I was having a few drinks with the girls a little while ago and we (inevitably) got onto the subject of men. We discussed all the usual dramas in a scene typical of Sex in the City (with wine instead of cocktails) when one blurted out that she had started seeing a married man from her office.
I sat back and listened for a while to all the usual excuses…why she thinks her situation is different from most and why he really is a “lovely guy”. And as I watched her doing her best to make us see her point of view I couldn’t help think that, for the first time in my life…I am friends with The “Other” Woman.
She is a kind, fun, outgoing girl who would be there in a flash when times got tough for any of us. I didn’t judge her but I felt overwhelmed with a mix of surprise, concern and disappointment. I just couldn’t get my head around the fact that she thought what they were doing was OK. She certainly felt it was only him who should feel guilty and her morals suddenly became incredibly ambiguous.
I reminded her of when previous boyfriends had cheated or left one of us for The “Other” Woman…how that made us feel, how we hated that woman…but she didn’t seem to “get it”. She was utterly convinced their situation was unique and special.
Naturally she was defensive. But the three of us laid out the facts as plainly as we could and I thought I’d share…in case you have found yourself in a triangle or…you are thinking about it…
1. Every woman who is The “Other” Woman thinks that their situation is unique, thinks they are somehow different. Often The “Other” Woman doesn’t see themselves that way and why?… because they are the woman none of us want to be, we all despise and we all think we will never be. However when you discount the excuses, reasoning and slanted view you have, every “unique situation” has the same core elements.
2. Men who cheat are selfish and show no respect for the woman they are with. These are not the kind of men you want to be involved with. Men are especially good at compartmentalising their life but it’s scary when they are too good at it. You are in one box and his wife is in another…and who else?
3. Still The “Other” Woman six/seven months down the line… this man is comfortable with the set up as it is now. If he really loved you and he respected his wife, he would make his choice and be happy with it. But he isn’t making a choice, he is happy just plodding along and he gets want he needs from both of you.
4. These men think they are good people. They are very good at justifying their actions and are unable to see they are in the wrong.
5. Holy! The sex is good, right? Guess what…it’s because the situation wrong! – awesome dysfunctional sex. When you’re The “Other” Woman all you feel for the man is heightened and exaggerated because of the situation you are in. You want each other all the time because you have to pretend you don’t to everyone else. You are in a secret club with only each other and that is exciting and sexy. In the back of your mind though…you will start to wonder what are his feelings? Will he leave one day? Who is more important? Is it just a matter of time? Is he sleeping with her? Blab la…all of this and more will play on your mind and on your heart.
6. Don’t you want to be his number one?
7. But he moans about his wife, doesn’t he? She doesn’t understand him or listen to him or give him enough attention. Men will always carry a little boy around in them and the ones that cheat are the least mature of them all. How easy for him to think that you do all of the things that his wife doesn’t. Do you wash his pants? Or cook him dinner? Are you raising his children? Live a “normal” life in a balanced relationship and see if things don’t go the same way…marriage and long term relationships can get stale. You are not the answer…not the long term one anyway!
8. Would you ever be able to trust him? If he did leave her, if he really was in love with you, honestly, wouldn’t you just be waiting for it to happen to you?
9. Are you really that happy? Is this what you wanted from a relationship?… Is this how you saw yourself?
I was pleased to learn a few days ago that she had ended it, she realised we were right and that what we had said was out of love and not because we judged her. However, I have to admit I am slightly…wary now. It has left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth. I am a firm believer that whether your the one doing the cheating or the one the cheater is cheating with…you are betraying a basic moral code and acting selfishly and thoughtlessly. If you are willing to do that, can anyone trust you? And isn’t that an incredibly sad thing?
As I make the relatively short 2 hour journey back to my hometown, I feel the stresses of London life lifting. I find myself thinking of the last time I made this trip, remembering how I felt, remembering how it was all such a blur and that I just wished I wasn’t making the journey alone. As I turned the corner onto my road, I could hear the gentle crash of the sea against the shore, I looked out at the view that I used to see every day, its beauty, its calming effect on me and wondered…why the hell have I waited so long to come back?!
My Mum is simply amazing and could not do more to make a fuss and welcome me home. Its breakfast time and she’s cooking me pancakes (my favorite), singing along to her Dirty Dancing CD and I’m watching the sky change all sorts of colours as the sun comes out from behind the Isle of White. I’m struck again with the question…why have I waited so long to come back?!
The magical thing with living by the sea is that the view is essentially the same but it’s almost like its alive and its constantly changing, reflecting the weather, the seasons and the passage of time. As I have grown, my view has also grown and its something I have always taken great comfort in. Whenever I am away from the sea for too long, I miss it, I need to see it, breathe in the special sea air, see the open space and I have always, always said how much I appreciate the view I have from my home. I have never, ever stayed away for so long. I went to university in the local area, lived a mere 20 minute drive from my family home and although I always knew I’d move to London, I didn’t think I’s spend months without coming home. So… why? Why have I stayed away?
As I walk with some friends down to Mudeford Key and I snap pictures of the sunset in the spot that I have always called “Proposal Point” I finally accept the answer to my question. The reason I have stayed away for so long is because…everything here, everything about home and all I see when I look around are memories. There is an empty hole, that was once filled with a guy whose photos are still all over may room, whose clothes still hang in the wardrobe and whose shaver still rests on my sink.
I was struck with the realisation that we lived far longer as a couple here, “back down South” than we did anywhere else. Memories of our life together are far more prominent here and by being in London, I have escaped from that and been able to move forward. Being back home was like stepping back to months ago, when we were together, happy and unable to imagine not being “us”.
We spoke on the phone and I ended up in tears, telling him all the things I’d been remembering over the last few days. He was surprisingly understanding and related to all I was feeling, sharing with me his memories and moments since we split that have caught him by surprise.
I am far too sentimental for my own good and see “moments” and “times” in all corners of my home and I think I knew deep down, I’d struggle with coming back. When I was home before, I saw through blurry eyes and didn’t look around at the reminders quite as I do now. I think I also felt that if I’d come back before now, I’d have ended up wanting to stay. I needed the time to pave my own path in London and build a life for myself, make friends and discover new interests.
Although I realise these reminders won’t just “go away”. I have now at least faced up to them once, and hopefully each time I come back, I will contemplate our life together less and just live mine as it is now. I guess I just need to give time, time but know that it is also normal and healthy to remember.
People always say that “you don’t know who your real friend are until something bad happens”. Those who love you, care for you and genuinely worry if you are suffering…those people will come through every time. They will listen, wipe the tears, advise and support you, make you laugh and sometimes force you to see truths. And what I have experienced is, those people are the ones you least expect, the ones you’ve neglected or have lost touch with or you’ve never felt that close to. And sadly, as hard as it is to deal with, it is those who you expect to be there, the ones you know you would do anything for or that you took for granted would step up, that don’t come through.
I’ve spent the last month feeling really disappointed and angry with a person I thought would be my rock whenever anything went wrong. I thought we were best friends, no matter what or where we were in our lives, that we would make the time to be there for one another when we needed it. I was wrong. He was the first person I called, above my family, above people I see more regularly, I called him. He made all the right noises but that conversation was the last I have had with him.
For a while I waited, and then I asked to meet up with him to catch up and talk about…everything, the way we used to. He then cancelled. I’m still waiting to hear when he is next free to see me.
I am deeply upset at the thought that I have lost a friend who meant so much to me and surprised that quite clearly, our friendship no longer means all that much to him. Yet I then look at all the people who have taken the time to call me, text me, come and see me, have a coffee, take me dancing…
These people are the biggest surprise of them all. They have shown me what I mean to them and how lucky I am to have them in my life. In some cases, newly made friends have become my closest and I have opened myself up to meeting new friends and embraced all their advice as well as sharing experiences. They have helped me rebuild and discover who I am, on my own.
I guess I’m writing this because… although it is a sad that tough times can reveal negative truths about relationships you thought you had, they also open your eyes to those who really do care for you and love you, no matter if your crying, saying nothing, shouting, going over and over the same old shit and just…feeling all those things you need to feel.
My mum always said, you can really only ever count your true friends on one hand. I think she is absolutely right. Real friends are the ones who you can spend time with, doing nothing, saying not a lot yet you still have a great time. Just being around them is enough. And your bond is unique to you, no two friendships are the same. You don’t need to make extra effort to have a good time. And even if you haven’t seen each other for a year or more, when you do it is like you have never been a part.
I guess I’m glad I know who my friends are, who really matters to me and who I matter to. If nothing else, that is a silver lining to a rather dark cloud.
Valentines Day. Hmmm… I’ve never been a fan of this particular “holiday”. It seems a shame that we need to have a nominated day where we bother to take the time to tell that special someone that we love them. I don’t want anyone sending me flowers, cards or telling me things they don’t feel because they feel they “have” to.
HOWEVER…there is the total flip side to this argument…
It forces people to take the time to show their loved one how much they mean to them and allows for some romance in a world that doesn’t always encourage it. It is also (more commonly used by school kids), to tell those you admire from a far that you like them (something I used to find exciting and frustrating in equal measure!).
I was talking to the guys I work with about their valentines day plans and we were debating whether gifts were strictly necessary…? I think…no. I mean…why?! Surely the gift is spending that day or evening together, having dinner, conversation and (hopefully) some devilish fun. But. My advice to all of them was A. to give a card (with a personal message) and B. to respect the power that red roses hold!
It probably sounds silly but Red Roses are guaranteed to make any girl smile. Men generally don’t “get” this. Not one guy in the office seemed to see the point in red roses over other colours. So I try to put it simply…
For a start, the colour red itself evolved from an early primal symbol for life into a metaphor for deep emotion. It is the colour of our heart and our blood that runs through us, keeping us alive and therefore it suggests the emotion you feel does the same, keeps you going and run deep within you.
The red rose is universally known as the symbol of love. It dates back to Greek and Roman mythology where the red rose was closely tied to the Goddess of Love and people would decorate their wedding venues, clothing and hair with them. The tradition never died and in fact, grew stronger and more prominent with time. It has become an unmistakable iconic representation of saying, “I love you”.
In fact all colours of roses hold a meaning. I could be wrong but here is how I understand it:
White: Purity, Innocence, Youthfulness, Happiness
Pink: Appreciation, “Thank You”, Gentleness, Joy
Yellow: Friendship, New Beginnings, Freedom
Yellow With Red Tip: Falling in Love (good one for new valentines?!)
Red and White: Given together these signify Unity – often seen at weddings
Orange: Desire, Fascination
Black: Infinite Love
Blue: The Unattainable or Impossible
Also (good news for the pocket) giving a Single Red Rose means: True Love
And a Thorn-less Rose means Love at First Sight.
So…however you feel about the girl you are with (or hope to be with) …there is a colour for you! But my advice, if you are in love…go for RED!
I am always amazed by the capacity music has to evoke so much emotion and affect how you feel so easily. Music holds a million memories. I often hear songs and immediately get transported to that time in my life when I was first listening to it, university days, travelling the world, a single moment in time when your eyes meet his across a room… Music allows you to relive these moments and remember things you haven’t thought about in months, sometimes years!
A song’s power over your thoughts and emotions is more often than not, positive. I’m one of those people who will listen to something, remember a happy memory and beam from ear to ear as I walk down the street! It makes the arduous, robotic, monotony of the “daily commute” enjoyable and time passes so much faster.
However, there are occasions when listening to music is more like…slowly torturing yourself! It can flood your thoughts with memories that your heart cannot handle. It creates a constant film playing in your head of happy times that are easier to just block out or that are simply too raw to remember.
I need music throughout my day. It usually lifts my spirits, distracts me and gives me an artificial soundtrack to my life in which I can lose myself and drift off. I like to daydream as well as reminisce, just get lost in my head. Music has always been a passion but in the past two years, it has become more a “way of life”. Every day I listen to it, new music, old favourites, whole albums. I read music Blogs and share new music with friends. I managed a band for around 18 months who filled me with passion and made me appreciate the finer details in the music, what makes a song go from “alright” to “special”. I like travelling on my own because it gives me time with my music, which ultimately feeds my thoughts. I love that time to just “be”. I love to talk about it, share ideas, opinions. My main use of twitter used to be to discover and share news and advances in the industry (however this has recently not been the case)!
So…where am I going with this…that listening to music has been…a challenge lately? Absolutely. It’s been done with a heavy heart, reluctantly and I’ve had to force myself to “tune in” and “zone out”. But its been a challenge worth taking on…something I felt I needed to “force” myself to do.
Recently, a woman told me her husband died and for 7 years she could not listen to music. Nothing. It had that strong affect on her emotionally. This is obviously an extreme example but it got me thinking about the power music has and in turn, how I could use music and these thoughts and memories to…help me.
It has been a strange experience because, on the one hand, listening to my favourite bands has been almost impossible, I’ve often started listening to a song and quickly had to change it or turn the iPod off altogether! Arcade Fire’s “Crown of Love” is an example of a song, full of emotion that before Christmas, I could deeply empathise with and relate to. The Nationals “About Today” actually made me feel sick, I could feel everything he was singing about and it allowed me to hear my deepest worries out loud. I decided I’d download Radiohead’s entire discography and just let it play (a band I’ve never fully appreciated) and lost myself in my head. Yet on the other hand, it has been a positive escapism too. Listening to songs that indulged in my feelings was, in a weird way, exactly what I needed. It’s like hearing everything you can’t stop yourself from thinking, being sung in a poetic and often deeply honest manner that it is actually…comforting. You’re suddenly not “alone” and someone else is sharing in what you are feeling.
Music is magical. Listening to these songs now, even though only a relatively small period of time has past, my mind does not react the same way and it’s once again uplifting. I put on “Crown of Love” last night and thought of nothing except that it would be a lovely song to dance to, I want to be spun around and held! It no longer held the…emotional attachment, the hope that it did just a few weeks ago.
Listening to a wider range of my favourite bands has also reminded me of the many amazing times I had with “that guy from across the room”. Each song, everything, seems to hold some memory for me, some forgotten joke or moment or…argument even. I guess I have realised that…it’s OK, that for a while it is just how it’s going to be. Certain songs will probably forever flood my mind with thoughts of “us” but they are welcome memories and they deserve to be remembered.
They will also hopefully hold new memories, new moments with new and old friends and if I just stop listening, then I’m depriving myself from letting music in, stopping it from sweeping me away and taking over my mind…It’s a passion and a need that don’t think I would be able to live without.