I got him home. I had received offers of help and best wishes from many of his friends as well as his girlfriend’s family when word of his ill-health had originally spread, and the sense of relief was heart warming.

Dispite (or maybe exactly because of) his ongoing problems my dad is planning to move back closer to me, and I’m looking forward to it. He is the only real family I have left, and whilst I am slowly coming to accept that his days are numbered I want to make the most of them.

Family is a rare treat, and one I intend to savor

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Released

There are plenty of things I regret about what happened between Inamorata and I, but first among them is that I have lost a friend, someone I could really talk to. Not being able to talk to anybody about what could arguably be one of the defining relationships of my life is hard – I have rejoiced, and grieved, alone.

Although no words to the effect have been spoken it’s now safe to say the affair is dead – Inamorata and I exchanged the briefest of ‘merry Christmas’ and ‘happy new year’ messages but apart from that we’ve had almost no contact, and I expect that that’s the way it will be from now on.

As much as it hurts I’ve come to the realisation that there can be no growth without pain. Only by taking ourselves out of our comfort zones can we improve ourselves. I’ve learned so much from my time with her, about myself and the way the world works (I even catch myself thinking ‘what would Inamorata do?’ occasionally) and, both mentally and physically, I’m in a much better place for the experience I’ve been through, but I’ve lost alot as well.

I had an affair and now it’s over, and I’m dealing with that, but its not always easy.

I guess all that’s left now is to go on

Trapped

Can you ever really be friends with someone you used to love?.

Ive never been good at staying in touch with my ex-partners – I still occasionally see Bouncer and we can chat about this and that, and I still swap the odd message with Kitten, but I was never really in love with either of them.
But things are different with Inamorata – I want to remain good friends with her but I also need to protect myself.

Inamorata doesn’t understand just how much her flirty innuendo-filled style of friendship hurts me. It’s not her fault, she’s like it with most of the men she’s good friends with, but with me it’s a double edged sword – I love that we can laugh and joke like we used to, but just sometimes I forget that it’s only a joke, and the tiny spark of hope that’s lit is painful to extinguish.

She’ll always be more than a friend but less than a lover, everything I want and everything I can not have.

If she ever asks me why things are not as they used to be I will tell her, but I doubt she will.

I will endeavour to be there as a friend, but my own health and happiness must come first

Physical Intimacy and Emotional Connection

I had a wonderfully honest and open discussion with Inamorata recently – she’s still committed to fixing her marriage and I applaud her resolve.
It always hurts to know the one you want may not feel the same way, but in this it seems I may not alone.

Every new years eve since our affair started I’ve vowed to put thought of her behind me and move forward with my life, and to some extent I have. Letting go of a relationship is never easy, and for me this loss is felt all the more keenly for the depth of emotional connection – in their hay-day the heights were stratospheric, and as we fell apart I faced some incredibly dark days. Looking back its fair to say I spent some of the very best, and very worst, moments of my life with Inamorata, and its that mix of rapturous joy and soul crushing dispair that I will miss – even in the brief moments we spend together nowadays she makes me feel alive.

A thought I’ve had before resurfaced as I re-ran our recent conversation – through all we’ve shared she likes me, but she loves her husband.
For that reason I’m stepping back again – no more flirting, no more jokes about one for old times sake.
I’ve spent the last 18 months quietly waiting for her, and I’m thinking maybe it’s time to move on

Back on Lonely Street

I split up with Kandi the other night, as likeable as she is I don’t love her, and as easily as I could have stayed with her I would have always have wondered if there was something, someone, else that might have made me happier.

The old me would see as a loss – I am alone again – but the new me sees it as an opportunity, all I have to do is seize it.

Eyes on the prize

In times of stress and uncertainty I retreat into routine, enforcing order on a life I sometimes feel isn’t really mine.

With workplace insecurity and my relationship with Kandi slowly drawing to a close its no surprise that my new found love of the gym has become firmly entrenched in my day-to-day life. I love that my body is changing as I ever so slowly shed fat and gain muscle, but its also partly the comfort of knowing that for four evenings a week I can forget everything else in my life and focus on obtainable goals – one more rep, another few kilos – that keeps me coming back.

The friendship between Inamorata and I is slowly coming back to something approximating what it used to be, we now talk most days via message and on the rare occasions we meet up the chat is free and easy. I still have to occasionally step back and center myself when things get playful, its all too easy for me to get lost in that beautiful, painful place where dreams and memories collide, but until the day our bodies collide again I’m resigned to loving her from afar whilst trying to build a brighter future for myself.

In a universe of infinite possibilities everything is equally likely and improbable, but working towards what you want might just help shift the odds in your favor

Dark days indeed

I could never have imagined how prophetic the final words of my previous post would be. Last week both Inamorata and I lost members of our respective families, hers heart-wrenching but inevitable, mine more sudden and unexpected.

Inamorata and I had had vague dinner plans for a while before all this happened, but I was still a little surprised when she invited me out to dinner recently – we’d never been out to dinner together locally before (for obvious reasons). The evening went well, and although work talk far outweighed any discussion of our respective losses it was good be able to meet up and chat as friends do.

It wasn’t until later that night as I was tucked up safely in my bed that I realised just how much I missed her…

I know we’re incompatible, and I know that our lives are separate and always will be, but I still can’t help but want her

five steps into a seemingly endless journey

I realized the other day that it’s not over, not by a long shot. Everybody nowadays seems to be looking for the quick fix, instant gratification, but there’s no fixing a broken heart. Emotional heartbreak mirrors physiological cardiac damage, the heart can’t regenerate damaged tissues but it can adapt to cope with it, and this is what I must do.
The five steps outlined in my preceding posts weren’t like the steps in a recipe that when followed correctly result in a great meal or signature dish, they are five tools to allow those of us unlucky enough to still be enamored of our previous partners to begin to move on with our lives.
And therein lays the crux of the matter – it’s still (relatively) early days for me.
Happiness is a journey, not a destination, and whilst there may be setbacks and some days may be harder than others, armed with my new tools I can hopefully make a little more progress each day.

There are dark days on the horizon, but beyond that, who knows….

Step Five – Love Yourself More

I’d never thought about if or how I love myself before reading the article these posts are based on. Depression and suicidal thoughts were just a part of who I was, partly fueled by a negative body image that (bar cosmetic surgery) is beyond my power to correct. In Step Three I elaborated on my inability to let go of past mistakes and for the most part I’m beginning to do so, but this step requires things to be taken one step further, this step requires self-love.

Step FiveBelieve in Yourself

I honestly thought that this was it – I would leave my fiencie, Inamorata would leave her husband and we would live happily ever after.
Obviously things didn’t turn out that way, and for along time after I considered myself toxic, a destroyer of lives and happiness, cursed. I had torn apart my ex’s life, caused untold worry and financial hassle for my own family and, worst of all in my eyes, Inamorata was no longer the happy, smiling woman she used to be.

Time and endless introspection and re-evaluation have taught me otherwise though. I don’t know what’s going on with my ex-fiancĂ©e, she broke contact with me after I told her I was dating Bouncer, but she seemed to be doing well, so all I can do is content myself with hoping she’s still happy and healthy. Inamorata still seems to be happily married, but knowing her as I do I can’t help but sence that, for all the fancy holidays and the love she espouses for her husband, there’s still something missing from her life. This, no matter how much I may wish otherwise, is not something I can influence however, and as such I have to let it be. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to see her happy, but her life is her own and she guards it fiercely so again all I can do is hope she finds the happiness and fulfillment I believe she deserves.

Which leaves only me. After so long believing my life is forfeit and the world would be better off without me coming around to the idea that I am deserving of happiness isn’t easy. I would love to be in a stable, loving relationship with someone who shares my values and treats me well, but the darkness at my core still fights it.
In a recent exchange of messages Inamorata enquired as to how my relationship with Kandi was going – I replied that it’s nice to have someone to spend a bit of time with but I wasn’t sure where it was going. Inamorata responded that it doesn’t matter where it’s going as long as your happy, but that comment got me thinking. I don’t love Kandi, she’s nice enough and the sex is pretty good, but without the emotional draw I feel like I’m just passing the time with her.
Having (begun to) let go of the past I find myself looking to the future. I’ve already resolved to end my relationship with Kandi and continue my search for love (in due time) but the darkness within insists that it’s futile, that I’m doomed to a lingering, loveless life, and that anything positive that happens is only setting me up for yet more heartache and misery.
It’s hard to keep going when deep within yourself all you want to do is die, but I do it every day (more for those around me than for myself).

Loving myself seems to be the only Step that has eluded me so far – I wonder if I’ll ever grasp it

Step Four – Remember : Love is a Beautiful Thing

Love is never wrong. Some may argue that falling in love with, and being loved by, someone who is already married is inherently wrong, but we don’t choose who we love, or when we fall in love with them.

Step FourUnderstand it’s OK to Still Love Her

In the beginning there was lust. We got on like a house on fire, the chemistry was just there. But more than the lust we bonded on a deeper level – we shared our hopes and dreams, spoke truths and recounted events that you wouldn’t share with just anyone.
But through it all she saw far better than me that, whilst we had passion and chemistry, the timing was wrong.

Love in and of itself can’t support a relationship, there’s too many other factors needed that we just didn’t have. Timing was the obvious one – she was married and, to begin with, I was engaged to be married – under different circumstances we could have strung it out into an affair that lasted years if not decades, but that was not to be. From the start she knew she’d never leave her husband, and, as I’d eventually come to realise, she knew that we weren’t really that compatible. So many times she told me that I needed to forget about her and find someone who could love me the way I deserved to be loved – and now I finally understand.

But taking a love that was once white hot and turning it into the fraternal love it (possibly) should always have been isn’t easy. With so much history, so many memories and dreams tied up within it, the love between us has taken time to temper.
Here I must accept the vast majority of the responsibility. In my life I’ve not known much love, but the love I have known has always been intense. Inamorata understood this and knew she couldn’t give me all I needed. It was my immaturity that dragged us down, my own anger at myself for the mistakes I made and that she made obvious that soured things between us, and my own oh-so-slow acceptance that has drawn out what should have been an easy and amicable split into the seemingly endless cycle of on-again off-again friendship.

But all is not lost. I’ve come away stronger and wiser for all the pain I’ve been through, and to top it off I still believe that, though it may never be said aloud, a trace of love still remains between us.
I had my first ‘friendly’ text conversation with Inamorata today – we chatted about work and she enquired as to how things were between Kandi and I, and, slightly strained though it was, it was good to talk to her again without the pangs of yearning or regret that so often accompanied our conversations in the past.
I hold no hope that we will ever rekindle what we had. The passion is passed and I doubt we can ever overcome the wounds inflicted during the long separation process to ever share anything like the friendship we once had, but that doesn’t preclude us from being friendly. Sure, our interactions may be a little clipped and awkward, but beneath it all I still feel we hold each others best interests at heart.

Love is a beautiful thing. It may not always turn out the way you want it to, but its always a blessing to experience it