Friday, 6 April 2012

I only know how to fight

Sorry for making the blog private for a few weeks. I wanted to be isolated from the piercing eye of the internet for a while...

It's been a long time since I've sat down and written a proper update - and for those of you who read regularly, I apologise, sometimes it's very easy to forget that people will miss you when you disappear. Thank you to those who have emailed and reminded me to come back, those words have been key in helping me. Thank you to anonymous for the beautiful dance clip on youtube, to NC for the kind words of support regarding the CFA, I will definitely need kind words as crunch time approaches! Thank you to Alice, Loulou, and everyone who commented on the last post with your support. Sometimes I think I should keep your wise words with me all night.

I suppose I should continue the story where I left off - with Theo.
Wow, so much has happened since then. Here's the condensed version:
Theo had lost his phone, genuinely, hence why he hadn't contacted me that weekend.
The following weekend - 18th February - hoping to make things beautiful and wonderful, I took him for a weekend away in a 5* suite in a luxury countryside hotel. I drove there and I paid for everything, the luxury suite and the exquisite dinner and wine.
In all this time I think it's fair to say things between us didn't really improve. I spent 90% of my time hating him, and 10% of my time being in love with him.
I wanted him to love me so much, or rather, I wanted him to let me love him. I wanted to make him so happy, I wanted to give him the world, everything I had, every ounce of my soul. But I couldn't when he always kept me at arms length away.

It came to a head a month ago. One Friday night - 9th March - we had the leaving drinks of one of the senior people in his department. I had made it clear how glad I was to finally get to see him that week.
He ignored me all night. Then when we started texting it was too late. He didn't stop me, I went home.
I cried all the way. I cried all the next day. I rung him repeatedly. He wouldn't reply. I told him we had to meet. I hated him. It was over. It was really over, this time it was really over.

I made him meet me at Kings Cross Station that Saturday evening. I drank two mini bottles of Jack Daniels, I was pumped, I was going to tell him to go to hell.

When he finally arrived, I ran into him arms and cried.
I was only angry with him because I had missed him so much and he wasn't there for me. I wanted him to hold me so much.
I just needed him, fucking bastard - all the pain, all the tears and sadness, I just wanted him to hold me and take it all away. He was the closest thing I had in my life to love.

*I started writing this two weeks ago and had to stop because I started crying again and couldn't stop. I am crying again and forcing myself to see the keyboard through the tears*

I just wanted to be with him.

So we went for drinks. And then stayed in a hotel.  ...just like we always do.
And then in the morning, I finally spoke to him.
"I need to know what I am to you"
I demanded over and over, but he didn't want to talk about it, he didn't want to deal with it.
"I can't take it anymore, it makes me so unhappy. I spend half my time not knowing if you like me or not. I live in fear that you'll see me in the office on a day I look bad and think I look fat and ugly and won't like me anymore."
I saw his pain. "That would never happen!"
"But how do I know, how do I know you don't just like me as something to fuck."
He closed his eyes, "You know that's not true."
"How! You never talk to me, you never tell me, I have no idea what I am to you."
"I don't get what you see in me, you should be with someone who treats you so much better. It's like you put all the effort into it and I don't."
"Why don't you put the effort in?"
He shrugged.
"We haven't gone anywhere, we just do the same things that we always do. I feel like if it was meant to be more it would have happened already."
I looked at him in horror, "Because you always keep me so far away! ... I'd love you so much if you'd let me... but you won't let me..."
He clammed his lips shut and stared at me sadly.
"Talk to me!" I demanded, "What am I to you? What do you feel for me?"
"You know I care about you..."
"Really!? How, like a friend? Like a sister?"
"No! Of course not!"
"Then like what!" I said, raising my voice in agony.
"I don't know... I just think you shouldn't waste your time on me. I'm not good for you. You deal with so much and I just make things worse."

Yes, he was right, he did make it worse. I wanted to find my way into his arms when the days were black, but I was always too scared to ask him to open them up. His continual indifference and coldness towards me when we were apart added a further sting to the constant pain I was in. But in that hotel room in Kings Cross, I felt the emptiness of the anonymous space seeping into our warm bodies, I didn't want to lose him. I had envisaged myself telling him how much I hated him, how much he had made me cry and made me feel worthless. I was going to reiterate how strong and powerful I was and how I didn't need his shit to bring me down. But I couldn't. I didn't want to lose him. I didn't want to go back to being alone.

"No you don't!" I lied, "I'm so happy when I'm with you." True, I was happy when I was with him, but just terribly, unhappy when he forgot I existed the rest of the time we were apart.
"No, I'm bad for you. You should be with someone that gives you their time and attention. When you tell me things about avoiding me because you look ugly, that makes me feel so awful. You don't need that."
So he knew. He knew the pain he had caused me.
"But that's my problem, that's never going to go away, it has nothing to do with you!"
I was fighting a losing battle.

It was 12 noon and we had to check out. We got dressed in silence. But I wasn't going to let him go without a final, absolute resolution.
He stood in the middle of the room, waiting as I got ready. I came to him and hugged him close.

"So, what do you want to do?"
He struggled to find the words, "Do you think it's working?!"
"Yes!" I said, desperately lying. "Don't you?!""
I could see him slipping through my fingers.
He looked at me sadly, "It... it feels like something is missing."
"What?"
He shrugged his shoulders, "I don't know."
"You must know. What? What did you have with your last girlfriends that you don't have with me?"
He continued looking at me intently, "I don't know...it's been so long..."
I shook my head. This was shit. He still couldn't give me a straight answer and I didn't understand it.
"If you don't explain it to me, I'm going to think it's because I'm fat and ugly."
"You know that's not true."
"How do I know that if you don't tell me! Please... tell me."

Two lovers, standing in a grey hotel room, beside the sheets they had loved in. The cold, chilling sunlight pouring in from the window behind me, onto his face, illuminating the childlike flawless glow of his cheeks. Oh God, it was going to end like this. Here.

And then what happened next was like a knife piercing into me.
He stood, staring at me. I stared back into his brown eyes and watched as they started to brim with tears.
No, please, no, Theo, please...
Two small tears fell from each eye.
I knew what it meant and I broke.
"No," I said choking, "don't cry." As I sobbed, he held me close. His eyes, though still full of pain, were dry again almost immediately.

I pulled myself away to the bathroom, still crying, to fix my makeup. I couldn't talk.

We left.

He held my hand as he walked me back to the train station. He held it and I knew he cared.
I still wasn't 100% clear on what had happened. Was it really over?
"You know a few weeks ago when I argued with you, you said you were empty, that you didn't feel anything anymore..."
"I was drunk."
"What did you mean?"
"Nothing."
"Have I been able to make you feel something?"
"That's the first time I've cried in a long time."
I said nothing as we carried on walking. I understood the significance of that. I had never in a million years expected him to cry. Theo was so solid and opaque. Even Alex had never shed a tear when I laid out all my pain in front of him.

"So do you need to think about it?"
"About what."
I shook my head. We were back to feigning ignorance again.
"Well you know how I feel."
"And what's that?"

"I'd love you so much if you'd let me."

My eyes were dry and I said it plainly and in a matter of fact manner. That was the plain truth of this situation and he needed to know it. I would love him and we'd be incredible together - but only if he'd let me in and open himself up.

We got to the train station and I held him so tightly as we said goodbye. I feared I may never hold him again.

He sent me a text message late that evening. "Is everything ok with you? You know you can always talk to me?" I didn't reply. What was I going to do, run to his arms and spill my heart out to him now? It was too late.

I cried for the rest of the weekend. Cried on my way into work on Monday morning, cried in the kitchen over coffee with my friends. I told them it was over and everybody said it was for the best. I knew they believed it.

I remembered the days when I had cried for Alex. It was horribly familiar when I cried the same way for Theo, but by the end of the week I started to relax. I was stronger and more grounded now.

* * *

Theo and I, often two of the last people in the office, started talking again almost immediately afterwards. I had calmed down, and as I sat on the Bloomberg or Reuters machine, he would come and talk to me about what I was working on. We were friends and colleagues still.

Friday 16th March, I sat in a meeting with Theo and his team in the department I want to join. The head of the team, Martin, had prepared a list of questions on our key market views. So I showed off all the knowledge I had.
"You weren't very popular at school were you?" he said jokingly.
I laughed and shook my head. I was being a show off and I knew it, but I didn't care. The deputy head of the department who had turned me down at interview was sitting behind me. I could feel my heart pounding in my throat. Tony, the head of the whole department walked in after I'd finished my performance. He was the man who would make the final decision on whether I carried on my career at this company in his department or not. I couldn't hide my frustration that he had missed me showing off all my knowledge of bonds and markets, all the knowledge he had told me I didn't have.
But then Martin wrapped up the meeting.
"So the moral of this meeting? Learn as much as Ophelia."
I blushed and beamed and looked at the table, avoiding Tony's eye.

As we walked out, everyone patted me on the back,
"Look at you!"
"You smashed it!"
"You made us all look stupid!"

I was sky high. In the pub afterwards, I spoke to Martin. What do I need to do to ensure I get the job next time I interview?
"It's hard," he said. "It will take a hell of a lot to buck the trend. There is so much office politics that you are going to have to get through - only one other person has ever done it - and he was incredibly smart and a perfect fit. Even though you're studying and you're writing, it's not going to be enough. You need to push yourself in front of Tony. You should just start writing analysis for him in the in-house style and send them over. Say you want to do one every week or something. Be around the team, always come and ask questions, make your presence really well known. I'm not going to lie, it's harder because you're a girl, you're never going to be close to Tony like some of the other guys can be, but you need to push yourself in front of him."
I nodded and let it all sink in.

Theo was there, and we were two of the last to leave. He gave me hug and said "Well done today, you were awesome in the meeting." He crossed over the road and left me.

I walked a few paces and sat down. I cried.
I was never going to make it.
I was never going to be good enough and even if I was, they were never going to let me in. Everything pointed against me even though I was throwing everything I could at success.


But I did it, I wrote Tony some analysis.
"I admire your ambition" he replied.
He looked at what I had written and provided constructive feedback. "A big improvement" he said.

* * *

I still maintained a constant hope in my heart that it wasn't really over between me and Theo. He had never theoretically said the words "It's over" and I had left him with the very clear picture that I would love him if he decided that's what he wanted. I couldn't forget those two tears that had fallen from his eyes. He wouldn't have cried if he wasn't hurting.

I sat down at the desk next to him one morning when he was in early and after a few brief, friendly words, decided to ask:
"Are you free one evening soon?"
He looked at me sadly as if to say 'why are you doing this?'
"Maybe."
"When?"
"I don't know... I'll have to check my schedule."
I nodded. "Ok, check you schedule and let me know where you can fit me in."

A few days later on the Bloomberg machine, as we were chatting I brought it up again.
"You didn't tell me when you were free."
"I don't know yet."
"Ok."
He walked away and I nodded to myself, knowing that at least I had tried.
Then he came back. "Next Friday."
I smiled. "Are you sure? Definitely, definitely?"
"Yes."

I spent the whole of the weekend before the Friday (30th March) trying to plan what we could do. A fun bar? A cosy hotel? I couldn't decide. I wanted it to be perfect and I didn't want him to feel like it was the same.
He told me to leave the planning. He wanted to do something quiet - had to be up early the next day.
I cried. Everything makes me cry these days.

Friday came and I decided that I wasn't going to message him first. He was going to message me. At 5pm I watched that he was still there. Come on, message me. Then at 5:30pm I went to look for him and he had gone. I looked over the whole office. He had gone.
I was raging. I called his number repeatedly until he picked up.
"Where are you."
He had gone to for drinks with people from work.
He said we'd meet at eight o'clock instead. I said ok. Call me.

I went for drinks with the girls I worked with at another bar. I kept my phone in my hand.
He didn't call.
I called repeatedly. Over and over again. Until he picked up.
"Where are you. Are you fucking coming or not?! If you're not coming just fucking tell me."
Half an hour later still no sign.
So I called repeatedly. Over and over again. Until he picked up.
"Where are you."
Finally at half nine he called me and I said my goodbyes to the girls. I was so angry.
I came down in the lift and he was there waiting.
I let rip.
"Thanks for a great night out Theo! This has been great! What the fuck! If you're going to fucking cancel on me then fucking tell me! I don't care, but fucking tell me! YOU SUCK. Oh my God you have no idea how much you PISS ME OFF. Seriously, you really fucking piss me off!"
He looked at me sadly.
"I'm sorry."
"Yeah you fucking should be! Who the fuck does that."
I took a deep breath. "Ok, now I've ranted at you let's go have a nice time. I've said what I need to say."
"Where are we going?"
"I don't fucking know! Just get me out of here!"

We went to a bar across the way and he sat down next to me.
I spilled out my guts to him.
Our relationship had failed because neither of us had let the other in. I had pretended to be fit and healthy. I never ran to him for comfort because I was afraid of looking weak and needy. He never let me in, for whatever reasons he had. So I was going to tell him exactly who I was and what I felt. Pretending to be perfect was never going to get us anywhere.

"I'm still in treatment for my eating disorder."
He sighed sadly, "I know. It's kinda obvious."
"Oh. Doesn't it bother you?"
"Nobody's perfect. I just wish you wouldn't push yourself so hard, it's not necessary."
"Do you have any idea what I've been through - what I've lost? When I was ill I lost everything I'd worked for. I had nothing. Do you know what that's like? To fail on that scale? I have to work hard because it's all I have. I have to make it Theo, because if I don't, I have nothing."
"I understand, but it makes me so sad to see. I really want you to succeed, you work so hard and you deserve it so much."
"It's not about how much you deserve it. The world doesn't work like that."
"I know... but I just want you to be happy, don't put so much pressure on yourself."
"I have to. This is all I have..."

All I wanted to do was curl up in his arms.
"I've missed you." I said.
He said nothing. "You shouldn't."
"Well I do."
"You shouldn't waste your time thinking about me. I'm not worth it. I will always do shit things like I did tonight. I'm never going to change."
"I don't care, I don't want you to change. You are who you are. You're shit, I get that, I deal with it."
"Well you shouldn't. You should have the self-esteem to walk away from me."
"Jesus Christ! Any other girl would have walked away from you months ago, but I didn't. I didn't. And you know why? Because I see something different in you. I don't care if you're not a goddam Prince Charming, you understand me. I saw that in you from the beginning, you looked at me and you saw me. You understand who I am, you understand what I've been through. You don't just see the beauty on the outside, you see the beauty on the inside and no-one has ever looked at me like that before.
You're an idiot if you think that I'm here because I'm weak and have no self-esteem. There are plenty of guys I could have if I wanted them. You know that. But I don't want them. I'm not interested in some small-minded city boys who see me as a bit of fun and a good fuck. I'm not interested in any guy that doesn't see who I am inside.
Don't tell me what I should and shouldn't do, I'm big enough to make my own decisions."

We talked for what seemed like forever, all the time, he kept trying to push me away, convince me to walk away.
I kept refusing.
Finally we ended up in a bar near our usual ending place of Kings Cross. I kissed him on the cheek and neck and ear. I had missed the sweetness of his skin so much. He sat there motionless. I could feel his mind buzzing with thoughts. I kissed him on the mouth and he kissed back but then stopped me.
"Why?" I demanded.
"Because."
I shook my head and carried on. I had missed him so much, I didn't want to stop.
He caved in. We went to the hotel.
We had hungry sex. Starving. I must have woken up the whole corridor.

The next day we stayed in bed till noon chatting as he held me tight. At lunch we walked to a nearby pub restaurant and ate a huge lunch. I hadn't eaten for well over 24 hours. So we ate and we chatted, midday turned to afternoon, afternoon to evening as the daylight faded around us and the darkness set in. So we stayed and had dinner and drinks. It was nearly 10pm by the time we left and I went home. All day I had expected him to say those words, "shall we get the bill?" He didn't. He just stayed there with me; me and my company. For all those hours we talked, who knows what about. Sometimes we ran out of things to say and were just silent and I smiled at him. Why didn't he ask for the bill? My eyes were aching from my contact lenses and I was exhausted but I didn't dare suggest I go for fear that it would be seen as a show of not wanting to spend time with him. I can't believe or understand why he would have the same fear.

In the 24 hours we were together I told him everything I could, I kept nothing back. I told him that I used to play games with men, I told him how my Dad had died, I told him I was frightened of never getting better, I told him I was frightened of never being happy. I told him how my eating disorder had started and become manifest, I told him how I had cut friends off, how I had suffered from crippling depression, how my writing and creativity had almost sucked me down and drowned me. I told him how being thin and glamourous never made me happy, how I'd learnt lessons about life the hard way. I told him everything. He barely flinched.
"I've just spent the last 24 hours telling you what a terrible person I am."
"If you had sat there telling me what an amazing person you are I would have known you were lying."

I sent him a present at work a few days later. He broke one of his collar stays while we were sitting at lunch, so I bought him a new pair. They had the skyline of The City on them. I sent them with a message: I hope they inspire you in the last few weeks of CFA study.
He thanked me, "very sweet", he said.

I haven't seen him since, except for glimpses at work. My bulimia is at level 10, high alert. I can't stop eating and I can't keep anything down.
I want to believe he loves me and I'll make it in my career. I want to believe those things so much. I can't give up on Theo and I can't give up on my dreams of making it.
It seems that after everything life has thrown at me, I only have one setting now: fight mode.

I only know how to keep fighting for what I want. I'm not afraid of pain or hard work, I'm afraid of failure.
A wise woman would know how to walk away from a battle she will only lose, but I no longer have the ability to see that option. I only know how to fight.

3 comments:

  1. That's one hell of a re-cap.

    Theo's behavior is so incredibly reminiscent on my own Juan's behavior it's absurd. I just don't buy into the bullshit that they will be who they are and be crappy and selfish and that's ok and we're better off without them. Really? Why can't you, if you care about someone, put their needs before your own. I know it's easier for women to do that as compared to men, but honestly, calling someone or putting in a slight bit of effort is so easy compared to what you receive in return - support, love, understanding, and connection. Really??? UGH! I know my situation isn't entirely the same, but I totally get it.

    As for your ED, I'm glad you're working hard on trying to get it under control - obviously the stress right now isn't helping a bit, but you will be able to beat this. You will be free of this horrible, consuming mentality and be able to feel peace. I just hope it's sometime really soon.

    And as for work - damn girl! Good job! It's wonderful to see you being recognized, even if you have to work harder than the men in your office because of our absurdly misogynistic society. You are smart, capable, and driven, which will get you far. Take the advice of those above you and show them what you've got. You can do it, Ophelia.

    Thanks for the little comment on my post. Things have been bleh around my parts for a while already. Gained a few pounds and can't manage to lose them, let alone keep losing. School/work are crazy busy . Running, when I have time, is going well, and I signed up for a marathon in September. I can't wait to train this summer. I'm hoping that not having classes and just focusing on my work and training will help me get back into losing weight and finally being satisfied. And finally, my heart is still totally broken, but there isn't much I can do about it but love him from far away. I wish life wasn't so complicated, or at least that I could take a break every once in a while...

    So good to hear from you again. <3

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  2. Your life reads like a drama. Something good has to come out of your determination and hard work. I think you're so incredibly brave to be able to confess to Theo like that. Whatever happens, at least you won't be left pondering what ifs. Like desesperee said, it's wonderful to hear from you again.

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  3. Beautifully written, moving and inspirational. As always. It's a hard thing being so close to someone who is still a million miles away. I sometimes think they are more afraid than we are. Of what I wonder?

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