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Mea Culpa - Apology and Catharsis

Nobody likes being dumped.  Although excuse me for stating the bleeding obvious.

I got dumped a year ago.  On New Year's Eve, which is already the most overrated day of the year.  And it broke me.

The thing that really hurt about the end, above all else, was the way that I was assured that what we'd had was so special, so precious, that it didn't deserve to be discarded like meaningless litter. Right up to the point that I was discarded like meaningless litter; blocked and deleted; cut out and cold-shouldered at my absolute lowest ebb.  Dismantled, depleted, and depressed, then dumped in a fashion swifter and chillier than Bear Grylls can manage a shit on an Arctic expedition.

But we live, and we learn. We try to forgive, or we actually, eventually, genuinely, do.

Full disclosure: I'd been the one who'd originally undermined the whole thing early doors. I'd dumped her. On her birthday. Whilst mid-air. Flying towards something we both desperately wanted, geographically and emotionally.  Fucked it up thoroughly, as only I can. Won a Guinness World Record for self-sabotage and returned alone on the next available flight. Wrecked the landing area, burned the bridges, and taken a shit more excessive than even Britain's Chief Scout could manage upon the smouldering ashes. Although please don't take that as a challenge, Mr Grylls, OBE.

Yeah, go me. As life decisions pan out, that wasn't the finest. There's mitigation, sure, but frankly it's a miracle she ever gave it another shot at all, against all her best instincts. So while a little more kindness would have been welcome at the final axe, she owed me nothing, not even that. I understand why I never met a single one of her friends, and why she once told me I was her "dirty little secret."

She'd changed her mind.

You're allowed to do that. Especially if something isn't working for you and you don't feel it's fixable. And she didn't. Because actually, it wasn't.

If I'd known this at an earlier age, my life might have turned out differently, but hey - I wouldn't have my wonderful children if I'd walked when I really should have done. I probably also wouldn't have had a decade of resentment and spent enough on therapy to buy another ex another house, but on balance, I'll take the kids. They're the consistently good thing in my life, and the reason I've kept going through the tough times. Mostly because they owe me money. Wish me luck with that.

Despite all this, I spent almost all of 2019 being that friend you shake your head at. The one that can't completely banish a lost love; the person who has spent way longer than any human should waiting for a text, frantically scanning the area when he smells her perfume, feeling his heart turn over when he sees an identical car to hers. Spidey senses tingling within a mile of her 'hood. I've been that guy, and I know how hard it is to let go of someone, even in the full knowledge that the one remaining emotion they feel for you is contempt.

Yup. I'm a dick.  Mea Culpa.

As we entered the last quarter of the year I began considering attempting to dip my toe back into the choppy, shark-infested waters of dating.  I took myself away for a holiday alone, got my head together, and spent a little time writing and copy-editing in the sunshine.  The piece I wrote is this one. It's crap. Or at least about crapping.  Mea Culpa. I can only apologise.

I didn't bother downloading Bumble while I was away, despite my chosen writing name, but decided to give Hinge a try, alongside everyone's favourite shopfront for singles; Tinder.  But it was elsewhere online I began talking with someone, quite unexpectedly. We progressed swiftly to phone and video calls, moving (over)enthusiastically and with carefree abandon towards a weekend meeting on my return.  And much of it was good.  We liked each other very much.  A genuinely beautiful lady; bright, petite, smart on the streets and demon in the sheets.  And totally, utterly, wrong for me.

It feels incredibly harsh to admit it. I know my rejection hurt her. Badly. And I'm truly sorry about that.  As somebody with a history of self-sabotage, it took me a while to work out if I was running away from myself, or from her, so overwhelmed was I by the intensity of intimacy. Turns out it was both.  I was crippled by an emotional unavailability I'd hoped I didn't have.  And, delightful though she was, and I'm sure still is, I wasn't ready for her.  I hated myself for it, but I'd changed my mind.

Mea Culpa.

I really wasn't sure I was ready for dating at all. The apps were low-level background noise while I focused on work and on being well.  But I knew nobody else was going to do this for me, and I needed to get out of the flat, if only to give my cleaner room to swing her duster, so I still went on a couple of dates - a woman whose photos weren't as contemporary as perhaps they should have been, sporting halitosis that could have melted steel, and a tiny Sloane dripping in diamonds who baulked visibly when I walked in.  And I'd dressed up for that one.  I look like my pictures, too, but perhaps she'd changed her mind.

Then I went on a date and met a girl I connected with.  We went on a couple more dates. Clicked over food and books and music and humour.  Carefully and tentatively enjoyed being with each other while both understanding that things were about being in the moment, rather than planning for the future. But I wasn't planning to dump her. I didn't expect to change my mind. I know it's allowed - or at least I keep telling myself that it is, but I didn't see things coming. Officer.

Because, last month, I met up someone with whom I've been friends for a while, at least in a digital sense. Internet, not fingers, you filthy-minded beast. It was nothing but a drink and a gossip. Categorically not a date. In fact, I spent the first part of the evening explaining I'd just started seeing someone. In return, I now know that she texted her mate while I was at the bar, to confirm she definitely did not fancy me.

She changed her mind.

I couldn't be happier that she did. Even though that meant, inevitably, the agony of explaining, again, to someone else I had nothing but warmth and affection for, that I'd changed mine. And for them, hurt and upset, because somebody they liked was rejecting them. No matter how honest the reason.

Mea Culpa. I truly am sorry. I hope I can be forgiven, in the same way that I have forgiven.

I think I might just about be ready for this. I hope so. I've been unutterably shit at dating, and left a trail of self-destructive disappointment in my wake. But I am not going to fuck this up.

Although, if I do, Mea Culpa.

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