Friday, 28 May 2010

Looking Back

Apologies in advance, as this is going to be a very long entry.

I’ve just come back from a couple of days away where I had to oversee an election debrief with the team leaders from our offices in Manchester and Glasgow. I want to write about something I heard there but I need to put it into context by first re-posting some entries that I published soon after I started this blog. Sorry if you’ve read these already but I need to collect my thoughts and doing this gives me some time to get my head together.

The Second Affair
My second affair happened six years ago but it still feels so recent - probably because I still don’t think I'm truly over it. It was completely different to my fling with Ollie which, let's face it, was only about sex.

It started when one of the directors of the company I worked for, Iona, decided to pursue a better life in Australia and she wanted to see if she could run a branch of the business out there. So, she asked me to join her for a while to help set it up. She also asked a guy called Chris who was part of our team in Scotland. He was someone I knew of but had never actually met.

The offer came at just the right time and it was a challenge I needed. Ewan and myself were having serious problems. If we weren't arguing we had nothing to say to each other. We both decided the five week trip would be a good opportunity to try living apart for a while. He thought it was what we needed to get us back on track but I wasn’t so sure.

I really didn't go with any other intention than working hard to make the new office successful ....and maybe to get some much needed sun after yet another appalling British summer. Iona had already been out there for a month and she arranged for Chris and myself to travel out there together to join her. I had wanted to travel alone as I needed the space. The thought of making small talk with a stranger for twenty-two hours filled me with dread. Iona had already booked the flights and accommodation though, so there was nothing I could do.

I remember going to the airport early and checking in quickly so that I wouldn't have to sit with him! But I hadn't been in the lounge for long before he found me!! I immediately felt guilty because he asked me very pleasantly if I wanted to be alone or if he could join me. Of course, I couldn't say no to the latter and actually to my shame, we hit it off straight away.

Our flight was delayed for a couple of hours and in that time, I had him opening up about all sorts of things - including how his marriage was in trouble. I recognised a lot of what he was saying from what was going on in my own life and threw in my twopenny advice. He told me that he had never met anyone he could speak to so openly before.

In a last minute rush then, we got his seat changed so that he could be next to me and we had a great flight together. I've never known time to go so quickly. We talked and laughed and found we had a lot in common. It was just so easy and I really enjoyed being with him.

It was evening when we got to Sydney and there was a message at the hotel from Iona saying that she had to meet an important contact and couldn't join us so we had a lovely dinner on our own. By the end of the meal, I had told him all about the problems in my marriage. I never do that - I don't tell anyone anything about myself but with him I felt that he genuinely wanted to know and it felt good opening up to him.

We had arrived on the Saturday and got stuck into work pretty much straight away. On the Wednesday, we had got back to the hotel late after entertaining potential clients and gone to our rooms. I had just showered and got into bed when there was a knock at the door. I opened it to find him standing there with a couple of miniature bottles of brandy from his mini bar.

"I can't sleep" he said, in his gorgeous Scots accent "You don't fancy a drink do you?"

And so he came in and we did, in fact, talk for quite a while. He was sitting on my bed and then suddenly he just moved towards me and kissed me. He told me he had wanted to do that since the first moment he saw me and that's how it started, in earnest.

We spent all our time out of work together which meant we got very little sleep. Because I was able to talk to him so freely, I told him all my fantasies - things I had never even told Ewan. As a result, the sex was amazing. But more than that, it was just lovely being so close to someone.

It's simple things that make my heart race when I think back to that time. We went to the beach one weekend and he had gone off to get ice creams and I just remember watching him walking back to me, his shirt completely unbuttoned, revealing that amazing body. His soft, soft skin looked so brown against that white shirt..... I still feel light-headed thinking about how much I wanted him at that moment.

As the weeks went by, we knew that at the end of it we would both go back to our partners. It was understood but it just made our time together so much more precious.

Saying Goodbye
That time in Australia and our relationship meant so much to me.

For a few short weeks, I was with someone from whom nothing was hidden. I held back from allowing myself to fall completely but although I wasn't in love with him, it was something very similar. More than the physical, it was being able to talk so openly and to be with someone who couldn't get enough of me. That feeling of being needed, wanted, desired is very addictive.

On the flight back to London, we were both quiet. We reflected on the trip and what it meant to each of us. He told me that he never wanted to lose me as a friend and that I was to phone him or email him whenever I needed to talk and I was so grateful to know that for the rest of my life I would have a friend who knew me so totally. We talked about how we would deal with our problems back at home, how we would both make a go of our marriages, knowing that we had each other to turn to for support and understanding.

When we landed, he helped me load my luggage onto my trolley and then told me to go. I wanted to wait for him but he said that we had to say goodbye there. It had come too quickly but I knew he was right. So I put my arms around him and he held me tightly as we kissed and I just wanted to stay like that forever and not go back into that world that was waiting for me. Eventually, we broke apart, he told me to go and I walked away.

I didn't turn back, even though I wanted to with every fibre of my being. But instead, I walked through the doors to Ewan and the kids who were waiting for me. As soon as I saw them I burst into tears. They thought it was because I was happy to be reunited with them after so long, but only I knew I was crying for what I was leaving behind.

How It Finally Ended
After we said goodbye at the airport, I spent an evening catching up with my family but before I went to bed, I took my phone into the bathroom and texted him goodnight. He replied immediately saying he felt very alone in his London hotel. Even though I climbed into bed with Ewan that night, my heart was with Chris.

The next day, I had to take Sasha to a musical theatre workshop audition in Covent Garden. It was a beautiful crisp but sunny Autumn day and after I dropped her off, I had four hours to kill until I had to pick her up. While I was looking round the shops, I got a text from Chris. He said he had completed all his London meetings but his flight back to Glasgow wasn't until the evening, I told him where I was and within half an hour he was with there with me.

We had lunch outside on the Piazza but just like on the flight home, we didn't say much. We simply held hands and looked at each other, and that seemed to speak volumes. He did want to know though if I'd had sex with Ewan the night before. I told him that I had and he said the thought of that killed him but that it was OK because of course that evening he would be with his wife, Kaye. I hated the thought of that but said nothing.

While we were sitting there, we could hear an opera singer entertaining the crowds. She started singing Puccini's "O Mio Babbino Caro" and her voice was so beautiful that I thought my heart would burst. I looked at Chris and like me he had tears his eyes. Looking back now, I think I may have realised at that moment that it was really over and that there was no way we could even carry on a friendship. I can't hear that song now without thinking of that look on his face.

We walked to the tube station and this time there was no passionate kiss, he just squeezed my hand and walked away and within seconds he was engulfed in the crowds of commuters and tourists who swept him away from me.

We emailed and texted for a few weeks after that but he soon told me that he found it too difficult. He said it would be easier if we didn't communicate on a regular basis so I left him alone for a bit, even though I thought about him all the time.

Then, about a month later, Ewan and myself had the most almighty row which had been brewing for some time. Halfway through it, I snapped and said I'd had enough and that I was leaving. As I walked to the door, he grabbed me by the arms and said he wouldn't let me go and that running away wasn't the answer. I burst into tears then and I think had some sort of breakdown. I remember falling to the floor screaming in between great, racking sobs which seemed to come from deep within me. I was shaking and unable to breathe and Ewan cradled me and told me that everything would be OK and that he would look after me and help me through this, and I wondered if maybe, he knew.

Later when I was calm, he let me go off alone for a walk in the park and there of course, I called Chris to tell him what had happened. He listened, saying nothing. Then, when I finished he said, almost dispassionately, that he couldn't deal with this. That he wasn’t in the right place to be able to handle it. That he had his own problems and that he was sorry but a clean break was the only answer.

I couldn't belive it! This man....this man who promised to be my friend, in whom I had confided everything, was now telling me to go away. It felt as if he had ripped out my heart.

Once again in my life, I faced rejection and what felt like compete betrayal. Every inch of me wanted to curl up and let the world carry on without me for a while, but this time I made an immediate decision that I wasn't going to break.

I took a deep breath, wiped away my tears and returned home to Ewan.

Getting Over It
Although I made a decision that day in the park to carry on after he dumped me so unceremoniously, it took me a long, long time to get over it.

I felt so alone after that phone call. I found myself thinking of him constantly and even though I knew I had to get back to living my life, I felt such a fool. I couldn't quite believe that what we had was just over, so soon and unexpectedly. From the moment we had met at the airport, I thought I'd found a friend but it was clearly different for him and that felt like a kick in the stomach.

I was so angry for so long . So terribly sad and confused and constantly on the edge of tears. I couldn't understand why he would tell me that he couldn't deal with this, when together, we had gone over the problems we might face on our return and promised to be there for each other, however bad it got. Whenever I thought of how he had almost cruelly dismissed me that day, it gave me such a physical pain in my chest that I truly thought I might be seriously ill. It was the not understanding that was the crux of the issue - what had I done to deserve this treatment from him?

I kept running over in my head exactly what I would say to him the next time he got in touch. How I would let him know what a shit I thought he was to push me away when I needed him the most. But of course, he never did contact me - he cut me off completely and it hurt like hell to know that he was just not bothered.

I desperately wanted to tell someone but I looked at my friends and there was no one I could confide in. I knew they would judge me or tell me I was stupid and so I dealt with it alone. Or rather I didn't - I was in a sorry state for a long time and at one stage I thought I would never get over it. I had pinned such a lot of hope and expectation on him which is not something I normally do and that made it all the worse. Whenever I had any time to myself, it was that thought that made me cry the most and I hated him for making me feel like that.

I don't hate him now though and my heart and stomach don't churn so much when I think of him. Because however much I try not to think about him, I do. His face often comes swimming into view and I find myself remembering him yet again. I do wonder if I will ever truly get over him but even so, this feeling has in a way been more bearable than when Lee left me. Unlike then, there has been no time in the last six years when I have wanted to end my life, although there were many times that I didn't think I could get out of bed to face the day.

Not very long ago, I realised that in order to truly move on, I have to remember my time with Chris with great affection and no bitterness. After all these years though, I still want to see him and talk to him because I know I never did anything wrong and I've never understood why he went so cold on me.

Part of me now also believes though, that he's simply not worth my emotion - even though he has taken so much of it.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Being Shy

Maybe I should change the title of this blog to “From The Therapist’s Couch” as all I seem to write about these days are things he has said to me or events I have told him about.
Today isn’t going to be any different, I'm afraid.

On Thursday, the therapist suggested that I was fundamentally a shy person and my efforts to cover that up could be one of the reasons I have felt a bit lost recently and not sure who I really am. That was an eye opener to me though I’m fully aware that those who know me would laugh loudly at that idea. I’m the bubbly one, the one with the laugh, the one so suited to my job because I’m a natural party animal which makes me ideal to run public events. I am the epitome of an extrovert.

But when he told me I could be quite shy I knew straight away that it was true. I was taken right back to my childhood when I was about five or six and my dad had come home with some guests who greeted me and asked me how I was. When I didn’t know what to say, he told me to say hello and I remember feeling really anxious and I turned my face into the wall and said nothing. He excused himself from his visitors and took me into the kitchen and told me that my behaviour was unacceptable and that when people spoke to me I MUST answer as it was just plain rude to ignore them. I remember crying and saying that I felt shy and my normally affectionate Dad was very sharp and unsympathetic. He told me to stop crying and that there was no such thing as being shy and that he didn’t ever want to hear that from me again. I had to go back in that room, smile and speak to them.

I remember after that I always made sure I was the one to start a conversation and even now, if I’m in a group of people I always feel that it is my responsibility to keep the dialogue flowing even though I’m always telling myself it is not my role to play the court jester.

It’s all to do with a fear of rejection I suppose.

Even though we tend to go to a lot of parties, I never look forward to them. I will often tell Ewan that I don’t want to go and will leave getting ready to the last minute. He has learnt to ignore me now but on the way to any do, even parties held by close friends or family, I will be anxious. My heart will race and/or my head will pound but once I’m there, I’m the very life and soul. How ridiculous is that? I have become extremely skilled at portraying pure confidence and I am very good at meeting new people in social situations.

The therapist just nodded at all that and said it matched classic signs of overcompensating for being shy but that I was doing all the right things and that actually I just needed to be aware that it wasn’t my natural persona and that I wasn’t to get confused by that. That it’s OK to be quiet at times and to let others be the funny one and to be assured that people will still like me.

He said the shy side of me is actually what makes me a good listener and not at all phased at the thought of being left alone. I’m not a typical extrovert in that I need people around me. I really don’t. I’m very happy in my own company – it’s probably the only time I’m really myself.

It was a good session. I like learning about me !

Sunday, 16 May 2010

A Political Game

So after the recent political hiatus, things seem to be settling down but I have found it all absolutely fascinating.

I've stopped short of posting what I think here over the election period, but comments I have left on other blogs have probably given away my political allegiance! I thought though, just for a bit of fun (and in a massive name-dropping exercise!!), I would give my take on some of the leaders that I have met over this campaign and leave you to match the names to the descriptions - some of them were surprising, I have to say…..

Over the last six weeks or so at the various events I have been involved with, I have met Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Alex Salmond, Ieuean Wyn Jones and Nick Griffin !
And here in no particular order are descriptions of each:

a) Very charming and he greeted me, as he did last time we met, with a warm handshake and an apology for forgetting my name. He seemed genuinely interested in what I would be doing over the election period and had a lovely twinkle in his eye when he spoke about his family. He apologised again for breaking our conversation when an aide came to tell him something. He then revealed with a deep laugh that it was the latest football score for his team.

b) More pleasant than I expected but he tried too hard to be personable which worked against him. He pretended too hard to be interested in what I was saying, nodding away like a Churchill dog. He tried to be tactile too, even though it didn't come naturally and so made me want to recoil. The people around him looked really quite scary and I didn't feel at all comfortable in his presence. He was like an awkward overgrown schoolboy.

c) Very entertaining! The sort of person I would love to go out to dinner with as he tells a story well, though he has a very sharp side as I saw him cut someone down in a discussion about tax. However I know he took a shine to me and he made me laugh a lot and in turn, laughed at a couple of things I said which is always a winning quality as far as I'm concerned! We talked about the X-Factor versus Strictly Come Dancing and how he thinks British TV drama is pathetic compared to what the Americans do. I loved him and he clearly loves the company of women.

d) This one reminded me of my dad a bit. Nothing to do with age or the way he looks but just something quiet and unassuming about him that seemed quite unusual for the leader of a political party. I warmed to him although he wasn't the best conversationalist I have ever met. We had a jazz band at the event and he was quite enthusiastic about them. He just seemed faintly old-fashioned and I liked him because of it. He didn't even seem to have a mobile phone - just kept talking into the ones his aides kept bringing over. Very cute!

e) I was genuinely shocked that he looked at my boobs as he shook hands with me. He was polite enough but not particularly warm although he did keep touching my arm during conversation in a very practised way. I noticed his ready smile always faded quickly and that he spent more time with his aides than in working the room.

f) Polite and pleasant enough but also somewhat aloof and clearly indifferent to anyone when there wasn't a camera around. I got the sense that he wasn't listening to me during our brief chat and was too busy looking round the room for better opportunities. The only thing that did impress me was that he came over to say goodbye and remembered my name (I'm so easily enamoured by that sort of thing, I can't tell you) !!

So that's it and now, I leave it to you to work out. Bet you don't get them all right ......

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Second Thoughts

Maybe I was a bit harsh before.

As ever, I spoke to the therapist about how I was feeling and he told me that I am NOT a man hater. That I only had to look back at my history with men to know that. He suggested that actually, I adore men! That I enjoy their company and revel in the attention they lavish on me which is, rightly or wrongly, what validates my existence.

He said that perhaps with the exception of Ewan's mistake, none of the men in my life had actually treated me "badly". They just didn't treat me the way I wanted and were just flawed, as so many men (and yes, women too) tend to be when it comes to being honest in relationships.

He said any emotional damage I suffered came because I allowed it. I didn't take steps at the time to notice the danger signs and even if I was aware of them, I didn't do anything about it. So when the inevitable happened, it was easier to blame all men for being weak and dishonest and claim to hate them all rather than to look at the reasons that past relationships have ended the way they have.

Quite brutal ! But the therapist is very good at covering that iron fist with a velvet glove so that it doesn't hurt when he delivers the blow. It only begins to ache once I have left and start to mull over what he has said. I've been thinking about it a lot and even though it pains me, of course he's right.

Just knowing that makes me feel much better

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Not Happy

I haven’t felt like posting in a while.

For one thing it has been really busy and I have been travelling around the country working on various election events. I have a couple more, one later today and then another on Friday which could be a celebration do or a sorry everyone, we didn’t make it but you were brilliant event . It really should be an exciting time and I should be riding the wave of success as, so far (touch wood), everything has gone very well. I watch all the younger staff who are working on their first election events and they have so much enthusiasm, but I’m just going through the motions with that false smile on my face.

In truth, I feel I’m being dragged back to that pit of depression that I have worked so hard to stay away from, what with the therapist and some soul-searching posts on this blog. It feels like I have said so much recently, digging right down inside of me, that I’ve been left feeling a bit empty. I didn’t think I had anything worthwhile left to say. So, I was going to write a dutiful post urging everyone to go out to vote, no matter who they support. Because this election, every vote will count to make sure the right party are in power.

However, my dear friend, Nancy has been on my mind recently.

She is the same age as me and has three children, but last year she discovered she was pregnant….with twins, They were due in February but Max and Maisie had other ideas and arrived early in January. They weren’t in the special care baby unit for very long. Although they were both tiny (and oh, so cute) they are both strong fighters, like their mother, and so she had them home at the beginning of February.

During the pregnancy, she often confided in me that she didn’t think she wanted the babies and couldn’t face the thought of putting her life aside again to look after them. She said she knew it was selfish and she hated herself for those thoughts but that she couldn’t help it. I have to admit I understood what she meant. This time of our lives is when we see the light. Our babies have grown into young adults and are about to set off on their own and we get to discover ourselves again. I have loved every minute of being a mother (well almost!) but having to start over again would be something I would find incredibly difficult too.

However, after the twins arrived and for that brief time when they needed special attention, Nancy was in a frenzy, praying that they would be OK and begging for forgiveness that she could even have considered that she didn’t want them. I was with her on the day they took Max out of the incubator and put him in her arms and she looked like a little girl again, lost in wonder and love as she cradled her beautiful new son properly for the first time. I’m welling up now thinking of that moment and how any feelings of doubt were long gone. She has since been a great mother to the twins and of course her three teens have been a real help and so, surprisingly, has her husband, Will.

They got married when they were in their early twenties but he has never fully appreciated just how lucky he was to be with a truly beautiful woman. In fact, because he had got himself a successful model, I think he thought he could get any woman he wanted. And so he did. He has been unfaithful to her so many times and they have split up and got back together more times than I can remember. The thing is, as much as I should hate him, I have to admit that I have always had a soft spot for him. He is great fun, incredibly good-looking and a real charmer and when he is not being a complete arse and looking at other women, he is an amazing husband and father. It is because of that, she always takes him back. And every time she takes him back, she gets pregnant! And he promises to change and he does for a bit and then he blows it. And now, when the twins are not even four months old he has done it again. A few days ago, he told her that he had met someone else. That this time it was different and that he was moving out. That he was sorry and that he would always be there for her and the children but that this woman understood him in a way that she never has and that Nancy would be better off without him.

We all spent the day with her on Bank Holiday Monday. She is trying to be very practical and matter of fact about how it has happened once too often and that she is used to it and that this time it really is over and she will never take him back but she won’t deny him access to the children and that she can cope because she has before …but the fact that she kept dissolving into floods of tears betrayed just how devastated she is.

Ewan was so lovely to Nancy and told her that he would be speaking to Will to find out what the hell is going on. He is a quite a wise thing really and he was very hands on with the twins, helping Sasha and Kyle to bathe them and put them to bed. But since we came home that night, even though he has done nothing wrong, I can’t bring myself to talk to him. I know he is confused.I haven’t slept for the last couple of nights and have been in a silent, seething rage that seems even worse this morning.

Sasha has always laughingly called me a man-hater but I realised last night that there is such truth in that. I am so angry with Will. But I’m also angry with men in general that they always seem to come out on top no matter what they do. And I’m angry that like so many women, I am weak and pathetic and have let them do me such emotional damage over the years. I know that yet again I have turned this round to be about me but it has triggered something deep inside of me.

I am seriously pissed off and I want to behave like a child and have a tantrum.