Saturday, 17 May 2014

Wanting

We both knew what we wanted - of that there is absolutely no doubt.
We didn't have to say anything, from the start of the week, right up until the point where I was naked in his bed; we both knew.

About two weeks ago Gareth and a few of our colleagues had arranged to have a night out this Friday. We had a pretty tight knit group of 6 who often lunched together at work, but this was one of the few times we were actually going out together. From Monday Gareth was pestering me like he had before: 
"Are you coming out on Friday, are we going out out, are we gonna have a big one..." 
"Yes", I had replied, "of course." And I booked my waxing appointment and blowdry for Friday lunch, my mind made up about what I wanted. 
I had been thinking what would I regret more; sleeping with him or not sleeping with him. I decided on the latter. I'd not been with anyone since Joe left in January and more than that, thoughts of Gareth were continually running through my head. In meetings I would suddenly come to with a jerk having dozed off into reminiscing about his clothed body rubbing against mine two weeks ago.

When he came back from Barcelona it was terrible, I was wracked with anxiety and stress, wondering if he had slept with Naomi. I was snappy and highly-strung, lashing out at every little thing. Gareth noticed and kept asking me what was wrong. I knew he knew why, so I didn't feel the need to respond. 

When I messaged him about it later he said that nothing had happened between him and Naomi (don't worry I don't take his word for it) but having spent loads of time with her had made it difficult. 
I was exasperated more than angry. So I asked him, "Why don't you just tell me to forget everything that happened in the last few weeks? It was clearly just a mistake. That's fine."
"No, why do you think that?"
"Because all you keep telling me is how you might like Naomi! What am I supposed to take from that?!"
"It's not like that."
"I know I pretend to be a brave, hard bitch that doesn't care, but I do."
"I know you do. You don't have to tell me."


On Wednesday we had lunch together and I took the opportunity to speak to him about it face to face. He talked candidly about how tough he was finding it all. Of course I shouldn't have sympathy for a lying, cheating waste, but I understood to an extent. He told me this year had been the worst of his life, how he didn't know what to do, his girlfriend wanted to move in, etc, etc. I told him there was no point in life being perfect, that lessons were good for us, the more shit you go through the stronger you are: just like me.
Just like a mess like me.
"You really fucked things up between us you know," I said bluntly. 
"Did I!? Did I...", he bit his tounge not knowing what to say.
"Yep." I paused to wait for an apology or acknowledgement. None came. "You shouldn't have said the things you did to me. It was really unfair."
"But it was all true."
"NO. You said you knew what you wanted and your mind was made up. That isn't true!" 
I waited.
"Yeah, okay..." He said humbly, "I'm sorry."
I swallowed and looked away. "So I think we should go back to being just friends..." 
He nodded, clearly unable to speak/not knowing what to say.

And it could have been left just there. I cancelled my blowdry on Friday. But then it went back to "Are you coming out on Friday, are we going out out, are we gonna have a big one..."
And I rebooked the blowdry again. 
What would I regret more? 
 
The game, I still loved playing the game. Whatever happened, the aim of the game was to be the one on his mind on Friday, for him to want me. Always, I just wanted to be wanted.

And so Friday came, and I got my wax and I got my blowdry (Gareth loves curls on me), and I put on my pretty dress. And out we went with our group of friends. Throughout the evening there were moments here and there when I would catch his eye and we would give each other a knowing look. It's terrible that there was never really any doubt in my mind that we were going to sleep together that night. Finally, the others dropped off and Gareth, Kevin, Matt (both work colleagues that were good friends with Gareth - but not part of our original group that evening) headed out to our new favourite haunt - Cargo.

By the time we arrived it was gone 1am so we didn't have much time. The dynamics were quite strange in that Gareth was good friends with Kevin and Matt and made it clear that we would all stick together that evening. Also, I was having a harder time than usual crossing over the drunk line - obviously not stone cold sober, but with a lot clearer head that the last time we had been out. But then our problems were solved... in the middle of the dance floor, Kevin and Matt suddenly disappeared into thin air and we couldn't spot them anywhere. Before I knew it, Gareth was leading me over to the side and pulling me in to kiss. Of course I didn't relent.

Before closing at 3am we started looking for the two lost boys. Despite sending several messages, Gareth was getting no reply so we left and started walking back South. Neither of us mentioned the situation until I finally piped up: "So, would I be able to sleep on your sofa?" He said yes, one of his flatmates was away anyway so I could have his bed if I wanted. 

Shortly before we got to his flat, Kevin called to see where we were. Gareth told him and added that he could come and stay at his too. I was somewhere between shocked and confused. This must mean that I really WAS going to sleep in his flatmates bed and Gareth genuinely had no intention of sleeping with me. I am not going to lie, a part of me was disappointed, but a part of me respected this. When I had asked him if he was going to sleep with Naomi in Barcelona he had said "I'm not doing anything with anyone until I know what I want." I had also told him only a few days ago that we should go back to being just friends. 
It made sense. 
But it didn't make sense. We both knew why we were here, why we'd gone to so much effort to go out and go to Cargo - only 30 minutes ago he was kissing me up against a wall...

So we got to his, went to the kitchen, made a cup of tea and sat soberly in front of the TV. I felt awkward, unsure if he wanted me there, unsure of what had happened before and what to do now.
So I downed my cup of tea, stood up and asked if he had a spare t-shirt for me to sleep in as I was off to bed. He seemed subdued but I didn't know what else to do. I wasn't going to sit there drinking tea waiting for Kevin and Matt to arrive. He bought me a t-shirt and I thanked him and said goodnight, closing the bedroom door behind me. I got changed and got into bed.

Almost immediately, a methodical thudding began. Gareth was kicking a football against the wall of the corridor outside, thud, thud, thud. Two things - frustration and attention. I knew he was thinking about why I had just gone into a different bedroom on my own when we were alone in his flat together. I hesitated for a minute, and then decided I was sure enough in my thoughts and so was he. I poked my head round the door.
"What are you doing?!"
"Having a kick." He carried on, barely looking at me.
"Why?"
"Getting rid of steam."
"Well, go watch TV or something."
"No," he replied almost sulkily.
"Seriously..."
He stopped and came into the room, and I crawled back into the bed, aware of my state of half undress. He started playing with some of the things in the room, and then started joking and playing with me the way he did when he was trying to get close. Suddenly he paused at the end of the bed and looked at me for a moment.
"I'd like to cash in on the promise you made me about after Barcelona."
"Ohh." I looked at him intently, half smiling.
"You remember that don't you?"
I nodded, "Yes," and he grinned, climbed on to the bed and started kissing me.
"But Kevin is going to turn up at any minute!" I protested, genuinely anxious about him turning up on the doorstep in the middle of the situation.
"They're a good half an hour behind us," Gareth said confidently, "Don't worry."

We'd barely even started to get undressed when the doorbell started buzzing. It was Kevin, a lot earlier than anticipated.
"You've got to answer it," I said.
"It's ok, he'll go away," said Gareth, carrying on.
The buzzing persisted, and after getting no response with that, banging and clanging started. We tried to block it out, but it continued, more and more aggressive and frightening.
"You have to answer it," I insisted again. "He's your friend."
"It's fine, seriously, he'll leave in a minute."
But he was clearly not going anywhere.
"He's going to wake other people up!" I said, genuinely fearful of the absolute racket that was being made.
Buzzing and buzzing, banging and clanging.
I pushed Gareth off me. "I'm sorry," I said, "I can't do this while he's outside making this racket."
It was almost funny; what we'd been thinking about for so long, was so close to happening, and then foiled just as we'd decided to make the leap.

We agreed that I would stay in his flatmates room and he would say that he had been asleep and not heard the noise. He turned the light off and went to let Kevin and Matt in. I hid down under my covers and dozed off.

I was woken up shortly afterwards by my phone buzzing. It was Gareth calling. Confused and half-asleep I answered.
"Well that was bad timing," he said.
I laughed softly, "Yeah.." I asked where Kevin and Matt were and he told me they were asleep in the living room. He told me to sneak into his room next door.
I had fallen asleep before even having had the time or energy to think about what had happened and whether we would get the chance for it to happen again. Gareth had clearly gone back to his room and thought out a plan to get round it easily.

So I sneaked into his room.
"So are we going to do this all over the bank holiday?" he asked. (Gareth, Kevin, me and a few others were planning to go away on a trip at the next weekend.)
"That's the only reason I'm going". I replied.
But all the time he kept holding back - he didn't want them to hear - didn't want Kevin to know - can't go crazy - I just can't relax....
And he asked me to sneak back out  of his room again when it was over - in case Kevin should walk in.
"In the morning, after they've gone, we can go crazy," he said.

But the morning came, and by 11am, I could still hear voices. I wasn't going to try and out-wait Kevin and Matt like a fool. So I got dressed and poked my head round the kitchen door where the voices were coming from. As it was, only Matt was still there, but it was clear that he had no intention of leaving anytime soon. I immediately announced that I was leaving, wanting to get away as quickly as possible. Gareth and I looked at each other. "Ok", he said, clearly both wanting to say more but unable to with Matt there. He said everything he needed to with the sorry look in his eyes.

Then, Gareth asked me if I'd heard any banging last night. "No?" I replied as innocently as I could, and Matt told me how they had been ringing and banging to be let it. "Oh no..." I said, acutely aware that my acting skills were terrible in the heat of the moment. So I backed out as quickly as I could and said goodbye.

A few hours later Gareth sent me a message:
"Hope you got back ok. I am off home for the weekend to see the parents, girlfriend and co. Enjoy your weekend :) "

I chose this with my eyes fully open. We both knew what we were doing.


 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

"Just another stage - pageant the pain away"


"People always leave." That's what I'd told my therapist in one of our last sessions together. "Men always leave. They will die or leave you for someone or something else. That's what I've seen from my life."

There was never a man standing by my side to hold my hand or look after me. Even now I make it clear that is neither what I expect or even want from a relationship. I've never been anybody's little princess. I could never be. The thought of someone looking after me and doting on me and treating me 'like a princess' feels so wrong. It feels WRONG?! 
I want to be an equal. I want to split the bill for dinner. I don't want to feel owned or controlled in any way. I want to know that he isn't weak and needy. Because however weak and needy I am, I will never, ever display that side to him. 

And that's where it goes wrong. Sure Gareth knows I have issues with food and how I look (note: 'issues' not bulimia). But the girl he has hung out with for the last 6 months is also outspoken, bold, strong, fun-loving, tough, independent and takes no shit.
Sound like me?
Or sound like my favourite role play? 
Damn the stage. Why can't I get down off it.
 
He thinks I'm the type of girl who will go out and have a bit of fun and not give a damn about the consequences. He thinks I'm the type of girl that HE can have a bit of fun with. Cos I'm THAT type of girl. 
 
And I'll hold my hands up. It's totally my fault he thinks that. Because that's the role I play. 
And the award for best actress goes to... 
 
Why do I act? Cos I'm the opposite: fragile, lonely, frightened, bruised and hurting. And oh my god, how desperately  I don't ever want a man to see that. I don't ever want a man to know that he can hurt me so easily. I want him to know that when he leaves I won't give a shit because I've got it all sorted on my own. Men always leave. 
 
I like Gareth because I know he'd leave. He'd cheat and lie and ultimately leave. Successfully fulfilling my prohecy. My therapist had said that's why I chose them. 
 
Even that stupid boy Joe. I tried to do the right thing and date the straight, boring good boy. And he fucking left me anyway. Fucked off on a tour of South America for 4 months while my brain and body were breaking down. Ok, I could have kept up the pretence if I'd wanted to and stayed with him for this time. But almost as soon as he'd got on the plane the love had been completely drained. He wasn't my boyfriend, he was a stranger, sending me sporadic whatsapp messages. A stranger, indifferently typing: 'I miss you' or 'I love you'. When I broke it off he didn't fight back. He just said, "I suppose it's for the best right?" He didn't want to fight for me. 
He let me walk away and didn't look back.
 
Gareth gets back from Barcelona today. I had set myself a challenge of not mesaging him. Unfortunately I broke. And he hasn't replied (granted he probably doesn't have wifi for whatsapp). But still it was enough to make me spiral. Yesterday was a three time binge and vom. Sneaking off to the corner shops to buy cake and stuff it into my face before I came back. Purge, purge, purge. Purging myself of all the pain - no, of all the numbness, of all the sickness. I've also been exercising like crazy - obviously - since Gareth and I both both work out in the bank gym together. I want to be the super hot girl with the abs in the crop top and tiny shorts.


Yes. Just another stage.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

"Feeling 22, acting 17"

Except at 26, neither feeling 22 nor acting 17 is okay.

All the secrets I have to keep.

I can't tell anyone what I did last night. Except the whole world here, with my anonymous face.
Hiding.

Because I know I should be ashamed.

In Pieces: a Collection of Surrealist and Silent Short Stories, Inspired by Everyday Life and Human Relationships

Marion Fayolle

All week I had been thinking about Gareth. Thinking, longing, dreaming - at the expense of my work and my sanity.
But the strangest thing happened to my eating. No binges, no starving, no vomiting, just level-headed control. Was it the faux joy?

We spoke every day: whatsapp, office messenger, lunches in the bank restaurant and 'meetings' in the bank coffee shop, sessions in the gym and runs along embankment. No sense for being sensible and holding back, getting closer and closer. I wanted to be closer and closer. I kept thinking about having my hands on him. Fuck him. Fuck him for literally putting those thoughts firmly in my mind. And damn me for going back to being the fuck up I'd suppressed for so long.

It's no coincidence that my one-year hiatus from the blog coincided with my one-year relationship with Joe. No drama, literally no drama, no trouble, no distractions, just calm: A falling asleep of the senses.

Look at me now, behaving like the girl I was at 17, at 22. A flirt and a mess, choosing the pretty boys over everything else. I should be a fucking grown up.



I didn't go on my date with Josh. Instead I went out with Gareth, his flatmate and two of his flatmates friends. There was something fateful in us ending up in Cargo (club in Shoreditch) again. Like some crazy deja vu - except this time we could do it all the way we wanted to: we could kiss.

I'm sorry. I'm sorry for feeling the thrill when I was getting ready, putting on my dress and heels, looking into the mirror and knowing it was still going to happen however I looked. I'm sorry for wanting it.

Before I left the house I made the decision I wasn't going to have sex with him - and ensured that I wouldn't be tempted by not doing my usual preparations.

And so I finally got to do what I'd wanted to do a month ago - I kissed Gareth in Cargo. Kissed and kissed him. I nearly died of joy when he lifted me and kissed me - like I'd only seen in movies before. I could let go, I could be, I could live and feel and breathe...

I went back to his, asking to sleep on his floor. The sofa was taken up by the flatmates friend. Gareth's floor was hard and cold. So I got into his bed. And so did he.

I kept myself clothed - my underwear and one of his t-shirts. He kissed me, and tried, and I relented a little - but I refused to allow his hands under my clothes and refused to sleep with him. I thanked myself for my forward thinking.

And then he let me go and poured his heart out: How he didn't want to break up with his girlfriend and make a mistake, but how he could never propose to someone when so many people knew what he'd done, how it felt at the bank with everyone knowing, that it would only be acceptable for him now to be with Naomi - the girl he'd been sleeping with at the bank (she has a boyfriend so this is not a simple solution either), that he'd have to leave the bank, that he'd been so distracted and substandard at work, that he didn't know how he felt about Naomi and if he had stronger feelings for her. And then the best bit: he, Naomi, Kevin and a number of other their friends at the bank are going on a holiday to Barcelona on Wednesday (yes I know, fucking hell), how it's expected that he and Naomi will sleep together because everyone knows, how Kevin encourages it, how Kevin is jealous of him and Naomi, how it's all a mess, Ophelia, it's such a mess...

I felt utterly deflated.
Two things weren't as true and clear as he had made out to me in his messages: he was not going to leave his girlfriend for me, and he was not going to forget about Naomi so easily.

"Why did you say the things to me that you did?" I said sadly and quietly.
"Because it's true, if I were single..."

And then he seemed to think it was ok to carry on kissing me more, like I couldn't hear and couldn't feel.

And I seemed to think it was ok to say I'd sleep with him when he came back from Barcelona.