Love looks different this time.
I thought, and correct me if I’m wrong that love was supposed to be this soul hugging, sinking-like-quick-sand, overbearingly obsessive can’t-live-without-you feeling. Where you spend every waking minute with that one being, who lights up your heart and makes you believe in every fairytale you’ve ever read. That one person who believes in you when you have doubts in yourself and you truly believe you can’t live without.
It’s so hard when that person you have wholeheartedly and unconditionally loved breaks your trust because you doubt every single sign and niggle that urks you inside reasoning with yourself that “No. This is my foreverafter”.
“We were meant to be forever“.
It took me a long time to come to terms with that fact. So many sleepless months where I woke up checking phones I couldn’t unlock and that had no trace of evidence left behind. My weight had plummeted and my skin therapist educator at night school was baffled at why my skin was at it’s worst with unmanageable acne. So many of those nights I wanted to avoid driving home. This constant sick feeling in my stomach was what I had accepted as my new normal.
Most people had no idea what was going on in my life. I was a state away from my family and friends and I didn’t want anyone worrying about me especially when I had no ‘proof’. I contemplated drowning myself in the bathtub at home many times because I just wanted the pain to end. Maybe I should run away. Maybe I should stay, rent a place in Rose Bay, buy my sausage dog and create my own happy ever after. I weighed up so many options all while I was being told I was crazy, and creating things in my head that weren’t true. ‘Emotional abuse’, was what one of my friends used to describe what I was going through – she had heard about it on Oprah.
I fell in love for the first time at 18. I met him over the phone through work and he made me laugh and smile and we would talk for hours. There was one issue, he was in Sydney and I was in Melbourne. I’d never had a ‘serious’ relationship before so everything was new to me. We started writing letters like pen pals. In one of his letters he was so vulnerable and confided in me that he had one hand, it was how he had been born. But what he lacked without his one hand was made up in his heart and that right there melted me. I had no idea what he looked like, but I cared for him and had such strong feelings that it didn’t matter. I flew to Sydney to meet him and by the end of the weekend we had both said ‘I love you’ and it killed me to leave him. The next 6 months we had set up a joint bank account, our families had met and I had moved to be with him… it just felt so right (and I ignored every sign that told me otherwise).
She was a girl from work (aren’t they all). They had spoken about how if they weren’t with their current partners that they would be together. She would send him pictures asking for outfit advice and I would wonder why? I don’t even ask him for outfit advice. Then there were the pet names and the fact that even though he was supposed to be on the road most days (being in sales) he was making extra trips into the office. Apparently she spoke to my boyfriend more than she spoke to her own. He knew so many details and personal ones at that, about her life I just had to wonder. I was so naïve back then and he knew that, he also knew that there was no possible way of me ever finding anything out no matter how many questions I asked. I was working full time and studying my diploma of beauty therapy at night school in the city 3 nights a week so my plate was well and truly full.
He came back from a work trip one day and had brought me a ring. It was beautiful and so perfect in the shape of a bow – so intricate and delicate from Michael Hill. He would always do thoughtful things like that. Flowers, something special he’d find somewhere on his travels. It was the little things I loved and appreciated. This time I asked him if he had bought it for her? I didn’t want it. It felt like a guilt gift. Had she been with him on his work trip? Did he want to buy it for her but had purchased it for me instead because he’d felt like he had to? Did this mean anything anymore?
I just couldn’t do it. I was so broken.
This was someone I thought I was going to spend my whole life with. I had literally moved my life and pulled myself away from my entire family who I was very close with to be with him. We were house hunting and had literally almost bought one. Another ‘sign’ I failed to see.
I found out that his Mum had actually encouraged him to pursue this girl, it wasn’t her fault in any way but her words to him were “you don’t owe anything to Daniella”. No he didn’t, but common decency would have and should have told him to end things with me first before he decided to do whatever he was doing.
She was a woman I had trusted and loved like another mother. I had shared things with her I didn’t trust with many people and I felt like I had been used and cast aside. I’m far from perfect but loyalty is extremely important to me. If I could describe their mother-son relationship it was beyond close that it was almost incestuous (which I had failed to truly notice). She knew intricate details about my sex life apparently that she had shared with her other daughter in law and her family.
I am an extremely private person so when her daughter in law called to find out exactly what was going on with our breakup I found out so many things that absolutely crushed my soul. His Dad on the other hand was absolutely beautiful, he had adopted me like the daughter he never had. He was the kind of man who would take the shirt off his back and would be there for me whenever I needed it. He didn’t like going out, other than going to work but he made the effort to visit me in my apartment before I left and promised to come and visit me in Melbourne. Even when I had moved back to Melbourne he would call and check up on me and ask me to come and visit.
The day the “new” girlfriend had been brought home to meet the family, his Dad told me he had locked himself in his bedroom because he couldn’t open his heart to someone else because of me and how much I still meant to him. He was so disgraced by how I was treated and it was him who had confided in me that his wife was the one encouraging the ‘cheating’. He called her a witch and absolutely despised her, and I pitied him so much.
I’ll never know. I still don’t know. I don’t even think he would have the heart to tell me now if I’d asked him all these years later. I know he wasn’t proud of how he acted, I know he held a lot of regret and she knows too that he never loved her the way he had loved me. I’m not saying that in a way of having something over her, it was merely what was repeated to me. He couldn’t understand why. Why he didn’t care about her in that way after they had “officially” gotten together when I ended things.
Sometimes I wonder, if a relationship is built on deceit then is that the right foundation to make things work? Especially when you could have gone about it in a respectful way?
The story told to all of his/our friends was very different from the truth. I think it may have been about me wanting to return home to Melbourne or some other lie. Oh I think “he” ended it possibly, it was all a twisted tale. Only one of the wives in our group who I was extremely close with knew the truth but I kept my mouth shut. Sometimes it isn’t worth the fight just to have your point of view pushed across and at the end of the day, is it really anyone else’s business? He had to live with what he had done, I just had to live with how it had affected me.
The day I left Sydney I left a note on the kitchen bench with my keys beside them. My note was short, it wasn’t heart felt and only stated something about the house. My best friend had flown up to Sydney to drive home with me. Part of me feared his mum might actually do things out of spite because I had somehow unearthed some truths to his extended family once things all came to light. I was itching to get out of there and just go home.
About a year later I reached out, I had this feeling that things weren’t right with him. I’d had enough time to come to terms with things and I had just needed space. We hadn’t spoken at all, and I left every trace of a memory of him in Sydney. Every little thing he ever bought me was inside a storage box I left in the spare room. My first rugby jersey, every little piece of jewelry, every letter, every card and anything else I could think of. I wanted none of it. I went through his friends wife, quizzing randomly if everything was OK? She confirmed my gut feeling. He was still with her but he wasn’t in a good place. I reached out, and the reception from him was perfectly warm and neutral. I think a part of us had missed each other because we were such great friends too.
He told me that he was with her and that he wasn’t happy. They had just celebrated her birthday and he didn’t even want to organise anything which is a far cry compared to what we had always done together and the effort he had made. He was very much like his Dad in that caring, giving way. He had tried to leave and she told him that she’d kill herself if he did. I said “Well, give her a knife, I can promise you she won’t do it”. Very bold and ballsy (totally unlike me) but I believe that’s crossing a line and in my opinion the people who threaten people never actually do it – him leaving her was not going to end her life. At the end of the day, I simply wanted to know that he was OK but I told him that as long as he was with her I couldn’t be his friend. He broke up with her the next day.
It was never about me getting her back or hurting her in any way, but I didn’t want anything to do with her, and I also didn’t want her feeling how I had felt with someone else lingering in the background even though I had no intension of ever rekindling things.
Moving forward, we never shared a kiss, we never slept together, we were simply just friends. Best friends. I would fly to Sydney and stay with him in our old apartment (that he still rented once I’d left) and he surprised me and flew down to Melbourne to support me through my Nannu passing. In the beginning he begged me to get back together, he promised me everything I had ever wanted. Travelling overseas together, getting engaged, him moving to Melbourne. I could have said jump and he would have said ‘how high?’. But I had closed that chapter and a part of me would always remember what he did and fear he would do it again. It’s not a way to live and it wasn’t fair to hold that over him and create some invisible boundary.
I stopped talking to him after I met Luke. Luke’s thinking is a little old school. That boys and girls can’t be friends. I don’t agree with that and we had always joked that we would end up being at each others weddings. The biggest thing for me is that I knew being in his life would stop him from meeting his next soul mate (because no, I don’t believe it’s just ONE person anymore). The other massive realisation that I had was that he knew me so well, too well. That I would constantly set that bar so high it wouldn’t give my new relationship a chance if I constantly compared how he was with how it was now. I didn’t want him knowing me better and somehow sabotaging something in my brain because I couldn’t build up to that standard. So I let him go. It’s shameful on my part because I ghosted him and stopped returning his calls and messages, but I couldn’t do it. He would think of every reason to stop me and I had to do it this way, and I’ll always be sorry for that.
I’ve learnt that sometimes people aren’t meant to be in your life forever. There is a purpose to every person you meet. Whether it be to teach you a lesson or to help you find something in yourself, to heal a wound or to simply sprinkle joy and hope. Not everything lasts, and that is OK. It’s not meant to. What’s meant for you will always have a way of finding you when you least expect it to. But most importantly, always lead with LOVE.