Over the months M and I enjoyed many comfortable times in our relationship.
I have always cherished companionable silence and healthy debate, both of which had been sorely missed with P. M and I enjoyed each others company in so many ways when we were together, and when we were apart things were fine. I had my boys, work, study and M had his work and regular AA meetings. We would usually chat every evening once the boys were in bed, with the odd text exchange during the day. This worked really well, and we were both happy with the level of contact. It worked for us.
But there were times when he would go off grid.
Just for an evening or so, not answering our prearranged call, and then being rude and grumpy with me the next time we spoke. He would say that he felt claustrophobic and needed some time to himself. I felt awful that I had made him feel like that, stepped back a little and gave him the space he needed, but then he would be back in the same routine of contact. My head would swim at the change in his moods, but walking on eggshells was something that I had learnt was normal in relationships. P had shown me that, and as we had been together for most of my adult life I had no other point of reference. The thing was though, that when he was absent unexpectedly my head would go into a spin. I would imagine all sorts of situations and realised that I didn’t trust him. When I asked him what he had been up to the last evening he would get cross and say he had “just been for a walk” or he had “gone to an extra meeting.” All perfectly reasonable, and I tried so hard to not listen to my gut instinct.
He was patient with me, suggested we try counselling.
So we went. We sat in the room with a lovely lady who asked questions. I answered more, he was a closed book, but he pointed out that I was the one who didn’t trust him so it was probably working just right. That smooth smile of his, those kind dark brown eyes… This was my fault, the stress in our relationship. Why wouldn’t it be? Everything always was! That was another lesson from P. We kept going and, alongside my own solo counselling I started to get a better image in my head of what I needed out of life and our relationship.
During this time I had been planning a move to Devon.
It would take me closer to M, but that was just the icing on the cake as far as my life was concerned. Devon had become a safe space for me, I had discovered that Dartmoor had a healing effect on my soul. My study was also progressing well, and I had planned on either going to Plymouth university, where the department had an excellent reputation with high quality graduates in my chosen field, or continuing with the Open University. I could transfer with work, and make the study decision later on, but with P taking his parenting role with a pinch of salt it was the deciding factor.
M actively encouraged my decision, making plans and suggestions.
He even came to look at houses with me, talking through the benefits of the areas and why he liked them. As time went on he even began talking about our long-term future together, moving in together, holidays with the children. All interspersed with the occasional disappearance. I convinced myself that I must be imagining things, that I didn’t trust him because of my past. That my belief that I wasn’t good enough made me think he would leave me eventually, and that as I started to like myself more I would trust that he wasn’t the scoundrel or heart breaker that his relationship history indicated he would eventually become.
We all change and grow, and as I was learning about myself so was he, through his recovery from alcoholism.
His lack of interest in me sexually must have been due to the lack of trust I had in him. I didn’t constantly show him my fears and worries. No, I kept them for private moments when my mind would run round in circles. After all, I really should trust him; he was the one who had asked for a monogamous relationship, he knew my interest in sexual freedom and how I had been non-monogamous with Sir.
But that was different.
And this relationship was mainly vanilla.
And vanilla does not cater for people like me.
My square peg in this round hole of a relationship was what was causing my anxiety.
So I would need to change…
File down those edges.
Never underestimate how tiring it is trying to fit in with what you believe others expect of you.