Think about when you use the word open, it’s not uncommon to hear something along the lines of ‘thanks for being open with me’ in that context it means to be frank and honest. When I think of my brief experience of an ‘open’ relationship I feel like I failed. By the very nature of this type of agreement all activity should have been frank and honest. It wasn’t.
When I say I failed, that is exactly what I mean. I’m not blaming Katy for the way things ended, she may have set up the web of lies, I went along with them. I have long since admitted that my behaviour during this time was appalling. I had deceived Michelle from day one. I let her think that we were both single women enjoying getting to know each other, dating and that there was a possible relationship on the cards.
Michelle lived in Bath and we had reached a point in our affair where we had grown pretty attached. I remember staying at her place one evening, of course Katy knew where I was and she didn’t appreciate me staying out all night. I found it harder and harder to make excuses not to stay the night with Michelle, without confessing to the multitude of lies.
Katy knew where Michelle lived in Bath and had followed me home the next morning. I remember driving home the whole journey seeing her car in my rear view mirror and feeling very anxious about the scene this would cause when we got home. I had worked myself up by the time we arrived home to be very angry with Katy over the situation.
Although now I’m able to see clearly how I behaved badly, at the time I blamed Katy for everything. Hadn’t she brought this on herself when she asked for me to see other people? When she set me up with Michelle? When she pushed me away? I knew eventually she’d get jealous and want it all to end, I thought that when that happened I would give in and continue on with our relationship as it had been before. The trouble was, I liked Michelle a lot more than I liked Katy during this time.
Everything that had happened to date had caused me to lose respect for Katy. Being with Michelle was easy. She’s intelligent, principled and genuinely one of the kindest people I have ever met. I felt so guilty about the way I was treating her, yet rather than own up to my own part in the deception I took it out on Katy. I naively wanted what Michelle and I had to be real, I failed to acknowledge that it never could be. I wanted Michelle to think well of me, which kept me from telling her the truth far longer than I should have.
Our fling started in the December and would last until the end of January, those two months were enough for things to reach a pretty serious state of affairs. I remember meeting Michelle’s family one evening, meeting her friends and going on dates. During this time I cut Katy off, I wouldn’t sleep with her, kiss her and I would only begrudgingly share a bed with her. The frostiness didn’t go unnoticed.
Come New Years Eve when we were bringing in the year 2006 I resolved to myself that if there was any way I could salvage something with Michelle I would. As for Katy, I would just have to walk away. I remember the New Years Eve party at Mandalyn’s had a 1950’s theme and I planned two outfits for the occasion. One a baby blue 50’s style dress and then after the clock struck 12 a Grease themed outfit (I had the coolest Rydell High t-shirt) to dance the night away in.
My frostiness alerted Katy to my plans. The ice cold barrier I had erected between us clearly stated that I was now more emotionally invested in what Michelle and I had. The resentment I felt towards Katy would often bubble over into unavoidable arguments. When the clock struck twelve Michelle and I would be in each others arms sharing a midnight kiss. The public image was that we were dating, it couldn’t have been any other way. I didn’t want it to be any other way.
The arguments would often start while out with our friends in hushed angry whispers outside the bar. The thirty minute drive home would often be a shouting match or snide remarks would be fired back and forth. Eventually when we would get home it would be all out war. I’ve admitted before how volatile our relationship could be, that in the past I had hit Katy, while we lived together I don’t remember it getting violent over this, not on my part.
One evening shortly after New Year’s we were arguing, I confessed to Katy everything I was feeling, all the rules that had been broken, that I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore and I wanted to tell Michelle the truth. I knew that I would hurt Michelle badly, I hoped that if the truth came from me that she might be able to forgive me and that we could get past it.
Katy wasn’t thrilled with my plan, the ensuing argument is the one time I truly saw Katy lose it. This time she hit me. I locked myself in the bathroom and listened to her frantically attempt to apologise through the locked door. If anything strengthened my resolve for putting the truth out in the open it was that moment. Being able to confess the truth was the only way I could take any power back over my life. I had been Katy’s puppet for far too long.
When things calmed down after this row I was simply waiting for the right moment to confess. It came one evening as I had arranged to stay at Michelle’s and made it quite clear that I needed to talk to her about something important. Katy was out that night too, she could see what I was about to do so she pulled the rug out from underneath me. She informed Michelle in the cruellest of manners that I was using her and that we had been together the whole time. I was livid.
Rather than waste any effort attempting to argue with Katy I went to Michelle and tried to explain myself. Nothing could be said to fix the damage already done. There would be no way for us to overcome this, it’s not a way to start a relationship. This blow came just at the time when Michelle was feeling like we had reached a point in our relationship where we could make something of what we had, I know that the pain we had caused was inexcusable. I walked away from the situation and went home to find Katy, smug, yet still willing to take me back.
I didn’t go running back into Katy’s arms as she expected. We co-existed in the same house, often not sleeping in the same room since we had a little put-up sofa bed. I ignored the fact that I felt so hurt and angry with her because I had loved her so completely and she had played with me (again) and instead chose to channel my feelings into hate and resentment. As far as I was concerned we were over, we’d see out the remainder of our lease and then go our separate ways.
So what would happen next, would we live in harmony the next four months? Would we get back together? Attempt to kill each other? I honestly didn’t know, but I was too proud to admit my mistakes and no amount of money in the world would ever get me to confess my relationship problems to my disapproving family and go back home. In the next couple of months I would focus on work and try to forget about this episode. This chapter of my life needed to be closed and agonising over my past decisions would only result in a gut-full of regret.