A Bad (Holiday) Romance

I have previously talk about how naive and awkward I am when it comes to romance. When I was 22 I unwittingly added being an asshole to my list. I was getting over my first serious relationship and decided to take off for a two week vacation in Hawaii. Overseas alone was a very daunting expedition for an introvert who was still living at home. However, I stayed in a hostel in Waikīkī, and even met two really delightful English girls and became instant friends.

One night they took me to a pub they’d found and introduced me to the joys of a Long Island Iced Tea; and watched the 74th Academy Awards on the big screen TV.  There were a couple of guys at this pub who I believe the lasses had encountered on a previous day because they came over and joined the table. One of the guys, his name was Jake (at least I’m pretty sure it was, shit dude sorry if it isn’t – now I’m an even bigger asshole!!) came across as rather cocky and sure of himself, and the girls didn’t really care for him all that much.

But he got to talking with me, probably because I was the only one polite enough to respond and pay attention. And it turned out he was actually a decent sort, cocky yes, but very intelligent and witty. It turned out we had a few things in common, an interest in Ancient Egypt and old classic films. Somehow, I got to calling him Humphrey Bogart (he said was his favourite actor) and he was calling me Audrey Hepburn (my favourite actress). It was a fun night and I did come away with just a little crush on Bogart (I’ll keep calling him that, just in case his name isn’t Jake ^^’ )

I ended up going to North Shore for a few days with the girls and came back to Waikīkī the day before I was scheduled to return to Australia. That night, on a whim, I decided to go to the pub, just in case Bogart was there. And he was there. He started buying me drinks. We had some pretty deep conversation going, and major flirting too.

It gets late and I’m on the happy side of tipsy and decide I’d better call it a night and head back to my dorm. Bogart walks with me until the intersection where his apartment is a different direction to my dorm. And he gives me the most spellbinding passionate kiss, like straight out of one of my favourite movies. Dead set, it was amazing. And now that he’s charmed me with that incredible kiss, I find myself going with him to his apartment.

A few times I stop walking to half heartedly say I should probably be going back to my dorm. Keep in mind I’m not saying this because I really wanted to go back to my dorm. I’m only saying it because part of me knew it was very improper to take off with a complete stranger in another country. He distracts me with kisses trailing up my arm, my neck and to my mouth … of course I am putty in his very expert hands and my thoughts have turned to mush and I can only think how much I want him.

Seriously those kisses were captivating, I’d not been kissed like that before. It was like he walked straight out of my mind and into real life – his personality, his kisses, his unconventional cuteness it was all like my ideal mate come to life.

Except for the bit that came after.

I don’t have much to say except that the sex really was actually pretty disappointing. So we ended up falling asleep at some point and when I wake up the next morning, I realise with dismay just how much better my holiday fantasy would have been if I hadn’t actually slept with him. I am also shockingly aware of just how awkward and uncomfortable I feel right now because I desperately want a shower and a toothbrush (fucking alcohol fuelled morning breath).

I tell him I’ve really got to go and I hurriedly throw on my clothes, distractedly rebuffing his offer of breakfast. He goes to give me a kiss goodbye and I hold out my hand (like offering a handshake) and say it was nice to meet him and thanks for the memory.

Yeah real smooth, sleeping with someone and then shaking their hand like “it’s pleasure doing business with you”. I didn’t want him to kiss me because I was paranoid about the fact I felt unclean – I hate even talking to people when my mouth doesn’t feel clean, let alone kissing. But of course I came off as an asshole by totally brushing him off, which wasn’t my intention at all.

So um I guess I owe you an apology Jake (yeah that’s totally your name, I’m sure of it now) – I’m really sorry about being such an asshole. I did quite like you, and if I wasn’t such a freak about my having clean teeth and such, you would have gotten at least one more kiss out of me. I probably would have gone another round with you too, just in case it was alcohol that made the sex suck. At least I hope it was the alcohol, and not you. (SHIT! I’m still being an asshole…sorry Jake!)

The Odd One Out.

One of my work colleagues became engaged on the weekend. Her boyfriend took her for a weekend away to Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) in the centre of Australia. It was all very romantic. When she came into work today all the females (except me) in my department practically swarmed her and were cooing and fawning over the ring and the proposal story for ages.

Don’t get me wrong, I am genuinely very happy for her and I think it’s lovely that her fiancé (I’d better call him that now!) made it all very special and romantic for her. At the same time, I don’t really get why women suddenly feel the need to gush and get all sappy over hearing of someone else’s engagement. I was watching them all out of the corner of my eye (I was on a call with a customer, I am at work after all!) and I was really quite bemused to see these otherwise professional women start squealing and carrying on like a pack of high school girls, the pitch of their voices getting nauseatingly high and baby like.

I’m sitting here laughing now, because reading over this one might get the misunderstanding that I’m bitter or jealous. It’s not that at all, it’s just that I’ve never been a ‘girly’ girl, and cooing and squealing and all that rot just isn’t me. But I do sort of feel like an odd one out, like there is something different about me in situations like this. I don’t behave like a “normal” girl. I can’t. It’s not me. I just kind of see those over the top reactions as a little put-on and pretentious.

For my part – I gave her a heartfelt congratulations, and even gave her a warm hug (and I’m certainly not a touchy feely person – so any hug from me is a rare event!). I thought her ring was gorgeous and told her so. I did this all in my own voice, the one that is filled with enthusiasm and happiness of course, but it’s still my regular pitch and decidedly no gushing. I promise it’s definitely not cold or unfeeling, but at the same time it’s not falsified or overdone.

Does that make me weird? Maybe. Truthfully, it makes me a little sad that I’m not like the other girls. I sometimes wonder what people think of me because I’m not like other girls. But, I am who I am. I can’t change that any more than I can change the weather.

Sometimes though, I wish I could change the weather…

A Little More Backstory

I have been a single parent for 2 years – ever since the life altering moment when my now ex decided he just “couldn’t do this anymore” and walked out after the children had gone to bed. What he meant of course was that he couldn’t be with me anymore. At the time I was blindsided, I didn’t see it coming. I was getting treatment for my illness and was actually breaking ground and getting better. His leaving was a huge shock at the time, but eventually I have come to understand why he had to leave me.

However, he fucked up royally by leaving me to deal with the aftermath of his decision. I (still to this day) have to field the endless questions of why daddy left without saying goodbye, the nightmares, the fears that I’ll disappear in the middle of the night. Some of the residual effects are still present in the both of my children and that pains me deeply.

For the first couple of months after he left, he didn’t call them or see them – I could have fucking eviscerated him. How does a person who adored his children from day they were born – who had an integral part in taking care of them; was so present in their lives – go from everything to nothing?

I get that he couldn’t deal with me anymore. I know that I’m a shit person to live with because of my flaws and the fucking dark clouds of bipolar that shrouds me at times. I also get the fact he probably felt guilty for abandoning the kids without warning. He maybe even felt a little guilty for hurting me. But that doesn’t excuse cutting off all contact with them for any length of time.

If it was only me in this equation, I would have said “Whatever. I’m well shot of this pillock.” and forget I ever knew him. But it was my children whose needs I had to think about. And I know that they want and need him in their lives. And honestly before all of this he was the best dad in the world. He really was.

Things have gotten better now, he calls them (from time to time) and has them stay once a week. It’s not really enough for them because deep down they miss him fiercely, miss having his constant presence in their lives. But at least he’s there for them in some capacity.

One of the things that still bother me is the fact that he’s never had to deal with the fallout from his leaving out of the blue. He left it all to me to clean up. I keep trying to explain to him, that he needs to acknowledge to them what he did wrong – to explain that it wasn’t their fault he left. However, because he doesn’t have to see the tears, the worry, the struggles they have – he thinks that everything is ok so he can just sweep it under the rug and forget it happened.

For someone so brave (he works in emergency services), he really can be gutless. He goes into shutdown over anything that forces him to admit to his imperfections, to acknowledge mistakes he has made, to look deeper into his heart and soul. He runs, runs like the wind, instead of confronting and dealing with emotional situations. Life gets tough and he’s checking for the exit, finding a loophole in the contract, eager to find a way out. He doesn’t deal – he runs.

I get that more than he understands – I spent most of my life running. But I stopped running. I had children and realised that I can’t run anymore. I have to face who I am, how I feel, all of the things I don’t like about myself, about my situation. I have to stand strong for them. Always for them.

Another Failed Romantic Tale.

Time for another flash back, another failed romantic endeavour.

It was 1996, I was in the tenth grade and his name was Ben. He was tall, dark haired, with soft doe eyes, and he had this gorgeous smile where one corner of his mouth curved up higher. He was a little bit bad boy and that was really attractive to me – the Miss Goody-Two-Shoes. Of course this is a private school version of bad boy – what made him an undesirable (not to me, but to my cliquey school friends) was that he had to repeat year 10 and wasn’t of the same “social class”. Some people in my school were very much snobs it seems.

Anyway, he was in my homeroom; and we had our main classes together. Before too long I found myself totally into him, and it turns out that he was into me too. Of course he couldn’t just outright say it, instead he teased me mercilessly (you know all attention; even bad attention; is good attention). And of course my reaction was an overreaction because I was so into him I couldn’t help but react.

Eventually one of my friends (not one of the snobs) had enough of Ben and I circling one another. She (without my knowledge to all of this) outright asked him if he liked me, and he admitted as much. She told him to ask me out, and he said he would if he got me alone. So right before one of our elective classes; she drags me over to him under some pretence and then takes off. I’m left alone with him.

We’re both standing there awkwardly; trying desperately to make small talk, until one of us has the courage to make a move. Right at the last second I am the one to cave. I ask him out and he says yes and tells me that he was gathering up the courage to ask me out. We share a shy smile before we head off to our classes. I’m uncharacteristically a little late to my class; but I have the biggest grin on my face.

Now here is the totally awkward and fail bit. Even though I had asked him out – and he had said yes – I still couldn’t believe that he actually liked me. I had very low self-esteem, and even when faced with evidence to the contrary – I was convinced that this was all some joke on me. I was terrified that he didn’t really like me; and that somehow it was a practical joke, like out of CarrieAnd so I became really shy, and aloof, and practically stopped talking to him – where before I’d done every little thing I could to get his attention. It was like I didn’t know what to do now that I’d had him. He got the impression I wasn’t into him, and the relationship was dust before it even got off the ground.

He resorted to being unpleasant towards me at lunch times; staring at me and calling out mean things when he was in his group of 11th grade friends. I took to ignoring him in class, and acting like he didn’t even exist. Our friendship had disintegrated because I didn’t know how to show him I liked him, and he thought that I wasn’t actually interested in him.

Then one day, one lunch time, he came up to me. He’s mustered up the courage to apologise to me, it’s awkward and adorable all at once. He says he’d like to start over, which of course stupid oblivious me somehow misinterprets. I say to him “Ok, so we’re friends again yeah?” and hold out my hand. Poor Ben has been unwittingly rejected, and limply shakes my hand with a dejected “Yeah, I guess…” and turns on his heel.

Suffice to say we never really talk again after that one. And for the rest of the year, and into the next (until he left the school mid way through the 11th grade) he’d always give me this strange look in the halls. At the time I thought he was staring me down to make me intimidated and uncomfortable – as if he was trying to tell me I was an idiot for thinking he ever liked me. But looking back with experience, I think his face showed something more like a forlorn wanting. I was unable to interpret back then that his expression reflected the disappointment of his belief that his feelings were unrequited. And my suspicious, self-preserving glares back at him really wouldn’t have helped the situation.

So now it’s time for another apology to another guy.

Ben, I’m sorry I couldn’t show you that I really was into you. I had pages and pages of diary entries filled about you, and had a major crush on you for a long time. However I was naive and unsure of myself. So I did the only thing I know how to do – shut down, and hide my feelings. I wish I’d been more confident – because now I’ll never know what your kisses taste like.

For who could ever learn to love a beast?

I was out to lunch with a couple of my co-workers the other day, and one of them happened to ask me “Are you seeing anyone at the moment?” My answer to that was a resounding “no” as if I thought she was completely nuts for asking. She didn’t seem to understand why I would say “no” like that, and though I never explained myself – it did get me thinking.

What was my reasoning to be incredulous at the thought that I’d be dating anyone? I think my disbelief stems more from my wondering – who the heck would want to be with me? I’m sure I have many redeeming qualities – I know I am loyal, I have the capacity to be loving, I am genuine and honest, and sometimes have a rather mischievous sense of humour. But that sort of stuff takes time for someone to learn.

At first glance I am somewhat aloof and detached. I have difficulty trusting other people, and tend to keep to myself. But more crucially I’m damaged goods – a single parent of 2 children, AND I live with Bipolar disorder. I mean if my ex couldn’t live with me – even though we have 2 children together – who the fuck would want to put up with me? I know I have many days where I’d like to check out and be someone else so I didn’t have to put up with me.

It’s not like I necessarily believe I’m actually really truly damaged goods. It’s more like I don’t feel like I am whole (I wonder if I ever will be). And if I can’t be whole for myself, I don’t think I can be whole for anyone else.

I’m awfully lonely though, and I’d love to have someone who truly understands me in my life – my own Mr. Right. But I don’t think I have the capacity to be anyone’s Ms. Right. At least not in the way anyone would need me to be, the way they would deserve to have me be. I am too particular, I need my life to be a certain way or I can’t function. I wouldn’t want anyone to have to accommodate my peculiarities because it would be asking too much.

I wish knew better when I got into the relationship with my ex. I didn’t realise the kind of person I am. If I did; there is no way I would have gone that far. I wouldn’t have let it get serious enough to have a family. I would never have willingly put anyone into the situation where I just make them miserable because of the parts of me I cannot control.

Now, I have to live with the fact that I emotionally damaged someone else because of my illness. And I constantly worry that I’m going to ruin my kids and make them miserable. I do the best I can, but sometimes I don’t have anything left to give my kids. My energy, my attention, my affection – they are all limited resources and there are times I don’t have them to give. And if there are times I can’t even give them to my own flesh and blood, what hope would anyone who “chooses” to be with me have?

I’d like to say that I believe that there is somebody for everybody, but it is my belief that there are always exceptions to every rule. And I happen to be an exception in this case.

Note 1: This is not a pity party, I don’t need to be told that I am “whole” or that I will find “Mr. Right” someday. This post expresses personal feelings that I had to get out of my brain into the real world. I currently accept the above as my place life. I acknowledge that I may not always feel this way, but at least for the foreseeable future this is how I see it.

Note 2: The title of this post is a quote from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1991)