People say that there are moments in your life when everything becomes clear. I have heard it called 'a light bulb moment', 'a moment of clarity' 'a sudden realisation. They say that these moments are what drive you forwards. Give you direction and slingshot you into the future.
Today I was going through some of my old paperwork and found something that gave me exactly this. A moment where suddenly, the person I was compared to the person I have become, was right there in front of me. An understanding of the steps taken, the changes made and the process of becoming the me I am.
It would probably be beneficial to give you a little bit of history before I move on. This I hope will provide the context of who I am, why and what is next.
A little bit of history
Leaving home at 15 years old, into my partners, I was living with two years of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The night I left this relationship was not the first time it happened, or the second, it was the night that my dog tried to protect me and ended up getting hurt instead of me. I was so committed to the relationship, that it was not until that point that I even thought about leaving.
Moving on from this I jumped straight into my next. I married this partner. We spent eleven years together. I wanted to leave at regular intervals but I did not. I stayed. I wanted to be the normal, happy family that everyone thought that we were. Despite the emotional abuse, the fists through things, the smashing up of furniture, I stayed. I tried to fix things. I tried going to therapy, I tried moving, I tried taking a break, I tried asking for professional help but eventually, through individual therapy, I left.
A while later I met my ex wife and I stayed with her for four years. We had our fights, emotional abuse occurred but I stayed. After those years I had to think of myself and my children. I had to make the decision to leave and stay left.
Since then I have been in and out of dating, relationships, one night stands and attempts at what could be a future, but never have I felt enough to make it happen. Instead of fighting for things I would decide to end things. The person who used to keep going, keep fighting until she could fight no more, was gone. If something was hard, it was not meant to be, if something was difficult, it was a sign that it was wrong.
Am I a player?
Over the last few couple of years I have been told by a couple of people that I am a player. That I will meet a woman, let them believe that we have a future and then walk away. This used to confuse me. I would sit and think about how I had told them from day one that I was after friendship and not love. That I could never fall in love again. That I liked my independence too much. I remember feeling pushed to take this further, either by constant long phone calls or people turning up at my home. With some, things would progress. I would allow them to lead the way. I would go with the flow and see. There was attraction otherwise it would not move forward. I attempted to believe in the course of nature and that what will be, will be. I was honest, I was clear and I reinforced my feelings on a regular basis.
I always felt so guilty though when I walked. For some reason I was giving these women empowerment, a belief in themselves and they all thought that they would be the ones to make me settle down again. They fell for me, or at least said that they did, within weeks. There were conversations with one or two who would say... 'I'm catching feelings for you'. My response was usually, do we need to put some space between us so that you don't get hurt? I believed them when they said that they could control it. Failing to see that they weren't controlling it and with each day, they were getting more attached to me.
I hated myself for hurting them, each and every time. For allowing them to fall, knowing that I would walk away if something went wrong. I hated myself that if something went wrong I could not stop myself from walking. That I would switch off from the relationship/friendship/whatever we want to call it with immediate effect. At times, I agreed that there was something wrong with me. That I had messed up again, that I had given up too soon. With each failure on the dating scene, it was my failure. I couldn't understand myself, the whys, the reasons for me to just give up. That was not who I was.
I realise now that it wasn't that I had played them, as I was always honest. It wasn't that I had hurt them on purpose, I had tried to protect them from being hurt by offering space. What I was struggling with, was that I was not the same person.
Who had I become?
There was a time when I stayed in relationships that were abusive, emotional roller coasters. But I stayed. I tried my hardest to make them work. I was with someone for 11 years when there was not an ounce of love between us. I was in another relationship for four years, trying so so hard. Hating having to walk away but knowing that for myself and my children I had to.
I had changed.
The paperwork I found today. A letter from myself to my then wife, begging her to help me make the marriage work, putting my deepest fears and insecurities onto paper for her to read, understand and try to get her help to rebuild us. There was also the letter she wrote me back. Telling me how much she loved me and wanted to make it work too. Suddenly, after a couple of years of pushing my thoughts and feelings away, I was faced with a written discussion of the love that was there between us. I cried, I cried so hard reading it. I was like a sobbing baby. Memories of good times, of emotional times, of closeness. Memories of the desperation I had to hold onto that marriage. Memories of the last time I had given everything I possibly could to something.
I had memories of how hard I had tried to fight through every difficulty. How I had tried to understand things that I had no idea how to, explain myself, talk for hours until we had gotten to the bottom of the issue and had a plan to move forward.
I remembered the pain each time we argued. How I hated it when we were not talking and I wanted so desperately to sort things out and get past it. Not being able to look at her if I was angry because then she would see how much I was hurting and I would back down.
I remembered the softness, the love, the lust, the intimacy. I remembered how much she meant to me. How I talked to my friends about her like she was the most important thing in my life. Wanted her to meet everyone who was a part of me and to take her everywhere I went.
I remembered how proud she was of me and me of her. The achievement, the steps with education and careers.
The little, silly things we did together that became a part of us but no one else has ever understood. The looks, the touches, the things we would say and tease each other with. I remembered how much we needed and wanted to be around each other, how there were very few moments in the years we were together that I didn't want her right next to me.
I remembered how people who saw us together told us how they could see the love and connection between us. I remembered all of this.
And I remembered the pain.
I remembered how even though it was me who walked, it ripped my heart in two. How I knew I would never love anyone else again in the same way, even as I said goodbye. I remembered wishing there was another way. Going over and over things in case there as something that I had missed so that we could try again and get it right. I remembered the pain I felt every time I explained to someone that we were no longer together. I remembered being torn between knowing that I had to leave and wanting to stay. I remembered everything. I felt everything as though it was happening again.
All from finding a couple of letters.
The epiphany happened
The understanding of why I am like I am now, why I can't bear to love someone in the same way again. Why I am unable to let someone in that far. How the pain was so severe that I had to close myself off.
Because it hurts!
Even though I know that I made the right decision, that it was a very unhealthy relationship and that there was no way for us to work, it was so very painful. The only way that I found to move forward with my life and rebuild myself and my children was to shut off from the pain. To become lovingly numb and to refuse to let myself feel those emotions that could tear me apart. The only way that I could stop myself from going back and trying again was to turn my heart into stone. Not let anything escape it. It was necessary, it was what I needed to do.
I know that one day I will be able to open up fully again. I know that I am a loving, gentle, sensual soul and so many more things that she told me in that letter. I know that I am not a bad person. I am not a player. I am a broken person. I have put so many pieces of myself back together over the years. If things are meant to happen for a reason then finding these letters may mean that I am about to put this part of me into the mosaic too. To love with all of my heart again, to enjoy people again, to believe in things working out no matter how hard they may appear .