“First love is good as far as it goes, but it’s last love that I’m interested in…”
I heard that in a film. It sounded beautiful to me but I have been thinking about it and I can’t say really how I feel about the statement. If I’m honest, I don’t know who my so-called ‘first love’ was. Partly because, as a young woman, I was always far too drunk or high on drugs to know the difference between love, lust and obsession; or perhaps just fooling around, having fun and calling it a relationship. I don’t count the first few. There was the guy I had my first kiss with, who desperately wanted to call me his girlfriend so I just sort of went along with it for a few weeks. Then there was one guy I started seeing at school who was actually a total arse and I am almost positive he was cheating on me, we were only together a very short space of time. And then of course my first real, ‘official’ boyfriend when I was fourteen. Although we managed to stay together for about six months, I still don’t really count that as a serious relationship as I was so young and there were no real feelings involved, at least on my part.
I can remember telling my first ‘real’ full-time,’ ‘long-term’ boyfriend, that I loved him when I was eighteen, I’m just not sure if I knew quite what I was saying. I suppose we were only together for just under a year, if my memory serves me correctly. I don’t know when or why I said it, or how often for that matter, but I do know that he said the feeling was reciprocated. I was wasted the night we got together and I was certainly wasted the night I left him. Perhaps I did love him; perhaps he was my first love, but, you know, if it was true love then I’d remember, surely. Alas, I tired of him very quickly and I began not to treat him very well. I kept him from his friends; when I stopped smoking pot I would berate him for doing so, with or without me around. And then, of course, I met the man that almost ruined my entire life: And so I left him, in search of ‘real’ love and spontaneity, deep philosophical discussions and fiery romance. How wrong could I have been?
The guy I left him for was everything Jon was not (which I later discovered was not in a good way). I found him wild. And wild was precisely what I was looking for at that time, having had a boyfriend for almost a year that spent almost all his time playing computer games and getting royally high with his (annoying) mates. Alex had a job, and he worked hard. I admired that. It also helped with the fact that I was still in sixth form college with no job and no money. But primarily it helped with getting me high, pissed and on some sort of pill or powder every night of the week. I had already been spending a lot of time at Alex’s flat when I was still with Jon, as far as I can remember I had never really dabbled in A-class drugs, but for some strange reason I trusted him (and the drugs were free) so we took speed and amphetamines on a regular basis. I never really saw the fun in it then, but we were taking them alone together and doing nothing but talking. Before and after we became a couple the alcohol too flowed freely (for me literally), but by the time we moved in together, for a brief spell, I had gone off him completely and I did not love him anymore, if I ever did.
On the night of my going-to-uni party, he accused me of flirting with his friend who must have been about 60 (and for the record rather disgusting to look at). Anyway, the Alex story is age old and I’m almost bored of talking about it- the hitting, the slapping, the emotional abuse, the spitting, the drink throwing, the hair pulling… I could go on. I told him that I loved him on a very regular basis, but how can I accept that I once did, after he made my life a living hell and hurt me in every possible way? He is a waste of oxygen, a horrible, horrible piece of crap that does not deserve to be loved by anyone, ever. How on earth I managed to stay faithful to him for so long I do not know. Of course, in the end- technically- I cheated on him. That I do not regret.
And so, along came Dave. Sometimes- considering every one of my relationships has either become boring or ended badly, or both- I wonder what the point was and perhaps I wasted valuable years of my life feeling unhappy and hurting when it ended. But with Dave I have no reason to wonder. First of all, he virtually rescued me from a life of hatred and abuse with Alex, then I influenced him to become a vegetarian, and then he helped me into the arms of AA. Of course he was not a bad boyfriend at all, at least not a bad person. When we initially got together he was incredibly kind. He was more intelligent than me- which I needed- and very funny. He was a kind and considerate and compassionate human being, but- In keeping with my record- I became bored with him. That part I take responsibility for. However, his jealous and controlling nature was certainly his. The love part is a little confusing. He broke up with me many times, only to change his mind and take me back again. I suppose I thought it was real love because, when he sent me away, I begged for him to take me back, quite literally on one occasion. It went from him leaving me alone in his room for the night after having broken up with me, to spending the night on my sofa in case I tried to kill myself (again), to us being stuck in the snow together for seven hours whilst I cried the entire time. We had a dramatic relationship, but we also had laughter and good times.
Thus far, I guess I haven’t reached any real conclusions! I’m 25 years old and one would think that I had been around enough men by now to have figured it out but apparently I have not. However I did just have a thought, maybe even a revolutionary one. Maybe the thing (and I say ‘thing’ and not ‘problem’ deliberately) with me- and I have a feeling countless others- is that I have definitely been in love, and I have certainly loved with all my heart, but I am beginning to think that I have not experienced them at the same time. The final two people I shall mention- those who have been my last two ex-boyfriends- are those which I believe have made me feel both real love and the feeling of being in love, but the feelings have happened individually in the two separate relationships.
I met next boyfriend at my first home AA meeting. I was just a few months sober and some might say I was vulnerable. He was 41 and I was 22 which some might disapprove of within the walls of Alcoholics Anonymous. Still, I felt attracted to him and- at the time- he was charming, kind and had a good sense of humour. I don’t know exactly what was going through my mind that night when I accepted his offer of a lift home. I tend to do these things without thinking them through, I would gladly say that I am a bit too much of a ‘yes’ person at times, and not so gladly admit that I can be a people pleaser when needs must. Anyway I got into his car and I guess we just hit it off. For a week or so I tried to keep my distance, even avoiding meetings because I knew that, in early recovery at least, women should stay away from men, not to mention ones with a 19 year age gap. I even told my then-boyfriend (Dave) something along the lines of being afraid of him, a bit of a stupid thing to say in hindsight. Still, I suppose I changed my mind about him because we soon began to see each other regularly.
We stayed together for 2 years, my longest standing relationship. If I hadn’t met someone else I think it could have gone on a lot longer, which is just stupid because I rather detested him and was very unhappy in the end.
Still, as miserable and trapped as I became in that relationship, I am totally and completely sure that I felt real love for him for a time. I’m not entirely sure how one distinguishes that from obsession; maybe it’s indescribable and you can only feel it. What I can tell you that I think was perhaps the most important thing is that we were friends. I’m not saying that in order to truly love someone you have to forfeit all of your other close friends, that’s not the kind of friendship I’m talking about. Jenna will always be my ‘best friend’, but it was like James was my partner in life, we told each other everything; our every thought. I trusted it him like no other. We had a kind of companionship you don’t simply have with a normal friend. We went everywhere and did everything together, but that’s not important, you can do that with anyone- the point is, we wanted to, because we couldn’t think of anyone better to do it with.
He loved me in a way that my parents could not and would not. The sad part for him is that, by being there for me in every possible way, he became too much like a father to me, and that’s just not attractive for anyone.
I am still angry with him for his behavior after the break up (which I will talk about in more detail in a separate post), I might always be but I expect it will become less as time goes on and I will forget and maybe even forgive. He acted like an insane person and made a proper attempt at screwing my life up. I will certainly never go back to him or even be his friend, even if I have the freedom to do so.
The only real respectful thing he did in the end was that he bothered to fight for me. I have had boyfriends that just sit around and feel sorry about it and then another recent ex who just walked away at the first hurdle, but James tried to get me back. I genuinely believe the events that unfolded between my most recent ex and I were at my hand, in the sense that I deserve to hurt for the way I broke up with James. Although he treated me badly, he loved me without conditions and the way I ran away into the arms of another man was the wrong way to have ended things; I have to take some responsibility for that.
As for my last ex-boyfriend, whom I have written about before in this blog, that isn’t a particularly eventful tale to tell, in fact quite the opposite, because the drama that took place at the end of our relationship was more than any that took place for the entirety of our relationship. The very day I met him I felt something. It was months until I saw him again and that something became more of a thing. From day one until the end of our relationship I was unbelievably attracted to him in every way possible. I can’t say at what moment I completely fell for him, but what I can tell you is that I fell hard. It’s a fantastic feeling. It isn’t like love; love is less evident and grows on you. Falling in love with someone is constantly exciting and you only have to look at them in order to smile. Just one hour with them will keep you happy for days and you will count the hours until you hope to see them again. Their smell arouses something in you that one can’t describe. You want to hold their hand on the tube and walking down the street. You never want the fun to end, and yet it so often does, because without love it can never last.
And this is my point precisely; I was in love with him almost since the moment we met, and- with time- I came to love James immensely. But those are two different feelings for two different people. If you love someone but fall out of love with them you get bored and stray, and if you fall deeply in love with someone but they are not your friend and companion, well I’m afraid to tell you it won’t last.