Scrolling down my emails on my work blackberry something is very clear- the last few days I have spent far too much of my time in the office flirting and far too little time working.
After a fair amount of flirting and copious amounts of emails being pinged across the row of desks, I'm going out with the new guy in our department on Friday for drinks.
As I explained guiltily to Rhianna:
"I've been email flirting with Chris... But I don't fancy him - he's just SO good to flirt with!"
And all of that statement is true- I don't fancy him, I just like pretending that I do... And I imagine he's the same - his asking me out for drinks wasn't asking me on a date, after all, banter is banter, banter isn't a relationship. So hopefully it won't be awkward and I won't get carried away beyond the bounds of flirting.
As for Sam, I seem to be more attracted to the older brother everyday. All I keep thinking is of his arms underneath that shirt - the rugby player, gym addict body that I crave for. Hell, that's all I want. He's sweet though, we are awkward together, like two shy people trying so hard to be cool and confident in front of each other - totally different to me with Chris where I'm an excess of bubbly, easy extrovertedness. Thing is though, I know I'm not his type and he's not mine, but apparently physical attraction counts for a lot. Is Sam attracted to me? Possibly, but we both know we would have nothing in common beyond sex.
Today I am in The Hague - the virtual, sleek city where cars and bicycles speed along cleanly down the wide open streets.
While most people might think business travel is glamorous, I can already say that the opposite is true for me. I lose control of my food. I lose control of my exercise regime. And those two little things make for a very stressed Ophelia.
Lunch was client entertainment. I ate half of the bread roll which had come with the rest of my extravagant salmon salad - which meant I had to go back to my hotel room before my next meeting to throw up. I danced around my two-floor luxury suite and sang jazz songs aloud.
Dinner was another work affair - a sit down meal with my boss: the woman who hired me knowing that I'd just come straight from 'treatment' for an eating disorder. Of course she believes that I am better now, but the cracks in the mask are impossible to hide sometimes, and I could feel the brave exterior begin to crumble in front of her eyes across the table. 'I have issues with potatoes... is it weird if I just have a starter and a soup? ...' I could feel myself losing control of the situation.
I cursed the fact that I had to eat. Why did people consider this mealtime shit normal? Why did we have to do it?
The second it was over I went back to my room, threw up again and hurriedly pulled on my trainers and headed to the hotel gym for an hour on the treadmill.
Client entertainment. Business Travel. Impossible to live cleanly.
I just want to be CLEAN.
The second I landed back at London City airport on Thursday evening I began to binge.
I was stressed. I was in my favourite black dress and heels. It was Mike's last day. He was going out with a few people from his department - no one from our side of the office got an invite.
I'd spent the whole of last night throwing up and drinking down laxatives knowing that I had to look good for the last time Mike saw me and had to look good for when I went out with Chris that evening.
Why? Why did I care about Chris?
He hadn't spoken to me yet all day. What if he'd changed his mind or forgotten?
I pinged him an email: "Space in your schedule for lunch?"
He walked past and nodded covertly. I gave a little nod to say I'd seen.
So we went for lunch together and sat by St Pauls. I had half a pot of soup. He questioned this but did not push it.
I came back to my desk worried. I had started to really become attracted to him now. I sent Rhianna a BBM:
"I shouldn't have gone for lunch with Chris... I think we flirt more than is good, and now I worry about my conduct tonight."
"It's his wit and charm - he is soooo nice - like you can tell - but his looks are ok - he is cute - he is skinny though - not your type!"
"I know - but I'm going to get drunk and do something silly. I get really up for it after a few."
She was right, Chris isn't my type - I'd said that numerous times. He's a good looking guy, charming, easy-going and straight-talking. He's fairly older than me, 30 at least, and would probably never be making a six figure salary. I loved flirting with him and I loved the attention he gave me. I loved that he was forward enough and confident enough to do that.
We left work after everyone else. I suppose it was good that no one saw us.
The City bar we were in was a hive of men in expensive suits. My eyes were wondering all evening and I had to keep forcing myself to keep my eyes in his direction. Despite this, it started to become clear after a few hours that it wasn't just friendship on the cards.
"Does Rhianna know you're here?"
He raised a surprised eyebrow. He clearly hadn't told anyone else - which made me feel conscious that this was a bigger deal than I'd anticipated. This was a date. This was him figuring out if there was potential for more.
I had been kidding myself that this was two mates having a drink, deep down I knew he must have been attracted to me. There's no such thing as harmless flirting - not to the extent that we had been. He asked me outright to go for drinks with him. I knew it wasn't innocent, I knew he didn't just want friendship, that was never the agenda, and I never behaved as if it was either. And yet, I'd walked into this situation telling myself that that I was going for drinks with the new guy for a bit fun.
We talked openly. I talked too much. He had me pegged. I felt sad. I feel sad. He's front office for a reason. He's charming and persuasive, a confidence trickster, a talker, and pusher, a passive aggressive.
I did everything to hold things back from him but he coerced it all out of me.
I told him about Mike and Sam, I told him I was an uncontrollable flirt, that I loved sex, that I was ashamed of my behaviour, that I wasn't a nice girl.
I told him why I only ate half a pot of soup all day.
"Looking at you from behind while you stood at the bar just now - I don't get it - you have an amazing body and incredible legs."
I sighed. "But you know that means nothing to me."
"I know," he replied. "My first impression of you when I met you was that you were really arrogant...But I kind of understood why you would be."
I raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"Well, you walked past the desk and I couldn't help but turn my head secretly to watch you. You had an amazing body and were arrogant about it, which was understandable and to be honest, I liked that, it was hot."
I felt slightly sick. I knew people had this impression of me and I hated it. People see me as a bitch, as a snob, as someone who thinks she is amazing, an untouchable princess who parades with her nose stuck up in the air. I know. But it's a barrier, it's a barrier. God dammit, I spent all evening bent over a toilet and all day pulling at myself in front of a mirror to walk across the room like that.
I would have needed to be a lot more drunk to get with Chis that evening. I liked him a lot, but I didn't want anything more. I am certain of that.
Nonetheless, I had led him on.
"I want to have sex in the office before I leave," he said. "Either at a desk or in the toilets. It would be easy, in the evening after everyone has gone."
I looked at him shocked. I knew why he was saying this to me. I'd told him I loved sex, I'd told him I loved the risk of getting caught. I'd listed him as one of the people in the office I'd sleep with.
"Ophelia...Maybe next time xx" he texted me as soon as we parted. I knew what he meant although I pretended I didn't. He hadn't asked me back to his, but he thought that's what I wanted and felt the need to reassure me. Next time.
I walked to find my night bus. Shit, shit, shit I murmered to myself. Shit. How was I going to get myself out of this.
"I think you are awesome." He sent minutes later.
Shit, shit, shit.
"Haha, I think you're sweet." I replied.
"That's the nicest thing you've said to me all evening!"
I felt guilty. He wasn't joking. He'd paid me compliments all evening and I'd given him nothing back. I hadn't said anything like 'I think you're hot', or 'I fancy you', or 'thanks I had a great evening, let's do it again'. I'd given him nothing.
Because I'm not a liar.
I didn't want this. I don't want more with him. I adore him - as a friend. And I shouldn't have been so desperate for attention that I led him on in the way I have.
He sent me a text the next morning:
"Fancy doing it again next week or weekend?"
I'm running a half marathon next Sunday so I was able to use that as an excuse. I told him I wasn't able to go drinking until afterwards. Hopefully in a week he will have forgotten about me...
I'm turning into something uncontrollable. I'm in a dangerous City where I'm finding a power I never had before or never knew how to use. This job has taught me how to perfect my front office game. I can get a guy to go out with me, I can twist my words, I can pitch, I can charm, I can perform my act, and I'm so addicted to ambition that I can't stop playing to win. I'm at risk of turning into a different kind of monster. A monster that uses men for her own needs, plays games that hurt others, walks across the room like a stuck-up bitch and means it.
"I'm ashamed of the person that I am. Nice girls aren't flirty, aren't sexual, aren't overtly confident," I had told Chris.
"There's nothing wrong with that," he replied.
But you know what, the one lesson I have learnt, blunt and irresponsible as this is to say, I do not lie on this blog, I show you all the good and terrible things about me, so here's the truth:
A woman derives so much power from her looks. I have an eating disorder because I have experienced how true this is. I will never let go of the importance of beauty or the power it brings.
Hillary Clinton meme
9 months ago