‘Write What You Know’


‘Write what you know’ is the advice given by almost every writer, editor, and lecturer I’ve ever met. Of course, by that, we don’t mean that you can’t write about being bitten by a vampire unless you’ve been bitten by a vampire – such things don’t happen. But we can talk about having something taken from us, about being violated, about feeling drained. We can’t talk, from a first-person perspective, about how we’d deal with a zombie horde, but we sure as hell can talk to you in chapters about isolation and the fear of losing those we love to something we’re powerless to stop.

I haven’t blogged, or written anything really, in a long time. And I already think this post is a mistake. It’s going to be too self-expository, too revealing, and most of all, it’s going to be terrifying to write. Because I’m not going to tell you some fiction based on ‘what I know’, I’m going to give you the whole truth of why I’ve fallen off the face of the planet over the last year. Because I need to do something, and I need to write, and what’s been going on is all I have to give you. Hell, I don’t even think this is even for you – I don’t flatter myself by assuming anyone reads anything I write anyway, but I need to get something down. I need to tell someone something. And the immediate self-inflicted tragedy of this for me is, who cares anyway? Everyone has their own battles and thinking that anyone is going to give a damn about how I’ve not been coping with mine is beyond arrogant.

I’m 30, and I’m single again. And this post is about the fact that no matter how hard I try, I am just not a person that someone loves. I am not a girl that is ever going to be proposed to, try on wedding dresses, and lie awake the night before my wedding going over my vows. I always had this idea, because I don’t have a father figure, that I was going to walk myself down that aisle towards the man who wanted to marry me. I didn’t want a father substitute to ‘give me away’, my mum raised me to be independent – I have never grown up feeling like I need a man to keep me. I wanted that moment of choosing to give myself to someone for the first time and promising them the things you promise someone you know you’re going to love forever. This most recent break up has hit me harder than the others for so many reasons, but I think the main one is that it’s finally hit me – this isn’t ever going to happen.

So here’s a brief history: I was invisible in school until my final year, where I started seeing a particularly popular boy and that was it, game over. I recognise it as jealousy now, but I ended up breaking up with him because things got so bad with the other girls that I had to be escorted to and from school for a while to avoid being beaten up. I was called a slut and heard a ridiculous amount of rumours about myself before I’d ever had my first kiss. And that didn’t go away until I moved out of my home town.

I met my ‘first love’ in college, who for some unknown reason got it into his head that I’d cheated on him (I hadn’t – we were a year in and I was madly in love). He was so convinced by this that he told people I’d done it, and I was hated again. I broke up with him. A year later, we get back together after he told me he’d broken up with his current girlfriend. He hadn’t. I had no idea. Guess who ended up looking like the boyfriend-stealing-harlet? To this day, 12 years later, she hates me.

I dated a guy who I caught red-handed with his ex. I calmly told him that I was hurt but clearly he had some unresolved issues with his ex, and I stepped aside. I wanted no part in it. I was NICE to the guy who had been cheating on me the whole time (in fact, his mother was the one who first warned me). And that guy told all our mutual friends that we’d split because I cheated on him, and I was shunned by yet another group for something I hadn’t done.

This could go on and on, so we’ll fast forward 7 years. I had a life-threatening accident and my then boyfriend, who I’d been with for a year, quit his job and looked after me for a further 2 years until I was physically and mentally capable of looking after myself. And then we broke up because he hadn’t been in love with me for a long time. We’ll call him Jay, and I feel the need to mention him because I think he’s the only good man I’ve ever been involved with. I told him the feeling was mutual, because he couldn’t help that he’d fallen out of love with me, and making him feel bad for it wasn’t going to get me my relationship back. But this guy quit his job, struggled through his last year of uni, was at my beck and call, and stayed up literally all night every night suffering exhaustion because I had PTSD and frequent night terrors. We no longer speak, but Jay is one of the best and most decent men on the planet, and I truly wish him every happiness. But it isn’t with me, because for whatever reason, he realised I wasn’t the one for him. I was devastated- the feeling wasn’t mutual, I loved that man to death.

We’ll skip the next relationship, because that year was so full of emotional abuse that that asshole doesn’t even deserve a mention.

When I graduated from uni (I was 28), I became romantically involved with a lecturer. We fell in love and that was that. He was 40, a ridiculously intelligent academic whom I admired to no end, and had life experience and things worth sharing with me. But he didn’t. He let me, nay, encouraged me, to get completely emotionally attached, and then actually ducked behind a shelf when one of his co-workers almost saw us together outside of work. He acted like he couldn’t believe his luck that he had me, and then made every effort possible to hide me from everyone else in his life. He took a job (that was actually a step down from his current one) 5 hours away, and I was factored into that as far as ‘you can come with me if you want’, and he knew I would, and gave no thought to what I’d be sacrificing to do so. But I was willing, because you make sacrifices for people you love, right? He had endless ‘goodbye’ parties, none of which he invited me to, because he was ashamed by the age difference and didn’t want me on his arm. Meanwhile, while he was out partying, I was redecorating his house so it was in good order to be rented out. I didn’t go with him in the end. I realised I meant nothing to him. He made time for everyone except for me in the run up to his leaving, and dare I express any emotional pain or insecurity about it, I’d be made to feel so guilty and selfish that I’d end up leaving and crying all the way home on the train, alone.

If you’re still with me this far, I commend your endurance for my self-pity. I don’t mean it to come across this way, and I never intended to write a tell-all about how tragic I am, but I’m trying to understand what the hell it is about me that makes me so utterly disposable to everyone who claims to love me.

I’ve only skimmed the surface, but you get the idea – these experiences are what I’m used to. They’re what have been shaping me throughout my adult life. They’re the majority of my experiences. I’ve been cheated on by almost everyone I’ve been with, and if I listed every experience, this post would never end. You’ve had the highlights. Yay.

This last year has been what’s killed me. I have never felt so insignificant, so disposable, and so completely irrelevant in my entire life. And the feeling just won’t go away, and I don’t know what to do.

Around Jan/Feb, I fell absolutely head over heels in love with a friend I’ve had for over a decade. I was there to help him because he was suffering a break up that was going on a year, and unexpected things developed between us. This guy, we’ll call him T, isn’t an asshole. He just isn’t. He’s not selfish, he’s not a prick. He’s not any of the things that people say about the person who hurt you, and he never meant to hurt me. He constantly told me he was still in love with his ex, he constantly reminded me that should he try to move on, he wouldn’t be ready for another relationship, he’d need some time and that time wouldn’t necessarily be for me. But he’d also say things like ‘I’m going to fall for you any minute’ and ‘the danger with you is I’m always really happy when you’re here, when you’re not with me, I want you here, I have to stop myself from calling you and asking you over’. It’s confusing to a girl when you’re fully aware that they love someone else, but you feel like they’re falling for you. I was sat there on his sofa with him one night, and something in him changed, and all of a sudden, this affection poured out of him, and that was the second I realised I’d fallen for him, completely, unconditionally, and against my own better judgment. We had a night together that felt like we were a couple.

And then the very next day he calls me in a state because his ex wants him back. So I go over there and talk to him, and tell him it’s fine, he has to give it a shot with her because he loves her, and I’m his friend and just want him to be happy. Because why make this harder for him when he’s already made his mind up and he never intentionally hurt me? He never even knew I was in love with him, because it was ridiculous, and I didn’t tell him. And I smiled and hugged him and told him I would be there as a friend and I hoped it went well, and then I walked to my car knowing that it was over and cried for two days. I was okay until a few weeks later when I randomly saw him at a friend’s house, and he wouldn’t even look in my direction. Jesus Christ. How could I have been someone who was so close to him a few weeks before and then become someone he actually left the room to avoid afterwards? And of course, though I was the one hurt by that, I was the one who was suddenly not invited to anything any more.

And now we’ve got to the last one, who we’ll just call Dan. I was with him from August to April, until I found out (cheers Facebook), that he had cheated on me in April. ‘Dan’ had been basically living in my house since November. I took him to see Limp Bizkitt in December for his birthday, and that was the first night he told me he loved me, and god, did that get laid on thick for the following months. I was telling everyone I saw that I had never felt so happy with someone. I was terrified at first and Dan told me that I was going to ruin it if I was too scared to let it happen between us, and to let my guard down. He consistently told me to let my guard down until I finally did and then I was absolutely hooked.

Finding out I’d been cheated on with this girl was just inexplicable to me, because the guy I knew, the guy who slept in my bed every night, the guy who was in my kitchen cooking me dinner after a long day in work, could not be the guy who had slept with someone else and then looked me in the eye and lied about it to the point where I actually apologised for questioning him. But the powers of social media, man. As soon as it ‘came out’ we were an item, I started getting messages from girls he’d cheated on me with, 3 who had admitted to sleeping with him because they didn’t even know I existed, plus several more who didn’t go into that much detail. I learned that for the first 3 months we were together, he already had a girlfriend he’d been with for a year, and she’d broken up with him because he’d cheated on her with someone (who wasn’t even me). There was another one for that first three months.. so 2 that I know of.. The girl I broke up with him over, I thought was recent. He’d been seeing her since December. I found a receipt from a jewellers in the first week of February whilst looking in the sofa for his lost bank card, and got excited because Valentine’s Day was approaching and I’ve really never had a good one. He told me he had to go to work on his day off, which happened to be Valentin’s Day, and spent it with December girl and showered her with whatever gift I thought I was getting. I don’t care about jewellery or money, but I can’t tell you how much that hurt when I realised what had happened there. I saw him the next day and received a bunch of flowers from Tesco and about 0% effort because I clearly wasn’t top of the ‘girlfriend’ leaderboard anymore.

I reiterate, this is all stuff I found out afterwards. That concert I took him to? He told everyone he went with his friend from work. While I was telling everyone about my amazing boyfriend, he was insisting to anyone who asked that he was single, but he had varying ‘psycho’ stories about me to explain who I was in case he got caught out by other girls. I’ve had two months since this break up of finding out three or four more things I didn’t know every week, and it just needs to stop. Finding out about one girl he’d pulled on a night out was bad enough, but finding out about three or four actual other girlfriends pushed me over. How did he even manage this? By lying about his working hours, I guess.

It’s been months on for everyone else, so no one understands how I can still be so upset about this now. Because it’s only just stopped. I’ve only just stopped learning new things that I didn’t want to know in the first place. It was only a week ago that I learned that in January (while we were at our best and most loved up), he told another girl he loved her and wanted her back and kept asking to see her. And now I’m not just dealing with what I thought I knew in the beginning when we broke up, I’m dealing with an unbelievable amount of deceit, lies, and pain because now I’ve got a whole picture and it’s the ugliest picture anyone could have painted for me about someone I loved more than I’ve ever loved anyone – and I bet there’s more and thank eff I don’t know it.

And when I finally confronted him and stood up for myself, despite knowing damn well he’d been caught, he denied it, lied, and called me a c***. He even swore on his niece and nephew’s lives that he hadn’t cheated, despite the latest girl making a point of changing her profile picture to a collage of the two of them together, with pictures taken while he and I were still together.

I never thought I’d be using a blog that I once used to promote myself as a writer as a glorified diary entry, but here I am. I keep my private stuff private normally (in fact, I roll my eyes at people who publicise their drama), but I don’t know where to turn. This most recent event has left me such severe anxiety that I’m now medicated for it and have barely left my house in weeks, on account of the ‘psycho’ rumours and the absolute terror of bumping into him – it’s a small town. I haven’t been able to work, I’ve been seeing doctors and begging for help for 6 weeks, and I actually requested counselling because I just do not understand.

Apparently, according to my friends and my family, ‘anyone would be lucky to have me’. Oh really? Then why is it that everyone I’m with, asshole or cheater, or decent, honest, stand up guy, decides that I’m not worth anything at all to them? I’m worth so little that other girls are needed to fill the void, or I’m worth so little that I step aside when the ex returns and then the thanks for that is that I don’t even get the friendship? Yeah man, it really makes you feel like a priority when someone who claims to love you doesn’t even factor you into a decision about moving 5 hours away for a job that’s beneath his current one and he doesn’t even really want. And worst of all, it’s the way the majority of these guys cheat or lie and then when caught, are so incapable of apologising that instead, they go on a mission to completely assassinate my character so that no one believes anything I say about them – which is nothing – because I don’t walk around town with a megaphone and a sandwich board strapped to myself with the dude’s betrayals broadcast anyway. This post has partly come from a need to defend myself, because I’ve had guys spinning the ‘psycho ex’ story about me for years, and I’m not. I barely even give these assholes hassle at the time of the breakup – despite how all this looks, I do not like drama. But I’m human and I don’t want people thinking these terrible things about me all the time and I don’t know how else to set this straight to anyone.

People have been asking me why I haven’t written anything new in such a long time, and I keep letting editors down with time frames and such, and I’m sorry. But I don’t feel like I’ve got anything left to give, in any capacity. Except for this. This is what I have. This is all I have. The truth, and not some pseudo-fiction, inspired, retelling of it is all I feel like I’ve got left to give you and it’s humiliating and embarrassing and not even through that near-death accident would I admit to depression and anxiety, but I have to now. Even whilst fighting my way through PTSD and having to relearn to walk and having to deal with a temporary colostomy, I have never ever felt this low. I have never been made to feel this bad about myself.

I just want this constant, but all-too-familiar feeling of being completely disregarded to stop, or I at least want to understand why. Because I’ve been ‘keeping my chin up’ for 15 years of boyfriends and actually believing that eventually I’ll meet the ‘right person’, but it just keeps getting worse.

I don’t even know how to end this blog entry, but I just want this all to end.

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