Tear catcher

I had three relationships while I lived in Norfolk. One with the guy I moved in with when I first arrived, one with a guy I was with for a year or so before he proposed and I accepted and then we broke up, and one with a guy I really should have left alone. I was with the guy I should have left alone – let’s call him Dan – for only a few months, and we broke up around a month before I left Norfolk for good. We fucked each other up a bit. It was not good.

The main reason that I should not have ever even considered going anywhere near Dan was that I fucked over one of my friends (henceforth known as Kira) to be with him. Kira and I only really knew each other through my old job so we weren’t especially close, but she was one of those very rare people who I genuinely felt drawn to and enjoyed being around. We had drifted apart since we stopped working together and I was in the middle of a horrific “episode” so I didn’t think too much about whether or not I was hurting her and just did it anyway. That’s the kind of person I really am. Everyone keeps telling me I’m nice but nice people don’t do this kind of shit.

I was helping my other ex-boyfriend out with some admin stuff when Dan started working for him as well. He had just broken up with my friend (although I have to admit my memory is completely unreliable so I honestly can’t remember if it was a matter of days, weeks, months or maybe even hours between them breaking up and me seducing him), and because I hadn’t done a great job of keeping in touch with her I ended up hearing his side of the story first. I hadn’t done a great job of keeping in touch with her because she still worked where I used to work and I had fucked up royally. If I had merely done a little fuck up, it probably would have been salvageable. I would have had to work my arse off and grovel and take all the shit that was flung at me, but I would have still had the hope of redemption somewhere in my future. Sadly, I thought I was smart and tried to cover my tracks – and then I got caught, so that little fuck up turned into a forced resignation and the end of my career as it stood at the time.

I will return to that particular story at some point in the future, if I can actually bring myself to face up to what I did. Right now it’s not important. What is important, however, is that I’m honest with myself about what happened. And that applies to all of this. I haven’t ever talked about this with anyone; once I moved away, it was an excuse to forget all about it. No one knew me in Newcastle so I didn’t have to explain away any reputation that might have become a kind of local legend. I was anonymous and this meant I could be selective with the truth. Why tell the truth when you can get away with lying? Philosophers have been arguing about that question for centuries.

To continue setting the scene, you need to be aware of my state at that particular point in time. And, quite frankly, ‘state’ is the perfect word here. I was an absolute fucking mess. Before I lost my job, I had reached a point where I was drinking heavily every night and I was also getting a bit chunky from the contraceptives and antidepressants I was taking (and all the beer and wine, obviously). I didn’t want to stop drinking, nor did I have time to go the gym, but I am not very good at coping with being overweight so I took some rather drastic measures to rectify the numbers on the scale. And then I lost my job, but it was okay because I was skinny and blonde and manic as fuck – which in turn led me to self-destruct in a different direction and then I lost my boyfriend as well. Let’s call that boyfriend Matt. Matt deserves his own post too. He had his own demons and I couldn’t cope with that. We were doomed; we were lucky it didn’t drag out.

Once Matt and I broke up, I just lost the plot. I slept with someone much younger than me – not underage, but young enough to make me feel really fucking ancient at the ripe old age of 26 – and I aggressively pursued him only to get snubbed for a girl his own age, presumably because even though I was totally fucking crazybrains and I hated myself more than I have ever been able to explain, I didn’t want to drink milkshakes at the bowling alley and talk about cartoons.

He wasn’t old enough to drink, you see.

This shit was going on around the time I tried to really fuck myself up, and it was very shortly after this misadventure that Dan and I crossed paths. I was putting a somewhat brave face on everything  because I didn’t feel as though I had much choice. It wasn’t safe for me to be alone,  but I was really struggling to keep it together around other people. I just went to work and tried to get on. I don’t remember much about this time at all, but I know that I was very fucking fragile. I was a lit firework that hadn’t gone off when everyone expected it to so now everyone was waiting with bated breath for me to either fizzle out completely or to explode in an entertaining way. I had, essentially, lost control. And I was frightened, and lonely, so when Dan paid me the slightest bit of interest I obviously fell in love immediately and became absolutely fucking nuts about him.

I remember the first time Dan and I kissed. It was in my office, in the doorway, and I did that awkward thing where at the last minute my brain went LOL and I tilted my head the wrong way and we kind of smashed faces but his lips got close enough to mine so it worked out well enough. I made sure I didn’t fuck it up the second time. He invited me over to his house. Neither of them were planning on living there for much longer – in fact, I think Kira had moved out already – but she had made him promise that he wasn’t going to take me back there. We ended up there anyway.

Dan is not the tear catcher in this story; I am. I was his rebound from Kira and I just couldn’t see it.

The thing with Dan is that he was (possibly even still is) insanely fucking good looking. I would just watch him occasionally and I had no fucking clue whatsoever how he could possibly find me attractive. I’m all wonky-faced and weird looking. I remember one day Dan telling me that Kira used to blow-dry her eyelashes after she put mascara on and I realised that I was never going to be someone like that. I would never have thought to do that. I barely even blow-dry my hair. Fucking hell, I hardly ever even brush my hair.

There were two things about Dan that helped make me feel less anxious and inferior around him. The first thing, and this is something I don’t ever really talk about in detail on here, was the sex. Unless I’m fucking you or actively trying to fuck you, I generally don’t talk about this kind of thing but, in this particular case, it’s somewhat important. Without going into unnecessary detail, I wasn’t ever massively confident in bed. I started young, and although you may think that would mean I had a lot of practice, what it actually involved was practice with people who had little-to-no fucking clue what they were doing. I would just lie there because I didn’t know any better, and no one ever actually told me what I was supposed to be doing – aside from the absolute obvious. As I got a bit older, I got a bit more confident but I would still try to avoid things that I wasn’t very sure about (and I don’t mean any kinky shit, I mean simple things like going on top because I was scared that I would do it wrong somehow) and I started taking cues from things I’d seen in porn in order to pretend that I was really super awesome in bed. However, all that this meant was that I learnt how to fuck and be noisy. I still had no idea how to be intimate with someone.

When I was with Matt, I grew more comfortable with myself and what I wanted but obviously that was only with him, so when I slept with Dan for the first time I was just as nervous as I’d always been with anyone new. But we fucked in that slightly tentative, awkward way that you do when you’re just discovering someone for the first time, and then we were just messing around in bed for a while afterwards. We started getting a bit gropey again, and he took my hand and put it between my legs and he got so fucking turned on just watching me… It probably sounds ridiculous, but the way he was moaning and just letting himself get lost in the moment was something completely new to me. He was enjoying it and he wasn’t trying to hide it or overthink it, and it was the first time that I’d felt comfortable enough to be like that with someone. It was amazing. I could just do this thing and drive him totally fucking crazy and he was so open about it and it made me feel really close to him. And it made me feel really good too. I finally got a teeny tiny bit of confidence after that.

The second thing, which may be related in some awfully clichéd ‘crazy people are fucking awesome in bed’ way to the first, was that he also had major mental health problems. I think I just ignored them to begin with, or perhaps he lied and made it sound as though these things had happened a long time ago when they had actually been quite recent. I won’t go into detail  – partly because I don’t feel as though I have the right to, but also because I genuinely don’t know what was actually wrong. It wouldn’t be fair of me to analyse him when I don’t know the full story, nor do I have his blessing to discuss it.

We got in a mess. He did loads of cocaine so I started doing loads of cocaine. I was still being doped up on benzos by my doctor, Dan was on painkillers for some reason that I can’t remember now, and we’d take each other’s drugs constantly. I thought I was in love with him but I was just crazy. He was still in love with Kira. I couldn’t cope. I tried to compete, even though that’s not really the kind of person that I am. I could be more awesome and fun and sexy and exciting than she ever was. He had a tattoo on his lower stomach that Kira had done with an eBay tattoo gun during a party. I bought a tattoo gun and some ink and loads of coke and now I have the outline of a phoenix in wobbly red ink on my lower right arm to remind me to never let someone I’m fucking tattoo me with an eBay tattoo gun in the middle of a coke binge ever again.

I envy those of you who did not have to learn that particular lesson the hard way. At least it’s red ink; it kind of just looks like a shit henna tattoo instead of a shit real tattoo as long you don’t peer too closely at it.

That isn’t the only lesson here, of course. Never, ever let yourself be the person someone tries to fall in love with in order to forget the one they genuinely do love. People who are on the rebound can be incredibly cruel. One minute you are the best thing that has ever happened to them, but then the person who dumped them clicks their fingers and regardless of whether they’re being genuine or just stringing them along, you are now the hostile party standing in the way of true love. Everyone ends up hating you, and it’s not hard to see why – not in my case, at least.

I begged him to stay. I sat in the passenger seat of his car and cried and cried until there were snot bubbles everywhere and he couldn’t even hear what I was saying through my tears. No wonder he was fucking off. He left. I think I chased his car a little bit.

We still had to work together but we couldn’t be civil any longer. I left the job, I left the county.

A short while after I moved here, he stole my address from my other ex and wrote to my new house. He emailed me his new number, told me that he was in some unspecified trouble. I called him and he said that Kira had forgiven him for ever getting with me but, actually, really it was me he loved because I was the only one who truly understood him and blah blah… I wasn’t interested. I don’t need a rebound relationship to get over someone. I just need to move to the other end of the country, erase my past and get a decent psychiatrist. Fucking amateur. He never did tell me what trouble he was in. The next day he sent another email saying that he regretted getting in touch and that he was changing his number so that I couldn’t destroy what he had with Kira.

Sometimes other people’s craziness really makes me question my own sanity.

I never meant to write so many words about Dan, but I don’t think what we had really deserves to be stretched out to two posts. It was just an unfortunate side-quest that I stumbled upon when I went the wrong way in a game I didn’t even know I was playing.

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