I planned a trip to Vienna and Budapest for my birthday, today. And all the while I was doing it, I cried. I cried today thinking of the lover. Last birthday I had been excited to get his text messages - love was brewing and I was hopeful. A year later my lover found it too much of a hassle to listen to my plans for a weekend away for my birthday.
We've all felt that camel's back break...and for me, it was this moment. Don't get me wrong...this wasn't about a birthday party. It was the last in a series of hurts spanning from being told he was into younger women to arriving in another country to meet his family only to be told he didn't really want me there but as he'd not had the courage to tell me that before I arrived, he would make the best of it. The best of it, it turned out, was a weekend of humiliation for me.
It came, that day, along with two other very big insults from him, on a day he knew would leave me feeling vulnerable and beat up by the goings on at work. There had been hurt after hurt after hurt for months. But making the worst day of my year a little happier, by helping me to plan a small weekend away to look forward to for my birthday was too much hassle....so I knew it was time to stop the world, right there, get off, and give it a good think.
I didn't talk to him for a week. We made up for 2 days; then we broke up.
I wonder how I could have stayed for so long in what I suspected might be becoming an abusive relationship. I feel ashamed to admit to the many ways he demonstrated his disdain for me. And more, I'm ashamed to admit that it brought out the worst in me. I didn't like the person I became in this relationship, yet the thought of ending things was so so painful. After my mother died, endings have been so much more incredibly painful for me than they were before. We are frail human beings with needs we are loathe to admit: needs for affection, for love, for companionship, for someone to give a damn if we live or die.
Its been 20 years since I've really loved and been loved in a real relationship. Probably thats why it was so hard to let go of this one. I'd been waiting so so long for to feel there was someone I could count on and who would love me again. I'm not really sure this guy ever did love me. He compared me to the women he had 'loved' - all the women he had loved from afar and never dated. I came up lacking - but how could I not? You can't compete with an ideal.
Unrequited love is usually unexpressed love. Its anxst ridden, dramatic, feels intense but its incredibly safe. You can love someone with 'all your heart' and never risk being vulnerable to being hurt. You never risk failure, disappointment, and not being loved back. You never have to work at it.
There were times when I've loved people and never told them. Twenty years ago - the year my last really deep relationship ended (coincidentally, also the year my mother died), I fell for my Economics tutor. Lets call him - for the sake of argument - Professor Hunky. I had a desperate crush on him, but in the depression of losing the love of my life, I had gained 20 pounds and I doubted my attractiveness, desireability and dare I say? Loveability.
I invited him to a dance in the dormitory - and - HE CAME! It was a way too young crowd for him. But he stayed and he danced with me. For a moment, time stood still in a perfect moment where anything was possible between us, and there was no disappointment looming. We danced to the tune by Modern English.
And for that moment, I stopped the world.
This small moment has been preserved, in my heart, like a secret treasure for 20 years. But, who knows who Professor Hunky really is? I am sure he's a lovely man, but how would I know? The fantasy of meeting the ideal partner you've always dreamed of, of love at first sight, of finding 'the one' you'll spend your life with, of that love that would be so intense it conquers all and everything just falls into place - and you just melt into one another and all your failings with relationships would fall away because it is all so effortless - I think that is just a load of bollocks. The fantasy that he really loves me if he brings me a cup of tea when I'm sick, but says insulting and demeaning things to me is partial. You have to reconcile the whole relationship...not just the parts you want to see.
It shouldn't be a battle; but yes, love is hard work. To me, loving someone means being able to trust them and being trust worthy in return; it means putting their happiness at the top of your list; sometimes even before your own. Loving someone means approaching them with kindness and a desire to see them happy. Loving someone means wanting and trying every day to be your very best for them, not giving them your worst.
Idealisation is a hindrance. My rose coloured glasses - even at my waning age - gave me to believe he has to be 'into you' if he's living with you and sleeping with you. Of course there were good times and sweet times and thats what made it so hard to see - in the end, his actions gave a clear message: He's just not that into me. And worse: I was becoming his emotional punching bag.
I'm no longer into anyone who isn't into me enough to treat me with kindness.
My birthday is 2 months away but I planned a trip for myself today. I'm giving myself the love I want to receive from another. I've never considered myself to have been in an abusive relationship before, but now I think I may have slipped unawares into the ranks of the silent majority of women who have been in one.
Yes, I'm hoping 44 will bring a whole lot of good things...a renewed sense of self esteem, a real confidence in myself and a resolve about new standards in how I want to be treated. And, the courage to face the pain of walking away when those standards are lacking. Maybe, then, there WILL come a day when I will find someone who is so into me that he will want to work to earn my trust...someone in whose realistic, flawed, but basically kind, vulnerable, honest and decent arms I really can stop the world, and melt...