It’s an interesting thing when long-lost people come back into our lives. I’ve been reflecting on two instances that happened recently to me, almost simultaneously, and curiously one was bad and one was good.
You know, really, they were both good, because the bad experience informed me of many things, not least of all how far I’ve come in the mad old journey of life and the games played against our younger, more naive selves.
The first to pop up, via that great milieu for stumbling across souls long forgotten – Facebook – was an old flame, and when I say flame, there truly was an inferno of passion that was the mark of a very short lived love affair. An affair that had smouldered for a year before the fuse lit led to its consummation.
Then suddenly, like a bucket of water had been thrown, it was over.
I communicate, it’s in my nature. Sometimes I do so to the limits of patience with people who know me, but there it is. About the worse offence you can commit to someone of that disposition is to shut down and walk away, denying and preventing any further discussion. One is left hanging, never able to understand why or learn from the experience. It’s cold and cruel and inevitably leads to self destruction and self loathing for the person left behind, forever asking themselves, what did I do wrong? What is so terrible about me?
This is what he did; he walked away – and not after dinner, not after a demand or statement, not after an argument on the telephone. No, he did it in the middle of sex.
I know, I know!
Not at the end of it…in the fucking middle of fucking. Coitus Interruptus incarnate.
Answers on a postcard please, if you can think of a single more damaging and crushing deed – to untangle yourself from being physically bonded in the most intimate of acts, get up and go away for good, never speaking to a woman again. I’ll buy you coffee if you can come up with one, because I reckon it beats breaking up with someone by text or post-it note hands down.
Of course, I was heartbroken for a few months. Surely even our deep friendship over the course of a year was worth more than that?
Life goes on, as you know, and eventually I fell in love again, with someone who at least stayed in the same room during orgasm. In fact, fifteen years passed, and only once or twice in those fifteen years did I think to myself, huh, what the hell was that all about?
Cue reintroduction. My former paramour is now married to a gorgeous women by any standards and greets me like the old friends we should have been. I wonder how long it will be before he broaches The Incident.
In the meantime, we catch up and I share that I’m writing another book. He’s a bright man with an admirable mind and soon he’s offering to share his thoughts on chapters and even co-edit, enthusing about the excerpts he’s seen. In a way, for me, it’s the mental equivalent to consensual sex; I open up my chapters to him. To me, they are intimate and I am vulnerable about them. The act of publishing is a leap of faith and you are offering the inner workings of your mind to the general public, but before you are ready to make that leap, before you feel it is polished and you are 100% sure you’re ready, those words are personal and kept close.
Since we are in sharing mode, the past may be discussed, it seems. Apparently, I read it all wrong – there was no brutal end, only conflict of emotions intensely felt. So I’m told. I think, this is good. People change and grow and for that I’m grateful. I not only have a dear friend back, but I now have a collaborator. He’d like me to review and contribute to his own art too. Life can be grand, sometimes.
What comes along with it though, like a busted house borne on the tide of a tsunami of water, is a graphic, sexual proposition and I have the same kind of reaction that a prim and rigid Hugh Grant portrays in Notting Hill, namely, can I just say thank you for your more than kind offer, and leave it at that?
It’s not personal, but I don’t get involved with married men. Those were lessons hard learned along the way and I hope I’m wiser now, despite how tempting it might be to rekindle the passion.
There’s no cup of coffee this time for guessing what happens next – a complete shut down of communication and a silence of several weeks and counting.
Aha! An epiphany!
So, I do have to say thank you very much, Coitus man, for letting me know that there was no great San Andreas fault line in me, it was you all along. Because I do know I’m worth more than throwaway sex, for more than one reason, and it definitely isn’t me who is atrophied in the ability to communicate meaningfully. Moreover, there’s no heartbreak this time, just a nod to myself and a wry smile.
Conversely, a falling out a couple of years back with a friend led to a difficult silence, one I should have been reluctant to shut the door on. However, I felt that because many words had been exchanged, to no avail, that to escalate the situation into a war of them would serve no purpose. I closed the drawbridge and flooded the moat.
In a bid to feel creative and valued, when I had felt the opposite was true of our friendship, I used the time to write my first book, so something positive came from it. My phoenix rising from the ashes.
The wounds remained, as they will always do until you walk through the fire and get to the other side of it. Of all people I should know that, having taken those scorching steps more than once with my ex partners, in order to heal and move on. I should have communicated.
It was she who contacted me recently and generously started to build a bridge. I realised it was me who’d metaphorically walked away and left someone cold. Yes, even middle age is no absolute guarantee of not being a giant idiot, at least sometimes.
I’m lighting a candle. This time I’ll be more careful not to let it go out.