“Why I’ve stopped having one night stands”
Contrary to popular belief, I wasn’t always so unlucky in love that I made Bridget Jones look like Casanova. I was once very much in love with a man.
From the fingertips to the toes, feet to nose. Together 4 years. He was a Soldier, and we survived 2.5 six-month tours of Afghan, of sleepless nights. My best friend said she’d ‘never seen anyone look at someone like he looks at you’. She still says she hasn’t. There is love, and then there is great love.
We ended precipitously and painfully, although it started to crack during university. Being nearly 5 years different in age, he was pouring a cup of tea and I was pouring a cup of Vodka. I was dancing on the tables and he wanted the first dance. He got complacent, I got hungry. I became selfish and reckless with him. I did wrong things. I may have a big heart but I am certainly no perfect angel. He didn’t see it coming, and I broke his world. As a consequence, mine got turned on its head. It hasn’t been the same since, I still dance on the ceiling.
He tried for a year to get back together. 3am phone calls and bloodshot eyes. “What have I done wrong?” Nothing.
It finished because of a false alarm. Someone I deemed important said that he wanted my children. Turns out he wanted nothing more than a pretty thing on his arm, and his importance was in fact a colossal façade to hide the ever-large penis on his forehead. He was the best mistake I made. He took himself off the pedestal I put him on, and expatriated the question mark balancing on his head. I was free of him. But I lost something else a lot more precious. I was too young to understand what great love was, I certainly know now.
After dickhead 1, and on a new path of exciting singledom, I accidentally fell into someone else whirlwind-like, but it lasted its usual few dances and odd dinners before it was put to bed for reasons unknown. Once the dust had settled, and I realised that love is not a whirlwind but indeed at times a journey of endurance, Solider had locked the gates and decided to march on. Timing is as much about love as the feeling itself. Timing, is also a bitch. But it has its reasons. Trust the world a little.
Soldier and I kept an odd relationship for a couple of years post break-up. We had a sixth sense. We knew when the other person wasn’t right. We would contact each other then. Perhaps some people call it coincidence… but if it keeps happening?
“ He tried for a year to get back together. 3am phone calls and bloodshot eyes. “What have I done wrong?” Nothing. ”
Late last year I found someone who made me feel like it was ok to be without Soldier. So I told him we shouldn’t be so close anymore, but I’m still here if he needs me. He had someone else at this point, but he still cried. As did I.
Hard times followed, the new guy left quickly. Soldier rang me once in December, he knew something was up, and I asked him why I’m so hard to love. He said you’re not hard to love, you’re in a hard place, and he listed everything about me that he called magic. He drove 3 and half hours and took me for coffee. His girlfriend rang and I told him to pick up. He said he was with his friends. I asked him what she had that I didn’t. He said ‘She never broke my heart,’ and finished on ‘but no one has your eyes, and no one has your smile.’ He fumbled around in his wallet and pushed forward a weathered passport photo of a young girl I once knew…’I still have you with me.’
He told me he would spend New Year’s with her but I still got a ‘Happy New Year, Bam. x ’ at 2am. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I couldn’t handle being the secret or the second (not that we were ever having an affair, we barely kissed since we split. Was I THAT bad a smooch?) and he was clearly in love with someone else. January 4th I told him to rip up the picture in the wallet and never speak to me again. He always did as he was told.
Let’s bring it forward to Friday the 16th September. The moon hung low and large, and I wondered how the sky held such a weight. I spoke to him. When Soldier was in Afghan, we used to send wishes to one another via the moon, because it was the only thing we could both see. And mushy shit like that helps some people. So now, when the moon is trying to take centre stage, I think he’s talking to me. And I send a wish back. Just in case.
“ Great Love is not that simple. I’m sorry. ”
24 hours later I sit with a best friend outside my favourite coffee shop in Clifton. We weren’t going to go there, but I was desperate to. I pull my chair out and sit down. I catch a man’s eye.
That morning getting ready, I had a feeling I would. Sometimes I think we are made of part stars.
It’s the first time in 9 months I’d seen him, and the first time in 7 years I stumbled across him as perhaps a stranger would. My chin hit the floor and my eyes wouldn’t leave him alone. He looked up, looked down, looked up, tried to smile, looked down, looked back, looked behind, all the while his legs kept walking away. I hadn’t seen that jumper before but I remember those shorts.
Everything stopped. The jangle of coffee cups, my friends story, the birds in the sky. My heartbeat. All lost in a limbo state of timelessness. Then, like a pause button releasing a movie from its frozen frame, tears fell, and I held silently on to my friend’s hand.
I wanted to scream ‘I love you’. I wanted to run up to him, hug him, ask if he was ok. But instead, my jaw ceased and my body turned into water, unable to hold itself. I was told I went pale as though I’d seen a ghost. I felt exactly that. And so, I collected myself and rang my parents, text my sister, and told them I loved them. Because, just because.
Later, when my friend was driving me home he said ‘One day I wish someone feels like that about me.’
And it clicked.
And so this is the purpose of my blog today.
We live in a world, in a generation, where sometimes being desperately passionate, desperately open, desperately alive is not cool and you are wrongly accused of being needy, desperate, or worse; being judged that you have ulterior motives. Catching feelings is as bad as catching Chlamydia. Where the grass is greener. Because we’re the shallow generation. Where everything needs to look good on Instagram and you can double tap a screen and it turns into a love heart.
Great Love is not that simple. I’m sorry.
What I’m trying to say, to beg to you, is to feel. To throw your arms open at every situation. To let yourself bleed if the knife cuts you. To stop dragging your feet. Run. To speak about your feelings and to care about others, to scream, to punch, to love. Make your life tangible. Feel, albeit rationally and with a strong heart, and great big things will happen.
Because when my friend said he wished someone felt that about him, it made sense. We all want the great love, but we don’t want the hurt. But you can’t get the same feeling of accomplishment at the top of the mountain if you don’t start from the very bottom. Get low. I realised how lucky I was to ever feel that level of love. No matter the hurt.
“ We live in a world, in a generation, where sometimes being desperately passionate, desperately open, desperately alive is not cool and you are wrongly accused of being needy, desperate, or worse; being judged that you have ulterior motives. ”
If you love someone, I’m talking about even a friend or a family member, please tell them. Please kiss their forehead. Please hold their hand. If you can’t get someone out of your head, make it happen so they’re in front of you instead. If you’re in heartbreak or grieving from loss, let yourself be, and trust that it’ll ease. It does magical things in the end if you are strong enough. You’re learning something. Equally, if you’re holding on to something because it’s easy, it’s habit, it’s too scary to think of being alone. Let it go. Don’t coast. Go diving.
I often get told I wear my heart on my sleeve. I agree. I also get told that I shouldn’t do that. I disagree. The older we get, the harder it is to love freely. We are trapped within inhibitions, scared of what others think of us if we jump for joy. We are broken by previous loves who use words as careless bullets to shoot us. We’ve watched a love one die and we lose ourselves in grief. We are all aching with every footstep, but we can’t stop this from being open, and putting ourselves on the firing line of emotion. Keep the window open and I promise the sun will keep shining. I hear too many bitter adults tell me I’m naïve and foolish, and I see too many people in unhappy relationships because they’re too scared of the hurt if they let go. Please let go.
I hope you see positivity in this writing. I am ever hopeful that someone will love me and I will love them again in a great manner, but they’ve got a lot to prove when your first love is your soulmate at the wrong time. I guess for that reason; I am terribly hard to please (Although, I would argue that all I fundamentally want is a chilled, stable and truthful man and I think I’d be tickety-boo.) I must protest that I do not regret leaving Soldier, I have learnt so much and I would have been so desperately unhappy, with so many ‘what-if’s’ if I had stayed at that time. I would have been settling and I wouldn’t have treated him with the upmost respect he deserves. But it still hurts, every day. And if I never fall in love again, although a family is a dream (NOT now), I would whole heartedly rather stay single for the rest of my life then end up settling. I get so much happiness from friends, family, from sunrises & mountains, music, writing…Love is endless.
I don’t need mediocre – I want great.
Once upon a time, I fell head-over-heels and arse-over-tit in love. One of the last things Soldier said to me was ‘You have the biggest heart, almost as big as your eyes. People will walk over you. Be careful.’
And here’s something I’d hope I could articulate if you passed me by again…’Perhaps I’m ok with that. Because, because of that heart, I got you. Once upon a time. And I am forever grateful to be able to feel that much, put myself in the firing line, and have someone as wonderful as you. Even if it wasn’t forever.’
Training a heart to survive a great love, a great heartbreak, and as a consequence a great life – it’s a thing.
“ I don’t need mediocre – I want great. ”
Written by Hannah - Jayne Smith, 10 months ago