Listening.

I lightly scratched my nails down her back. She winced and asked me to stop. I’ve never had that reaction to my touch before.

I asked her why. She said she didn’t like it. Obviously. My physical response to her words was dramatic. My heart fell into my stomach, my skin prickled, a gasp caught in my throat. I tried to hide my surprise; disappointment; hurt.

I said I didn’t know how to touch her. I told her that scared me. I made it her problem when it was mine. I know that now, but I did not see it then. I was everything I’d always tried to avoid; a selfish lover.

I’m good at responding to feedback. I’m good adjusting my behaviour in response to moans, groans and indifference. I am not good at responding to direct shut down. I’ve never encountered it before.

Have I been blissfully unaware of my sexual inadequacies with previous partners who were too shy to tell me what I did that they didn’t like? Maybe I’m really no good at listening.

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So long.

It had been so long. Maybe 7 years, since we’d seen each other. About as long as we were together. I’d fantasised about this meeting every now and then throughout the years. I wondered if it would ever happen. I wondered if we’d both die before seeing each other again. I wondered how he’d feel about that. I never really thought about how I’d feel. What do people think about their first deep loves when their lives are ending? Anything at all? Regret, probably. Happiness, maybe.

He texted and said he was in town. I said hey, welcome. We talked about the things that you should do when you visit this town. I asked if he were free to catch up. It just came out. I pressed send before I really thought about the enormity of that idea. He said it would be great to get a drink; it had been so long. I agreed. It had been so long.

So then, there we were, sitting in a bar together, new partners by our sides, trying to make all the awkwardness less awkward. I was glad to not be alone, but I wish we could have been honest like you can when you’re in the dark, or when you’re alone. All the things that were never said seemed to hang in the air. They could not be said here either.

I don’t know what he wanted to achieve by meeting up. I don’t know what I wanted. To satisfy curiosity? To make it all OK? To make sure we were both fine? To tie up loose ends? Simply because we were in the same city? I don’t know.

I could tell that she was uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable. The New Girl, the New Girl who had been around for years now, with him. The New Girl that obviously fit in his life, long term; his forever girl. I’d seen her on his social media for years now and I was and am genuinely happy for them both. She seems smart and funny and obviously kind and understanding – she came along to the 7-years-later-catch-up-with-the-ex after all. That takes some serious love and understanding and support. I was impressed and thankful for her confidence. I felt bad for her discomfort. I tried my best to make things open and light. I don’t know whether it helped at all.

We talked about our families and filled each other in on what all the brothers and sisters and Mothers and Fathers were doing these days. It felt like the two of us were performing in front of a small crowd. It was clear that we were completely different people now. We didn’t talk about the lies and we didn’t talk about the fights or the falling outs and the distance. We didn’t talk about love. We didn’t talk about the ring. I guess we didn’t really talk about much. Then he was gone. Again.

Afterwards, a text message told me he was sorry. I asked if it was about the night or our relationship and he said maybe both.

I said me too. It had been so long.

 

A dream. 

I had a dream about you last night. 

I’d broken into your house for some reason and you found me there on the floor of your room, next to your bed. I guess I wanted to be near you but didn’t want you to know. As if somehow you wouldn’t notice me by your bed. 

You didn’t ask me why I was there or cuss and ask me to leave. I think you saw the wounded look in my eyes and you were glad I was there. 

I think about you almost everyday and I miss you, terribly. I know we weren’t right together, but fucking hell I loved you. 

I am happy with my boyfriend. I truly believe he’s who I’ll be with when I’m old and grey. he’s wonderful and we’re a fantastic team. I feel safe and cherished and I’m more honest with him than anyone I’ve ever known. But I can’t tell him I miss you and I can’t tell him my heart hurts because I’m getting over you. 

I have to do this on my own and I’m struggling. I wonder if you think of me, at all. 

We have an empty place.

I asked him how he did it

He asked me why I wanted to know

Told me he wanted to remember him another way

not the final way

not like that

it didn’t matter, didn’t change anything

he was right

I am sorry to this day, that I asked

I am sorry that I didn’t do more

tell him we needed to rally ‘round him

tell him we couldn’t take him at his word

he wasn’t ok

he wasn’t ok

he wasn’t ok

but it’s too late

and now we have regret

and we have sadness

and we have an empty place

where a Father should be

This is just physical.

It’s cold outside and the windows are fogging. Later we’ll draw dicks with our fingers on the glass. We’ll do this instead of hearts, because this is just physical. We can laugh. We can have fun with this. He doesn’t stay over in my bed – that would create too many questions and he would have no answers. The light hours are hers and the night hours are mine, ours; his and mine.

When he’s gone, I press myself into the softness of the bed, the smell of him still there, but this is just physical. I get the smell and she gets the tangible him. But that’s OK. Every time he leaves the room, I figure it’s the last time. He kisses me on my lips only, never the forehead and never the back or the neck. That’s too loving. That’s not allowed.

I don’t miss him during the day. I don’t wonder about her and I don’t wonder if she wonders about me. This is just physical. Does that mean it could be physical with just anyone? Why me then?