God, what a week. The office environment, and indeed the workload, had seemed busier than ever which naturally resulted in sleepless nights and a needs-must increase on the productivity front. It was fine though, because it was now Friday, which meant two entire, euphoric, work-free days, and I couldn’t have been happier about it. There was always something so magical about the end of the week – not having to set your alarm clock for the following day, not having to leave your bed, not having to get dressed, basically not having to do anything routine was the highlight for me and I was so excited.
However, this weekend was a little different as I was spending my Friday night (and most probably my Saturday and Sunday) with my long(ish) term boyfriend, Craig. It had been 11 months: 11 wonderful months of growing fonder of each other by the minute, enjoying days out, loving nights in, exchanging meaningful messages and foolish phone calls – generally just forming a strong bond with one another that made up the happy-go-lucky new relationship of “Naomi and Craig”.
Craig didn’t live far away, just on the outskirts of the city, which made it all the more easier for me to make my way over to his humble abode on a Friday evening after work where I would find myself in bed, infatuated and in absolute bliss. What an end to the week, I thought. After my particularly productive time at the office, I was feeling much more generous than usual, therefore I made a point of passing an off-licence on my travels to pick up some of New Zealand’s finest Sauvignon Blanc and of course, a large bottle of gin – Craig’s beverage of choice.
It didn’t take me all that long until I found myself pressing the buzzer at his front door. Even after 11 months, I still got those same first-date butterflies and that was a surefire sign that I was – we were – on to a winner. All of a sudden, the door was ajar and I saw Craig rushing back into the living room, presumably the place in which he’d left to let me in in the first place. Odd, I thought. In normal circumstances, the door would fling open and he would wrap his arms around me, make a fuss, kiss me, grab my bum – the full works – but not tonight. Was he okay?
I made my way in and towards the living room, where I could see him sitting, perching on the edge of the couch, he looked anxious, uncomfortable, certainly not himself – never had I seen someone look so lost in their own home. Before joining him, I decided to dump my belongings at the door – consisting of my lovely, new, suede Winter coat, my overnight bag and the alcohol. As I did, Craig raised his head and uttered four words – four soul-destroying, heart-breaking words one wants to avoid hearing at all costs:
“We need to talk”, he said.
I looked down the hallway and finally grasped what was happening. At that moment, that very moment, I felt the life leave my eyes; a sense of foreboding told me something was about to die and I knew it was to be our relationship. Was it me? What had happened? More to the point, why could I not see it? My brain immediately turned into chaos as I walked towards him. A part of me wanted to run out of the door and pretend like it never happened, but I had to face facts, things were about to change and I had to be a big girl about it.
My decision to sit on the sofa opposite him arrived only after a visible tussle with my conscience. If I sat beside him, maybe the problem could be blurred by a series of intimate thigh-grabs and cheek-kisses. I decided, no, in this instance, I was going to take the matter seriously in exact accordance with the way in which he was acting since the moment I arrived. The butterflies in my tummy were no longer demonstrative of sexual excitement, but of fear and self-loathing. I glanced across at Craig, he looked nauseous. What was going on?
“I’ve been seeing someone else”, he said.
My jaw dropped at a significant speed to the floor. Surely this was some sort of sick joke? My emotional range switched almost instantly from sadness and regret to bitterness and anger. I felt betrayed. Unbeknownst to me, I had been playing an integral role in a romantic facade. My seemingly genuine relationship with a wonderful man was suddenly tainted with deception and bloody infidelity. It was all fun and games until he obliterated me from existence and took to sharing his bed with another woman.
“I’m leaving”, I said.
I didn’t want an explanation, I didn’t want answers, I wanted out. There goes 11 months: 11 months I had dedicated to forming a bond with this man, this man who now had the audacity to assume it was perfectly okay to toy with the emotions of another human being. I quickly made my way to the door and gathered my belongings, including the bottle of gin I had so thoughtfully purchased for him. I struggled to pull my coat over my shoulders, and as I did, I felt Craig’s hand on my arm as he tried to turn me around to face him:
“It’s over now though, I want to be with you”, he said.
The cheeky bastard. At this point, the life that had been lost from eyes now reappeared in the form of the fires of hell. Clearly, after 11 months, he didn’t know me at all. There was not a cat in hell’s chance of him being forgiven in this situation. Craig had been unfaithful, he had shattered our trust, what we had was broken and it was never going to be fixed. He made his choice the moment he sought physical and emotional comfort in the arms of another woman, and now, I was about to make mine.
“I said I’m leaving, and you won’t see me again”, I said.
Bloody hell, where did that come from? I thought. For once, logic had overridden my emotions and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. In normal circumstances, my heart took precedence over my head which seemed to be a tad detrimental when it came to making romantic decisions but alas, here I was, proving that big girls don’t cry (well, almost don’t) and I definitely wasn’t going to have someone walk all over me.
“I thought you loved me, this doesn’t make any sense!”, he said.
How dare he, my actions don’t make sense? You’ve been unfaithful, you cheated on me, but now you think we can go back to normality because eventually, you’ve had the balls to be honest about your indiscretions? Well, that doesn’t cut the mustard with me matey. I’m made of strong stuff, and my mother always taught me that when it comes to men like you, I should “chuck it in the fuck it bucket and move on”, figuratively speaking. I felt brave and empowered:
“I am under no obligation to make sense to you”, I said.
I picked up the pace as I made my way home, wiping tears from my face with the sleeve of my lovely, new, suede Winter coat – a decision I live to regret to this day. I was completely overwhelmed: there’s 11 months I’ll never see again, I thought, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to be defeated. This walk of shame was now the stride of pride. I was not strolling away from a bad relationship, I was running towards the beginning of a new one. The start of something new was nigh, and I was off to find a man who would be responsible for smudging my lipstick, not my mascara.