I've been avoiding writing this article for about a year now because, quite frankly, the truth hurts. But, as a writer, it is poignant to understand there is no point sugar-coating relationships for my readers knowing full well everyone is having to deal with the gritty reality of what love brings.
Sometimes, love begins as your friend, then becomes an enemy. There will be no comical cartoons or drawings attached to this piece because I cannot, as much as I try, see a light hearted version of my deeply painful and emotionally scarring past. If I'm Carrie...meet my Big.
We first met via an old work connection and I initially hated him. He was bolshy, loud and overly confident considering his appearance was less than desirable. But his status and power had fueled his personality fire and soon I felt completely compelled to the warmth he radiated. Even his childish demeanour was contagious. He giggled like a twelve year old! It wasn't long before we both disregarded our current relationships and fell into an all-consuming self-gratifying "relationship". What's with the "" I hear you ask? It's because, over a long heart wrenching two years, my Big refused to ever be with me. But we'll get to that...
With Big, anything was possible. Money and time was never an issue, so I had any whim (within reason) fulfilled. Last minute holidays...not an issue. Heck, once we even booked flights at 4am, for the following 2pm take-off. Champagne at 7pm straight after work? Why not. Sushi delivery that costs over £50, then half binned because I couldn't finish the dish...no problem. What was captivating was these ideas came from him, and he'd sweep me, smiling, along with him. Regardless of his looks, I fell deeply in love. Unfortunately, there began our demise.
Around the six month bench mark, he started noticing I was a love struck puppy. With conflicting emotions, he would continually remind me that due to his current relationship (don't judge people...we've all done it) he could only offer me everything I wanted, except commitment. Terrified of losing him completely, I'd silently nod my head, mutter 'that's fine, I'm okay' and hide my true feelings because if I 'fessed up, he'd end it.
The problem was not just my feelings, but his too. He also fell in love with me. As time progressed, his current relationship finished and subconsciously, to ease his pain, he filled her missing presence with...me. Looking back, I know this is true and I also am aware I should have allowed him time to grieve and heal so that he could look upon me as a separate entity, rather than a stereotypical 'rebound' that I had unknowingly become. I remember the day he rolled over in the morning, and woke me up by kissing my hair and softly proclaiming 'I love you'. I honestly couldn't breathe. I'd waited nearly a year for him to utter those words. This meant our long waited relationship would now be cemented, right? Wrong.
Rather than facing his feelings for me and giving me the security he knew I deserved, he instead carried on emotionally using me. We were both crazy for each other, both single yet both stuck in this intense bizarre "relationship" which offered neither of us a combined future, yet neither would give an inch. I started seeing some girl appear all over his facebook page (like I said, social network sites kill dating!) and soon my questions came flooding in, making him back off even more. Oh, but I need not have doubted my concerns, as he soon admitted he'd been sleeping with someone else because "sometimes Nix, you're just not around." Direct quote.
Not only was this painful to stomach (painful as in I felt sick to the throat at the thought of him cuddling up to another) I could never win my case as my Big repeatedly pointed out that I knew from day one this was all he could offer and I chose to take it. Yes, I agree, but I never planned to tumble head over heels and, once single, I thought he'd embrace what we had. Not drag another girl into this complex and hurtful equation. I should have walked away then. I should have looked at all the emotions I had given him, effort I had made and packed up my love and left, without a look back. But I was irrevocably and unconditionally in love with him. Plus, he started integrating me into his friends, taking me to parties as his plus one so I felt confident I was being vetted ready for girlfriend status. I was, sadly, so wrong.
The age gap had a large part to play in this lose-lose board game. He was six years older, grounded with his life, work and home, whereas I was sparkly-eyed and fresh out of university. I wanted to continue the party with a complete disregard for any consequences. He must have felt, at times, more like my minder than my partner. For instance, he often childed me for my inappropriate attire. Even on holiday he felt embarrassed to be seen with me, and in a heated row in the apartment he says "Why can't you ever wear normal clothes and do your make-up normally without plastering that shit all over your face". Naturally, I took offence and thought he was trying to control me and make me a 'plain jane' which is basically, for me, a suicidal living condition! For the record, I have only ever been stylish, trendy and as a trained MUA my make-up was always meticulous. He was just used to a shy girl who wore no make-up and dressed to blend in, whereas I knew I had a killer shape and I'd be damned if I would hide it for the comfort of others. From his point of view, I was young, attractive, too intelligent for my own good and out of control. From where I was standing, I was offering myself to a man who loved me, yet picked apart the person I was. Looking back, there were times when I could have, perhaps, altered my image. I certainly don't run about the city drunk in a mini-dress like I used to. Strangely, should we have met now, I'm positive he'd be the one falling all over me. But the damage, as they say, had already been done.
I did, just once, try move on. Heck, I even met someone else who I totally digged. He was a singer! Hot, standard. Big caught wind of this, noticed I had withdrawn and panicked that he was losing me. After all, I was his physical outlet and his emotional sponge. He asked to be with me. Wow! Big had asked to be with me? In a relationship minus the ""! His choice of words, however, weren't quite the romantic gesture I would have liked. "I'll try be a decent boyfriend until it turns to shit." Another direct quote. What kind of offer is that for a girl who has already given you her heart and got nothing but pain in return? I wanted a future, not an inevitable mess of a break-up. You can't break a heart, wrap it in cotton wool and then say 'voila' and expect it to work just like before. I told him that as I had waited for over a year for him, he could wait a few weeks for my answer. Please note, I said this not to play him back, but I was genuinely trying to move on and I didn't know if I could risk putting my heart back onto the guillotine for an offer that includes "until it turns to shit." But, he was my Big, so three weeks later I told him I was ready, I'd ditched the other guy and I wanted to give this relationship everything I had. He then said he'd changed his mind now and didn't want me anymore.
* * * * * * * * *
Does this story end there? Of course not, he's my Big after all. Even after this royally fucked up situation, we still carried on seeing each other and even went abroad again for another short holiday. Only this time, he stays out there as planned and I had to come back after three days for work. He told me that this mini-break was the end of our time, the final end of our story and "we're going out with a bang". Nice. So, as he drives me to the airport in this foreign land, I am ridden so much with pain that I stifle screaming and cover my tears by my huge sunglasses (designer, of course, I'm heart-broken I'm not a fashion reject!). After check in, I cuddle him goodbye and beg him to re-consider. He just states that he loves me, but now is not the time to discuss this. I then board a long and arduous five hour plane flight, alone, contemplating the knife-stabbing fact that I was never going to see the man I loved, ever again.
One of the defining aspects of our "relationship" is that we both constantly got carried away. You'll know (especially if you've witnessed or endured a messy divorce) that once love walks out, anger strolls in. My Big and I spent months after this holiday, consumed in dark and cruel exchanges including unimaginable threats either side that snowballed out of control. These were not my finest moments, and I'm less than proud when recalling my actions. I was having to endure a pain I couldn't bear, so I lashed out on the one person who I felt had caused it. He, who was evidently hurting too, lashed back. Aside from the excruciating part of trying to heal a damaged heart, the saddening point was that all I really wanted was a cuddle and a 'everything is going to be okay' chat. Instead, we hated each other with venom you couldn't have imagined six months earlier.
It's been a year now. I would say, I am still only partially healed. I've had moments where I have turned off my phone, sat in a bath and sobbed until the water got cold. I loved this man with every fibre of my being. If I'm honest, a part of me still does. I know, with our history and the things he did, I am supposed to hate him, but I simply can't. I have no regrets that I fell in love with my Big, or that I wore my emotions heavily on my sleeve. If I saw him now, I think he'd still take my breath away. Assuming that he still hates me with the fire of a thousand suns (that's no understatement), I think he'd probably rather die than be near me again. But, should he ever come across this, I want him to know that I still care, a part of me still loves him and the reason I am single is because no-one has managed to compare since. He is my Big, truly, and always will be. I just wish, instead of allowing us to get carried away with the pain and misery, he had embraced his feelings sooner and carried me away instead.