If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
These lines from Auden have stalked me on the internet recently. Probably this is just the un-magic of cookies (which ensure you are presented with content based on items you have clicked on) but I prefer to believe in fate.
If you were drawn here by my clickbait title – prepared to be disappointed by the lack of sex… I know I was. And by the way, I think Fifty Shades is terrible but that’s a rant of a very different colour, for a different day.
I wasn’t sure whether to write this update but I wanted to give the story an end. Or at least end this chapter.
Her: This is getting too difficult and it’s making me feel bad about myself. I think we should just be friends going forward.
Him: I understand. I’m sad about it too but I think it’s the right decision.
Her: Of course, that we will mean we could see other people. That’s going to be difficult.
Him: I hate the idea of you seeing other people but I know we need to move on.
Her: How about I just let each know if I’m seeing someone, and we’ll talk if we need to. And vice versa.
Her: Shall we meet for lunch tomorrow at my new house, maybe go for a walk?
Him: That sounds grand.
And they climbed into a classic convertible and it flew up into the sky, while a group of teenagers sang “We’ll Always Be Together”. They drove past unicorns humping in mid-air, and through the fireworks exploding over the Disney castle. And Labour won the election.
OK – that isn’t what happened. It’s how it played out in my head and I got as far as the first line. The reality was more like this:
Her: This is too hard for me. I think we should just be friends.
Him: I’M NOT BOTHERED (in very bothered tone). Let’s not even be friends then.
Her: That’s ridiculous.
This was followed by the inevitable un-friending on Facebook. I take it as a compliment. You are no-one to Polaris until he’s un-friended you at least twice on Facebook: friends, family, no-one is safe. It’s his thing (pending copyright action from 13 year old girls everywhere).
It turns out the one thing harder than not sleeping together was sleeping together and being told it was a mistake. After we “got physical” again, I knew his little black cloud would arrive, but it would have been nice if I’d had a chance to pull on my trousers, let alone grab an umbrella. After weeks of “will they, won’t they”, we did, and then we didn’t, and then we thought we might, but then we didn’t again, and then…
…and then I’d had enough, or more accurately, wasn’t getting enough. We kept saying we were neither one thing or the other, and too much of ‘the other’ seemed to unbalance all. Feast or famine. Dearth or deluge. The fine tightrope we were treading, blurred into the yawning chasm beneath. And suddenly I could see nothing but the drop.
I couldn’t go on being told I was the mistake, the regret, the thing that must be resisted. I was being boxed into a very dark corner. I couldn’t keep making myself available, exposing my softest parts, while he decided if the juice was worth the squeeze.
After many rides on the merry-go-round, I had ran out of those little shiny tokens of optimism. I had to face the fact that it was hurting me. Polaris wasn’t just flailing in the dark, he was fighting against me. It was the emotional equivalent of him hitting me in the face over and over again, and then being annoyed that I was bleeding on his fist.
I could see him trying to be more positive, and I give him credit for that. I know how hard it is for him to even consider being in a relationship. And there were moments of light, when he was a deep breath away from taking that step.
But in the end…
If you love someone and don’t tell them; if you love someone and it doesn’t stay your hand or still your tongue to prevent that person’s pain; if you love someone and don’t use that love to make that person glow with the knowledge and certainty of it; then what is the point of love?
My therapist said: “This is when you chase, yes?” He told me I see too many variables and intellectise too much about the possibilities. He advised me to reduce the shades of grey (we laughed) and challenged me to really think about what I want to happen now.
The honest answer: what I wanted to happen didn’t happen. But how do you give up on someone you love, even when it’s not working? How do you let go of the person who knows who you really are, who you can tell anything? How do you throw away a relationship that makes you happy, because sometimes it’s hard?
Friends and family think it’s a simple decision – like our clan’s motto: “Cut and burn away”. But I have no urge to tear the whole house down. I see no value in absolutes. I can live with a few shades of grey. It would be easier for people to understand if Polaris had a drink problem or a physical illness. But when someone is emotional destructive, it’s hard to stand back and watch him hurt himself. My life has always been more like a country song. The dark parts and melancholic verses don’t scare me. I don’t condemn him for not being perfect. I just want to help him find the key change.
I hope we’ll be friends. And even now I believe we will be. One thing I have learnt from re-connecting with people in recent months – genuine connection does not fade, real friends remain real friends. Here, as Polaris would say, the die has been cast. We have been close friends from the first day we spoke, through everything.
Knowing his black moods, and wanting to make up, I took him Eccles cakes, a Northern-style peace offering. I guess he was on a diet, because he got angry and called me crazy. I will always wonder, as long as I live, what would have happened if I had done things differently. Should I have taken steak bakes instead?
Going forward, only one thing is certain: my blogs will have more typos now. Polaris is a good proof reader.
Whatever comes next, I don’t regret anything. For many years, I have been cynical about relationships. Cynicism has not served me well. It was merely a defence, an excuse for laziness, a shield against vulnerability.
Loving someone is an extraordinary act of courage. To trust that someone will be there every time you walk through the door. To let someone know everything about you. To fall and believe that someone will catch you. For the first time in a long time, I was brave. I don’t regret trying. I am happy to be the more loving one. I don’t see it as a weakness. Or as a madness. I am not resigned to it – I embrace it.
But I’m not going to chase, or offer more Eccles cakes. And if my friendship is not returned, “I should learn to look at an empty sky, And feel its total dark sublime, Though this might take me a little time.”
‘THE MORE LOVING ONE’ BY W.H. AUDEN
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us, we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.