I arrived in London on the Sunday night after the break up as an empty shell of the person I had been when I left for home just two days before. The weekend I had experienced changed so many things in my life in that moment and it was surprising to find out who I would be able to depend on over the coming weeks and months.
Just as I moved to London I signed up to an online dating site with the clear ambition of making friends in London, I explicitly mentioned that I was already in a relationship and only looking for friends since I’d recently relocated. It didn’t take long for me to change this, almost as soon as I got back to London I changed the status to single, but still just looking for friends. I just didn’t want to start feeling worse because I didn’t know anyone in the area.
I started looking for a local rugby team, anything really to keep me busy. I didn’t want to focus too long on everything that had happened. I didn’t realise it right then but I was still hoping that we’d be able to work things out somehow, that Lara would change her mind and want to get back together. She didn’t seem sure about the break up when we talked, she didn’t seem sure about how she was feeling at all, maybe she just needed some time to think things over.
Throughout the week I tried to talk with Heidi, Daryl and my family as much as possible. I spoke to Lara once or twice and I wanted to just see how she was feeling, whether I was right to hope. Lara was unwilling to talk to me, scared that I might say more hurtful things I guess. We eventually decided on no contact for a while, just because I was beginning to ask if there was any way we could figure things out, she didn’t say no but she didn’t say yes either. I decided to give her the space to think about things she seemed to be asking for.
It’s around that time that I decided to talk to Daryl instead. I’d had a particularly hard day and felt very lonely and I tried ringing around to get hold of a friendly voice to talk to. Eventually Daryl picked up and told me that he was at the pub the four of us all used to go to together and that he was there with Heidi and Lara. Immediately I felt worse, I began to feel like I was losing more than just Lara my whole little gay family was hanging in the balance.
I should have proceeded with caution but I was hurting over a lot more than just feeling snubbed by my friends. I had been begging for their support, for them to keep in touch with me and just check to see how I was doing. I shouldn’t have had to ask. Then to find out that they were both out with Lara at a time when I really needed to talk to someone was hard to deal with. I remember talking with Daryl about how I was feeling, I imagine he slipped away from the girls for a little while to speak with me. I told him how I was hoping it was all going to be one long nightmare that I’d be able to wake up from it when Lara realised she made a mistake and wanted to get back together.
Daryl sighed and told me he didn’t think that was going to happen. I was confused, I had no reason to think otherwise. Lara didn’t tell me she never wanted to see me again, when I departed after the break-up scene she screamed at me not to leave her, she just didn’t know if she wanted a relationship anymore, any relationship. Lara let me believe that had she wanted to be in a relationship that I was the only person she loved, the only person she would want to be with.
When I questioned Daryl further on what he meant by that he just responded with “I think that’s a discussion you need to have with Lara.” I tried to get more out of him than that but it didn’t work to begin with, eventually I asked outright whether there was someone else. He just said sorry and I hung up the phone, clearly I was speaking to the wrong person. It was Lara I needed to be having words with.
So I called and I called until she finally decided to do the right thing and pick up the phone and talk with me. It was about time I was owed the truth, it had been a long time coming. I learned that after our break up on the Saturday afternoon, just a hour or so after she’d told a few of our closest friends, a day later she was acting as if nothing big had happened, on the Monday she told another girl that she had feelings for her and she wanted to see what would come of it, on the Tuesday we had talked and she had allowed me to hope that there was still a chance for us. As all this sunk in the hate began to wash over me.
In just a couple days I’d be home for Christmas and I was looking forward to it about as much as you might look forward to a dentists appointment. I wanted to be having fun I just couldn’t pick myself up enough to manage it. All I knew at this point was that Lara had brutally misused me, that after five years she had shown absolutely no respect for me in the slightest. I didn’t know then just what an awful person she had been to me over the years, but I would find out eventually and every snippet of new information for a while would reopen the wounds this break up inflicted.
I had little doubt over the object of Lara’s affections and when we did talk she confessed it to be Emma. I also realised very quickly that Emma returned her affections, my anger spread and I was now angry at the girl who had fast become my friend and betrayed me just as badly as Lara had. As far as I was concerned you didn’t do that to a friend, however she was young and I could forgive her for wanting to be with Lara even if the way she went about things was unacceptable.
I’m going to point out my own double standards here for anyone who know’s how Lara and I got together. For a brief time I was the other woman while she was in a relationship with a friend of mine. The difference here was that there wasn’t any history between Lara and her previous girlfriend, their relationship had no future, Lara had settled for her when she thought I was unavailable. Emma had been encouraging an affection with Lara and a distancing from me after we had been together for nearly five years, been through so much and planned so much for our future together. If I were in her situation today and I realised I had feelings for a friend who was in a long-term committed relationship I would make my feelings known to everyone concerned and remove myself from the equation. Honesty is the best policy after all, if anything were to develop out of that kind of situation at least it could be done with a clear conscience.
With this in mind, I felt like Emma had wronged me. I also despised Lara for the way she had let me hope that we might still be Ok while the whole time she was out beginning a new relationship with Emma. I had a lot of anger and for most of the rest of the week I kept it all bottled up, festering away. I was angry at a lot of people, I felt wronged by Heidi and Daryl too, they had seen everything going on between the two of them first-hand and they never thought to tell me what was going on, worse still when I needed their support they were there for her and not me. Sure geography made it easier for them to spend time with her than me but the last straw was when I got home on the Friday night and they were out with Lara and Emma when I needed them, when all I wanted was a night with my friends to cheer me up and help me process everything that I was internalising.
When I was back home that weekend a lot of my long-term friends were unavailable. The girls from my college days were away with various family commitments and plans since it was so close to Christmas and Michael was stuck at work. I was in that awful state of mind when you want to be in company and be alone all at the same time. Eventually I text around a few of my rugby teammates and arranged to spend an evening out with a couple of them, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
At least I had some plans for the Saturday evening to look forward to now. On the Friday night after another argument with Lara, Daryl and Heidi about their complete lack of regard for me I decided to ask for my things back from Lara. I wanted anything I had left at her house and I wanted a series of letters I had once written to her when we were together, with the way she had treated me I didn’t think she deserved to mull over the fond memories in months or years to come, she’d never have the decency to feel ashamed for what she had done. Lara’s perspective would lead her to falsely reflect on a time when we were happy and she treated me well. The truth was she never treated me well, I was only just beginning to realise that.
On the Saturday we exchanged the gifts we planned on giving each other that year since we’d bought them already we might as well and returned each others belongings. I remember grabbing all of Lara’s things and taking them to her house, I passed them over to her Mum when she came to the door, I had no interest in seeing her and walked away… Perhaps in a funny twist of humorous petulance I did return any toys we had owned together in a ‘why don’t you go and f*ck yourself’ kind of gesture that I hope she received loud and clear when she went through her things. Lara’s Mum was very civil to me and seemed to be sorry that things had ended badly, that was unexpected. It was always a little hit and miss about how welcome I felt when I was at their place.
I kept myself as busy as I could for the rest of the day, I usually resort to re-reading romantic classics to attempt to restore my faith in love and people when I’m hurting though after a while I decided it was time to get ready for my evening out. Lara’s Dad turned up when I was busy getting showered for my night out with my teammates, he’d returned all the things Lara had packed up for me, including the letters I had once written. Seeing all the stuff was more difficult than I could have imagined, and worse still I didn’t have some of it, items that would be lost to me forever.
I looked at the letters and my parents begged me not to read them, instead I shut myself away in my room and began to read through them all, they were the counterparts to the letters I had from Lara there with me in my room. All the promises, all the declarations of love, all the lies. I reached the peak of my anger over what she had done, not just this time now that it was over but all the times before too. The time when she lied to me about what was going on between her and Rose, the time on holiday when she led on the holiday rep right in front of me, or even right at the beginning when she continued a ridiculously flirty relationship with a guy she kissed at a party. I was livid and I reacted.
I ripped all the letter to shreds, I ripped photos to shreds, I left her a voicemail since I knew she was at work just screaming at her about how what she had done was unacceptable that it would have been easier for me to move on if she had died than for what she’d dragged me through over the years with her empty promises. I ended my tirade by taking a circuitous route to my evening out and dumping all the ripped up shreds of our past over her car in the rain where she was parked at work.
I had left so early for my engagement that I even had time to swing by Emma’s house and tell her what I thought about her part in it all too. I surprised myself by actually being rather calm, by saying that I had considered her a friend and that I wouldn’t any longer. That if I had been in her position I wouldn’t have done what she did. I meant to make her feel guilty, to make her think about what she had done, I didn’t blame her for what had happened, in fact if anything I pitied her. I could see so clearly that Lara would do to Emma exactly what she had done to me and every girlfriend she had before me. She would lie, she would cheat, the attention of one person would never be enough for her. It was so obvious now.
As Emma and I talked it over I made it clear that I no longer had any time for her or Lara and that the only time I would speak with her now would be on the pitch when we had matches together. When I knocked on the door to speak with her I remember that her mum answered and Emma was apprehensive about speaking to me, I asked her to sit with me in my car for a while that I just wanted to talk. By this point she was already angry with me, I had said some very hurtful things about her in a text message to Lara which she had seen. What she never realised and I never told her was why I used the insults I did, they were all the things that Lara had said behind her back when I had asked her if anything was going on between them, I was throwing them back at her asking her why she’d want to be with someone like that, I guess out of context I looked like the spiteful one.
It wouldn’t matter now, the pair of them were about to be cut out of my life. I began to think about the upcoming holiday we all had planned for February, it looked like that wouldn’t be a fun gay family holiday any longer. We’d have to deal with that, I didn’t want to give up my holiday over her and what she had done, if I could find a way I’d be going. What I hadn’t accounted for is what Lara did next, as if she hadn’t done enough. She attempted to file a report with the police against me for harassment.
Life is full of surprises and low blows, especially when you invite a selfish conniving idiot into your life under the misguided delusion that you actually meant something to them. I would say I’ll attempt to be a better judge of character in future, or perhaps be a little less trusting, but why should I change who I am because someone else has so little integrity.