This is probably the most personal post I have ever written. It’s pretty much the blog equivalent of a chick-flick. If you’re not interested in namby-pamby feelings and shit like that, then you might not want to read it.
I got an email today, from a good friend, who is also an ex-boyfriend. Let’s call him…Jamie. Jamie is not just any ex, but the person with whom I had the most serious and long-term of all my relationships. The one that did not end through my choice, or through mutual consent, but ended without bitter recriminations or anger for all that. I decided to let him go, without a fuss, or a fight. It seemed like a no-brainer to me. If you love someone, you want them to be happy, and being with me was making Jamie desperately unhappy, so I had to let him go.
I had made him happy at the beginning, but increasingly he was with me out of loyalty. He was with me because he was a kind person, and he cared for me, but for reasons that were changing. Once we had been boyfriend and boyfriend, but at some point we had drifted into the roles of Full Time Mentalist and Unpaid Mental Health Support Worker. It wasn’t fair, and it was grinding him down, turning him grey-faced with worry and fatigue as he tried to hold down a full-time job and hold me up at the same time. I could see it happening, and I hated it, and hated myself for doing it to him. It wasn’t fair on Jamie.
So when the chance cropped up for him to go and work in another city, in a place and with a life where there wouldn’t be room for me, I saw that this was the time to do the right thing. The only thing left that I could give to Jamie was the opportunity to walk away from me without feeling guilty. I might not have been able to make him happy anymore, but at least I could give him back to himself, and let him make himself happy. Watching his face as it filled with enthusiasm and passion as he talked about all the things that might happen, then watching it all drain away as he turned to me to wonder how I would cope, what I would do without him – well, it was obvious what needed to be done.
So, I did it. I was positive and supportive, and gave him all the encouragement I could, because I knew if I didn’t let him believe that I was happy with his choice, his conscience would get the better of him, and he would feel he had to stay. I kept my real feelings to myself, and sat up late at night listening over and over to the song that seemed to sum it all up:
You’ve been the only thing that’s right
In all I’ve done
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I’ll be right beside you, dear
To think I might not see those eyes
Makes it so hard not to cry,
And as we say our long goodbyes
I nearly do.
Snow Patrol, ‘Run’.
And obviously I did – and do – a good job of keeping my feelings hidden, because the email I got today from Jamie telling me he’s got engaged is full of details about the wonderfully romantic surprise holiday, and the surprise proposal with roses and champagne in a restaurant, and plans for a winter wedding, followed by a honeymoon in the sun, with no suspicion that this might be difficult or regretful news for me.
And I’m glad about that, I really am. The whole point was to let him live his life, even if I couldn’t live it with him. Falling in love and getting married is part of that. I’ve only met his fiancé a couple of times, but he’s kind, and funny, and beautiful – everything you could wish for in your best friend’s boyfriend. Jamie is probably the nicest person I’ve ever met in my life, and he’s a good friend, and I am thrilled to see his life working out for him, because he deserves it, more than any other person I know. I told him so when I replied to his email, and I meant every word of it, without a hint of a lie.
I wasn’t still carrying a candle for Jamie. I wasn’t expecting or wanting us to get back together. I’m not overcome with desperation at the news that he’s moved irrevocably on, because I already knew he had, and I’ve been expecting this news for more than a year. But it has hit me harder than I expected, for all of that. Partly, I think, because it underlines the difference between us, that his life has so spectacularly improved, and mine so spectacularly hasn’t – the time when I was with Jamie was also the last time that I was something more than just a walking psychiatric diagnosis. And there’s also no doubt that this has stirred up a lot of old memories, old feelings, old ghosts, far more than I thought were still there to be awoken.
What if? is always a pointless question, but sometimes it’s so hard to avoid. What if I hadn’t been a mentalist, what if our relationship had a chance to persevere, and build, and grow? Would it have been us getting engaged? These are pointless questions because I can’t ever know – no-one can tell what would have happened. But I think there’s a chance that the answer would have been ‘Yes’, and I’m sorry, but no matter how practical I try to be, no matter how hard I try to be sensible, and down-to-earth, and level-headed, I can’t help regretting that.
I predict that my immediate future will involve much alcohol, and many playings of Snow Patrol: