Monthly Archives: April 2019

I have been dreading this moment ever since Jake and I got together.

Joanna hasn’t seen me yet. I could just walk back out. But I will only be delaying the inevitable so I say a breezy “Hello”. And brace myself.

She is distinctly frosty towards me as we half-heartedly exchange pleasantries. My discomfort is intensified by the fact that she is naked. I don’t know where to look. So I concentrate on maintaining eye contact. But this is a little difficult when she keeps bending down to rub moisturiser onto her legs.

Then curiosity gets the better of me. And my eyes fall to her breasts before moving slowly across her stomach and thighs. It is not often I get the opportunity to compare my body against that of a real woman instead of an airbrushed version.

And her body is pretty impressive so I have to look longer and harder for flaws. Then she suddenly blurts out “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Damn. She caught me. My cheeks are burning with embarrassment.

“Seriously, what is a woman like you doing with my brother?
”Excuse me? “A woman like me? What is that supposed to mean?” 
She responds with “You honestly don’t know?”

A wave of panic rushes through my body. And makes its way out of my mouth “if-you-think-I’m-into-women-just-because-I-was-checking-out-your-body-then-you-are-wrong-trust-me-I-wasn’t-getting-any-pleasure-out-of-looking-at-your-body-not-that-you-haven’t-got-a-nice-body-but-I-was-only-looking-to-see-if-you-had-any-cellulite-or-stretchmarks-or-flabby-bits-not-that-you-have-well-actually-you-do-have-some-cellulite-but-hey-haven’t-we-all?”

Then my brain catches up. And it suddenly hits me “Oh. That was a reference to my age and not my sexuality wasn’t it?” Correct. And now she is being really hostile because I mentioned her cellulite “You’re far too old for him”

I point out that he has the manner of someone much older. Then remind her that she had the opportunity to tell me how young he was before I agreed to go out with him. But she didn’t take it. Then I surprise myself by adding “And I’m glad you didn’t because I may have missed out on something very special”.

She responds with “Oh yes, I’m sure the sex is very special” I ignore her sarcasm. And manage to keep my cool while she has a little rant at me. Then she calls me a ‘cougar’.

I explain (through gritted teeth) that cougars are women who deliberately prey on younger men. I thought Jake was older. In fact the only thing that I would change about him would be his age.

And I didn’t prey on him. “Therefore, by definition, I am most certainly not a bloody cougar”. I take my boxing gloves out of my bag. And slam the locker shut. Then I storm out of the changing room.

I go into the gym. And pummel the punch bag until my arms ache and I can’t see through my sweat. I don’t think I have quite come to terms with how our relationship is going to be perceived by others. And there won’t always be a punch bag in the near vicinity. So I really must find a way to deal with it that doesn’t involve violence.

My hands are still shaky when I get home. And what I am attempting to do requires both precision and a steady hand.

I empty the shampoo out of the bottle. Then I carefully fill it with head lice treatment. I’m putting the lid back on when I identify a flaw in my carefully thought out plan; the treatment won’t lather the way shampoo does.

Then it occurs to me that conditioner doesn’t lather either. So I empty the conditioner out of the bottle. And transfer the head lice treatment into that. Then I (strategically) place candles around the bathroom away from anything that is likely to go up in flames.

I have just finished when the doorbell rings. I open the door and leap into Jake’s arms (being very careful to avoid our heads touching). It is some time before we make it from the hallway into the living room. There is absolutely no denying the physical attraction between us. But Joanna is wrong; it is much more than just that otherwise it wouldn’t be so intense.

Then the phone rings. I can’t ignore it just in case it’s Mia. It isn’t. It’s my mother. She is on her way back from the airport and wants to pick up her bag.

I ask if it can wait until tomorrow. She gets annoyed “You said to call before I came over and I’m calling so what is the problem now?” The problem is that she is calling when she is only five minutes away.

I apologise to Jake. And ask him if he can wait in the bedroom until I get rid of her. I acknowledge that hiding him from my family is becoming a recurring theme; first Mia and now my mother. But I am doing this for his own good.

Jake reminds me that his mother is Spanish “so I am used to the Mediterranean....” He pauses before diplomatically concluding his sentence with “temperament”.

I quickly pull the clothes out of the top of the wardrobe until I get to the bag and yank it down. But I didn’t zip it up properly after I took my grandmother’s necklace out. And bundles of cash start flying out all over the floor. Shit. How dodgy does that look?

Then the doorbell rings. Jake helps me put all the money back in the bag “Don’t tell me, it’s their life savings and they don’t trust banks?” I nod. He understands their madness. And that makes him even more desirable.

I run to the door. My mother gives me a big hug “Why are you out of breath?” I hand her the bag. And tell her not to keep my father waiting. She eyes me suspiciously as she walks off.

I wait until the car disappears. Then let Jake out of the bedroom. I try not to wince when he scratches his head.

It’s time to put my master plan into action; I suggest we take a bath together. He says he had a shower before he came over. Oh dear. He thinks I am suggesting he needs a wash.

I explain that I am not questioning his personal hygiene standards “In fact, I think they are exemplary. I just think that it would be really sensual. And I would love you to lather my body”. He says that a bath sounds like a fabulous idea.

I light the candles, put the champagne in the ice bucket and scatter rose petals into the bath. I take Jake’s clothes off. Then mine. And lead him into the bathroom. It is all so romantic that I almost forget my ulterior motive.

We sink into the warm water with rose petals floating around us. The candle light and soft music heighten the sense of fantasy. I wrap my legs around him. Then I have to break the spell. And tell him that I’m going to give him a head massage with a deep conditioning treatment.

I massage the treatment in. He wrinkles his nose. I hold my breath. But he is too polite to mention the strong smell. Now I have to distract him for at least ten minutes to allow the treatment to work. So I massage his neck and shoulders.

Then I start kissing him. And the water is cold by the time I stop. I am rinsing his hair when the most absurd thought occurs to me; I think I am falling in love with him.

But I can’t be. This is only our third date. And I really don’t know him that well yet. I must be mistaking lust for love. That is much more logical.

No. Fuck logic. I’ll go with emotion. I am falling in love with him. Full stop. No justification. No logic. Wow. I’m making progress. Jake is obviously good for me.

We spend another incredible evening together. Then I find myself agreeing to go hiking with him next weekend. I don’t really ‘do’ the outdoors. I’m very much a city girl. And it isn’t exactly romantic.

But he asked me while I was drifting off towards a delicious sleep with his beautiful body wrapped around mine. And I would have agreed to absolutely anything at that moment in time.

I make a mental note not to commit to anything else unless we are both fully dressed. And I can’t see that happening for a while...

It was a huge risk to take. I am gambling on there being some remnant left of the man that I had fallen in love with. I start to think that I may have been mistaken.

Then Mark calls. He has decided to resume the mortgage payments. And take the house off the market.

Then he offers to pay maintenance for Mia. That makes me suspicious. Is this sudden change of heart merely a cynical ploy to protect his assets? I tell him that I meant what I said; I have no intention of taking him to court.

He says he knows that. Then tells me that he set up an account for Mia when I left. And he has been paying into it ever since. He offers to transfer the money into my account. I ask him why he hadn’t told me about it before.

He responds with “I suppose I’ve just been angry at you for leaving me”. He’s been angry at me for four years? That is a lot of anger. I am surprised; he has never been very good at articulating his emotions. I ask him if he has been having therapy. He hasn’t. Apparently he has just been doing a lot of thinking.

Then he throws me by asking why I left. He says that I never really explained. And that it would really help him if he knew. I tell him that I wrote something for him at the time; I wanted to get it all down while it was still fresh in my mind. I had decided that I would only give it to him when he asked. I was starting to think he never would.

I get it up on screen. I haven’t read it for years. And I need to make sure I’m not being too harsh.

I don’t think I ever said sorry for leaving. I’m not even sure I was fully able to explain why I had to go. And I owe you at least that much.

January 16th 2003 – I’ll never forget the night you came into my life and turned it all upside down. You proposed just three months later. And I accepted immediately.

I had some of the best times of my life with you. We spent over a decade of our lives together. And we have a beautiful daughter. Nothing can change that.

I know that what I did to you was terrible. But you said to me “If you’re going to leave me, leave me now and let me get through the pain instead of making me live it every day”. And you were right. I was unhappy. I would have made you live that pain every day.

So I tried to do it as quickly and as humanely as possible. To you it must have seemed like I didn’t care. I was so cold and clinical about it. But I had to be. I had to be cruel to be kind. I had to give you a chance of happiness with someone else. We could never have been happy again.

Why did I leave? Believe me if I had thought there was a way to make it work I would have stayed. But there wasn’t. We had grown up and apart. I still loved you but not in the way I should have. Not in the way I used to.

Things were bad between us for a long time before I left. You know that. I even suggested counselling once and you said I should go for counselling by myself because I was the one with the problem. Do you remember that?

Then once I gave up my career, the end became inevitable. What you would undoubtedly consider as simply being careful with money, I considered controlling. I started to feel like a non-entity.

I don’t even think you realised how close I came to losing the plot when Mia was born. When they whisked her away I thought we had lost our baby. That first week we spent with her in hospital changed something inside me forever. I was absolutely petrified. My love for her made me feel so vulnerable. You were so strong for the three of us and I will always love you for that.

I barely slept those first few months in case she stopped breathing. They had me complete a questionnaire at the doctors – apparently I was borderline post-natal depression. They had me fill in another form. And this time I ticked what I knew were the ‘right’ answers and they declared that I didn’t have post-natal depression after all.

Maybe I should have asked for help but that would have been weak. They may have thought I wasn’t capable of looking after Mia and taken her away from me. Yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds now but that’s how I felt at the time. I felt like I didn’t have a voice anymore. I felt totally useless.

I tried to tell you that. And I asked for your support. But your reaction was to take me on a shopping spree. Then you got angry with me for not being grateful for all the new clothes you were forcing on me. And I got angry with you for not knowing who I was anymore.

I remember talking about having another baby and I said to you that I couldn’t go through it again. That it was too hard. And you said that I was exaggerating and that it couldn’t have been that bad. But it was. And you couldn’t see it. I already felt like a useless non-entity and you dismissing the way I felt just made me worse.

You were telling me what I did and didn’t feel. Do you remember when I would turn the heating up because I was cold and you would turn it down and tell me that I wasn’t because you weren’t? It started to feel like that all the time for me.

After a while I managed to pull myself together. And I knew what I had to do. Our marriage hadn’t worked for a long time. Leaving you and taking our daughter was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

The last few years of our marriage, things had got so bad that I found it really hard to remember the good times. But now that we have been apart for a while, I’m starting to remember them again. And it makes me so sad.

When Mia cries because she misses you, I know I’m responsible for the situation. But I still maintain that I did what was best for all three of us. And you would never have had that closeness with Mia if I had stayed because you would have relied on me to look after her.

I’m sorry I broke your heart. I’m sorry I destroyed your world as you knew it. I don’t think you will truly appreciate how unhappy we were until you find the happiness you deserve with someone else. Maybe then you will understand why I had to leave and then maybe, just maybe, you’ll forgive me and I’ll finally be able to forgive myself.

I email it to him with tears streaming down my face. I have spent the past four years trying not to think about the pain I must have caused him when I left because I couldn’t bear the guilt.

I’m getting ready for bed when the phone rings. It’s Mark. He sounds choked up. I tell him I’m sorry. His voice cracks as he says that I have nothing to apologise for.

He says he could see what I was going through but felt powerless to help. And he is the one who is sorry because I was right. We could never have been happy again.

We talk properly for the first time in years. He says that my letter answered a lot of questions for him. He couldn’t understand why it had been so easy for me to walk away. But now he knows it wasn’t.

I ask him if we can try to be friends again. He says he would like that very much. I put the phone down. Then find that I am smiling through my tears; it finally feels like closure (for both of us).