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I think I’m gonna be sad


Image by the fabulous Stuart F Taylor

The sad thing happens on Monday morning. But there were lots of sad things that laid the path to it, so perhaps it’s not surprising that initially I’m just a bit numb. All day I’m braced for the waves of despair to crash. I sit at my desk. I work. I write. Edit some audio porn, upload a bit to Patreon, and wait and wait and wait for the misery to hit.

On Monday evening, when I still haven’t crumbled, I put my laptop aside and start to clean. Accompanied by jaunty pop-punk, I set to work on my flat in the vain hope that doing so might act as a metaphor for life. The way panic has gathered in each corner of my brain over the last few months, so clutter has stacked up in every spare inch of my bedroom, my kitchen, my hallway…

I feel guilty for not feeling wretched right now, so I put on my Carpenters playlist and read through a few old messages – urging myself to squeeze out some tears and a wave of regret.

_

On Tuesday I’m back to work again – and I work well, again. I’m productive and powerful and on top of things. The only tears I want to cry today are ones of relief – I’m back! My mind is clear and my heart isn’t racing. I’m breathing steadily in and out like it’s always been easy.

In the evening I see a play with a friend. It’s a great play, we enjoy it, and afterwards we’re all chatter and smiles and pints and effortless laughter. It’s so serene.

On my way home, I stick on the sad songs again and wonder why I still can’t summon a sob. I feel weightless. Peaceful. Relieved.

_

On Wednesday, a different friend and I embark on our ‘comfort walk.’ Like the food you eat when you’re sick that reminds you of home, sometimes I walk the same route with that same person: it feeds my soul. We stop at our usual pubs, make familiar chitchat about landmarks we love, and alongside this almost scripted routine we pick over the bigger things in life.

At one point she asks me: “How are you?” Emphasis on the second word, the way kind people do when they expect your reply to be significant. That gentle ‘are’ making infinite space for as long an answer as you need. “How are you? Are you OK?”

I tell her that yes I’m OK. Devastated, of course, but content. Resolved. At peace.

At home it’s back to Karen Carpenter. Ticket to Ride and You’re The One and Goodbye to Love and I Won’t Last A Day and oh God fuck it what’s wrong with me why can’t I just be more fucking sad?

_

Perhaps I was wrong three years ago, that each new heartbreak makes the first one hurt less: maybe you really do reach a point where all of it blends into one. Shoulder-shrug, whatever, you win some/lose some, wrap yourself in an indifference born of going through the same pain once too often. Maybe it’ll hit me much later, that’s possible too: this numbness could just be a temporary gift from my brain to help me avoid wavering, and therefore drawing this out in a way that I know would be horribly unkind. Perhaps the best armour to guard against heartbreak is certainty: knowing this thing has to happen, and resigning yourself to the fact that there’s no other choice.

_

On Thursday, a different friend. We play games with her child and her husband and I feel so surrounded by love. We laugh so much that they struggle to get their kid to agree that it’s bedtime, but when they eventually do, we eat fish and chips and drink wine and gossip. When I tell them about it, they both listen with pursed lips and frowns, all serious and supportive. Sympathy feels unnecessary, so I tell them it’s OK. I’m fine.

“Gutted, of course, but peaceful.”

I haven’t been this calm in a very long time. And even though that tranquility comes with a cocktail of guilt that I’ll have to deal with later, I’m still apparently not sad enough to cry on a train, so when home I fire up my playlist once again.

_

I broke up with my Hot Punk Guy. I’m so sorry.

I’m not going to tell you why, and I’m sorry for that too. I know I’m a stranger to most of you so this is a lot to ask, but if possible please trust me when I tell you that it definitely had to happen.

_

On Friday I go to meet him, to do the exchange of stuff. There’s very little of it and that really hurts, in part because it means there’s no excuse for any future meetings. No justification for texting him to ask for a walk in the sunshine, drinking cans and being playful and trying to make him smile.

I will never again have a good reason to try and make him smile. ‘Because I want to’ is not a good reason.

The last time I tore my own heart out like this, my ex and I had a whole house to carve up and sell, and a full year together to process our final goodbyes. But although I’d dreamed of a big, shiny future with this fabulous punk… a lifetime’s worth of joy and play and shared possessions… there’s almost nothing of his for me to return. He’s got one of my hoodies – a fact which thrilled me every time I saw him wearing it, and turned me on each time he’d leave it at mine, smelling deliciously of him. A t-shirt and a tote bag too: nothing much.

We walk and talk and I find it hard to tear my gaze away.

He is, and always has been, very beautiful. Funny and feisty and vulnerable and loving. When we first got together I used to say that I found him extremely compelling, which baffled him – apparently ‘compelling’ is as weird a word as ‘smitten’, which I used a lot too. It’s true though, he’s compelling. He compels me.

I don’t believe in design or fate but if I did I might once have told you that this man was made for me specifically. A little treat from the universe: here you go. We got you exactly what you wanted. Custom made to order, every detail perfect: tattoos and jokes. Beautiful hands, bald. Enjoys soft touches and slow fucks. Crammed full of powerful emotions. Loves the pub! Always gagging to hunt down a freebie or bargain. Phenomenal taste in music, but never ever tries to hog the playlist. A weird bullshit frog child job like yours, and the passion and talent to be great at it. Exceptional dick. A kink for intimacy. Clear eyes that punch right through your soul.

We walk and talk in the sunshine and he asks me if this really has to end. And oh God, fuck my hopeful heart. My hopeful, teenage, reckless fucking heart. I really want to tell him ‘no, it’s fine. I take it back, let’s wipe the slate. Let’s do this. I love you so much.’

But I don’t. Instead I tell the man I once wanted to spend the rest of my life with that I’ll be horrible to him if he likes… if it makes things easier. I offer to tip my bottle of water over his head or tell him cruel things that I don’t really mean. More importantly, I explain to him that this week I’ve been calm. And no matter how much I love him, I need that calm. Not at some unspecified point in the future if we work on things: I need it right now. Urgently. It’s not a ‘want’ like he is, it’s a need. Like air.

He tells me he understands, and I don’t believe him.

_

On Monday I didn’t feel anxious. On Tuesday I felt content. On Wednesday I felt like a weight had been lifted. On Thursday I felt thoroughly at peace.

_

On Friday when we say our goodbyes, he lets me hug him and he smells perfect.

Then, as I’m faffing about with my bike lock, he asks ‘can I please just do this?’ before leaning in to kiss me. A soft, intense, beautiful kiss like the one that got me hooked on him in the first place. Gentle. Loving. Intimate. The kind that makes you feel so close it’s impossible to imagine you might ever be apart.

When he walks away I check he’s not looking, then bring the hoodie up to my face to breathe it in. But he’s washed it and it doesn’t smell like him. I realise I won’t get to inhale his scent again. Or touch the soft skin at the nape of his neck. Play the Spotify game or make out to our ‘feeling songs’ playlist. Cook eggs in the morning or do culture swap TV or go geocaching or rate pubs or hear how his day went or spoon him in my bed while we talk about space.

On top of all the things I won’t do with him again, there are infinitely more that I never got to do with him even once. Go traveling! Have a threesome! Roast a chicken! Shag in a hot tub! Visit the secret tunnels underneath London, go to a casino, role play a chat-up in a hotel bar, meet his friends and family from home, listen to our favourite album on vinyl while we make out, go to festivals…

…build a life.

So I ride home, sit down and write this, and I don’t even need to call on Karen Carpenter.

I’m definitely gonna be sad now.

I’m gonna be so fucking wretched.

 

 

 

 

Note to readers: I know it can sometimes be tempting to offer commiserations on a fresh break-up in the form of slagging off someone’s ex or making jokes about them. I want to make it abundantly clear that this is unwelcome. If you do it in the comments here I’ll delete it before it goes public, and on social I will block you – even if you’ve read the blog for ages, and even if you think you’re making a brilliant joke. My truest and closest friends are doing nothing of the sort – they are sad for me, and sad for him too, because they know how much we loved each other and wanted this to work. Channel that, please, if you do choose to comment. 

In a similar vein, I’m not going to answer any questions about how it ended or why – as per the end of my last really significant relationship, I don’t think it’s kind for me to give you a highly-one-sided account of something that’s emotionally fraught, especially in the moment when I’m still in the process of collapsing under the weight of it. That’s why this post, and any others that touch on this, are going to focus on the way things feel for me rather than specifics of what happened, and therefore they’ll probably end up sounding very vague. Sorry about that – I totally get why it must be frustrating when I let you so far into my life then abruptly slam the door on a temptingly secret room. But please don’t ask me to go into more detail. The people who let me write about them here on the blog are giving me something truly, incredibly precious. The times I have written about with Hot Punk Guy are some of the most intimate and connected I have ever had in my life and I’m so grateful for them. I don’t want to stomp all over his trust, or those moments, by writing anything mean. Apart from anything else, it wouldn’t in any way reflect how I actually feel. I love him very much, and I’m just very empty and sad. 





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