Games

During a particular tricky period in our relationship (Ramadan in April last year – my first cancelled trip due to Covid), we started to play an online game.

I’ve never really been one for computer games. Occasionally, when bored, I lay download a couple for a while then delete. I like games involving strategy  – those that make my mind work and make me feel a sense of accomplishment when I solve them.

We started with a game of online Ludo. He had only recently downloaded it through Facebook and asked me to do the same. The first few games he absolutely destroyed me but I didn’t care. In this delicate period of our relationship, it brought us together and gave us something to do, to talk about and laugh about. Eventually … and I mean eventually, I started to win a few games which added to the fun. He won most of the time but whilst I am competitive I didn’t mind because I enjoyed it all so much.

During a recent conversation, chess was brought up and how he would like to play. We discovered that neither of us really knew how but that it may be too difficult to learn together due to the language barrier. He then suggested draughts.

My dad taught me how to play draughts  . Dad always won, but I soon started to learn and would win some games and I liked the strategy and cunning of the game.

So you understand, I was quite happy to find an online version of this game.

He destroys me. Nearly every time. We both started on 500 points – he is now on 27500ish and I am on 7500ish. We have drawn a few times, I have won occasionally. I don’t care though.

Or rather, I didn’t. 

I love that about him – his intelligence, the way his mind works. I don’t mind that I lose because we keep playing and having fun. Am I surprised I lost a lot? Sure. I thought I was reasonably ok at draughts and thought we would be more evenly matched, but it’s ok.

Then, this morning after I lost again, he commented that I always lose and maybe he needs to play with someone else- a stronger player.

Wow, that hurt. He was joking, it was trash talk. But it really stung and – as per goddam usual – my eyes filled up. I thought I had got away with it – it was the end of the call and he wasn’t playing full attention but he noticed as he always does.

How to explain? How to tell him that his comment felt like a knife in my gut – that I am not good enough. That my mind rolled and played with that idea…that I am stupid, not good enough and I never will be. That every moment of my anxiety comes from that – that I am not good enough for him and that one day he will find someone better and I will be left alone.

It is not the winning. I genuinely didn’t care about that because I loved the fact that he won, that he is so intelligent, and that made me more. But his comment – however much he was joking – just made me love myself less.

Is it his job to make me feel good about myself?

If you pay attention to the many online relationship and coaching gurus, no it is not. And I do get that. Confidence comes from within. You have to have pride in yourself, see your own worth – dampen down you inner critic. If I don’t feel positive about myself, how can I expect anyone else to?

But.

I can’t believe this is the entirety of the situation.  Surely, part of feeling loved is feeling that you are special to that person? That they love all of you: They value your strengths. They find you attractive and sexy.  They love your flaws and your faults because they make you who you are.

In making the person you love feel that love and attraction you feel for them, they feel good about themselves.

So…how does that work then? For someone to love you, you need to feel good about yourself but someone loving you makes you feel good about yourself.  Chicken and egg I think.

Does he make me feel good about myself?

Sometimes. Every call makes me happy. When he tells me misses me – which is not often. When he tells me I look beautiful or that he wants me. When he mentions something about our future.

These things don’t happen every day and I don’t expect them to.

But every day he calls me, every day he kisses me, every day he tells me he loves me. He makes me feel loved.

So what’s my problem? I have absolutely no idea.

His loving me has made me feel better about myself. It has made me want to improve myself more.

I try very hard to be a good person. I work hard. I am successful – I have achieved. I try my best when I can. I try to look after myself – make the best of who and what I am. I have a lot to offer someone.

So why do I feel this way? Why can a throwaway comment make me feel so bad – make me feel like I am not good enough for him?

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I wish I understood PMS. As in, I wish I understood the science of it.

Yes I know, it is something to do with hormones blah blah blah, but how does it manage to send women crazy?

My Dad used to say that he was a bast@#d once a month, every month due to my mum’s period.

I’ve never been oblivious to my pms, but I am much more aware of it now. A day of irritability – I’m insensitive, impatient and far too blunt. A day or two of heightened emotions – I could cry at pretty much everything and anything.

Wildcard started to notice the signs of my monthly cycle long before I did. He knew when I was ‘hot’ and therefore ovulating (that was a new one on me) and started to predict my period. When I counted to check he was right.

For the past few months I have started to use a tracking app to monitor my moods and symptoms. My periods have always been irregular due to my PCOS but they have been more regular this past few years.

And the reason for my tracking at the age of 40? To see if I can avoid or at least acknowledge my PMS when it arrives. Save some tears. Prevent some arguments.

This month I wasn’t so lucky, although I did tell him that I was due to start my period as I cried again.

I had spent the day deep in thoughts of the unpleasant variety. This is never going to work. What am I doing? I’m too old for him. He probably has someone else on the go anyway. I am going to get hurt. He will get bored of me.

The level of PMS paranoia and suspicion needs to be documented here. He ends a call suddenly, I am convinced it is because another girl is calling. I call him and he is on the phone so it must be to another girl. He hasn’t called me beautiful in a few days- he doesn’t like me anymore. He is quiet so he must be bored of me and wondering how to end it. He hasn’t said he loves me in the past few hours so he mustn’t love me at all. He is stressed so it must be about me.

He doesn’t like the cold so he will never move to my country. In his culture they are usually married relatively quickly but he hasn’t asked me so he can’t want me. I’m just a good friend to him – a distraction in these troubled times. By the time I can actually visit him he will have forgotten how good we are together and won’t want me to come. He is sick of my crying. He thinks I am crazy. He is put off when he hears my kids fighting.

He is going to walk away, straight in to the arms of another girl and I will cry and be alone for the rest of my life.

Do you get the picture?

This isn’t the first time I have written about this and I’m sorry to my regular readers if I am boring you. But how the hell can I get away from these thoughts? I’d hoped by pinning them to my period I could at least acknowledge and ignore them.

There have been times when he has ended a call quicker than I expected so I have called back after a few moments to see if he is on the phone. He never is and then I have to come up with some stupid excuse.

A few times when he has been on the phone when I called and I have convinced myself it is to another woman, I’ve later realised that his mum has been with him so it is impossible.

He is as blunt as hell. If it is me, he will tell me it is me. So most of the time when I am worrying it is me, it isn’t and deep down I know that.

If he was so desperate to be with another woman, he would be. It would be the easiest thing in the world to get rid of me. We will never bump into each other again. He would find someone quickly.

But no, he is still with me, every day. I am desperate to see him and be with him. That + PMS + insecurity = me in a mess. And it never seems to end.

Cry in the night

I want to call him but I can’t. It is nearly midnight there. He will probably be asleep.

Tears threaten again.

I’ve spent the last couple of hours in a bizarre state that I can’t quite name. Anxious but numb. Grieved but angry. Disappointed but relieved.

Unhappy probably sums it up reasonably well and yet not quite.

What am I doing?

To feel this insecure after a year… to still be affected when I should be able to shrug it all off, confident in the knowledge that all is OK. But I don’t. Something takes over. The quiet voice in my head is unheard or ignored and I allow myself to free fall in to pain and doubt and tears.

Tonight though, I got angry. He’s not seen angry too often. He tries to laugh it off, to joke. Not this time.

This time, I got really angry. I swore and I put the phone down. I haven’t done that before.

Of course he called me back. And I hesitated, just a little, but I wasn’t strong enough to not answer. He was shocked.

We talked about it. He made me smile a few times. I cried. He said he didn’t understand. Like I should be confident in all this. So why am I not?

He wouldn’t let me go until I was calm. He asked me again and again…did I hate him? Was I angry? Was I sad? By the end of the call I wasn’t anything. This unnamed emotion. He had fear in his eyes.

I don’t know who’s to blame.

I don’t know if I can carry on like this. I never thought I would write these words.

The insecurity is killing me. It doesn’t matter how much he calls. How much I am part of his life. How often he tells me he loves me. His care and his time…I still worry. I still get anxious.

At times he doesn’t help. It is his nature to tease and joke. Sensible me, that little voice, knows it. But my heart is uncontrollable where he is concerned and I fall for it. Is it his insecurity that makes him act so?

But when will I be secure?

I’ve asked in my LDR group. I’ve told them of my happiness and my love and all the ways in which he is right for me. And then the doubts and fears. They tell me this is normal. This in LDR. You have to talk it through, explain your feelings.

And I do. And he listens. And he tells me I am crazy and he can’t understand how I think that way. Like I should be confident in all this. ‘I give you all my time’ he says, and he does. So why can’t I feel secure?

So tonight, I consider giving up. Maybe he isn’t right for me. I’ve been wrong before. Maybe I expect too much. Maybe he deserves better. Maybe covid has destroyed what could have been.

But just the thought of saying goodbye…my world threatens to implode. My chest tightens and my heart pounds. How would I ever live without him? I never want to be without him. I’m crying now, just thinking about it.

Is it my need to control? My mum thinks it is. He’s the only one who doesn’t need that from me. I don’t need to mother or fix. So I have no control. To give up gives me the control. But I don’t want to.

I want to be with him.

I want to be with him.

So why am I so scared?

A pondering update

Things have slowly got better with Wild Card as the days have gone on. He actually called me yesterday morning on his way to and from work – like he normally does – and I had not been convinced that he would. I’ve had kisses at the end of calls and even a return to some of the teasing and joking – last night in particular, he called in a great mood and I felt the world was right again.

Today, however, he has been quiet again. We had a brief chat this morning and then I called this afternoon. He was sleepy, not very chatty, but OK.

And I suppose this is the problem now. Is it the first time I’ve called and he has been sleepy and not chatty? Absolutely not. It happens relatively often- particularly at the weekend. And who can forget the stress-fest that was Ramadan? But now, every nuance of potential negativity takes on a whole new meaning.

Of course, you know I am an avid over -analyser. He’s either sulking and hurt, sulking and teaching me a lesson, or has other things on his mind too. And yes, I have asked. He won’t answer.

Which is childish, I know. I wonder if he is thinking our relationship is not working despite trying to rebuild, but he is just not feeling it anymore. Yet, at present, he is still answering calls, still keeping me on the phone, still calling me – albeit a little less perhaps.

I’ve talked to my sisters and my best friend. I have been brutally honest. I’ve made it clear that whilst the first ‘mistake’ wasn’t that big of a lie – more an amalgamation of two actions to make explanation clearer – my subsequent behaviour was out and out lying. I panicked. I tried repeatedly to cover up my mistake out of fear. I was wrong.

As you can probably imagine, they are very supportive of me. They think that he is over-reacting and that my inital comment was not worth the grilling I got. I didn’t lie about anything major. And as I have apologised, profusely, he needs to just get over it.

I don’t know. He knows I am not a liar and it was out of character. That made him believe I was actually hiding something when I wasn’t. I know how that feels and it is awful. I let him down. He was- is – upset. I get that.

But what else can I do? And you know, this was a first offence. If he can’t get over this… well, there’s nothing I can do. I’ve asked and he has said exactly that, nothing. I’ve made it very clear that I love him and want him and I will not do it again. There are no other hoops I can jump through.

My youngest sister, the one who has always been supportive and likes Wild Card, asked if this is what I really want. Is his reaction worth it for something so trival? She also believes that there is probably more going on in his life that is affecting him. I know there has been, although he has never told me what. Maybe I was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. Should I worry that he doesn’t always share these details? He has no obligation to and has confided in me from time to time.

Fact is, things will get better or they won’t. If I am the problem, he will forgive and forget or he won’t. And if he doesn’t – no matter how much this pains me to say it- do I really want to be with someone who behaves like that? I’m not a bad person. And relationships are about forgiveness and acceptance – getting to know someone is about getting to know their faults and deciding if they outweigh the positives. Knowing your own boundaries is key here, I suppose.

My ex was a sulker/grudge holder. I am not. I go up and I come down again. Life’s too short for grudges. The difference is of course, that when you are in a traditional relationship, your proximity means that you are more likely to resolve issues quicker. I don’t have that with Wild Card – I really think it is harder to reconcile over the phone, without the physicality and closeness. I can’t cuddle up to him.

All I can do is wait, then.

Oh

Today, the borders opened unexpectedly in Wild Card’s country.

It’s all a bit of a mystery. Covid is raging there at the moment. There are rules and guidelines to who can enter – so tourism isn’t fully open, but tourists from certain countries (UK included) can visit.

It came as a bit of a shock considering. My immediate reaction was – ‘oh great, open when I just go back to work.’ Then, ‘this is not going to help me as the UK requires a two week quarantine after travel.’ After a few moments of unsuccessfully working out how to persuade my headteacher to let me have three weeks off, I realised it is still a no-go until something changes. Who knows, maybe I will be able to go in October or December if I’m lucky. Which I am not.

Wild Card seemed as surprised as I was and he lives there. My joking that ‘I’m coming’ (I had already explained that I can’t) didn’t go well though.

We had a serious and meaningful (alone, sorry sister) conversation where he told me why he didn’t think I should come to see him. Basically he’s worried that his government will make a sudden u turn and I woild be stranded. He said that he would be responsible for me if I was there and he didn’t want that problem or responsibility of the government made a snap decision. He said he was ‘noone’ so wouldn’t be able to do anything to help. It made him nervous.

He kept saying how I must not think he did not want me to go and that if I was happy with the risks then I was welcome. But he felt that he must explain the situation in his country and how he felt. He didn’t want me to go through that. And could I not wait? Waiting was OK, wasn’t it? Until it was safe?

So, yes, I was a little disappointed even though I knew I couldn’t go and it was hard not to think he just didn’t want the hassle of me going. Or that I was some lovesick child that wasn’t thinking straight. What he said made sense though and I kept assuring him that I understood and wouldn’t do anything without him being happy about it. (He said it was nothing to do with him being happy but you get what I meant.)

Thing is, apart from it being a meaningful conversation, he has once again proved himself. Me not going is prolonging this ever getting serious as defined by the laws and culture of his country. If he didn’t care, he would not be advising me to wait until it was safe. And surely, he would be desperate for me to come to ‘woo’ me into this fake marriage.

So, yup, it stung a little but I want entirely unhappy allthesame.

Maybe, just maybe

My promised part two. Sorry for the wait. I’ve been back to work on top of trying to process everything.

I’m going to break the habit of a lifetime and try to outline the problem succinctly.

My sister thinks Wild Card is only after a visa. Pretty succinct I think. I will warn you, my analysis and exploration won’t be. 😉

To say this stung is putting it mildly. Sure, I’ve had this reaction before – from friends, from her even. She can’t understand or comprehend how I can fall in love with someone I’ve ‘spent one week with’. So, logically, she also can’t believe that he could fall in love with me. Ouch.

So, I will address this point first before trying to deal with the visa shaped elephant in the room.

I’ve never had a long distance relationship before. All my boyfriends have been local. When I met Wild Card online, or even Second (remember him?) I didn’t consider that I could love him. I thought they’d be…well, I don’t think I thought anything much, other than it would be fun to flirt with them and talk to them. I didn’t think I would feel more either.

But, we don’t love someone because they are right in front of us. Soldiers and sailors are separated from their loved ones. Flight attendants. People who simply get a job abroad. Students. People who have died. Them being aways from us doesn’t stop the love we have.

Sure, those examples are perhaps from people whose relationships start out in person. Ok.

I videochat with Wild Card every day. Numerous times every day. For ten months. Sometime we chat, sometimes we laugh. Sometimes we fight. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes we are just silent and just occupy virtual space.

As much as I think is possible, I know him and he knows me. And I love what I know and he tells me he loves what he knows.

#Loveisnottourism has thousands upon thousand of couples with a myriad of county combinations to see. You can love from a distance.

Now the biggie…the visa issue.

It’s not like I haven’t thought about this or even, though I hate to admit it, still do sometimes. But my fear comes through insecurity (why else would he possibly be interested in disappointing-old-me) in the main. I can’t deny that his nationality has fueled that of course- would I think the same if I was dating a young handsome American? Nope. I hate that my brain leads to that.

So maybe that’s why her opinion hurts so much. First, because of the implications that he can’t love me or want me for any other reason. Second, that I have been fooled and duped by him which makes me an idiot, and finally, conversely, that he has done nothing to deserve this opinion and this is the man I love.

I’ve never disclosed his nationality on here. Partly because of fear that I would get similar comments here, but also because it shouldn’t matter. When you read my posts about him, I want you to understand from my details of his actions and speech, not from his birth certificate.

However, as I have just proven, there are certain countries where citizens want to leave and do this through a sham marriage. There are also some countries where this is unlikely to happen.

Truth is, I will never be 100% sure until sufficient time has passed. That hurts, but it is true.

I know that these scammers use a multitude of tricks and manipulations to persuade their victim that they are loved. Time being one of them. They put the leg work in.

99% of me doesn’t believe he is like this 99% of the time.

I’m not the easiest option. It is ridiculously hard and expensive to get a visa for the uk – he is attractive and charismatic enough to tempt a woman from a much ‘easier’ country. Whilst I have a good job and house etc, I have three dependent children – one of them only 6 years old. I don’t have the disposable income that a woman older than me could have.

And you know what? I’m hard work. I’m over-emotional, suspicious and jealous. I’m not as gullible as some because my low self esteem won’t allow it. I haven’t fallen for his declarations without questions and doubt. I know he gets frustrated with this. And hurt.

But then, he is hard work too. He can be moody. He can take a joke way past funny. He sometimes isn’t as openly loving or romantic as I would like.

He’s never promised me anything or asked for anything. He doesn’t try to sell me a tale of a perfect love or marriage or life – in fact, he has pointed out how hard this will be.

What he does do, is give me his time. Day after day. To give someone so much of yourself, your time, your life, that has to mean something. Because if he doesn’t love me by now, each moment of that would be difficult particularly when it’s so frequent. It’s also, arguably, unnecessary. Despite my obvious insecurities he knows I love him. He has no need to call as frequently as he does. I can only assume that he loves it as much as I do.

Take today. As I am back in work now, our daily calls have gone from 6++++ to two. No morning call on the way to work or back to it (x2 as he comes home for lunch). But today, he was travelling to another city on business. So this morning, something he has never done, he surprised me with a 7am videocall before he went to the train station. And then another when he arrived at the station, before I went to work. He has never called that early before and he didn’t have to – since being back in work we have our morning texts and evening calls only.He must have wanted to speak to me, surely, or else – why bother?

The reason for my sister’s recent outburst is just that though. She thinks that because we don’t have ‘meaningful conversations’ all the time, its a fake.

I told her that if I am having a meaningful conversation, I leave the room and go somewhere private. So she wouldn’t hear anyway. Secondly, we talk so frequently that there often isn’t something in depth to discuss. Thirdly, how many meaningful conversations does she have with her husband every day? (Very few, apparently). And finally, I like what we do. I like sitting with him virtually while he eats or drives. I like watching him wash when he gets up. I love feeling a part of his every day, mundane life. Because I feel like I am with him.

So in effect, I told her, her only justification is his nationality and that’s not fair.

There is of course a middle ground.

Maybe he wants to migrate. Maybe he wants a multicultural marriage. Maybe he is attracted to podgy 40 year old Brits.

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me.

It may mean, like everyone else who dates online, he has made a selection. How is this different to selecting someone by their height, weight or education? Their eye colour, age or political views? Dating apps allow you to filter all the time – why is this so wrong? Arranged marriages have happened for centuries and love wasn’t the indicator of a successful marriage.

So maybe there is a middle ground and he loves me. Or maybe he is an expert liar. Or maybe, just maybe, he met me and fell in love.

Bruised

That is, I am feeling emotionally bruised today. And a little lost.

Yesterday was an interesting day. My six year old son told Wild Card that he loves him. Yep, you read right. We were both a little shocked.

Wild Card is great with children – mine, my sisters’ and his own family. He’s one of those people who seem to attract children. He will be out walking, talking to me, and children he doesn’t know will run up to him.

Naturally, I wanted to talk to him about it. Did he realise that my son meant it? For him to say that unprompted means something? How did Wildcard feel about it?

The conversation was difficult due to the language barriers and some misunderstandings. The upshot? He’s aware of how this all may affect my son and he conscious that there’s more than my heart that could break. He is ok with their relationship developing if I am.

I can’t pretend that it hasn’t worried me. My son is very affectionate – the type that hugs his teacher – and Wild card has been in our lives for ten months now. They’ve talked and played online games. I suspected that if they met in person, my son would form an attachment to Wildcard. So, yes I was a little shocked but not surprised. But however it has happened, I don’t want my son to get hurt if this doesn’t work out.

Last night, I talked to my sister about what had happened. She initially said how sweet it was but as we talked, expressed some concerns too.

And then, I’m not sure why, she took the opportunity to express some of her own concerns about my relationship. And they have floored me.

Written two days ago, only posted today. More to follow

Enlightened – again

Wild Card and I have been talking/together for nearly eight months now.  As long distance relationships go, I don’t know if this is a long time or not. However, there’s still a lot to learn about each other.

We both seem to like our routines and when something changes, we seem to naturally fall into a new one. Recently, the lockdown has been lifted in his city. He’s started going out walking again and his new thing is to call me as he walks. I like it.

I like it because his voice is so goddam sexy and not being distracted by his face, I hear his voice better – the accent, the tone etc.

But, I also like it, because I’ve realised that he is a little more open with me verbally without the video. Recently, he has said a few things over the phone that have indicated how serious he is about me – talking about our future together, plans for holidays etc.

Last night, was a little more sombre of a phonecall. He’d had a bad day all round, but it was topped off by a call from an ex-girlfriend. (Again, this is the second one. Believe me, I know how wonderful he is but even so…)

I was proud of how calm I was. I was pleased he wanted to talk about it. I was happy that he opened up about his past with her. I listened, I consoled.

Perhaps more importantly, I learned.

He was with her for nearly two years. They didn’t have sex because he was respectful of her age and culture. She never met his parents though she attempted to weasel her way to meeting his mum (he was not happy about that).

He ended the relationship because she was overly dramatic, jealous and demanding. He knew she loved him, but she made him anxious and wary. She wanted to be on the phone all the time. She questioned his every move and manipulated situations so that she could imprint herself into his life – his mother, contacting a work colleague or Facebook friends. She constantly talked about marriage with him although he had told her it would not come to that.

So, what have I learned?

Well, I suppose how serious he is/was about me. He has talked about a future with me. He introduced me to his parents relatively early on and I have of course stayed with them when I visited in February – I talk to them fairly regularly now. Wild Card and I have had an intimate, sexual relationship. (I’m trying not to think about the respect thing here, but it was mutually wanted so.. Yeah.)

He has told me he is happy with me, that he loves everything about me. Most of the time, we laugh and we enjoy each other’s company.

But – isn’t there always one – I can see some things that I do or have done that could upset the apple cart.

I’ve got to get a handle on my insecurity and occasional jealousy. He’s been patient so far, but it’s quite clear from what I heard tonight that his patience is not endless. I don’t blame him for that.

He didn’t tell me these things other than to off-load about a girl who keeps contacting him and who he doesn’t want to be with – he made that very clear. I’m glad he felt he could discuss this with me. However, I could see some… Similarities in our behaviour. That has concerned me.

Without a doubt, the past few months have been very, very tricky for everyone. Corona has played a big part in the start of our relationship: our moods and anxieties, our social lives and the ability to see each other.

Then there are the other facets of life and a long distance relationship that have also had an impact.

We’ve survived this far. Most of the time, things are great. Occasionally they are not. Sometimes we are both at fault, often my insecurity and fear acerbate the situation. Whilst he always forgives me and tells me not to worry, there is always a shift in his behaviour for a little while after. I don’t know if I am the same or not.

He’s going through some difficult times too at the moment which are not helping.

Last night reminded me, once again, yet again, again and again… I need to relax. I need to remind him of the woman he loves. I need to have faith and trust.

So, I am digging myself out, clawing myself out of the dark in the hope that he will still be in the light when I emerge.

Everything is crossed.

I’ve waited a few days, just to be sure, but – dare I say it – my relationship with Wild Card has gone back to normal.

Sunday was the end of Ramadan and there was a noticeable (for me anyway) change in him. It’s like he lost an ‘edge’… not as strong as a change in atmosphere but something like that…a weight lifting… You know what I mean.

Since then, things have been really good. 😁

That doesn’t mean things are forgotten though. There was some behaviour that was perhaps amplified by the situation but that we both need to learn from.

Anyway, for now, I’m just going to enjoy being with him virtually and try not to think too longingly of the summer when hopefully I can visit again. Obviously, with this week being half term and borders still being closed, summer will be the earliest.

I’ve got everything crossed.