I have been watching a new show. Borgen. A political drama set in Denmark that depicts the behind the scenes world of politics. I like it in its very simple depictions of how politics, business and media come together in influencing people, and the real lives that exist behind the power. Where good intentions get lost and sacrifices leading to painful outcomes. It’s an easy watch, if painful in parts. It makes me think and I like things that take me somewhere.
This particular episode really catching me in the death of the father of the prime minister’s spin doctor. A complicated character. It turned out he was abused by his father when he was a child. Sending his father to his cremation, and asking for him to be dressed in the same pyjamas that he had worn when he abused him. A bleak image in no one else being there as he sat their alone, feeling the magnitude of a loss that no-one else knew about. He looked numb and lost like a boy. Until the woman that actually meant something to him, but he continually let down, turned up. Sitting down next to him and just holding his hand. It was a really beautiful and touching moment of real care. A care that was elevated above all the crappy realities of life. She just cared about him because he was him. I felt tears in my eyes in seeing such a simple and pure love that was made of care. And, as is often the case, becomes most visible in times of death. It has sat inside of me ever since. Relationships can be so complicated despite attempts to keep them simple. I have felt weary by complication. Wishing to just vanish into thin air and never be seen again. A little like this character, I would quite like to create a brand new identity with a different name in a place where no one knows me.
The show is actually about 9 years old. I’m the worst reviewer of anything because I’m always trailing behind the “right now” as I dawdle through life and discover things a million years after everyone else. Something I was often told off for doing by my own dad. “Stop dawdling and day dreaming”. I liked doing both. It made me happy. It just made him angry. But I was never so bothered about where I was getting to. More enjoying what was around me as I dawdled. And then taking it all inside and playing with it in my head. Funny that right now I am feeling as though I should be getting somewhere but not knowing where I’m going or even where I want to. Can I just spend my time dawdling and day dreaming? I realise how tired I’ve become of real life. Its worn me out in so many different ways. I am feeling a lot of disappointed with so much. Myself included.
I have been thinking about the two distinctive versions of who I am. The Dreamer girl and The Down to Earth girl. They both sit alongside each other. The Dreamer being the more dominant version. She can spend a whole day just thinking. Down to earth fits in much more easily with my real world life. But Dreamer always having a big influence in how I experience and see the real world. A kind of spin doctor in my own mind. They always existed together really happily and easily in my life.
I’ve been thinking about P. When I met him when we were young he most definitely had both too. Down to earth being the much bigger influence but he had the ability to become part of my dreamy version. And he liked that. It was a huge moment in my young life when I found someone who loved me for all the things that he said made me “special”.
They say that you end up marrying your parent. I have only been married once. I have thought about it in relation to different relationships I have had through the years. Tending to avoid what felt like my dad.
With P there is a massive difference between him and my dad. My dad was a Ladies man. A complete charmer and womaniser. The serial adulterer until finally leaving my mum for his young blonde secretary who he married and travelled the world with. He’s on wife number three now. But he has been unfaithful all the way along. Treated my mum like crap along with his kids but to the wider outside world he has always been seen as charismatic and charming.
It’s no surprise then in how that affected my ability to trust other men. With an even worse step dad that followed, my early role models of men/women relationships was severely tarnished. Without even going near the father/daughter aspect where control and abuse existed. Giving me a warped version to refer back to and clouding my judgements in comparisons and similarities that provided similar feelings and vulnerability. It certainly explains early relationships with older men.
I do try to see behind the surface. We are all full of complications. It’s so easy to feel like I am damaged. To blame myself because of a past that makes everything easy to pin on me. Complicated past obviously resulting in a messed up adult! And yet for 20 plus years I had a very simple and happy and drama free life. My life was as averagely normal as they come with lots of sparkle thrown in. So instead I’m trying to see me evolving through a life lived. Trying to understand how and why the events of the past four years have impacted on me so much. It has really hurt me more than any other time in my adult life. And now I’m trying to fix what’s been broken in me and begin again. But this time feeling I have a safety net that has helped me before.
Over the past 25 years I had learnt how to build and maintain really good relationships. I have really good long term friends. Lovely people I have met in different places and shared something special with. I had a long and happy marriage. And I loved people generally. But my confidence and trust in people was severely damaged in that chapter.
I have always looked for the inner version in people. The child version. The purest version. I tend to connect to that part and rarely to the part that sits on the surface. Maybe because that is the part of myself that I am most connected to. Whatever existed in my early life, I was always really loving. So loving. I feel really grateful for that and even more in the fact that despite real life it never disappears. It just grows bigger.
Back to that theory of marrying your father. I wonder then how I ended up with P to whom I had been married for 20 plus years. Most of them very happily. Of course there are some similar elements that exist. He’s not a man to show and share his emotions through chat. He found it easier to when he was younger. Now I think he finds it all too painful. And that made it easy for it to become anger. And in that anger, for me then to disconnect from him. Although that anger has now subsided. He has mellowed again through these difficult experiences. Like a caring and gentle giant again. He has always been very gentle and loving with our girl. And with me his expressions of love were always physical. But he has never been afraid to tell me that he loves me. I remember the first time he said it. He has definitely felt controlling in moments when I’ve wanted to try I to be more. But a very different type of control to that of my dad. P’s being more the traditional bread winners role where he is supposed to take care of everyone. We grow up how we grow up. His dad was similar and the best of the best with such a big golden heart.
I think perhaps that my dreamy and flighty nature that makes me exited about new things made him feel insecure. Maybe my way of being made him feel how I’ve felt in other relationships. He feared the loss which then created the loss. Knowing that the more he has tried to hold me back the more I have pulled away. Whereas left to my own devices I always would find my way back. Because he was always where my safety lived. The element that is most important for me. And that trust and safety forming a solid foundation for my love.
But in contrast to my dad P has always proven himself very loyal. As loyal as they come. I am a person who can very easily feel insecure in relationships if I lose a feeling of trust. But he always made me feel completely secure and completely safe. Never doubting his fidelity. Never worrying when he went away on trips abroad or went on nights out with the boys. Encouraging him to do the things he wanted and enjoy himself. Because he never gave me a single reason to doubt him or worry. And I think perhaps it is because he is very much a mans man. It’s not that he doesn’t like women. He just prefers time with men talking football and racing. And he said that he was happy just sharing with me. And when he was around other women he would happily chat but was never flirty.
I remember very early on when I first knew him that my best friend tried it on with him when she was drunk. I remember watching it happen from the other end of the pub we were in. I was heartbroken in that moment. She was my best friend. But my disappointment in my friend also left me happy in seeing him turn her down and then walk over and put his arm round me and say “shall we go back to yours”. I think from that moment on I knew I was in safe hands. His friends always telling me that I was the only girl ever for him.
“You’re different to all the other birds” are words he always said to me. And for me it was always nice to feel special. Reassuring. He had an ability to help me to love myself. Loving me he has always told me , “just because you’re you”.
How easy it was to take something so simple for granted especially when that kind of safety and security was a massive contrast to the version of my youth. Perhaps it reveals my flaws in needing that but at least I’m very self aware of them.
Real life can be tough. With young love It was all about that dreamy magic. It can be lost along the way with so much pressure and responsibility. So much time that is spent apart and you can’t be what you were when everything was more simple. It was so easy when it was just the two of us. Everything was like a movie. The kind of romance where you don’t need anyone else. You are swept up into a bubble all by yourselves. A world of your own creation amidst a bigger world that you enter in order to pay for the life you have. It was so easy.
We travelled a lot together. He being a little more seasoned in that from travelling about from when he first started worked at 16. He’s been to some amazing places when he was in his teens. I imagine him in the places he went to around the world. He always found the international language of football as a bridge, everywhere we went. He being the true adventurer out of the two of us. But in meeting me wanted to only share those travels with me. Always making me feel like I was the most beautiful girl in the world even though I wasn’t. Ordinary with freckles. But when holding hands with him it made me feel like I was more.
Over time that deeper bond and feeling of security enabled me to find the confidence that I lacked. He helped to give me the confidence to try to be more. But then he felt insecure when I tried. I realise as I write that I understand how this looks from his side. I’ve felt that too.
So what did I provide? “Love” he always told me. “You’re the most loving person I ever met”. We were a good match. We both loved and felt loved. I never searched for him he just turned up like a lucky penny. Very independently minded. Not needing or caring about being part of the crowd. He can chat to anyone and people always like him. He has always had more of a cheeky chap charm than the charm that makes women swoon. Old girls love him because he makes them laugh and is genuine in his way. Modern women I think would see him as an old fashioned dinosaur with all his nice manners and getting up on the tube to let a lady sit down. Misogynist is probably how he would be clumsily labelled now. He’s not. I think seeing how much he loved his mum, nan, my girl shows that. But he grew up in a different time. He’s just not one of those hipster new men types.
My Mum, Nan and Gran always saw him as a proper old style gentleman. Which is what he is. It’s just a second nature in what he believes a decent bloke with nice manners does. But not in some creepy way… more “do you wanna seat luv”. But he has been put “in his place” by a few women who have taken offence to his mini chivalrous acts as they have taken him down in front of others.
“I don’t need someone to open a door for me”
I know it has upset him in making him feel stupid when he was just trying to nice.
What I do know is he is way more intelligent than he realises or others know. He’s not educated in the traditional sense. He doesn’t read loads. But he is interested in what he is interested in. Knows loads about our great city, watches lots of documentaries about everything. Loves history, loves architecture, loves sport, loves travel. Follows politics. Loves to chat and share but has very few outlets for that kind of talk. And on the occasions when he did attend a couple of courses in things he was interested in, he didn’t enjoy it so much with the people that he was surrounded by. The “know all’s” “the up their own arses” as he would say. People who made assumptions that because he was a cab driver, who talks with a particular accent and didn’t go to uni that he must be thick. Standard stereotype. I had a friend I worked with who once who said to me “what were you doing with a thick cab driver”. He had never even met him. We weren’t together by then, but I really took offence. He’s certainly not thick. Not by any stretch. In fact I’ve met some very clever people through work. And I know he would very easily hold his own in many different topics in a way I can’t. He certainly gives those university challenge kids a run for their money.
When P talks about things I hear his interest and passion. As opposed to when I’ve listened to some others who just tell me facts as a way of showing me how clever they are. There are different ways of sharing knowledge. One is like a gift to you and the other is like a gift to themselves. Look how clever I am. I tend to switch off from that type too. Things always feel more interesting to me in what sits behind it, how it is shared and why it interests them.
So what happened? Where did it all go wrong? Why am I thinking about it all again now?
Because I’m at a crossroads. Feeling very lost. Not sure what I’m doing, what I want, where I’m going. Looking to move forward but not knowing where. I’m not stuck. I just don’t know what I want anymore. Existing in the main. Still happy being quiet. Wanting to be there for my girl. Having a long term plan of going back to school next year to learn bout something that I love which feels exciting (but a bit scary because of my last experience). But what about right now? It’s a strange feeling in just standing still. A feeling that I should start to move forward and make decisions but without any idea of what they should be. Exploring myself I think is where I’m at. Things floating around but nothing concrete. People getting in touch but not being sure if I wish to reconnect. So holding it. I know I wish for change but not wanting to rock my steady little boat. I feel safer and quite like drifting. Perhaps I may drift through autumn to Christmas just doing nice simple seasonal things. I loved visiting my girl at the weekend. Planning on going again in a few weeks. She will be coming home next week. Seeing my friend and having dinner at mine felt lovely. Simple, easy and without any pressure. Feeling lazy in my lack of progress but not knowing what I want progress to look like. I could have a whole year like this. I do know that I will be leaving my current job sooner rather than later though. That is a decision I have made. Needing that clean start. Fresh canvas. But comfy in not having to care in it so much. I think the last time I felt this freedom of work was when I was on maternity leave. Anyways this is all part of my process of working it out.
I had thought I would avoid these feelings of ambiguity and vacuum when I enrolled on that course. I guess it was a future plan of sorts. But more so I had also thought that I would be left with all these many beautiful and deep and meaningful friendships. Something that I had been looking for. 2 years in that kind of environment. How could it not. A lovely addition of a group of people sharing something special to my few close and treasured friends. Thinking that I would have this group of people I could share things of life with in all their good and bad. And yet that has felt like another huge disappointment. It could have been so beautiful. So enlightening and life changing in finding a version of more that matters to me. A group of different people bonding beyond the normal superficial way of life. Instead it was just another popularity contest with the same types sticking together, minus any real trust. I’ve felt more trust with people I’ve worked with in every day life. Two of my best friends I met at work, and our relationships are more open and honest than what existed in that room. Those who had courage to really share not making the cut by revealing too much and taking away from the main focus of getting that piece of paper and moving on. In the end it appears to be additions to social lists within various smaller cliques for nights out. Or a complete detachment. It says a lot about the dynamics in who has kept in touch and who hasn’t. There feels a whole lot of learning just in that. In the end it will always feel like a really huge source of sadness for me. Deeply sad actually. A sadness that I think that I will always feel. I guess it shows the value I placed on that one experience and what my expectations were in that. Perhaps they were much higher than others. For me it had felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience something that should have been epically amazing. Instead it feels like a wasted opportunity in learning about ourselves and others. Perhaps I might find something closer to that within a group of writers. I really hope so.
Back to where it all went wrong. Life can be tough. It can really grind you down. Especially when you are just normal people with normal jobs and lives and money is a stretch. And when big stuff happens it obliterates everything including you.
I guess going all the way back, it all becomes much harder when you add kids into the equation. It changes everything. In so many beautiful and wonderful ways. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me in life. But it does change who you are and who you need to be. All of a sudden your importance and the importance of the two of you becomes secondary as your wants and needs are lost behind someone else’s. Someone who is more important. The dynamics change. People say “kids won’t change us”. Yep come back to me in twenty years. They can’t help but change you and your life and your relationship.
My version will of course look different to others. Initially when she was younger and before she went to school it was so easy. Well at least in my experience. Its tiring when they are first born and you’re not quite sure what to do with a baby, but once you settle into it it’s easy and magic. Loved it. Still in our own bubble but with another wonderful little person. Seeing life through their eyes. Purpose in being a parent. Having a reason to do all sorts of lovely things. You still feel in charge of your own lives. We were lucky. We were both at home a lot. Working arrangements permitted that. Able to spend quality time together as a family, have some time to ourselves as well as being lucky with family who allowed us to have valuable and required time in just being a couple together. I remember the two of us going on a trip together to New York when she was really small. Leaving her with P’s mum and dad. Different to the version we had experienced before she was born when we were 21. But still wonderful in being a little older and enjoying it all in a different way. But with a real magic in having that time to ourselves. To still be two people as opposed to mum and dad. We were able to do lots of things until she went to school. A really beautiful time of our lives. The best actually. Loved every moment. And miss it now. If I could go back I would definitely relive that all over again. It was perfect
And then the extra element of parenting suddenly kicks in. The bit where the outside world interferes. And within that some of those versions that feel monotonous and dull. Where you are tied to the school timetable. You can’t just go where your want. Do what you you want. Some love it. Being part of the school community and going round each other’s houses. We both hated that stuff. School was her thing. Loving going to her assembly’s and plays. She loved it. Her friends. Her life. I’d take her and her friends to everything. I was happy to do anything she wanted. But I didn’t enjoy all that parent small talk. It bored the life out of me. School runs, kids party drop offs, clubs. I loved having her. Loved doing things with her. I loved being a young parent. Loved being a mum. Everything was fun. And a big reason I think in why me and my girl are so close. And why she also misses being a kid and wishes she could go back.
But you are lost behind someone else’s life. I didn’t begrudge that but I need some version of my own life too.
Finding a new job. Making new friends of my own. Time spent doing other things and being just me. It made life busy. Lots of time spent as a family, lots of time spent working, lots of time spent doing our own things and all of them wonderful. But very little spent with just me and P together. No real time for that. Does date night really work? it feels just another element of routine to add to the list. It’s hard to maintain that spontaneous magic amidst all the daily routines. Those trips away curbed in favour of money to pay for her dance lessons, school trips and family holidays. It’s very easy to lose yourselves as a couple amongst it all. Easy to drift apart in the monotony of “putting the bins out” which is just a metaphor for the basic realities of a normal everyday life. Especially if you’re not rich and can’t just throw money at everything. It’s why many people have affairs I think, even rich people!
Real life demands more of you. A more that can feel so much less at times. The balance of being a perfect parent and perfect partner is a tricky one to maintain. Someone misses out amongst the daily grind. It’s easy to find yourself very lonely in that. Your once best friend being the person you see least in life.
We are still married. All the chaos preventing us from changing that 2 years ago but more and more feeling glad that is the case. Technically we have been married for 23 years. The reality is that we have been more married in moments that we haven’t been together than when we had drifted apart. Just like education that little piece of paper doesn’t really mean a thing. I guess people celebrate it as an achievement in surviving a life together. Like a badge of honour.
I see it as an extra layer in making it a little more difficult to just give up. A layer of admin that you have to go through in order completely exit. If you asked me and P if we are married we would both say No. we haven’t been married for a long time.
And yet here we are. Two people who have been trying to help each other to get through the difficulties that have happened. The stuff surrounding us with his dad and now my girl. And knowing without question that he will be there when it comes to my mum. The real stuff. The stuff no one thinks about in those early days of romance when it is beautiful and dreamy. I certainly didn’t. I just fell in love. But those things inevitably come beyond with real life. It’s certainly good to know I have a friend in that.
But what of a relationship beyond that? I really don’t know what lies ahead for us. Life would certainly be financially easier for us both together. It’s a basic and very real fact which at this point in life feels pretty important. Neither of us are kids. But it can’t just be about that. Some people start their relationships like that. Lifestyle choice. It would feel a very shallow and soul destroying way to live a life for me. Perhaps it makes it easier. Compatibility, same interests and precision timing in wanting the same things. We were none of those. Just two kids who fell in love. Perhaps I was very spoilt in what we shared. True young love where you grow up together, are best friends and are known for everything you were and everything you are now.
I know for me life has always felt lovelier when it is shared. I’m feeling very safe again with the person who has also changed through all these experiences but most especially in what has happened for our girl. A massive healer in drawing a line in the sand in what hurt us both. And there is certainly an opportunity to make life wonderful within all the years that we have to come. Who knows how long that will be. With time and space for us both to evolve together in a new version. Perhaps to be like teenagers again if we wish to. The responsibilities of “putting out the bins” decreasing in favour of shared exploration and adventures in new things and new places. Maybe timing is everything. I don’t know. Like everything else I’m exploring. Something fundamental changed within me when I found myself questioning what I want and need while feeling neither safe or secure.
Other feelings that have been pushed down deeply within me. Hurts that left me questioning who I am and whether there is something wrong with me. Knowing that I’m actually a very simple person with big emotions. I’m not fickle in those. I don’t just fall in and out of love. I never have. I know my heart. There is a real sadness for me that sits underneath it all. A wonder of what a life might have felt like in a completely dreamy version. I caught a glimpse. I paid a high price for it but I caught that glimpse. And I really loved it. But I loved it because I loved the person who existed behind that. Left with a sadness in wondering if any of it was real. That’s such a horrible feeling to be left with. It leaves me feeling really stupid. Even though it felt very real for me in my heart. My true feelings will never change in that. What I feel is what I feel and nothing ever changes that. But protecting my heart is something different.
I’ve only ever fallen in love twice. The first time when I was crazy young. The second time when I was crazy reckless. I wasn’t looking in either moment. And I certainly don’t wish to look now.
If I fall in love again, it will be because I make a choice for a life that can be shared just as we are. Where I can be the woman and the girl. Where I can be everything I am and wish to be and support someone else to do the same. Where I feel like I’m part of something that really matters and is filled with love and fun and happiness but also a commitment to taking care of and looking out for each other. That is about give and take and making each other happy as well as doing things that make ourselves happy.
I don’t really want to spend my life alone. But equally I don’t want to spend it in something less than I have known. A version that feels special. The world is full of single people looking for company and someone to share life with. I’m sure if at some stage I put the nets out wide enough, and really put myself out there, I would find “somebody”. But somebody has never been enough for me. I’ve never been a person that just needed anyone. When I’ve fallen in love it’s because it was them. And in a full life of so much and so many different people I’ve only ever felt that feeling twice.
So what happens next? I hover between the chapters, just wondering as I dawdle and daydream.