You may have already worked out for yourselves that Iíve been spooked this week. Itís been one of those Ďlittle sparks that fly and then land like dynamiteí in my world. One of those chains of events that you can never anticipate. You know, a man from a long time ago sees his sisterís wedding video from a lifetime ago and remembers a girl that he once loved. He Googles her name and finds PBASE. She is thrown into a quagmire of memories and starts to evaluate her life and what that love meant.
Iíve told of how it affected my life in two ways already but Iíve been drawn today to tell of another aspect of how it has shaped me as the human being that I am these days.
When I met David I used an analogy to try to explain my happiness and exuberance in our relationship. I explained that I felt as though my emotions were a sad old jack-in-a-box that had long since had the Jack squashed down inside the box and been tucked away in the corner of a dusty attic, never to be seen again. Meeting David was like a new person exploring the attic, coming across a dirty, dusty, cobwebby box and opening it to find inside a colourful, smiling, jolly Jack bouncing out. Now the Jack is out of the box, Iím determined never to let it be put away again.
I suppose people all use different coping mechanisms to deal with pain. Mine is to tuck it away in the darkest recesses of my mind and avoid going anywhere near it if at all possible. Thatís why I made completely sure I would never need to come face to face with my misery again.
Itís so easy to hide from yourself in this way. I simply made sure that every relationship I had was with someone who would never demand anything from me. Itís easy to spot men who are relationship phobes and I just made sure that I picked out those guys. To such an extent that I had a long relationship (over several years) with a man who was the singer of a band and spent most of his time on the road touring in the USA and in Europe. He was a dead cert for meÖ.handsome and desirable as well as completely and utterly unlikely to ever demand more from me than I was willing to give. It worked well, we saw each other each week when he was in the UK but when he was touring I spent my time with my friends. He made me laugh and we had fun together. It was a good arrangement. I never needed to face up to the end of an emotional relationship because it wasnít about emotions, it was about fun.
Once, I made a mistake and nearly got myself killed for it. I met someone who I thought would never pressurise me but I was wrong. Within a few short months he was talking marriage and rose covered cottages but I couldnít do that - I was still of the view that you could only get married if you loved someone. I was incapable of love. He got angry and wouldnít accept me walking away. He tried to harm me. I canít go into details but it wasnít nice.
I got married out of sheer, unadulterated loneliness. I was living alone and just needed the company of another soul to give my life structure. I made sure my husband wouldnít demand any real emotion from me too. I still avoided confronting the box at the back of the attic. I still kept denying its existence.
I met David only months after I married. I was able to use my marriage as part of my disguise. I couldnít get into a relationship with him because, heaven forbid, I was married already so going to his flat was out of the question. We flirted for months. I discussed him endlessly with Claire.
Something happened to me in 2000. I was approaching 40 and I got into a major flirtation with a man who would never have been right for me but the spark that hit me on that day was one that told me I was ready to experience a deeply emotional relationship again. It had only taken 20 years to get there but I got there eventually.
Realising that I wanted more than anything to wake up in the arms of someone who cared about me was such a revelation. I thought Iíd managed to kill off that need many years earlier. I thought Iíd been really successful at being the Ďun-deadí emotionally. I thought the love and friendship of my friends along with the camaraderie of my colleagues would always be enough. I was wrong and I had to do something to give myself the chance to experience that Ė even if it never happened I needed to allow myself the opportunity. I had to become single again.
I was fully prepared to face living alone and dying alone in order to open up my life to the chance of meeting someone who might love me. I took a huge risk.
David came back into my life and the box was found. It was opened and all of my misery blew away on the wind of change. My life has meaning and my dream has been realised. Each morning we wake up in one-anotherís arms and I get up knowing that at the end of the day I will climb back into his arms to drift off to sleep. I have found I am capable of love. I am capable of intense feeling and, most of all, I am ALIVE.