I am alright now, (I think) but for a long time the situation with my ex-flatmate Jack kept my nerves on a knife-edge. I know there are some people who make a career out of being the subject of idle gossip for others, but that has never been something I wanted for myself.
Even when I was living with Jack, the rumours about the two of us were so upsetting, I tried to leave the flat earlier than anyone else and arrive home in the dark. I was sneaking in and out of my own home, to escape the attention of whoever it was who kept these shocking rumours breeding.
When I returned to London, after almost a year of resting and recovering from the physical injuries I had sustained the night I was assaulted (and then…being left for dead underneath some bushes) I was pretty nervous.
Although my physical injuries were healing up nicely, I was deeply self-conscious in so many ways. I was very nervous around men. I was very aware of my head! I felt secure with a hat on, or a bandana or scarf in the summer. I found London overwhelming. I felt very lost at times. I found bright lights gave me severe headaches. I always wore sunglasses out of doors. The first six months, I was hiding myself with hats, headscarves and sunglasses
But what I found effected me most deeply was gossip. I saw friends and colleagues. They were confused about why I had disappeared for a year. Many of them thought I had left in disgrace. Just before I had been attacked, there were rumours that I was involved with a married man. I don’t really feel like writing about that today, but I will at some point. There are already a couple of posts where I have touched on it already:
But it has taken a long time to be able to battle the anxiety that other people, people I admire and respect, think terrible things of me. That realization has made me pretty dismal at times.
I could have caused trouble for Jack. I did not want to do that. I could have talked about being assaulted (I find it really difficult to use the R word still) and beaten up. But you know, I really did not want to. If I started talking about it, I would have been asked a thousand questions by people that I was not ready to answer. So instead I let them think whatever they wanted to think.
As far as many of them are concerned, I was acting strangely, sneaking in and out of my own home at unusual hours, becoming cagey and defensive and emotional…and then I disappeared for a year. I returned to London wearing hats and sunglasses (with style!) and not answering questions openly.
I am a lot more settled than I was then, more relaxed about everything, and my friends are more relaxed. They all seem genuinely glad to have me around and everyone is very polite about what has happened in the past. Some of my very close friends know a lot more about what happened of course, and when I need someone to talk to they are wonderful. But on the whole, everyone has been so incredibly discreet about what happened to me, which I am extremely grateful for.
But there is a kind of loneliness that comes with having a big secret that you hide. I hide all the details of what went on between Jack and I. I hide all the details about what happened to me in the park. People know not to push me with too many questions because I will leave.
Well…I have said enough for today. It takes it out of me thinking about things that I don’t want to think about! So, to end this post I wanted to share a song that I fell in love with, mainly because I have become such a huge fan of the voice of Kristina Train. But I liked the song too…it does touch me in my situation. I have put two versions for you just in case you prefer the acoustic version. I like both actually.
Four years ago, I felt as if I could not go home, because I did not want to see Jack ever again. I was out with friends, and instead of going home, I went to a park, sat on a bench and cried. The next morning I woke up in an ambulance. I don’t think I want to think and write about it…any of it. I just want to enjoy my time with Goldfinch. Think of me…right now…in his arms…please be happy for me. 🙂
Will you forgive me for not being to keep up with every writing prompt that has caught my attention recently? I have so many that I have started and are sitting in my drafts folder waiting for me to finish them. Some I am determined to complete at some stage.
When I lived in our family home, which for most of my childhood was with my parents, my brother and my two younger sisters (my older sisters are so much older, they had left home to go to university by the time I had started school) I never ever wished to run away. I felt truly at home. There were occasional challenges, but I was blessed to be reared in a haven of dependable love and trust. Here is a photo of happy me…with my hair in pretty much the same state as this morning!
However, I left home in order to be able to work as a volunteer in a part of the country where there were a stack of projects and not many volunteers (partly because the cost of living in that area is so high). Although the first year was hard, because I missed my family and friends up north so much, it did not really take me too long before I started to feel at home down south. I made many wonderful friends and fell in love with the countryside. I ended up living on the grounds of a beautiful stately home and being allowed to roam their gorgeous estate, and because they trusted me, I paid peanuts for my accommodation, which was another fortuitous factor in my volunteer career in the south of England.
Moving to London to become a full-time international volunteer was like a dream. I had a rare opportunity as a single women to be chosen from many thousands who submitted applications. That year there were two single women and sixty single men who met the criteria. Because of the physical demands and difficulties in the various challenging assignments, the number of single men vastly outweighs the number of single women. The physical, emotional, mental tests they put you under are designed to reveal if you really can take on a self-sacrificing role and if you really can be sent anywhere in the world and adapt to any way of living.
It was like coming home…even though I had been happy before. I was happy on a different level. Everything felt right. The routine, the dignity, the rewarding work, the huge numbers of people I saw and worked with. I found I didn’t miss receiving wages. My main assignment would be in London, but at any point I could be sent elsewhere. I loved the astonishing variety London life offered. I found that I was thriving in this life-style.
However, as you may be aware if you have read some of the posts that relate to what crushed Caramel, it was here in London, that I faced a challenge the likes of which I had not faced before. It was no joke, though I think a lot of people were laughing. If I can blame anyone or anything…I would like to blame “celebrity culture” and the puerile use of social media.
Sometimes it all feels like a blur, but it was two and a half years at least and it wore me down. The point at which I reached my limit was when rumours started (I think I know who started them) that I was having an affair with a married man, the husband of one of my close friends and workmates. I was devastated (because this is not me).
After my friend and workmate, who was as distressed as I was about the rumours involving her husband, screamed at me within a public building in front of crowds of people, I was called into an office with two directors who were concerned about the incident and wanted to understand what was happening. They mentioned Jack. They knew him well and thought that he and I had gone from a romance to estrangement to bitter jealousy. I refused to discredit Jack. I stood my ground and insisted that he was not to blame (although in my heart, I was certain he was). They made it clear though that they wanted us to sort this out because they could not have anyone screaming in rage in the middle of a reception area were scores of visitors had been appalled by what they had seen.
More than ever, I wanted to talk with Jack and ask why, why, why was he doing this? But all I received for months was glares and grimaces. He made it clear that he was nursing a grudge. A grudge that I could not comprehend. Then that summer, I received some very concerning news about a relative who had become involved in a criminal court case and was featured in the news. That situation deepened my anxiety and stretched me to the limit as I did all I could to help practically. The last thing I needed was abject hostility from a man who was still sleeping in a bed just metres away from my own bed.
So after seeing him frequently and feeling intensely shunned and despised by him…it was that evening when I was going out to meet my friends and I pressed the button for the elevator. The door opened and there he was. His eyes full of disdain.
There was no way I was going to be able to stand inside the elevator on my own with him. So I took a couple of steps back and let him carry on alone. That’s the last time I saw him close up. That was the moment I decided I wanted to run away from my beloved home to escape the nightmare.
I enjoyed the evening with my friends, but there was a huge surge of pain and despair that I was hiding from everyone…one of the girls who lived near me wanted to drive me home, but I said I would like to walk as it was still light. And walk I did, but in the opposite direction of home. That was my moment of running away from home. I walked towards the local park. On the opposite side of the park a fairground had popped up that weekend and there was a carnival atmosphere amongst the people I passed on the way to the park.
It was a beautiful summer’s evening. It had been one of the hottest days of the year. There were joggers and dog-walkers and teenagers sitting in the grass talking and laughing when I arrived and when I sat down on a bench.
I was so consumed with despair, I did not notice that daylight had fled completely and there was no longer anyone else in the park, until a stranger sat down on the bench besides me.
Here is a strange coincidence about that location. When I went back to that spot some time later (not on my own) I found my front door keys still there. Which was the most strange feeling. I didn’t find my missing shoe…navy with a slight frill detail above the toe, but I found my front door keys. They had been lying there undisturbed all that time. Even the police must have missed them. I almost felt as if they had been waiting for me. It was a profound encouragement to me!
Over three years later, I still have not made it back home yet. But I am working towards it!
Last night I came home much earlier than I was expecting because there was an electrical outage at the venue I was going to be spending the evening. The group I was with realized we were going to have to break off into smaller parties and enjoy the rest of the evening elsewhere. Although I was torn because I had been looking forward to a night out with great friends, I…opted for home. I was only ten minutes away from home and I dreaded the thought of heading off in the other direction and having to join the search for a restaurant or bar that was able to accommodate us without reservations.
Coming home early was the right decision. I had a bath and pampered myself., with products from the gift basket I was recently left by a good friend whom was a guest for a couple of nights in my sweet little abode. I put on my pyjamas (my pyjamas are completely the opposite to diaphanous) and my snuggly socks and I rang one of my sisters and then two of my friends. After all that, I realized I still had time to catch up with reading posts from bloggers I love.
One of my favourite blogs is Everyday Strange created by L. Stevens. Her Muse Of The Day two days ago (yes I am way way behind with my reading) in this post caught my eye:
…I have a story (another confession) which I am going to start and leave in my drafts folder to develop at a later date, of a time I delivered a zinger…and felt huge remorse afterwards. It was one evening when Jack had pushed my buttons. He seemed to think he could humiliate me in front of friends and others at social events. My feelings had been brewing, and then in response to a rather sly remark, I delivered a zinger, a perfect blend of poetry and meanness!
Jack was shocked. My friends were shocked. I was shocked! I did not know I had it in me to formulate a zinger and deliver it with such timing and precision that the whole room went quiet and Jack looked hurt to the core.
“….remorse inevitably followed!”
Oh Jack, how I wish I could take back my zinger! You are the last man on the planet I would ever want to hurt or humiliate!
Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly illustrate the subject of zingers so well:
My parents were never really sure quite what happened. They said they felt helpless and they prayed many times that things would turn out well. But they were deeply anxious and doubtful I would recover.
For years I had been a typical child, eager, full of life and laughter. I ate and pooped, ate and pooped. I was immature and completely dependent on my parents. I looked up to them and felt very secure in their love. They fed my mind, my heart and my stomach and watched me as I grew and grew and grew.
But then I went to high school and entered my teens and puberty. Something happened which they knew may come one day, but not in quite such a drastic way.
I shut myself off from them and refused to communicate properly. I grunted, shrugged and sighed my way through my fourteenth and fifteenth year. My parents tried their best to keep reaching my heart, but they had no idea if they were getting through.
They must have found it agonizing. In many ways, I am glad I was clever enough to hide what I did from them until many many months later. I hid so much from them for so long.
They still don’t know the half of it! All sorts was going on inside of me. Boys, music, drinking. I was no longer happy to conform, to obey. I questioned everything inwardly and outwardly.
I skipped school and forged sick notes. Instead of going to school I would catch a train into Manchester which was almost 40 miles away from home. When I was at school, I became disruptive in some classes (the ones I did not really enjoy). My best friend and I spurred each other on. We vandalised the geography teacher’s classroom and even his own belongings. We turned every physics lesson into anarchy. We played netball in the middle of our French lesson with a French dictionary and jumped up on to her desk and danced the Can-Can.
Sometimes I was given a “detention” by a teacher. I forged my mum’s signature and turned up for the detention (except the time I skipped detention because I was going to a concert), I was fortunate in being so bright. My school work never suffered and I maintained my straight A grades.
I started to work for a record company, which my parents knew about. But most of the nights they thought I was staying over at the home of a school friend, I was in Manchester at a music venue or club. I did things I am ashamed to relate.
The teachers wanted me to make decisions about what to do when school ended. I did not know what I wanted to do. I knew what I did not want to do.
I pondered what purpose there is in life, when we seem to be forced down a path that does not in any way appeal to us. I felt hollow and lost at times. Life seemed like a grey expanse stretched out before me. I felt trapped. The music I listened to constantly incited me to be disdainful of boring conformity. There was a spirit of arrogant rebellion breeding in my mind. I was full of resentment and anger towards everyone – I am not even sure why.
But I was not happy. Some of the things I saw at clubs shocked me. Behaviour beyond disgusting. Everything felt filthy. I did not know how to be happy any longer.
A wise old owl – Aunt June, who was almost eighty, and had sparkly blue eyes and a very deep grin – asked me what I was going to do when I left school. I muttered and gave her a wishy-washy answer about going to college. She probed further and soon discovered that I had no real plan in mind. There were no subjects that interested me just then, accept music. But I already knew I hated the places I was going and the people who were there. I was disillusioned with the music industry.
Aunt June could be scary sometimes. She looked at me sternly and said: “Do you want to live?” I was a bit taken aback by that question. Tears came into my eyes as I realized I was not even sure that I did want to be alive. I had been miserable for so long, my enjoyment in life had evaporated.
She asked me if I didn’t know what I wanted for my future, then what did I want for the rest of the world and for the planet? I thought about it, and knew that actually I did have a vision in the back of my mind. A vision that I had first seen in a golden story book my first ever teacher used to read to us from when I was just five years old. I knew the word to describe it: PARADISE.
Aunt June cried out that I should set that goal for my own future and see myself there, not just the rest of the world. She told me to work towards that goal.
At just the right time a project started in the town where we were living. They needed volunteers, skilled or unskilled. I had just broken up for study leave for my GCSEs. I went down there and from the first day I was trained and assigned all sorts of tasks. I ended up on the front page of the local newspaper because of my involvement for the full length of the project.
I remember a couple of my dad’s friends talking to him about me one day. I could hear everything. My face flushed with embarrassment but I was pleased. Then they called out to me: “We were just talking about you Mel! We were asking what has happened to you? You have come to life. You were grumpy and moody a few months ago and wouldn’t talk to anyone, not even make eye contact with anyone. Now look at you. You are glowing.”
I knew I was. I knew that ever since I had started to become involved in volunteer projects I had started to taste happiness.
What I wanted, in my heart of hearts, was to live on a clean planet, where people, animals and all of nature are treated with love and respect. Now I had found many of thousands of people in this country who all felt the same and were giving whatever time they could to work together to make a difference to communities.
My parents always said those couple of years when it was so hard to get me to communicate were very difficult for them. They were so worried about me. They always said it was as if I had cocooned myself within a chrysalis. They had no idea what was going on inside my mind and heart. But it was very much a metamorphosis.
One day something wonderful started to happen. They said a beautiful human being started to emerge from that mentally and emotionally isolated state and started to give colour and happiness to everyone around her.
I always felt it was because I had started to spend time with very beautiful people. People who were freely giving their time, their energy and their skills to build something that would benefit a community. I was learning so much from them.
I wanted to be alive. I wanted to work towards a better world, a world where everyone is happy, full of life, secure in love. I wanted to help make this earth a paradise.
I now had a purpose, a goal and I loved beautifully hearted people who were working towards the same purpose.
JUST A LITTLE REMINDER – I AM STILL RE-PUBLISHING POSTS FROM 2018 BECAUSE WORK IS INTENSELY BUSY. I CAN TELL BY SOME OF THE LOVELY COMMENTS I HAVE HAD THAT I AM CONFUSING SOME OF YOU!
This exquisite picture (the picture prompt for today from The Haunted Wordsmith) instantly gave me an idea for a post. But I am going to be straight with you. I have just returned from doing some work on an assignment I have had these past few months. It is one o’clock in the morning over here in London and all I should be thinking of is having a shower and climbing into bed.
I will give myself fifteen minutes and then close my lap-top!
If you have read even just a handful of my posts I am sure you know that I am happy, safe and busy. But of course for those of you who have been glancing over my posts for a while now, you are aware that almost three and a half years ago…one night I went to a London park and essentially my whole world was turned upside down.
I am not going to dwell on what happened that hot dry night….or the two years of hostility from my ex-flatmate that led to me forgetting my personal safety and putting myself in danger’s way. But the thing is that night, my life drastically changed. The security guard who found me called an ambulance to take me away from that nightmarish night…but somewhere in between the park and the hospital…my whole world turned upside down.
At first all that mattered was recovering from the physical injuries I had received. Then came the emotional ups and downs of what was done to me that night…which took a few months for me to get to grips with, and then the dismay that my ex-flatmate was stony silent after all that had happened and still had not attempted to apologize. It magnified all the hurt of the last two years.
For almost a year I was away from London staying with family members. They were a huge support to me and I am so glad I had their help at such a turbulent time for me. But I was determined to come back to London. I came back and the first six months were full of challenges. I should share more of what happened during my first six months back in London – they were immensely overwhelming and studded with horrid events and horrible people. Then I came here to the little nest. It’s been a relief. It is almost two years that I have been here for and it has helped me to settle and feel I could spread my wings again.
My difficulty is…my world is still upside down. I have just become very proficient at living upside down. I feel as if I am walking on my hands instead of my feet, and although I am doing a great job of that, it’s odd.
I am so determined to get back to the other side of London to my career and home and my world.
That world is precious to me…it is only the ordeal with my ex-flatmate that does taint some of my treasure chest of memories and experiences.
Without a purpose my world will always be upside down. I need my purposeful, active, richly rewarding life back. Until then…I am doing a fantastic job of walking on my hands in my upside down world…but it is not where I belong. However…don’t be sad for me…I am happy, safe and busy. I just have to be patient.
There are other people who have had their world turned upside down in a far more frightening way or grievous way than the way my world went belly up. I am sure they know what I am talking about when I am describing a sudden drastic event that changes everything, turns your world upside down and requires you to learn to become adept at walking on your hands.
Fifteen minutes flew by…in fact it is more like twenty minutes! Shower! Bed! Goodnight!
I wonder if you know who is the fictional character I would like to meet? Do you know which character had this said of her? Which book she was from?
Her finely touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.
The answer is of course Dorothea Brooke from “Middlemarch“. There are many characters I adore in the novels I have read, but one of my personal favourites is Dorothea, as she made a deeper impression on me than most. Not just an entertaining or interesting character, she struck a chord with me and still does twenty years after I first became acquainted with her on the pages of “Middlemarch“.
I love the comparison of her nature and it’s effect on others to the multitude of channels the mighty Euphrates river was broken into. I can’t help but think too of the quiet yet immense effect of Cyrus diverting the course of water that surrounded mighty Babylon, before his army waded across and conquered the city, thus causing a world empire to crumble overnight. I also love the statement that the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistorical acts…the noble and unselfish acts of good and mercy and kindness that are mostly unsung and are often forgotten by others. Yet we have so much to thank those quiet and unselfish souls who have a delicate yet profound influence on others.
If you have never read “Middlemarch” and are planning to at some point, beware my post contains a few spoilers!
I was torn between Dorothea and Anne Elliot from “Persuasion“, but I have already published a post about Anne recently and have another one in my drafts folder. But I have admiration, empathy, and affection for both of these characters, so today I am going with Dorothea!
I read a few character studies on line about Dorothea while I was thinking about this post. More than anything I was surprised that not all have the same esteem for her as I. There were some who seemed to think that to be exalted to “superhero” status, she should have been more of an independent female and that her happiness should not have been tied up with the love of a man who would become her second husband.. Not all approve of her decisions especially later on in the book.
But in today’s age where feminism – and I don’t think I fully comprehend feminism in all honesty, it is all rather foggy to me. I should be happy with Dutch treats, standing up on the bus or tube while young men lollop and rest their sneaker-clad feet on the spare seats, and being paid the same as a man I am working twice as hard as???
I don’t really understand the definition of feminism. I do understand “no means no!” But as far as I have seen, equal is not always fair. When I was at school, all I cared about was the boys letting me play football because I was a decent player and I loved running around – that was all that mattered to me!
I like being a woman. I have always loved wearing beautiful dresses. I have equally always loved climbing trees, playing football and working on construction sites. Most of the work I have done has been for charity and I have not received a penny in return.
Perhaps Dorothea’s decisions don’t sit right with the modern world, but I can relate to her a lot! I think especially her character. I think there are descriptions in the novel where others ponder Dorothea’s features and manners – some are fascinated by her. Is she a taciturn, demure character? I love her mind. She may make mistakes in her judgment, but she has a noble mind. She cares, she wants to make a difference. She becomes trapped in a loveless marriage to a man she believed in and was inspired by. Her endurance and calm under even the worst provocation make me think her made of something stronger than diamonds.
I love her decisions later in the book. Well, of course I would never encourage a husband of mine to run for political office. But I mean her decisions regarding love and being a loyal support to the man she truly loves. I love the sacrifices she makes to spend her life with the man she has come to love and admire after her awful first marriage.
Here is another description of Dorothea I adored:
Dorothea herself had no dreams of being praised above other women, feeling that there was always something better which she might have done, if she had only been better and known better.
I think that is one of the things I love about both Dorothea Brooke and Anne Elliot. I can never imagine either of them wanting to be the centre of attention, being showy, gaudy, wearing the most opulent gowns or decorations. I can only imagine them being a delight, an absolute pleasure to have afternoon tea with. Beautiful gentle manners, noble minds, interesting and lively conversationalists, none trying to take the spotlight, but earnest about how to contribute to the occasion and to the enjoyment of others. These two women are both incredibly endearing to me.
I love those words in the passage I quoted at the start of this post, with regards to Dorothea, that…
“…the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive.”
She touched all around her, often in a quiet gentle way. Others were influenced by Dorothea in the same way I was. The qualities she displayed were so precious, they make her value tremendous. She was a tower of inner strength best expressed by remarkable endurance and stamina. She was crushed, yet she persevered. She regained hope and joy, and allowed herself to love and be loved again. She wanted to make a difference to those in need and she seized any opportunity she had to do so.
Dorothea Brooke, even though you are just a fictional character, it would be an absolute delight to have you round for afternoon tea! I would invite Anne Elliot too, I think you would get along with her rather well.
This was my response to one of the writing prompts in the August Write-Away Challenge hosted by Sarah Elizabeth Moore. Even though I am very very late, I just did not want to abandon this post as I found the question so interesting.
Sarah the creator of the blogging site Sarah Elizabeth Moore has a writing challenge called “The August Write Away”. I have been struggling to keep up with word and picture prompts this week because last week was crazy busy and it is looking like after today, the week ahead is going to be horribly busy too.
But I am really loving Sarah’s writing prompts, and am sorry I am just completely out of sync with the day they were for. But I could not resist this one:
I have a very very vivid memory of the kitchen from my childhood.
My Mumma used to like doing some baking for the family. I don’t remember what she actually baked being my own personal favourites, but I still loved working along with her. She loved making date and walnut cake, which was a bit too heavy for me to enjoy as a child. She also made madiera cake, fruit cake and sandwich cakes.
I loved helping my Mum. I was fascinated by her baking and I was keen to learn. But at times, I may have been more of a hindrance than a help.
My most vivid memory….one that has frequently come back to me over the years is the time I dropped a bag of sugar onto the tiled floor. The bag split on impact and sugar spread all over the floor.
Can you imagine my tears?
I cried and cried. I ran out of the kitchen, through the living room, up the stairs and into my bedroom. I jumped on my bed and I sobbed and sobbed.
My Mumma – well…I remember she came to me after a few minutes and asked me why I was crying. I can’t remember my exact words, but I remember that I wanted to help her so much and now I seemed to have ruined things. I kept on telling her I was sorry, I did not drop the sugar deliberately, it was an accident. I was so upset.
Mumma said if I really wanted to help then I should return to the kitchen with her. I followed her downstairs feeling rather sullen. Once we were in the kitchen, Mum told me that accidents happen, sometimes things go wrong because of something we have done, but the important thing is how we deal with them. She said that crying is not really going to help. But what would help her, was if together we tidied up the mess.
I instantly threw myself into sweeping up the sugar with the dustpan and brush. Mumma then grabbed the hoover to pick up remaining parts of sugar and then she allowed me to use the mop (I was a bit too short to be very adept with the mop, but I was determined to help Mumma).
Mum thanked me and gave me a huge hug and then suggested we walk down to the local shop to buy some more sugar so we could finish the baking. When we reached there, she bought me my favourite little bag of white chocolate mice.
I am sure you can see why many times over the years, my memory of how mum dealt with that situation has come back into my mind. Sometimes we make mistakes, most of them are complete accidents, unintentional. The important thing is how we deal with them. We might feel like having a cry…but the most important thing is that we do everything we can to try to tidy up the mess we have made and start over again.
I marvel at the ingenuity both of my parents displayed many times. They remembered to turn many incidents into lessons that would reach our heart and help us for the rest of our lives.
Mum made sure I always knew she was happy to have me by her side trying to help her, and made sure I never felt like a hindrance. She was incredibly patient. We enjoyed many more baking sessions together over the years.
Inconveniently, I needed to go into our communal kitchen to bake. I had promised to bake some cinnamon wheels. A young man who we had been working with was leaving London as his father was ill. We were having a farewell breakfast first thing Monday morning before his drive home. I had asked him what he wanted me to bring along. He said he loved Danish pastries. I suggested cinnamon wheels. He was delighted with the idea.
Only I felt trapped. I knew I had hurt Jack. I could only imagine how he would be feeling. It felt so awkward. I presumed that Jack was in his room broody and sulky. I was in my room paralysed by the horror of what I had done in asking for my thank you card back. But I had promised to make the cinnamon wheels. I had to get into our kitchen.
Eventually, I plucked up the courage to tip-toe into the kitchen. I closed the door silently and tried to extract from the cupboards everything I would need and I set about my task of making cinnamon wheels as quietly as I could, which is not easy when you are shaking with emotion.
I had just rolled my puff pastry stuffed with the cinnamon and raisin filling up and was about to cut it into slices when the door of the kitchen flew open. I will never forget Jack’s dramatic entrance.
Jack was furious! I had never seen him angry. His hair seemed to stand on end and his eyes were bulging like some eccentric scientist. I had never heard him yell like that – a ferocious roar of a yell. I felt awful because I had done this to him. I can’t even remember his first few words, just the fury in which he delivered them. I am not sure what calmed Jack down first. Was it seeing my tearful breakdown in response to his outburst? Or was it when he saw the massive carving knife in my hand that I was wielding on the pastry? We will never know!
But Jack did calm down. He started to plead with me. He said I was being completely unfair and what I had done was out of order. I just nodded and wept, “I know Jack”. He saw I was not trying to argue. I acknowledged I had been unfair, but I was so hurt by everything I had heard that week.
I cannot remember every word of that conversation so I am only going to be able to share with you what I can recall I am afraid, but it will give you an idea of the state of the relationship between Jack and I when we last tried to have an honest talk with each other. I have been over and over this conversation in my mind many times. It haunts me still.
I was truly overwhelmed at that point. My emotions were intense and I was terrified that if I opened my mouth I could make it even worse. It made it difficult for me to respond to Jack.
When I could finally string together an emotional sentence that Jack could comprehend, it was about how hard it is when there are so many awful rumours and degrading remarks being made about the two of us. I told him it was unbearable, that it was making life unbearable. I told him that since we had spoken the week before the rumours and gossip were worse than ever before.
He was frustrated with me. He told me I should not listen to gossip. He reminded me that we had already talked about the pressure rumours had made us both feel, and that we had agreed to put them aside and just enjoy our friendship.
I shook my head and told him I was not overreacting to people who just wanted to tease me in a friendly way. Then I gave him a few examples of what I had heard that week. I was too embarrassed to tell him what I had heard people say about what had happened between he and I, but I told him I had been called a slapper, a tramp, a cheap slut, a cheat, (and other names I would prefer not to repeat) even in comments from other people on his own Instagram account. I told him I was sick of being the subject of such horrible remarks. His face looked very stern as he was listening.
He said he was so sorry that I had heard those awful things. He asked me who I had heard these things from. I didn’t answer directly, I said I had heard them from friends and seen things on phones with my own eyes. I told him I had seen the comments on his Instagram account. Jack took my hand into his soft velvet paws.
With real earnestness in his eyes, Jack softly said: “Mel…..
(Now…because of the ridiculous length of the post I had typed out, I have decided to split the exchange between Jack and I into two separate posts. So, if you are wondering what happened next, look out for what Jack next said to me tomorrow!)
On the Sunday morning after the awards show the night before, I lingered in the kitchen at breakfast time wondering when Jack would appear. I wanted to sit down with him again in the kitchen as we had done the weekend before. We needed to sit down over another cup of tea and straighten things out. Recalling how unexpectedly well that conversation had gone spurred me on. I knew Jack could communicate if he chose to, could be humble and kind and wonderful.
Each one of my flatmates appeared one at a time and chatted to me. But no Jack. I asked one of my flatmates if he had seen Jack yet. He went into Jack’s room and then returned to the kitchen and told me he wasn’t there.
So…I headed out to meet some friends. We went for a walk, across one of my favourite parks on London and finished with a steaming cup of tea and a slice of toast. It was a lovely day. I couldn’t stop thinking of Jack and the conversation I was convinced we needed to have.
When I arrived back at our flat, Ella was cooking in the kitchen. I went in to make a drink and she asked me if I had seen Jack. I told her I had seen him briefly the night before and he and I had agreed we would talk.
“You need to talk to him Mel. Go and tell him you are here and you are ready to talk.“
I nodded and hastily ran to the door of Jack’s room. I knocked quietly and waited. There was no answer. I knocked more firmly and waited. His door opened. Jack looked at me with a serious expression.
“Can we talk Jack?“
Jack concurred. “Let’s talk in the kitchen.”
“Ella is cooking right now. Should we talk somewhere else?“
Jack shook his head, “Let’s wait until she has finished.“
I wonder if Jack realized I was disappointed. He told me he was rather busy and he closed the door to his room.
Reluctantly, I went back to the kitchen and told Ella what he had said. Ella told me that her and Dean were going to be going out as soon as Dean was home and had showered (he had been playing football). She thought it a good idea that Jack and I might have some privacy.
Once Ella and Dean had left the flat, I waited for a few minutes and then put the kettle on. I made two mugs of tea and then returned to the door of Jack’s room. I placed both mugs in one hand so I could knock again and waited. Jack opened the door.
“Ella and Dean have gone out for the evening. Can we talk now Jack, before the others come home?“
“Mel, I haven’t really got time for this. Can we talk another time?”
I couldn’t believe he was trying to wriggle out of talking. It had taken three months before he had finally sat down to talk, I couldn’t bear to think of postponing another conversation that we desperately needed to have. But I submitted to Jack and said that was fine.
I poured one mug of tea down into the kitchen sink and took the other with me back to my room. I sat down at my desk with such a mix of feelings. I reviewed everything that had happened and felt I had a right to ask for some of Jack’s time. Could I go back and knock on the door to Jack’s room yet again and insist we talk?
My phone started to buzz. It was Marta. Her dramatic tones startled me. She sounded furious.
She told me to look at Jacks Instagram account. I did. I could not believe what I was seeing on Jack’s Instagram account. It was a photo of him at the awards show the night before, and underneath scores of comments from other people all referring to me cheating on Jack.
When Marta had said all she had to say, I told her I needed to go, but thanked her and promised I would talk to her later.
Cue ANGRY EYES!
For a start, how can you cheat on someone whom you are not in a relationship with? This was prompted by the photo Brian had posted of he and I. I scrolled down the comments. Jack was silent. He was not trying to contradict any of the comments posted by others. He had let people, some whose names I recognized and others I did not, make horrid remarks about me.
I did feel angry. Jack should be willing to talk. If he wasn’t, well, I just felt I could not endure this tempestuous situation in the flat like this.
So here it is, my big confession. What did I do next?
I wrote a note to Jack. I basically wrote that if he was not willing to talk now that I was doubtful he would talk at all. So I said, I felt this was my only way of communicating with him. I said I had heard so many rumours that week and I had reason to believe that he was involved with them. I said I was really hurt. I said this time last week when we had talked, I had truly believed he wanted us to be friends, but I no longer was convinced I could believe him. And…I asked him to give me my thank you card back!
I pushed the note under his door and ran down stairs and went out to buy some milk. Jack guzzled milk, and I was always coming home to find no milk in the fridge. I had just used the last drops in the tea I had made. Jack had this hilarious habit of opening the fridge to find no milk and yelling “Where is Mel, she has forgotten to buy milk!” I was always buying milk. I hardly drank any, just a tiny drop in a cup of tea, because I am slightly intolerant to dairy (although I love cheese, it does not like me). There was a shop at the end of the road, but I thought it might have closed at 5pm as it was Sunday. So instead I walked to the local petrol station to buy milk.
I dreaded walking back into the flat. During the walk, I had suddenly realized that asking for my thank you card back was a bit much. Perhaps I had a right to express my feelings about everything, but why had I asked for my thank you card back?
When I crept into our flat and silently made my way into the kitchen to put the milk in the fridge and then returned to my room. There was the thank you card sitting on my desk.
I felt pain and horror gush into my heart as if I had been stabbed. I knew what I had done was wrong. I could only begin to imagine how hurt and angry Jack must be.
You know I am going to make another confession. I sometimes forget men have feelings. I presume I can count on their mental and emotional stability. They are always pretending they don’t care, that they are indifferent, that they can’t be offended, that they think women are daft for becoming emotional. But it is a myth. Men truly do have feelings. Their hearts can bleed terribly. A woman can really hurt a man!
I had hurt Jack. I knew it. I sat there sobbing as I had never sobbed before. I had hurt the man I loved. I no longer really cared what Jack may or may not have said or done.
Something awful happened later that evening…and half of it is sitting waiting in my drafts folder for me to have the energy to finish. I will get to it at some point, and then we will put Jack back in the box for a while until I am ready to let him out again. After sharing what happened between Jack and I that night, I need to rest.
I have been publishing posts about events that occurred following the conversation my ex-flatmate (we are calling him Jack) and I had over a cup of tea. Now…I have mentioned once or twice that I have a confession to share, because I did something really stupid. I am working up to sharing with you how I ended up guilty of this completely daft and damaging decision.
Do you remember in the last post I left you on this cliff-hanger? Well, that kiss was not the confession, the stupid thing I have been building up to telling you about. However, it was also a stupid thing to do, and it had consequences!
I am still not sure why I did that. I think I had wanted to do that to Jack for a long time…only I could not possibly while living in a pressure cooker of a situation. When Brian was so kind and empathetic, I felt a cosy warm feeling towards him, and a sense of relief that I was talking to someone who had a fresh perspective on the situation. After the cocktail I had, my head was a bit fuzzy and Brian suddenly became very handsome in my eyes…and with a swell of gratitude in my heart, I planted a smacker right on his mouth to his surprise. In the moment it was exhilarating and delicious. But I immediately knew I was kissing the wrong man. I apologised to Brian who was very polite about it.
Do you also remember Brian’s suggestion that I take a bit more control of the situation I was finding challenging? (The gossip and the false rumours about my flatmate Jack and I.) Brian had recommended that I “fight fire with fire“.
Funny enough, I should have known this was a bad idea. Neither my wonderful parents not any of my wise aunts and uncles or mature friends had ever taught me the life lesson to equip me to survive as a woman in this world: “fight fire with fire“. Oh no! Because it turns out this is a very silly idea indeed.
Brian had posted a selfie with me alongside him, onto his Instagram account. He had taken the photo very shortly after I had unburdened myself to him and then…in my moment of madness…kissed him.
I left had Brian to go and meet my friends with a sense of relief, after being able to get so much off my chest to someone who was not close to Jack. I thought nothing more of that photo.
I had a great time with my friends who lived on the opposite side of London and were not interested in social media. They were brilliant company for me. However, they knew I was living with Jack and they had all worked with him. They had all met him years before on projects and they thought he was a fun character who cared a lot about working with charities. They liked him I am sure. One of their questions for me was, “are you engaged to Jack yet?” Ay ay ay! Very quickly they detected I didn’t not really want to talk about Jack.
I had a wonderful afternoon. I was heading back to my flat when I thought I would check my mobile phone. I am one of those people who have a phone somewhere in the bottom of their handbag and check it three or four times a day when it is polite and appropriate. Jack on the other hand is someone who seems to be constantly on his phone.
My phone showed several text messages waiting for me. Suzie, Marta and Ella and other friends had all sent me messages asking me what was going on. Ella’s message simply said:
“JACK IS IN A FOUL MOOD. HOPE YOU ARE READY FOR THIS.”
I think I had already guessed what had happened. And I knew already I had to be ready to take on board responsibility for agreeing to let Brian post that photo. I used the travelling time to work out what I was going to say to my friends, and more importantly, what I was going to say to Jack.
What on earth was Jack going to say when he saw me? Would he return to his cold hostility? Well he was hardly going to roll out the red carpet and give me a royal welcome! When I arrived back at the flat, I felt sick with dread.
Jack…was not home. Phew!
Ella was not home either, nor Dean. In fact the flat was quite empty. I jumped in the shower and started to get ready. I was going out. I was quite excited actually. I was attending an award show. It would take me an hour to do something satisfactory with my hair. I hate styling my hair. But I love these events. You do have to make the effort! My dress was all picked out…have I ever mentioned how much I love parties? (Always a party to go to after a show.)
Now…I am going to have to fast-forward and skip all the details of my hair styling and all my other preparations for the show. The venue was only about a mile and a half from there we lived. I travelled with a married couple who lived nearby, they had already told me they were going to be heading straight to the airport from the show as he had an assignment abroad.
After arriving, I spent time meeting and greeting. All was going great until I bumped into Damian. He started to laugh immediately asking me how many men I was stringing along. He taunted me that the main reason I was here was to see Jack on stage. Well, Jack had kept that secret from me. He had not mentioned that he would be at the awards show. Although, Jack seemed to be involved with almost everything.
Do you know what it is like to watch someone you live with performing on stage with other popular entertainers? I loved seeing Jack on stage. He is a natural entertainer. I did enjoy seeing him.
I have been on stage myself, normally you can hardly make out anyone in the audience. I doubted Jack would ever have been able to pick me out. But there was a moment, I may have been imagining it, but he seemed to be looking in my direction and he stopped. He was silent for a few seconds. I felt uncomfortable. Then…he carried on again and all was well.
After the awards had been given out and all the entertainment had ended, the party atmosphere kicked off even more. But that is when I saw Jack, and undoubtedly, he had seen me this time. All week he had been absolutely lovely to me, but not now. He was glaring at me. He looked angry.
I felt now was the time for courage, so I took a few steps towards him. But as I approached, he seemed to deliberately turn his back to me. I decided it was not worth making an issue of what he did. I needed to speak with Jack, but not in the middle of hundreds of onlookers. I decided to just carry on with enjoying the company of others at the show.
But Jack seemed to always be near, I could tell out of the corner of my eye, and several times I turned to see scenes a bit like this one (no this is not Jack). Now that was not at all like Jack. He was not at all relaxed with women making a fuss of him. He was concerned about his reputation and he felt a sense of pride at being a role-model for young people to look up to. In addition, he has had a couple of bad experiences with scary female fans he had to take legal action against, so he normally played very safe with women. Not that night. Oh Jack!
I did feel some pain. It dampened my party spirit very much, which was annoying because I put so much effort into styling my hair. After enduring half an hour of this, I felt I wanted to slink off home and avoid anymore of this cruel game with Jack. There were no taxis outside the venue. I could catch the bus. The bus-stop was just across the road. On reaching the bus-stop and finding the next bus was due to arrive in 14 minutes time, I thought to myself “I could walk home in twenty minutes“, which was a gross miscalculation, it would take at least thirty minutes to walk home in stilettos. But I thought I could do with a walk in the crisp night air.
I set off criss-crossing through the side streets towards our flat. Then I started to feel a few drops on my forehead. Within moments the rain was teaming down. I had a brolly. I don’t go anywhere without a brolly (truly English to the bone) and I had a little tiny fold up brolly which did rather a poor job of keeping me dry.
Whose idea was it to walk home?
By the time I arrived back at the flat I was soaked. Dress, shoes, hair dripping wet. I don’t mind rain normally, I am a secret puddle jumper, I adore Gene Kelly’s moment of celebration in “Singin’ In The Rain“…but that was not a happy walk home in the rain. It was a walk during which I felt a bit sorry for myself and had tears milling with rain drops about the possibility of more hostility from Jack.
As I was approaching the security gates outside our flats, they started to open slowly and a car drove in ahead of me. Jack’s car! I held back. I didn’t want him to see me. But that meant I had the perfect view of the passenger side of the car as the door opened and…a young woman climbed out of Jack’s car. Oh my goodness!…how awkward!
Possibilities raced through my mind. If Jack took her up to the flat…I couldn’t walk in right behind them. I was cold, soaked and not even sure how I felt about what was happening in front of my eyes. I had to get into our flat before they did, hopefully before Jack saw me.
I started running through puddles towards the flat…and realized Jack’s eyes were upon me. I ran up the stairs, so I did not have to hang around in the foyer waiting for the lift (elevator). My first thought was to grab some water and snacks to take into my room so that once I was in my room I did not have to leave. It only took me a few seconds…but I was not quick enough. As I left the kitchen with my supplies, the front door opened and after a few strides, Jack was blocking my way to my room.
“Mel…are you alright?“
“Yeah, I just got caught out by the rain.”
I must have looked a wreck. Jack looked at me and before he realized what he had said, out came the words, “Do you need help…?“
What Jack could possibly have thought I needed help with, we will never know. But I could tell there was a tenderness there and I wanted to make sure it lingered. I said I was fine, and I would take my dress to the dry cleaners the next day. I was so tired, I was not sure what to say to Jack although I knew there was a lot I ought to say.
“Jack, you were brilliant tonight. I mean you always are, but I thought you were brilliant. I felt so proud of you.”
If I had not been absolutely dripping wet, I think I would have hugged Jack. But it mattered not, I think Jack knew I was sincere.
I said to Jack that I ought to go and change and get some sleep because it had been such a busy day. Now…I would love this poignant moment to have been enough to fix the damage that had been brewing all day, but it was not enough. For a moment later, Jack’s face seemed to change as he remembered something.
“Yes, you have had a busy day haven’t you!” he delivered this statement with obvious derision.
“Please Jack, I really want to talk to you, but can we do this tomorrow, please?“
Jack agreed. I was soaked and bedraggled, I think he realized I really did need to just be allowed to go and sort myself out.
“We’ll talk tomorrow Mel.“
I was left to sleep and dream that Jack and I had found a way to fix things.
Just in case you want to catch up with any of the posts connected with Jack and I, here they are: