Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Jilted brides and broken engagements.

This is the blog post I never thought I'd write.
Why say it now though?
Because I feel nothing about it, and it really is a tale of woe, bad decisions and delightful chain reactions.

One of my friends once commented that being married is like having a sleepover every night. We've compared notes since she was married and we both feel the same. Since I like to rant about things late at night, having an every day sleepover really appeals to me.

The other night I told the story of a rather unfortunate engagement. Why didn't it work? Plenty of reasons. I changed, he changed. I was in love with the idea of being in love. He was pushed into proposing. I was swept away by everyone's thoughtful presents and kind words. We had the Sugar and Spice cakes I'd only been eyeing off for two years.

It just wasn't meant to be, if there is such a thing as 'meant to be', but whatever, it wasn't what it should have been. I'd like to say we tried, but we didn't, and that's a sure sure of meant to wasn't.

The only real regret I have about the whole situation is that I left my little flat in Lockleys because he didn't like it and wouldn't live there after we were married. Okay, in fairness, my flat was incredibly small, even if I did once host a party with 40 people sprawled over my driveway and into the house. But still, we had nowhere to live, and what I had wasn't good enough. I wasn't good enough. The life I had longed for and finally started living wasn't good enough.

Mark looking down my top at my 21st. Keepin' in classy as usual.
There's a big different in good enough and second best. I have ranted and raved about being second best a lot, and in this relationship it wasn't that I was second best to someone (in my opinion, the worst feeling ever), but second best to his lifestyle and his job and his friends.

What I had, in my opinion, was good enough. I'm not an extraordinary person, I don't have amazing talents or incredible gifts. I'm not someone people envy. That's okay, I can live with not being those things. But to be told things about yourself that simply aren't true, well, that's not okay.

How did it all go so horribly wrong, and then so wonderfully right?
So many reasons, and not all because of me.

And then it went horribly wrong. Selfies before they were selfies on NYE 2007.
Firstly, I moved out of my flat and in with my brother for what was supposed to be three or four months, tops. Moving always puts a huge strain on most relationships, even with people you actually like. Even though I was technically closer to where he lived, my identity was wrapped up in my community and I felt like I was leaving almost all of me behind. Just before we closed our moving van for the last time Mum said "Lis, this is your last chance. Do you really want to leave?" And even now, how I wish I had said no and unpacked everything.

Then there was was his work. He did shifts, he did overtime, he worked as much as he possibly could. He changed so much when he started his new job, he had way too much time to think and analyse  every conversation we had ever had. Of course, I headed home for part of summer and to be with my Pa who was in and out of hospital.

Thirdly, and most importantly, we talked to everyone but each other about our problems. And when we did talk to one another, the insinuations were based on what other people had said about us, not on actual fact. I did things I thought a sane person would never do. I begged him not to leave me. I agreed with crap he made up to make me feel bad. I spent an entire (and completely lovely) weekend with him, only to have him pull out as list of all the things I said I would do and didn't. (I am really good at not following things through, but no one needs to be that jerky about it.) I gave him a silly present of kissing pigs for Valentine's day and he gave me a fake rose. The hell?!

Then of course, was the break up and the awkwardness of telling people, and lots more tears (actually, less than usual, even for me) and awesome haircuts and outstanding best friends. And that's where the chain reaction starts. I was suddenly myself again, not some weird 'bride to be' version of myself, but Lisa who was just Lisa, and not Lis or darling or sweetheart. I started being harassed in the best way possible, to do things with my friends. 2008 was what 2007 wasn't - actual fun.

Christmas Eve 2008 changed my life in a way I didn't expect. I'd applied to work in a boarding house and thought I had the job. It was this day that I discovered I didn't have it. We frantically called the real estate agent and it turned out that I could rent the flat above the one Matt and I lived for a cheaper price - it had no air conditioning. So Matt and Lucy moved in together and I moved out and applied for a job as a youth worker at Port Adelaide. I needed money and I wanted to work in something I cared about. Then, on the 15th of February 2009 I met my favourite person in the world, Stephen. (Not Steve. Not because I'm pretentious, that's just what everyone calls him.) 

"Working" at PAUC with Narelle involves breaking in, stealing magnetic letters and changing the sign out the front.
Sometimes I think I should feel things about this broken engagement. I mean, I was almost married. And it wasn't that everything was all bad. We did a two week road trip across the country, I ate out more than I ever had in my whole life, we laughed and did general life stuff together. But I feel nothing.

I know why it happened. I love love. I love being engaged and romance and travel and a whole heap of things that are related to the idea of relationship. I really wanted a boyfriend and to be wined and dined and someone to text me 'good morning' messages and compare notes with. But, I was 21. I didn't want a partner or a husband, especially one I barely knew, I just wanted the idea of those things. Before I knew it, everything was out of control. I can tell you all the mistakes we made, but they are not lessons I have learnt from, after all, if I had, I might feel something about it.

What I left behind was not a mess. It was the recapturing of freedom. The chain reaction all these poor decisions triggered was worth it. Really.

It's one thing to feel numb or to choose not to think about someone or a bad situation. It's another to tell the whole story, and this is the very condensed version of it, and not even feel the littlest bit sad. I said the other night that maybe it is because I wasn't really in love. (I have a lot of love theories.)  It could be because time has passed and even though we tried being friends it was just way too awkward for it to ever work. I'd like to say it's because I bounced back incredibly well. I don't really know, because a few years later I started having massive regrets, possibly triggered by watching The Notebook. But I dealt with them too and now feel nothing.

I'm not sure why I'm sharing this. Maybe because I'm trying to say sorry to myself for being some kind of alternate universe Lisa, but it's also because everything in my life now seems to have stemmed from a dodgy gold ring and a moving van.