Just under 2 weeks before you were diagnosed out of the blue you sent me a really long message. We had been so far apart for so long that those words sent me crashing to the floor in the street and she had to send a taxi for me. When I discovered how ill you were I realised this was probably your goodbye and your explanation to me. I’m so afraid to lose that message that I want to write it down here, preserved forever.
“Hey, I woke up thinking about this so this is why I’m texting you about it now. I remember you said you were hurt by my reaction to getting married, that it took so long. Whenever you suggested it to me, although I said I would need time to think about it, Inside I instantly thought yes! It took me by surprise, just because we hadn’t spoken about the idea of marriage much at all, that I wanted to make sure my initial yes wasn’t just a reaction in the moment of what I remember was a really nice day, when we went and got the tree and were getting ready for Christmas.
I probably should have told you but I also changed my thinking of having a baby from being fairly neutral in terms of doing it mostly because because I thought that it was something you really wanted, to the last few years when I started to really like the idea of raising a baby together and deepening my connection with you. Also because I think you would be an amazing mum and I might be an OK dad.
I remember at work someone was having problems in their relationship and asked me if I was happy. I said that in any relationship it is unrealistic to think that you will be happy all the time, but I definitely knew that I was deeply content. That there was nothing better than feeling like you were living with your partner in a little bubble, that they would understand you, and be there for you, and have someone you could trust and rely on. But maybe feeling content and living in a bubble means that you can eventually start taking it for granted. And being the silly ‘I can deal with it on my own’ kind of person (that I am), that you isolate yourself instead of reaching out to the other person and asking them to help you, in case by that reaching out to the other person and saying that you are struggling it ruins the idyllic feeling of the bubble for both of you both.
But all you end up doing by isolating yourself but having no plan to actually make yourself better is breaking into two separate bubbles, that aren’t content; that are just lonely, floating around. Instead of being joined together you just seem to be bouncing off each other. And you can see the other person but you can’t seem to work out how to reach them anymore and join the bubble back together. And it’s your own fault because you didn’t really understand what the bubble was in the first place, that it was a little team by which you help each other get through life by giving help and asking for it. Being on the same side.
And I realise that I broke that bubble and made us two lonely people. And you are angry at me for that and exasperated by the situation, which in turn has made me angry because I feel like I’m not getting any sympathy and affection. But it’s OK. I understand why, I’m not blaming you. So here we are, 2 lonely, angry people.
It is in this paragraph that ideally I suggest some genius answer to the problem, but I don’t really have any. It is extremely hard for me to fake not being in pain and to be upbeat when there is so much that is pretty rubbish for me at the minute. So it feels like I am fighting to fix things with my hands tied behind my back so it looks like I am doing nothing at all. And I’m sure it’s hard for you to fake not being angry at me for breaking the bubble in the first place.
But I would give anything to put it back together again. I think of all the good times we have had and how you have completely changed my life and how amazing you are. How whenever you smile or laugh at something I say it gives me little explosions of happinness.
Sometimes you say you are not even sure if I like you which really hurts me, because the truth is most of the time it feels like you are the only person I really like! That you are the only person that makes me happy. Just little things, like going on the ghost train then hanging around for fireworks that never happened then coming home and drying off, cuddling up on the sofa and getting nice and warm. Or going to watch a film the talking about it with you after and realising all the bits I missed!
Thinking back to October, in the safari tent with you with the fire going and the rain outside thinking this is really all I need in life, I couldn’t be happier than I am now.
You don’t need to reply to this in any way, I’m not looking for any answers or anything. I just thought I should tell you what was on my mind.
I love you and am sorry for the hurt I have caused you, I would never have done it on purpose, I’m just not as good at this life thing as I should be and as you are. X”
It was everything I wanted to hear for the months leading up to it, I told you I wanted to but I didn’t know if I’d come too far apart. That I would stay with you and get your jaw sorted and you back on your feet and we would see where we were then. I had no idea what was coming, but you did. You wept when I said these words.
Not long after you agreed to take me to your next doctors appointment, to advocate for you. On the Monday you told me it was booked for Thursday and they knew I was coming. Later on you sent me two messages.
“Tonight can you maybe give me a few cuddles? I think I really need it. All this time I’ve been saying to myself it’s fine, it’s fine, it will get sorted no probs. But recently it hasn’t felt much like that and I’m feeling really vulnerable. X”
“I’m just done with this pathological thing I have of trying to convince everyone I am ok. I don’t know why I do it, it’s an incredibly strong urge I have, completely to my own detriment. I think I just don’t want people to have to worry about me and I think I need to be strong. It’s weird that if there was anything wrong with you I would be really worried and get it sorted. Or if it was J I would bring her straight to the vets. Yet I don’t have anything like that level of concern for myself. I’ve wasted so much time telling myself and everyone else I’m ok when really deep down I’m actually just worried about myself and spend my days trying to ignore it. Along with just going over in my head everything I have ruined or seriously jeopardised because of it. There has barely been a moments relief in the last months where that hasn’t been on my mind from the moment I wake up til I (barely) sleep. I haven’t done anything bad, yet I feel deeply, deeply ashamed of myself for essentially not acting like a responsible adult, so I end up covering up for something awful I have done. Which has negative consequences for all the people that care about me, including making them angry at me which then makes the guilt so much worse. So in short, although I don’t deserve it, I just need a little bit of tenderness. It’s hard coming to the realisation that you are just a complete fucking idiot. X”
I came home and held you to my chest while you cried into it.
On the Thursday, you would try and make excuses to not attend that doctors appointment but eventually have to admit you never made it, I would take you to hospital, the story would change and by the Friday I would know you had cancer and not a single doctors appointment was real, not the results you gave me, not the conversations we had about your medical care and not the mouth guard you wore at night.
You would tell me a few weeks later you sent me those messages after that final lie as a way to start to reach out that you wanted some affection and love and that you planned on telling me the truth later that night but that it got away with you.
I feel such guilt when I read them all back, that I let you go through this alone for so long, I didn’t know I was, I didn’t understand what was happening and you went to great lengths to disguise it from me but I should have dug my heels in, come at you with full force.
I’m sorry F x