I grew up on a diet of fairy stories. The ugly duckling grows into a beautiful swan and her life is transformed. The orphaned step-sister gets to frock up for the night to go to a great party, meets a handsome prince and they end up getting married. A princess is outcast by her wicked stepmother, is poisoned and falls into a deep sleep but a handsome prince wakes her up and they live happily ever after.
Is it any wonder that I expected to meet my handsome prince and fall madly and deeply in love, with it being reciprocated, and we live happily ever after? Of course that hasn’t happened.
I got pregnant 13 years ago and the father is nowhere to be seen. I struggle along as a sole parent then I meet a bloke who I fall for. He does the fade, comes back into my life we go out for two years. We break up. He comes crawling back and I take him back – falling for the smooth words and the promises of change. Falling for the promise of what could be.
It’s pretty good to start with. However, it’s not the fairy tale relationship. He says he loves me but somehow it’s not quite enough. There’s something missing. I bring up the thought of a family holiday – his and my kids and us. He neatly avoids this commitment so I organise a holiday with JJ to go on by ourselves and keep mentioning that he could join us. Still no commitment. Then he goes and organises an overseas surfing trip with some mates. Right!!! I brush that off with the thought that he’s entitled to do that and next time it will be us.
I think about organising some time off over christmas and new year during the summer school holidays and ask if he’s taking any time off. He says that he’s not thinking about it. Then just as I go back to work after three weeks off he tells me that he’s got the next two weeks off. So that was a sudden thing was it?
We live in our separate houses half an hour apart which means that we really only see each other on weekends. He might come over one night during the week when he hasn’t got his kids but it depends on what he’s organised for his dog so often that won’t happen because he doesn’t want to leave his dog in my backyard unsupervised for the day.
So that leaves weekends. But JJ has Scouts on Friday nights during school term so when he’s got his kids that cuts out Friday nights unless they come here and that happens very rarely. Saturday night is the night then. He either comes here or we go there and spend the night. Sometimes we’ve got a party or an event on so depending on where that is, depends on where we stay for the night.
Then it’s Sunday and back to the working week and we don’t see each other during the week, especially now that I don’t work near him anymore.
I bring up the ‘where do you see our relationship going’ conversation. ‘Do you see us living together?’ He mumbles something about JJ and high school locations and obviously doesn’t really want the conversation to continue. He then mumbles something about he’s tried to go down the living together path with previous relationships and it’s gone pear-shaped. I try to keep the ‘talk’ going but give up because conversations need two people. Especially a conversation about a relationship. I already know that he’s not considering marriage because my sister has asked him about it – with nothing to do with me. That was awkward.
The conversation winds up and he acts as though nothing has happened and it’s not mentioned for the next two weeks until I bring it up again. This time we’re not interrupted but there’s still no reassurance for me. I know deep down that if I were in a healthy relationship I wouldn’t need the reassurance I’m seeking.
We could carry on with just seeing each other maybe once a week. We could carry on like this for the next five years when our kids are out of high school. Is it magically going to change then? No, probably not. I can’t shake off the doubt. I know what I need to do.
So I think about it all for the next week or so. I give it a fair shot. After all we’ve been going out for nearly four years, but I decide to break it off. I tell him that I can’t continue like this. Ok, he says. He agrees with what I’m saying. He doesn’t come out and say that he’s madly in love with me. I actually wasn’t really expecting him to. His response just confirms things for me.
Five minutes later he picks up his stuff, gets his dog, we give each other a hug, then he’s gone without a backward glance.
I walk back into the house and inwardly pat myself on the back knowing that I’ve done the right thing.
So today is Valentine’s Day and I’m not celebrating it with my lover but I’ve got other plans which I’m looking forward to.