Trip 6, Day 7 – 10pm

True to his word, around 10pm when he heard one of his parents, he had got up bleary-eyed and mussed-haired. He checked the time, kissed me and said goodnight then left.

After some time being consoled by my friend and being brought back down to earth, I calmed. But of course I didn’t sleep well.

I woke a number of times, wondering what time it was, wondering how things would be in the morning. I also had my first school dream of the New Year – I start my new job on Monday. In my dream I was lost but kept finding ex pupils who wanted to speak to me. There was a moment of me climbing through a window, escorted by my agency manager, as I tried to get to my new classroom.

Eventually, I woke at 8.30am. I made my morning rituals and fully expected him to not come in until later. He came in before 9am.

I attempt to apologise but he shushed me, held me, and took out his phone. We lay, cuddling for some time.

It was not forgotten though. As we waited for breakfast, he joked that he was going to tell his mum that I thought she went to bed too early. I didn’t like that.

He didn’t tell her but I was a little quiet of breakfast, tired from the poor sleep and the nerves.

Today, he didn’t go to work. We’ve had a nice day relaxing and spent some time on the roof terrace, goofing about. We had a dinner for two as his mum was fasting and dad was out. He blew me kisses throughout the day which made me smile.

By the evening, I was again a little contemplative. At some point, I will need to write this all down. But not now.

As the sun went down, his mum invited to me to eat with her. I wasn’t hungry but I felt she didn’t want to eat alone so joined her. I didn’t eat much, but I think she appreciated me being there.

Then there was tea. I knew what was coming and had no real plan of how to play this. As always, once finished, his mother and father went to bed. There was then silence in our room, other than the TV.

Part of me considered just going to bed (it was 8pm) but then I’d have just made last night seem like it hadn’t mattered. But I also didn’t want to force him to stay up.

Eventually, he put his phone and cup down and beckoned me to him. He teased me for some time, frustrating the hell out of me, but also gave me sweet sweet kisses.

Just after 9pm, I decided to admit defeat and told him I would let him sleep. We tidied away, and I waited for him to say goodnight by the window in my bedroom.

He came in and stood with me, arm around my waist and looking out into the night before smacking my bottom in jest.

I sat on the bed and he joined me, leaning in for a kiss and then tormenting me by pulling away, repeatedly.

He joked that I must be asking myself, why do I have this crazy boyfriend even as my heart is happy. I told him no, that is not what I think. After prompting I whispered, “I ask myself, why am I not good enough?” I don’t even know where that came from and I was as surprised as him except….I know it holds the truth.

He didnt try to discuss that with me for long. Seeing the raw emotion I felt, instead he kissed me gently over and over and over. But before long we were kissing passionately and not long after that, making love.

He left me just after 10pm.

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Trip 6, day 1 (part 2)

I guess what doesn’t change, is how I feel as we get closer to his country. I spend the first few hours listening to music and playing games on my phone. I’d be lying if I say I don’t think of him, but I try to stay busy.

In the last hour with announcements of ‘last chance refreshments/duty free’, and ‘get ready for landing’…well, the excitement just grows. I’m sick of games by then and so I gaze out the window and just imagine…his face, his eyes, his lips and his kisses. I feel like my body is made of butterflies.

We landed, and sitting on the last row paid off as I was soon through passport control.

He called as I was walking through the doors and then I saw him. And the butterflies turned to heat, to magnetic force, and I just needed to be near him. He gave ne the customary European kisses, but he lingered a little longer and I could see his smiles.

As we walked out toward the car, he told me he had only had time to change before rushing out to get me. I joked that he must smell like work, and leant over to sniff dramatically in jest. And..he kissed my cheek again. “Is that what you want?” He asked. Well, yes, of course I thought but that was pretty unexpected.

Seeing his parents was like coming home. They’re such lovely people. And this time, his dad went straight in for a hug ❤️.

And even though he was exhausted, having worked 12 hours straight before coming for me, we went the longer way home so he could show me the centre of his beautiful city by night.

We arrived at his apartment and got to business with unpacking and settling in.

And then it was time for kisses. Worth every daydream, every second of travelling and waiting.

In jest again though, I wouldn’t let him go, and kept going back for more hugs and kisses, and whilst he isn’t always demonstrable like that, I could see that he loved it and was laughing.

We had a lovely dinner although Wildcard was pale with exhaustion by this point. He stroked my back and just feeling him near made my whole body and soul fill with happiness.

I gave out the presents I had bought and there were more hugs all round from his parents, and tender beautiful kisses from him.

And whilst I longed for more…I wasn’t dissatisfied. In fact, I am very very happy.

Try

My days plod on.

My brave face lens is working most of the time. I may have to ‘gee’ myself up, but after some time I have been taking action.

I’ve cleaned my bedroom. I’ve phoned and emailed my son’s school and dealt best I can with an education establishment that appears not to care. Tomorrow, hopefully, he will go back.

I’ve contacted the agencies. I’ve been sent application emails. No, I’ve not yet dealt with them. But I will.

I’ve got out of bed every day. I’ve tried.

My brave face appears to be working with Wildcard. Things, on the outside at least, seem to have slipped back to where they were. Almost. Kind of. I’m not sure, really.

It’s hard not to question everything in this dark place. Is it me? Is it him? Are we just not meant to be?? Should I give up? How would I cope if he leaves? Should I back off so he misses me? What if he doesn’t? Am I actually happy or not? What the hell is going on?

Yesterday, my sister and her friend came round. We ended up discussing my business idea – my sister’s friend has experience in this line of work and was a great motivator. I was nervous and scared at times but hope began to blossom again.

She said… she said it appears that a lot of my fear is because I’m doing something for myself. That hit home. A lot of my angst about leaving my career was around how I’d let down others, not bringing in that managerial wage. This business is for me…except, my business is to help others. It is a risk though. In today’s financial climate…

I’m back to feeling a little indecisive…about the big things anyway.

But I’m trying. And that’s the best I can do.

Trip 5, day 3: The switch.

I can hear the crackle of the open fire. Something delicious is on its way for dinner.

It’s been another lazy day. So far, apart from a mild hiccup last night, Day 3 wobbles have not surfaced. That’s not to say they’re not there- they are – but I’m managing them. Just about.

I’ve read two books, doodled, listened to music, played online games, played cards, and stared at Wildcard any chance I get.

It’s very hot here. Too hot to venture out. I’m enjoying relaxing, I really am. Honest.

I keep remembering that this is his holiday too. He needs to relax even more than me. He’s not had a holiday in two years. And believe me, it’s not that I want to be pff out every day either. I love just being close to him. It’s just…I don’t have the means to entertain myself like I do at home. At home there is always something to be done. Here? Nothing.

There’s always thinking. I have the time and capacity for that. I love him with an astounding complexity. There’s no other way to describe it.

He’s sleeping now.

******

The meal was delicious.

I will admit, I did start to feel a little…restless. We played cards briefly, but I didn’t find a game that he would latch onto so it was a couple of games and then he’d had enough. I drew, I read. Yup- restless.

Maybe ‘restless’ is another cause of Day 3 wobbles.

I tried hard, I really did. I acknowledged that my big feelings were affecting me. I tried my best not to let them escalate or alter my behaviour. Admittedly, I was a little quieter today. But that’s ok. No outbursts, reduced sulking, no arguments.

And then, it happened.

In one of our jokey moments, I’d whined about wanting affection ( I literally whine to torment him – very fun). He didn’t understand however, so I explained it to him by stroking his arm and squeezing his hand. He replied that I wanted to be treated like a pet? That man has a real sense of humour. 😆

He must have taken it on board though. A few hours later, to my surprise, he reached out and stroked my hand and arm. I couldn’t believe it.

Let’s be clear here, he does touch me. His feet always find themselves in my lap or nestled behind my back. He will sometimes steal a kiss as he walks past. He slaps my bottom. When we are alone we cuddle and entwine legs and arms but we’re just not alone very much. To put this in context, it’s not his culture to have regular PDA. And I probably want far more than my fair share as I figure I’ve missed out on it for months and I’m a romantic. And he is irresistible. But…well, there isn’t a lot of it. Or, enough of it.

So, as I stared dumbfounded our hands, his hand swirling patterns on my skin, I got a lump in my throat. I turned away and admittedly…there were few tears. The fan was the most interesting thing in the room. As always, he noticed. He asked why I was upset and after a pause I replied, “because you don’t touch me like that very often.” He was a little shocked.

Since then? Woah. I’ve had stolen kisses at every opportunity. In the car he grabbed my hand in between gear changes (he has never done that before). He’s caressed my skin. It’s like I’ve flipped the switch somehow.

And I wonder if, in this circumstance, it’s about what you don’t know. They’re not a physically demonstrative family outside the European norm of two kisses on the cheeks. He’s never brought a girlfriend home before – probably never spent such a prolonged time with one. He’s a man set in his ways each day.

Of course, there’s a good chance he will forget this all tomorrow. But for today? We’ve survived Day 3 wonderfully.

One said he loved me

One said he loved me, but played me like a game,

One said he loved me, but loved another just the same,

One said loved me, but later laughed upon my face,

One said he loved me, then disappeared without a trace.

When you say you love me, don’t be surprised if I do fear.

When you say you love me, speak to my heart not just my ear.

When you say you love me, say it loud so the world does know,

For perhaps when you say you love me, I won’t be afraid you’ll go.

Insatiable

There is a hard stone in the middle of my chest, weighing me down. I feel like it’s threatening to pull me over and then down, down, down in to the earth.

Very little seems to take away the sensation. I’m binge eating like never before: each day telling myself that tomorrow I will eat better. But my non-hunger is insatiable. Nothing helps so I keep cramming it in. I crave salt and then sugar. I am thirsty. Nothing satisfies me.

I miss him.

I always miss him. Every day. And every time I go, I don’t want to leave him. But this time was different. I didn’t want to come home.

When I did, the world seemed dull. Like all the colours were muted. Cold seems to seep from the ground and into my bones. I walked into my home, and I hated it. I hated everything about it.

My children arrived and for a moment, when they hugged me and kissed me, my heart was light again. But soon they were bickering and arguing…the dishwasher needed emptying, food needed cooking, and needed to unpack…and I didn’t want to. I don’t want this life.

Just thinking that makes me feel bad. Another stone drops into my heart, heavy and aching. How can I be happy leaving my children behind? I’m not.

But nothing, even them, is erasing that heaviness in my chest.

Last night, for a moment, I was free.

As I do sometimes, towards the end of our call, I ask him to tell me something nice. He usually does the opposite in jest and makes me laugh, or acts like a pantomime dame in his over exaggeration.

But last night, he told me he misses me. He misses my lips and my kisses. He misses my face and my smile. He misses my eyes, he misses my laugh.

And my heart felt light. I felt my soul soar, I was surprised at his honesty, his tone, his rush of words like he had no control. And I told him, “you sound serious this time baby.” And this time, this time he was.

Realisations

Sometimes my emotions come out of nowhere. Don’t get me wrong, I have a vague awareness of them. They dance about at the edge of my consciousness: teasing, hinting then disappearing temporarily with my metaphorical flick of disdain.

So when they do return, they return stronger than ever. My emotions and I may run the dance a few times before they explode into my vision, refusing to be subdued any longer.

I have known this about myself ever since my breakdown. My highly skilled counsellor made me see this – how dampening them down for so long just prolongs the inevitable .

I have learnt a little since then. I’ve learnt that I need time alone sometimes. In these moments, I may allow an emotion to float to the surface. I may even write about it on here a little. My technique is nowhere near perfected though. That is a definite.

All this information isn’t new. And it kind of depresses me (excuse the pun) that at 41, I still haven’t figured it all out. Is that what life is?

Tonight I had two realisations that may help my journey of helping myself.

I have talked of my eldest son previously: he has ADHD and is likely to have autism too although this is still being investigated.  Over the years, I have learned his triggers and have become better at understanding and managing them.

What I’ve never realised, is that I have my own too. Odd, as I have also written that I suspect that I have something too.

Tonight’s trigger resulted in another emotion filled dialogue with Wild Card. It’s not an argument.  But it’s not nice either.

In hindsight,  I realised the following:

  • There’s an external trigger.
  • I mull over it in my head
  • I try not to – try to be positive, ignore it
  • I fail and it turns in to either a spontaneous outburst or
  • He notices I’m mulling and makes me tell him
  • I tell him the surface issue
  • He doesn’t react how I want him to
  • The floodgates open – defences come down, and all sorts of buried thoughts and emotions erupt
  • He talks me down
  • I think that he is better off without me/I’m ruining our relationship
  • He calms me and eventually tell me what I needed to hear
  • I ponder and realise he was right all along

Of course, I wonder why he can’t tell me what I want to hear straight away. Cut out the middle man. Go straight to the soothing part.

I love everything about him. Yes, sometimes I wish he was a little more forthcoming. But I wouldn’t change him. Who he is now, is who I love. What I think I wish for says more about me than him.

And one of the things I love about him is the way he makes me think differently. Yes, it’s tough. He just to wade through emotions and preconditioned thoughts and ideas…but eventually he gets there. And when he does, something in my head shifts, just a little.

He tells me what I need to hear.

Truth is, I realise that I do indeed have triggers. Now I need to learn how to self soothe them. Deal with them. Not push them away, because then they grow stronger – from a two headed monster to a multi headed monster.

The second realisation, which again was pretty obvious now I know it, is that I try to self soothe with food.

The food numbs my brain, just a little. Some attention is siphoned off my problem and onto the food. The saltiness of the tortilla chips. The sweetness of the chocolate. My brain goes into an involuntary tug of war between problem and taste sensations. The more my problem wins, the more I cram into my mouth to balance it.

Then, one of two things happens.

A tsunami of binge-created guilt hits me. Success! My problem is now forgotten in the complete self loathing that is dominating my every thought. It’s a week trodden path of working out how much I’ve blown it, hating myself for doing it…etc etc.

The other is that I eat to the point of fullness or sickness. Once again, bingo! My physical feelings overpower anything else in my head. This is a pretty nasty one because it is a two hitter- the guilt surely follows the physical feeling.

Therefore, my realisation is that I eat to feel not to numb.

Now, I need to find out what to do about it

Harry

It’s still less than two weeks since I came home and left Wildcard. It feels like months.

But it’s OK. I’ve got myself a new boyfriend. He is called Harry.

Harry was kind of foisted on me. I told him repeatedly that Wildcard was the only man for me, but he was insistent.

He makes me laugh from the moment I set eyes on him. He is loving and gentle and open. He says the things that Wildcard implies but only rarely states.

We decided to call him Harry because it’s an English name. The original name was ‘Carlos’ but that didn’t sound right either.

Visually, he is a little freaky. Big, almost white-blue eyes that stare at you from behind black circular glasses. Wide, rounded cheeks and a double chin. He has a dark beard and dark hair like Wildcard though…. His voice is higher, and whines.

Regular readers, have I confused you? Let me explain.

Wildcard makes me laugh like no one else has ever done. My family has always joked that I have no sense of humour. Apparently that isn’t true – I just hadn’t found the right person to make me laugh.

Wildcard and I talk on Messenger. And on Messenger, there are filters which get updated regularly. My sides have split over his pizza face and when he was a corn on the cob. It’s not just the filter of course – it’s what he does and says. He is hysterical.

With or without filters, he knows how to make me laugh. The things to say, the faces to pull…the silly dances, the jokes.

With this new filter though, he has created an alter ego. Harry is the romantic person that Wildcard won’t be.

It’s true that whilst I laugh readily at Harry and his antics, his appearance is a little quirky. And yet, I’ve grown to love this romance and affection. He says what I want Wildcard to say.

Harry has been around for about a week now. I’ll admit, my overthinking, over-analytical brain considered why Wildcard can’t say these things- he’s created Harry as his opposite. He must know that is what I want him to say. Why can’t he say it?

Well first, he does say it. He says it when it is right for him. Second, he is saying it. Which made me question why he needs to be in character to do it.

Why is he afraid to be readily open about his feelings?

I guess there is only a couple of reasons why. He isn’t like that – not everyone wears their heart on their sleeve.

And I suppose the other is fear. Fear of opening up. Fear of getting hurt. Over the past two years of being together, I’ve pieced together that his first girlfriend hurt him. He loved her. She pushed him to marry and he wasn’t ready so she went and found someone else – her ultimatum didn’t work and suggested that she found this man whilst still with Wildcard. I’ve deduced that he has never really forgiven her despite still being ‘friends’. She knows about me and has questioned him about our relationship. She has hinted about leaving her husband and being with him. He told me he can never forgive her.

It explains a lot of his jealousy and paranoia and his reactions when he has believed me to have done something wrong – like the getting a lift from my ex. I’ve always know he is less secure than he makes out he is. Perhaps now I have reason why.

Lost in…

The day of my departure.

I’m packed and ready to go. I was determined to not be an over anxious mess this time. Not sure how successful I’ve been.

Last night I just felt numb. I was quiet and brooding though I tried not to be. Part of me was sulking too I guess. It was my last night there and I wanted something. When I was a child, the last night of a holiday was always a big deal. You’d go out for a meal or go somewhere special to mark the end of a great trip – go out with a bang I should say. It’s not that I wanted or needed to go out. I think I just wanted some recognition.

I suppose I need to remember that Wildcard may not see things that way. From what I gather, his experiences of holidays have been camping for the summer in his family’s village. He told me that as he and his brothers got older, they hated going. Not quite the same then.

But then, I guess I want to see that he is feeling it too – she’s going home, I’m going to miss her. Let’s make the most of it. But there was nothing to mark this. After sitting in the lounge for a while whilst he continued with his usual routine – the occasional ‘Are you ok?’ ‘What’s wrong?’ punctuating the silence, I got up and went to my room, heart heavy and soul weary.

He shouted me and I ignored him. I had no energy to answer and I didn’t want to talk about it. Childish? Probably. I couldn’t help it – in my head he should feel the same and I shouldn’t have to explain everything.

Before long though he came to the room. He asked again what was wrong and then lay with me, his legs claiming me. He smacked my bottom occasionally. Tickled me a few times. In that way he was trying.

We were shouted for tea and apparently his mum noticed I wasn’t myself. I hate that, I tried to act normal, but that heavy feeling inside is hard to overcome.

And of course it is wrapped up in a multitude of other feelings. Fear he doesn’t reciprocate. Guilt over my children. Worry that we may split up and I never come back. Wonder that he still hasn’t made us official. Anger that I’m torturing myself again.

We drank our tea, said goodnight to his parents and I got ready for bed. When I went into my room he was stood at the window and I went to stand with him. He kissed my cheek and my forehead and I rested my head on his shoulder. We cuddled a little on the bed and he gently kissed every part of my face. But when he told me he was going to bed as he was tired, I couldn’t help the tears.

And I couldn’t explain. When he left me that night, my trip was over. I didn’t want him to leave. It’s not that I wanted sex (although I would never say no to him), I just didn’t want him to leave me. I managed to explain enough that I didn’t want him to go and I wanted him to be near, and could he stay just a little longer? So we talked a little and we cuddled and we kissed and eventually I had calmed enough to tell him to go to bed. Prioritising me enough not to go to bed when he was tired said enough to appease me.

He messaged not long after, telling me not to be sad and that he loved me. And with that I fell asleep.

At some time in the night I heard movement outside my room. I’m a light sleeper mostly, so anyone venturing to the bathroom will wake me. To my surprise, Wildcard came to my door. He’d had a bad dream about his Grandmother and couldn’t sleep. He came in, shut the blinds and cuddled up to me. We slept together for the rest of the night although neither of us sleeps well with someone else in the bed. It was magical though, and something we haven’t done since my very first trip in Feb 2019. I sent a thank you to his Grandmother. I have dreamed of her once too as she beckoned me to into her family, and I have no doubts that she had done this.

In the morning there was love and passionate and affection. Then he went to work, leaving me to shower and pack.

I started shaking about an hour after he left. I felt calmer than last time but the anxiety was coming from within my body, not my mind. His mother asked me for help and as I sat with her, I told her that I felt nervous. She asked me why and I started to weep. I couldn’t help it. She asked me again and so I told her.

‘I don’t want to leave Wildcard.’

She looked at me, confused, and asked me to repeat. I said it again but she still didn’t understand so she asked me to translate on my phone.

She then understood and told me not to be sad and she was sorry. She asked me if I loved him and I told her, yes a lot. So now she knows.

Later, once I was calm again. She told me that she had misunderstood me at first, and thought I had said ‘ I don’t want to live with Wildcard’. We laughed for ten minutes straight over that one and I felt better after it.

He came home from work and we all ate dinner before Wildcard and I lay on his bed and just cuddled. I may have wept a little.

At the airport he sat with me for nearly 45 minutes until it was time to drop my bag. I told him to go, but he didn’t.

I’m lost in him. I’m lost without him. I don’t know when I’m going back. I’m just…lost.

For my sons

I don’t know if this is a subject you want to hear from me. I imagine not. But I think I am the best placed to give you this lesson.

I don’t envy either of you. The world is a very different place than it was when I was your age. But some things stay the same.

The world is filled with images of how we ‘are supposed’ be. Instagram, Facebook, advertisements, magazines, film…all telling us what is attractive. This is for men and for women. The pressure is there for both.

Remember one thing. Someone, somewhere made the decision of what ‘attractive’ is. They then published it for one reason only – so we will buy what they are selling so we can look and feel like that. Keep that in mind every time you see an advert for abs, or for bulking up or whatever else men are subjected to.

My advice? Be healthy. Exercise, eat well, keep clean and tidy and dress well. That, my sons, will be enough. No one is enamoured with someone who never brushes their teeth.

I’m sure you realise though, that the pressure on women is perhaps even greater and always has been. Not only are they presented with professionally made-up women with their perfect hair and make up, these women are airbrushed and filtered. Whilst the male physique never really changes from a fashion sense, a woman’s certainly does. At this moment, round bottoms and tiny waists are in fashion. How ridiculous is that boys? A woman’s shape can be in fashion or not. What message is that giving them?

So for that reason, here is my advice to you.

No matter how beautiful you find a woman there will ALWAYS be a part of herself that she hates. She might even be unhappy with most of herself.

How will you know? It’s the part that she covers up: with make up, with clothes, with her hands. It might be the parts that she is always working on – a new diet or exercise plan, a new cream or make up product.

Make no mistake, whilst she wants to improve herself for her own wellbeing, don’t be fooled. If you are with her, she is doing it for you too. If not, then for whoever she wants to find. How much that is an incentive to her will be different for every woman but it will be there. Why? Because we all want acceptance. We all want to be needed and wanted and desired by someone else.

So this is where is becomes difficult for you. How do you navigate this emotionally difficult situation? How can you seem supportive and non judgemental but not dismissive of her feelings? That my sons, is the tricky part.

Whilst it is not your job to boost the self esteem of every woman you ever date, it is certainly your role to support her with that difficult task.

How?

By noticing.

On the days where she has tried extra hard with her hair or make up or clothes, tell her you’ve noticed. On the days she gets out of bed with her hair dishevelled and wearing cuddly pyjamas, tell her how much you love her eyes or smile or whatever else made you want to be with her.

Tell her, this woman you love, that to you she is perfect how she is, flaws and all. Tell her you don’t care if she thinks her bum is flat or boobs are small or stomach is flabby or whatever else. You love her how she is – healthy and happy and her.

No one is perfect boys. No one. Maybe there are parts of her that deep down you wish were a little different. Know this – we each could describe an construct a perfect person to be with. But what is perfect for us may still not be perfect in their eyes. Loving someone is loving all of them.

At the same time, if you say these things too much then it can have the opposite effect that you were trying to achieve. She won’t believe you and think you insincere. I know that it is a difficult balance, and it will be different with every woman. Again I give you this advice…Notice. Pay attention.

Never, ever tell a girl she is too fat or thin even in anger, even if she is. The moment you say those words you will lose something in your relationship which you will never get back. If you are worried about her weight then support her with it when she asks. Exercise together, cook together, encourage and support never criticise or point out her mistakes.

A woman’s self esteem is fragile boys, no matter how confident she seems. If she loves you, it becomes all the more delicate. Remember that.