Hiding The Bruises

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 looked a bit like the woman in the picture prompt from The Haunted Wordsmith.

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:

embarrassedBut 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.

Aaaaah!

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.

 

 

 

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2018/11/27/daily-writing-challenge-nov-27/

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/11/27/dismal/

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/11/27/your-daily-word-prompt-lost-november-27-2018/

FOWC with Fandango — Leave

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What Did His Friends Have To Say About It?

Where do I even begin?

So much was said…I am going to try to illuminate you as to the general flavour of the comments I received from Jack’s friends.  There were two distinct types of remarks – those who just wanted to make fun and be crude, and those of Jack’s friends who seemed to want to offer some advice on the situation.

Perhaps I should begin with Jamal, as I have already mentioned him in another post. What did Jamal have to say about Jack and me? Very early on Jamal started teasing Jack about me. Then Jamal started teasing me about Jack.  Every time he appeared he would call me over to him, and then lead me to Jack.  Jamal was forever taunting me in a mild way about having a crush on Jack, I don’t know what he was saying to Jack but I can only imagine it was ten times worse.

Jamal made himself a pain in the neck!  He kept on and on trying to arrange for Jack and me to be together.  Jamal was always there hinting that Jack and I really wanted to be alone.  At first it was funny, but then it became really annoying and embarrassing.  I felt like we were all back at school.

Then Jack moved into the flat I was sharing already with Ella and Dean.  Can you imagine Jamal’s reaction?  Jamal was a frequent visitor.  When he saw that Jack and I had neighbouring rooms, he was highly amused.  I know this is going to sound completely daft…well it is, plain and simple, Jamal kept teasing Jack in front of other friends…”Jack has been drilling a hole in the wall so that he can watch Mel when she is undressing.”

Jamal was a super lad in himself.  He was extremely gregarious and popular with people of all ages.  He looked smart, he was always wearing a tailored suit or a cashmere sweater and a pair of his trendy spectacles.  He was smooth, he was slick.  He had constant laughter in his voice.  Jamal was clever and capable and confidant.  He really looked up to Jack.  Jack encouraged Jamal and gave him great advice.

Jamal’s jovial gregarious nature made his constant taunting Jack about me palatable to everyone.  It is hard to not laugh along with someone who is laughing constantly.  But he just kept on adding fuel to a fire that was burning steadily.  There were others who were not as tame in their use of expressions as Jamal was.

Damian was one – I can’t bear to think of what Damian said and did.  He thought the world of Jack.  But I had known Damian long before either he or I met Jack.  Damian and I had been friends since we were fourteen.  He was the King of sarcasm.  Damian was cruel to both Jack and me…and he would not stop.  I kept on receiving messages from him.  I saw Damian almost every day and he always had something to say.  He was merciless.  Hugh Sanders was another.  Hugh was relentless.  These silly men spread rumours like an infectious rash.

Now…after Jack and I had sat down and had that cup of tea…what did his friends have to say?

Jack’s “friends” knew there was something different.  I am not going to repeat what Jamal, Damian and Hugh interpreted the change of atmosphere between Jack and I to indicate.  I am still annoyed at what they said directly to Jack and I, but also the way they involved scores of others in their ongoing comedy commentary on what happened between us.  I do not want to think about let alone publish how incredibly rude and crude some of what was said about Jack and I was.

I am going to tell you about some of Jack’s quieter more sensible friends.

First of all, Bernard. Benny, we all called him, or Granddad, because he always took that tone when offering advice.  Benny was the opposite in temperament to Jack.  Benny was mild and quiet and modest.  Although Jack could get on Benny’s nerves, he did love Jack.  Benny had also been a great friend to me since I had moved to London. Benny took me out for dinner a lot, took me to the theatre and invited me to parties.  We were frequently at the Royal Albert Hall which we both adored.  Benny decided he would have a word with me about Jack, during that week after the conversation between Jack and I had taken place.  Benny told me that Jack was wonderful but that he was like a kid in the playground.  Benny warned me that Jack was going to hurt me, because he had not grown up yet.

Then there was Tom.  Tom, was another quiet one.  Tom also spoke to me that week. Tom was quite direct asking me if Jack and I were together.  I denied it of course.  Tom rolled his eyes and remarked that Jack is such an idiot.  I don’t know what prompted that.  Tom told me it will take a strong woman to be able to put up with Jack’s immaturity.

singer.jpgThen there was a famous director who Jack had worked with and admired a lot.  Sylvan threw amazing parties and was delighted to jump up on stage and sing or play any instrument that was handy.  Sylvan called me.  It was such an odd phone call.  Sylvan had a very strong accent and I struggled to make out everything he was saying on the phone. There seemed to be a point where he was congratulating me, and then, before I managed to enquire why Sylvan thought I needed congratulating, he started giving me advice about Jack.  Sylvan said he had never know Jack more in love, but that Jack was like a child.  He told me that it would take a woman like me to make a man out of Jack.  I am not sure what on earth that meant.  It was so bizarre I felt I was going to gag with laughter because I could not understand why Sylvan was calling me to say all of this.

Frankly, I was fed up of hearing what everyone else had to say.  I wanted to speak with Jack again directly.  I wanted to find out if there was any possibility he was contributing to the rumours I was hearing and ask him to make sure he strenuously denied anything was happening.  And I wanted to do it in a way that made it clear to Jack that I was not against something happening, but that he and I needed to build some kind of friendship first before there was any possibility of that happening.  Much as I was fond of Jack…I did not trust him, how could I trust my feelings with him?

Do you remember the Friday night when I was with Ella, I found out that Jack and Hugh and other friends and workmates of theirs had been out for a drink using money that people had bet on how long it would be before Jack and I started sleeping together.  I was really mad about that, and I wanted to speak to Jack about that.  I prepared myself and thought about exactly what to say.

A young man who had recently moved to London named Brian saw me on the bus on Saturday morning when I was heading into town.  I had worked with Brian on a project in Devon years before and remembered him.  Brian was pleased to find someone who knew who he was.  Brian had been out for drinks with the same group as Jack and Hugh.  Brian hardly knew a soul in London, so it made sense for him to be tagging along with new workmates when he was invited to go out for a drink.

I should not have asked Brian so many questions.  In his innocence and ignorance, Brian told me everything I wanted to know.  He told me what was said and who it was said by. Although I felt enraged, I kept myself very calm while drawing more and more out of Brian.  Of course my main interest was what did Jack say?  Brian clearly had little respect or admiration for Jack.  He made it very clear that Jack had made claims about what had happened between he and I that were not true at all.  I told Brian that these claims were completely untrue.  Brian was rather sweet and said he had doubted what he had heard anyway.  I then told Brian that I was sick of false rumours and didn’t know what to do about them.

cocktail.jpgI asked Brian if he had had any plans for that day.  He didn’t.  He told me his schedule for the weekend was completely blank. He was just going to potter around galleries or museums in central London.  I was going to meet some friends, but I was very early.  I had wanted to get out of the flat before I saw Jack, which is why I had chosen the hour long bus ride into the center of London rather than the tube.   I asked Brian if he wanted to grab a drink or a bite to eat.  Brian let me pour out my heart about what had been happening with Jack.  Ending a light lunch with a cocktail, in a moment of madness and in response to him being so kind and empathetic, I did something I should not have.  Brian laughed and thanked me.  I immediately apologised.  Brian then said to me everything was cool. He looked thoughtful, and then he came out with an idea…an idea which I kissshould have rejected. His suggestion was basically to fight fire with fire.  So he pulled out his phone and then standing real close to me, with his arm round me, he took a selfie of the two of us.  He posted it straight onto his Instagram account.

He then made it very clear that as far as he was concerned, I should not have to put up with Jack or anyone else making up false rumours about me.  He said I should take a bit more control of the situation and I should confront Jack about everything I had heard.  When I left Brian to go and meet my friends, I thanked him for being a great listening ear and apologised again about kissing him.  He said “it never happened.” and then immediately waved his phone in the air and added, “or did it?

I could not be sure I knew entirely what Brian meant by that, so I looked at him with a serious gaze and confessed, “I do think I actually love Jack, but I am just really mad at him at the moment.”

Brian replied, “Well, I think he’s a fool. But I’m not a woman. I think it’s fairly obvious that if you didn’t care about him then you wouldn’t care about what everyone was sayingYou definitely need to talk to him.

So that was that…after hearing from my close friends all week and Jack’s close friends, it was Brian, who hardly knew Jack or me, who helped me make my mind up that I had to have another conversation with my flatmate Jack.

 

This post is part of a series I am thinking of calling “STORM IN A TEA-CUP”:

 

 

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/09/07/your-daily-word-prompt-illuminate-september-7th-2018/

FOWC with Fandango — Schedule

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/09/07/rash/

 

 

 

What Did Ella Have To Say About It?

I don’t think I have introduced Ella to you yet.  Ella and her husband Dean were living in the same flat as Jack and I and two other flatmates.

Ella was a great flatmate.  She was bubbly and cheerful and very popular.  She made huge pizzas and loved having lots of friends over to eat and play table football.  She had four brothers, so she was used to being around lots of male company.  I could never have lived in a flat with four men without Ella being there.  They respected Ella.

She also worked in the same complex of offices and studios and huge storage areas as our flatmate Jack and so she saw him frequently each day around their work site.  I knew she heard what was being said in the foyer, the canteen and throughout the offices.  She had told me once or twice about some news about Jack and I had spread like wildfire through the departments.  Very wisely, she did not tell me anything until I specifically asked her to.

I tried hard not to let rumours or comments from friends effect my behaviour towards to my flatmate (we are calling him Jack Barnes, in case you missed that).  When I did briefly see him at home in our flat, he was only lovely to me, asking me how my day had been, what were my plans for the weekend, offering me a drink, complimenting me on my dress or hair in his rather clumsy fashion.

It felt like he was really trying hard to maintain the new good will that had developed.  There was no hint of anything he’d want to hide from me.  He was cheery, affable, gregarious.  Nothing to indicate that behind my back he was contributing to rumours about him and I.

I was upset, but I hid it from him.  I did not feel hearing rumours from others outside the flat was a reason to authorize me to treat Jack any differently. I arranged to be out every evening so that I did not see Jack.  Over the next few days, I heard more rumours and saw more photos and comments that others showed me on their social media sites.  I also received enquiries everyday, from friends and workmates, some kindly expressed, as to whether there was any any truth in the rumours they were hearing.  I could understand some of my friends and workmates asking.  It was the sheer number of enquiries that made the situation intense.

I was very careful with my words.  I told everyone who deserved some sort of answer, “Jack and I sat down to talk about the unhappy atmosphere that we have had in our flat which had all been due to the pressure we both felt because of rumours about the two of us.  We are both trying to ignore what is being said about us and try to make sure there is a better atmosphere in the flat.  There is nothing more to tell.”

Close friends continued to report to me that Jack was enjoying the speculation and public attention he was receiving because people thought that he and I were now “together”.

On the Friday evening after Jack and I had talked openly over a cup of tea, Ella and I were in the flat alone.  The boys were all out.  Whilst sipping mojitos, we chatted about everything that had been happening.  Ella declared how glad she was now that Jack and I were friends because what was happening between us was effecting the whole flat.

Now I had the opportunity to question Ella to gain an insight into how Jack was dealing with the rumours that were flourishing due to our new found ease.  I decided to ask Ella if she had heard rumours at work during the past week suggesting that Jack and I were now involved romantically.

Ella shrugged her shoulders, “Men say such stupid things Mel.  I ignore most of what they say.  They have been talking about the two of you since before Jack moved in here.  They are stupid.  As soon as he moved in, most of the guys started to bet on how long it would take before the two of you started sleeping together.  I’ve been telling them they are all losers and that he has no chance with you.

Ella, what about him?  What does he say?  Does he try to stop this?

Ha! He is not going to try to stop it.  He absolutely loves it!  He loves attention.  He is flattered that everyone thinks you like him.  He loves being the main topic of conversation day after day.”

woman cryingI was not expecting that.  Tears started to trickle immediately down my face.  Ella was clearly not comfortable with my tears.

You know he is a complete idiot.  But he is an idiot who is kind of insecure, that’s why he needs attention.  He would absolutely love to be loved by a woman like you.  He knows that he does not deserve you, that you are out of his league.  But it makes him feel great that people connect the two of you together.  He wished there were some truth in these rumours, which is why he keeps lapping them up while they are popular.”

I tried to stop my tears and absorb everything she had said to me.  “So, people are actually betting on how long it will take me to sleep with him.  That is truly pathetic.”

Ella’s expression suddenly became very serious.  “Mel, you need to know something.  Do you know where Jack is tonight?

I think he said he was going out for drinks with some friends from work.

Yes, but it’s bad.  I mean you are really not going to like this.  Hugh Sanders – you know what Hugh is like – claimed to have won the bet.  He took the money which everyone had put in a jar or tin and they were keeping in one of the kitchens.  I don’t know how much there was exactly, but well over £100.  He is using it to buy drinks for any of the guys who wanted to go out tonight.”

Hearing those words made me shudder with disbelief.  “I have not slept with him.  Ella, I sat down and had a cup of tea with him.”

I didn’t think you had Mel, although even if you had, that’s none of our business really.  We just want you both to be happy.  The point is there are a lot, a lot of people who think that the two of you are sleeping together now that you are acting like you are best friends outside of the flat.”

But we have not spent much tome together at all.”

smiling (2)Enough time for scores of photos to appear of the two of you together Mel.  I know you are just trying to be nice to each other. but the two of you are in all these photos full of smiles towards each other.  Of course everyone is getting excited.”

I was feeling rather sick but knew that Ella was right, “But why has Jack allowed Hugh Sanders and others believe that I have slept with him?

Jack didn’t want to lose face in front of everyone.  Hugh was winding him up so much, Jack didn’t say anything at all, but Hugh took that as confirmation.”

I felt really angry.  This was so so wrong.

couple and jealousyHugh is mad with jealousy.  He has been winding Jack up for weeks.  Hugh has fancied you for a couple of years, but knows you are not interested in him.   He hates seeing you and Jack happy together.”

Hugh Sanders had asked me out a couple of times actually.  I only said no because I was convinced it would be disastrous and he would forever make fun of me after it all went sour.  My reasons were solid.  I had been at parties and at dinner with groups of friends with him and it was obvious he had a soft spot for me.  The reason I did not respond to him was that I was so overwhelmed by the intensity of his sarcasm and the critical tone he used when talking about everyone else.  I like a bit of gentle sarcasm, I have grown up in Liverpool on a solid diet of sarcasm, but not the type that destroys another person’s confidence.  If I had spent time with him, I would have withered up.  He would have despised me because I would have recoiled from him.

Do you have any idea how confused I was hearing all this about Jack and Hugh and their workmates?

sharing tea.jpgMy flatmate Jack – on his own, was undeniably “my cup of tea” and he had the potential to make me extremely happy.  I knew I could very easily fall in love with him, if only I was allowed by the rest of the world to actually spend some time with him.  On paper, he was everything I admired and felt attracted to.  But in the context of what he either said about me or allowed to be said about me in order to receive attention from his colleagues and fans, he had the potential to crush me.

If it was not for everything I had heard during that week that followed, maybe that cup of tea with Jack would have very much led to me falling in love with him.

All of this was playing on my mind, and emotions were burning within me. Emotions that caused me to do something rather strange during the weekend at the end of that week. What did I do?  I will tell you in another post.

Well…we have come quite a way…

Catch up with Jack and Caramel at your leisure:

FOWC with Fandango — Question

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/09/06/your-daily-word-prompt-authorize-september-6th-2018/

 

 

 

 

What Happened After That Cup Of Tea?

You may or may not remember a post I published some time ago entitled:

Well, I have finally been able to sit down and write about what happened after that strange conversation.  It’s been hard going, because my emotions are still a bit volatile whenever I recall the events that led up to that night I went to a London park on my own and woke up the next day in an ambulance.  But I  am relieved I have managed to get so much out of my heart and onto paper. So during the next few days, I am going to present the events of the week that followed that conversation over a cup of tea.

Cup Of TeaSo, here we go:

At first, I was slightly in shock, because I had not been expecting the words he uttered, and I was bowled over at the humility he had displayed.  Those beautiful expressions he directed towards me played games with my mind.  Over the next twenty-four hours my feelings developed at a reckless pace.  Every real or perceived offence or transgression on his part vanished far from my mind. By the time I had percolated my emotions, I was left with admiration, esteem, fondness and joy which before had been almost buried beneath frustration, hurt, bewilderment and humiliation.

All that was forgotten with the new-found elation he had triggered in me.  He seemed very happy too.  The air seemed to have lifted completely.  He chatted with me freely in front of the rest of our flatmates and any visitors.  Outside of the flat he was comfortable with me.  In front of our neighbours and friends he treated me pleasantly and gallantly. I enjoyed the freedom of being able to talk and laugh with him.  I was curious about the gentle and fond glances he kept on sending my way.

thank-you.jpgIt effected me deeply.  It was hard to suppress my smiles. I loved every moment of his company when he was like this.  I was brimming over with delight.  I can’t remember ever feeling so intensely happy with any other man in my life.  So I did something I have done thousands of times over the years to all sorts of different people.  I sat down and wrote a thank you card to him.  I wrote that I had been touched by his humility and kindness and was so grateful that finally the air had cleared.  I wrote that I too wanted us to be friends and enjoy living in the flat together.

He seemed thoroughly pleased and gratified with my thank you card.  Of course he thanked me personally for it.

I loathe to admit what happened next.

cyberbullyThe rumours began to arrive back with me.  The words I heard ranged from cute to crude, from ridicule to outright rude, from droll to dreadful, from silly to slanderous, from vile to vicious.  If I give you a tame example, you will wonder what I was upset about, but if I give you examples of the most degrading things said and published on social media, it will make my site unsuitable for readers of all ages to read – so use your imagination.  But as they stacked up, I became troubled.  In essence, people thought my flatmate and I were now an official item, that we were now “going public” about an intimate relationship which we had been apparently trying to keep a secret.

Even my best friends asked me if it was true that he and I had now “got together”.  I assured them that was not the case at all, I told them we had just sat down and had a chat and cleared the air, and we both felt so much better now.

So, you haven’t slept together?  You are not going out with him?

No! Of course not! No, I am not going out with him.”

Well, that’s what everyone is saying.”

Ugh!  I was sick of all of these ridiculous rumours.  I intensely disliked that he was a celebrity and seemed to be always on the radar for people to create fanciful stories and fiction regarding his personal life which was invading my privacy and peace of mind.  I wondered how people could say these things?  Why didn’t they get a life!  Or at least a hobby, something that would absorb their attention in a more constructive way – like chess, or oil-painting, or fly-fishing.  Anything!  Just leave me alone!

 

 

My close friends believed me, but they asked probing questions determined that there was something I was not being fully open about.

But would you like something to develop with him?  You do like him don’t you?

I can’t really answer that.  At the moment he is being wonderful.  But I’ve spent months thinking he could not stand me because he has been so hostile.  It’s only been a couple of days since we’ve been getting on I just hope he is being genuine, well, I will have to wait and see how long it lasts.”

love backgroundIt was only to my best friend Marta, that I was brave enough to admit, “If he stays like this then I am going to fall in love with him“.

My friends showed me some awful comments and photos on various forms of social media of or about my flatmate and I. Most where being spread through Whatsapp groups, but they were spilling over onto Instagram, Facebook and other forms of sharing brainless nonsense.

watching flatI was amazed at how many photographs must have been snapped up of he and I during the last two days while we were near home.  Who was taking these photos?  Could it have been one of our neighbours?  Or several of our neighbours?  Or just people passing and recognizing him and seeing an opportunity? It could not be just one person.  But why take these pictures and then use them to make up stories that were untrue?  Was it even legal to be publishing their baseless presumptions?  I hated seeing what people had written about the photos that were being shared.  So crass!

There were a couple of photos that were strange.  In one he seemed to be playing with my hair, but I am sure he never did.  Another, I remember holding his bag for him while he ran back up to the flat to find his keys.  When he came down to the foyer of our block of flats, he had taken his bag from me and put it on the floor and knelt down and started rooting through his bag and sure enough, the keys were in the bag.  Somehow, someone had caught a photo of him leaning forward (I think it was as he was about to kneel) and it looked as if he was coming in towards me for a kiss).  I saw immediately the way it looked.  But, I now realize how cameras can tell lies, for all he was doing was kneeling down.

There was one photo that had been taken from a very unfortunate camera angle.  I remember he had opened a car door for me and I had turned around and smiled graciously thanking him.  But in the photo it looked as if his hand was on my behind and I was enjoying it.  Believe me, he did not lay a finger on me, otherwise there really would have been a story to tell, along with a black eye.  But it was just the angle the picture was taken. He had his right hand held out as he was inviting me to get into the car…and it really did look as if his hand was planted firmly on my derriere and I was giving him a smile of enjoyment. Ugh!

Ugh!  Sometimes, I hate cameras, hate social media…or at least the way some heartless people have used them.

I will finish this post for now…but I have more to come….look out for:

 

 

via Volatile — Word of the Day Challenge

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/09/03/your-daily-word-prompt-transgression-september-3rd-2018/

FOWC with Fandango — Loathe