In 2009 I met the love of my life. Let’s call him Mike. Mike changed my world. For about 4 months we acted like teenage boys discovering passion and intimacy for the first time. During the 4 months we grew closer and closer and the passion turned to deep conversation and an empathetic connection.
He was 25 and I was 27. We both lived with mum and dad, like every other millennial in Sydney, Australia. That made getting time together a bit difficult. We were both out of the closet but every gay reader out there knows, its one thing that they know you’re gay. Quite another to bring the guy that ‘you’re kinda just fooling around with’ home.
One night we booked a hotel in the city, so we could have a proper date and ended up in a private bed together. Rolling around in bed after a lovely dinner, I was overwhelmed by a feeling. I was madly in love with this man. His beautiful blue eyes stared at me the way a puppy longingly gazes at their master, and I thought ‘I love you’. I was terrified. I couldn’t say it to him. I’d never felt this before. What if I ruined what we had by saying it to him. He rolled on top of me and squinted his eyes in disbelief of something. “I think I’ve fallen in love with you Andrew” he said, looking as terrified as I was.
The first year was bliss. Madly in love and starting our adventure together. My mum adored him (read my coming out story to understand the significance) and his parents took me in and nurtured me like another son. We took weekends away to Geelong where some close friends of his lived, and relaxed in beautiful Cairns and Port Douglas, where I would hold my first python and snorkel for the first time on the Great Barrier Reef respectively. In 2011, I flew on my first international flight since visiting family in New Zealand age 10, to Los Angeles, followed by Las Vegas and the home of my favourite tv show Sex and the City, New York City.
It was at this point, about a year and half in, the relationship hit its first real rough patch. That’s an understatement. The nightmare that occurred reached in, snatched my heart and tore it apart. My response was unhinged, volatile and destructive to all those around me, including myself.
3 months later, the relationship was back on track but deep down I hadn’t let go of what had happened. The relationship was helped back to its feet by my counsellor who had helped me cope with my depression a couple of years prior. She taught Mike and I that in order to thrive we had to understand how opposite we were and to relate better to each other’s stress response. Mike was someone who thought with his head, not his heart. He was practical yet unimaginative, stable, and he was grounded. I was a dreamer, a romantic who couldn’t take responsibility for my choices in life, and someone who pressed pause on his own trauma.
What we learned was that when I had a problem, I wanted to talk about it, but when he had a problem he would shut down and run away. When it was conflict between us, this posed an obvious problem. The more he ran, the harder I chased to talk about it and so on…
As he made a greater attempt to open up, and I made a greater attempt to give him space, we grew closer together. We shared the next couple of years in bliss, until something insidious had crept into our relationship.
Unfortunately I had not let go of the trauma, and he hadn’t changed as much as he would have liked. There was mirroring of each other too, with him holding grudges for past wrongs, and for me to slip into some of his less desirable ways. We broke up.
But our love was strong and it forced us back together. Yet again, we broke up, and got back together, and again. Each time, we became closer and more of a permanent fixture in each others’ lives, but our intimacy was drifting so far away it could barely be identified anymore by either of us.
In 2015, I proposed to Mike in Montreal. We celebrated a beautiful engagement party the next year with both our families and friends attending. But at home, things were the same, a wonderful companionate relationship which had deeply troubled intimacy.
In 2017, Mike and I decided to make a brand new start in Melbourne. We had a few friends, and we could make new ones. We wanted to rebuild what was lost and start our new life together in the south. But it was not to be.
On arriving, my heart was torn out one last time, so I swiftly tore his out in return. It was over for us. But my Melbourne life began. I was determined that this was not going to ruin my new life. I would not run away. Melbourne was now home and I would make a go of it with everything that I was.
The next 6 months was tough. Single life is fun, but it can also be a stark reminder of how great parts of a relationship are. I can do what I want, but I always have to catch myself when I make a mistake.
6 months after the end of the relationship, I learned from social media that Mike was in a new relationship. A few months after that they moved in together. I had a few wines with them one evening. I only did so from the position that I felt confident in my appearance, the small boosts of self-confidence a single person must do when seeing a happily coupled ex.
His partner was lovely. And they were happy. I then felt something I didn’t think was possible. Compersion. I was genuinely happy that my ex had found this great guy.
A few months on, I made the most common yet disastrous mistake most singles do. I got drunk and texted an emotionally charged angry SMS to Mike. I apologised the next day.
Now, it’s 2020 and I have found out Mike is getting married. Unfortunately my drunk SMS has forbidden any friendship just yet. But that doesn’t matter.
‘I love you more than I did when you were mine’Cyndi Lauper, When You Were Mine, 1983
To my ex, I want you to know that I respect and deeply appreciate everything that you are. You are truly a wonderful man and it is my sincerest hope that you have a wonderful wedding and a great marriage. I love you more than I did when you mine (Lauper, 1983). And I love your partner for making you as happy as you are.
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Disclaimer: the man I renamed Mike has given me his full consent to publish this story
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