Walk a mile

The next few posts will probably be my hardest, and perhaps the most revealing about the type of person that I really am. A series of events were about to unfold that would really test my character, push me to my limits and find me acting out in ways that I never would have thought possible. I would make bad decisions, forget what was truly important to me and only wake up just in time to attempt to recover everything I was about to sacrifice.

How did things reach such a horrid climax? I’m not sure I can even explain it, you’d really have to walk that mile in my shoes, I know it was hard enough for those closest to me to see what I was going through. Some people wouldn’t even stick around in my moment of need, some people would really pull through for me. Such is life.

When you feel like your world is falling apart you want and need your family and friends. It’s a time when you need support and whether you ask for it or not and if you’ve chosen your friends well it should be forthcoming. My family could not be faulted, my friends wanted to be there for me, only the break up had presented a bigger problem… it was like a divorce within our tight-knit gay family.

Immediately after the break up Heidi and Daryl were very supportive. Perhaps, like me, they were waiting to see if it would stick, that perhaps Lara and I might make up and put everything back on track. I didn’t talk about the details of the break up to begin with, I remember I hadn’t said a word to either of them because if I said it out loud then it would be real. Then I received a text just an hour or so afterwards from Heidi saying she’d heard we were over and she was there for me if I needed to talk.

If the break up wasn’t bad enough this was a huge blow, it floored me completely. I wasn’t even ready to acknowledge it was truly over and Lara had already told our closest friends, even after she screamed at me ‘Don’t do this!’ just a short hour before. I just couldn’t fathom that she would tell everyone so soon that it was all over. I couldn’t believe how easily she seemed to accept it, how easily she would turn her back on the five years we’d spent together. I was angry with her.

Heidi came to visit me, we didn’t talk much she just sat with me while I was dazed and fretting every now and then as it began to sink in. As I began to process what had happened and realise that it really might be over for good. I tried not to talk about what had happened in much detail, preferring to say that we just seemed to want different things. After all, this was the reason Lara had given me, she claimed to want to be single and independent and I wanted something long-term, a future for both of us. It’s a valid and respectable reason to break up, if it’s true.

So to begin with, believing this to be true and despite all the hurt and disappointment I was feeling I attempted to keep things friendly. I wanted very much to keep our gay family in tact if at all possible. Lara and I had been barely more than friends for so long now that it shouldn’t be too much of a change. Sure I’d now lost hope that our relationship could be restored to it’s former glory, and I would have to grieve over the loss of that, I can’t say it wasn’t expected though. However much I hoped and wished things could be different.

I focussed on the next day ahead. Sunday was a busy day for me. I had the rugby match in the afternoon, followed by a night out as the four of us in Bath which was my present to my gay family. Then I’d have to pack up my things and head back to London for the week. I had been in London less than a month, I hadn’t yet made any friends or gotten to know my colleagues very well, everyone I knew, loved and needed right now was in Somerset and I’d have to leave them.

Heidi and I went to the rugby club together, it was an away game and we’d be taking the coach with the team and supporters coming with us. I had asked Lara not to come, however Daryl would be joining us. I was a shell of the person that I usually am when I was with my team, it was clear that something wasn’t quite right with me, though perhaps something about my manner stopped people from asking what was wrong. Perhaps I looked just as much on edge as I felt, I was barely keeping it together.

By the time we arrived at the location of our match Emma was the only person who had asked what was up. I looked at her for quite a long moment and said for the first time out loud that Lara and I were over, and I cried. Not massive uncontrollable sobs, just a steady stream of silent tears that I couldn’t help. Emma didn’t know what to say, but she was a friend and when the words didn’t come she did the only thing that makes sense in that situation and gave me a big hug and said sorry. The kind of hug that makes you think you’re being held together just long enough to get a grip for a while. In that moment I had no doubt that Emma was my friend, that she’d never to anything to hurt me or make the pain that I was already going through any worse.

After that I was focussed on the game, it was much easier for me to channel my pain into anger and aggression than let myself begin the whole grieving process. So it was probably my best game, the poor girls that got in my way that day got absolutely obliterated, I wasn’t afraid to tackle hard and get up and keep doing it over and over again. I was probably running of pure adrenaline much of the match, there was a moment when I think I tackled a girl and she didn’t get up for a while. I couldn’t be sure it was actually me that did it, but she seemed to be out cold, it took her a while to get back up and shake off the tackle. It was towards the end of the game, it was a victory for our team, our first one if I remember rightly.

As soon as the match was over and we were changing to head into the club house I was the empty shell of myself again. I felt very much like I was on auto-pilot and just going through the motions. I remember sitting in a corner of the bar with my things and a drink with a couple of teammates with me, just waiting for all the post-match crap to be over with. Of all the things to worry about in this moment I was worrying about missing our Cabaret show that night. The longer we spent here going through the motions the less time we had to get ready and get to the show.

The whole evening was awkward and you could cut the tension with a knife. Rather than be a blubbering mess it’s so much easier to be angry, to make snide remarks out of hurt and then take a moment to compose yourself and move on. I didn’t help with the awkwardness at all. To begin with I tried to make light of it, doing that thing where you point out the elephant in the room so it’s not this awful taboo everyone skirts around the rest of the night.

It worked for a while, we managed to get through the show relatively Ok. I wasn’t too rude to Lara when she tried to talk to me, the honest truth was that I just didn’t know how to talk to her anymore. I had put so much trust in her, so much of me had gone into our relationship and what we had and now it all felt wasted and taken for granted, it fuelled my anger so I felt safer just saying nothing. I couldn’t enjoy myself, instead I felt like an outsider watching the three of them enjoy this gift I had given them and I resented them for it. Why couldn’t they, Lara especially be as miserable as me? Why was I the only one hurting over this?

Seeing Lara act like she didn’t have a care in the world, like the events of the day before didn’t affect her at all was too much for me. I started to act out, making snide remarks to remind her of what she was giving up, what she had done and how cavalier she seemed to be now as she sat across from the person who’s life she had wasted. I didn’t hold back or mince my words and I didn’t wait for a moment in private, Daryl and Heidi were witness to it all.

It was a stupid move on my part really, that ultimately cost me a lot more than it cost anyone else however I still think now that every single word needed to be said. Lara, once and for all needed a healthy reality check to show her exactly the person she was and what she was capable of out of pure selfishness. I don’t regret what I said, I only regret having said it in front of our mutual friends and putting them in that awkward situation. Perhaps if they had walked a mile in my shoes what happened next would have been different. In that moment, after seeing me lash out at Lara my friends decided her need was greater than mine and Lara gained their support while I was scorned.

We travelled home in frosty silence and when I reached home I packed my things and got ready to depart for London. I had contemplated staying home with my family but I decided against it, at least back in London I would have work to distract me from my misery, people that didn’t know me well enough to take pity or ask too many questions, it felt like a possible sanctuary, at the moment everything reminded me of being with Lara and I wanted to run far away from it all.

That night as I drove the two hours back to London I remember having an argument with Heidi, trying to explain how I hadn’t intended on ruining the night out for us all. I’d only lashed out because I was hurting and that it rubbed salt in the wounds for me to have no sympathy from her, that she couldn’t see in that moment my need was greater than Lara’s, I hadn’t wanted or asked for this and I needed my friends support. Heidi just said over and over that she didn’t want to chose or be stuck in the middle, and I accused her of being a shitty friend. I wasn’t in my right frame of mind and I was angry at the wrong person at the wrong time, but a good friend will realise when you’re not being yourself and be there waiting for you on the other side to shrug it off a couple days later when the dust has settled and you’ve all had a little humble-pie.

Even though I had acted up and lashed out at those closest to me I didn’t think for one moment that they would be incapable of understanding what I was going through. I never once thought that Heidi and Daryl would have to walk a mile in my shoes before they could really be there for me. Through the hurt and anger I was still trying to make sense of how things had ended this way, what had gone wrong between Lara and I for her to just not want to be in a relationship anymore. I had a lot to figure out, a lot of unanswered questions.

By the time I got back to London I was confused, shocked, hurt, angry, isolated and truly just a shell of myself. I’d lost so much more of my identity than I was ever aware of over the five years, in the last year I had only really scratched the surface of what my potential was and who I wanted to be, this was a huge set back.


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