If you are reading this Harry, it is because you followed the link I gave you and you have kept checking.
None of the stuff in this letter should be a surprise to you, and even though we have no secrets and we tell each other everything, I felt I needed to write this down. You needed to know it. It is long, but, hopefully you’ll have forever to read it.
Growing up I always knew that the way I saw the world was different from everybody else, but this never really bothered me. You know the situation of my family life, and whilst I am not using it as an excuse and you know I hate people who try to justify their horrible actions by saying “I’ve had a tough life.” Saying that, I think the life I lead as a child is responsible for the way I am, no… was.
Growing up I was never the little girl who dreamed of Prince charming or her perfect wedding day. I never really gave much thought to the man I would marry, if I did ever marry. I just accepted that marriage and kids was the norm and I moved on, I had other things to focus on. I never really liked the idea of having a man who I would give myself fully too. I watched my mum give her all to men who then threw her away like she was nothing. The tried their very best to destroy her, and as I would sit there and try to put my mum together again I vowed to myself that I would never let a man do that to me.
It’s so cliché when girls say “I have walls up” and just use it as an excuse as to why they are undateable. I, however, had more than walls up. I had dug a moat, raised the drawbridge, constructed walls so high not nothing and nobody was getting through there unless I really let them.
Growing up I watched as all my friends got boyfriends and girlfriends, and even though in year 7 I dated a guy and he was my first kiss, I never really cared. I only ever saw him once a week at Youth Wing and other than that I never really thought about him. From a young age it appeared to me that people cared about this title of “boyfriend and girlfriend” more than I did, and I was picked on due to the fact that I didn’t care. People used to joke that I was a lesbian, but in reality, I just wasn’t really ready and hadn’t found anyone to let in even remotely.
I wish that it was just romantic relationships that suffered from my guardedness, but it probably explains why even now I get told by people I knew at school that I’m not as big a bitch as they thought I was. Letting people in opened me up to weakness so I had to be sure that the people I showed my real self too were really worthy, and that is why even now I take moments of disloyalty and hurtful actions to heart. This is why I can cut people out of my life and never think about them again really. This is why I say to you, you can do anything to me but lie. If you lie to me I can’t trust you again. I forgive but I don’t forget. This is another thing that adds to my “Ice Queen” facade. It isn’t meant in a horrible way, it is meant in a self-preservation way.
I finally let people progress to boyfriend status and really, if I’m being honest and I am only ever honest with you, it was because I was horny. All the hormones surged around my body and I needed an outlet. The fact that I couldn’t sleep around and had to at least try to be in relationships is probably due to the fact that I find it so hard to give myself to people. This is probably hard for people to understand,as many people see 1 night stands as the least intimate thing you can have with someone, whereas I disagree. A 1 night stand is actually very intimate. All of the sex aside, you open yourself up completely and utterly to one person so much for 1 night that you have a connection. A connection that although might be based purely on the need to fuck, is actually deeper than that. Between the sex and in the early hours of the morning you talk and you open up to someone, because you know really whatever you say to this person doesn’t matter, you’re never going to see them again. You are uninhibited, the pressure is off, its therapeutic, it leaves you feeling alive and really, despite what How I Met Your Mother tells us, some of the best things and conversations happen after 2am. This is why a 1 night stand was something I couldn’t do.
A one night stand was like cramming an entire relationship in to one single night, and that level of intimacy was something I wasn’t comfortable with.
It was easier for me to get in to relationships with guys. This is weird to some but romantic relationships to me didn’t seem very real. I could commit to someone without them having to really know “me.” Reading it as I say it makes me seem like I was fake and I faked my way through relationships. This isn’t fair but it also isn’t entirely wrong. When I was in a relationship I could control just how much of myself I let out to someone. I wasn’t against falling in love, but at the age of 16, even then I remember thinking “At this age, would I really know what falling in love felt like?” So, my first proper boyfriend, we had sex and we hung out a lot. Our friends were the same people so we saw each other a lot, and it was good, but even back then I knew I wasn’t giving him my all. I wasn’t allowing him in, not properly. It was lust more than love. I was happy with him, don’t get me wrong but when it came to the fundamentals we weren’t wired the same. So, I just went along with it, until the time came for me to break up with him. He wasn’t the only relationship that I have been in where I just went through the motions. Yes in my time I have thrown those three little words around far too often and easily. “I Love You” is very easy to say but really very hard to mean. In my own way I did love them, each of them. But not in the way you should. My heart didn’t skip 3 beats every time I thought of them and I didn’t miss them. If I wasn’t with them I didn’t long for them and I wasn’t driven nearly mad through love. Most of the relationships I was in ended at 2 years or less. I always said that at 2 years that is when things started to get serious, that is when you are expected to start thinking about things long-term with the person and none of them were really the kind of man I could be myself, my true self with, let alone make life changing decisions about. Maybe it was commitment that scared me, I’ve had that thrown at me a few times, yeah I might be a girl who cannot commit, yet is perfectly willing to give a man the ‘girlfriend experience’ for 6 months, a year, however long it lasts, because as bad as you might think this is, there is no denying that men who make you think you could be something and then callously bestow the privilege onto someone else are arguably worse. It’s so disheartening to discover that the moments you revelled in were merely borne out of that person’s boredom. I wasn’t going to allow myself to be used like that. I got what I wanted from them and they got what they wanted from me, it just wasn’t as real for me as it was for them maybe. This doesn’t make me a bad person, this makes me a careful person.
Now, don’t get me wrong I am grateful to every single one of them, for the lessons that they taught me about myself and the world.
I also don’t want you thinking that I have never been in love before. I have. Not every boyfriend of my youth was kept at a distance whilst making him feel he had my whole heart and not every relationship was fake or a lie. I did fall in love, and I gave him every single part of me (apart from my virginity, because that had gone before, but if I could have gone back and saved it for him, I was have.) I never saw this love coming, and it taught me something about myself back then. It was a slow burner and it actually came out of nowhere. It was a long distance love and a MySpace relationship. As I talked to this guy, completely without my knowledge I dropped my guards, and I showed this guy right up to the door. I put up signs “First love this way” and the one day, he was all I could think about. He ignited something in me which I had been missing up until this point. This is what falling in love felt like! Is this what I had been missing out on? Either I had made a mistake of not letting people in, letting the men of my past fall by the wayside, or this guy was something truly special.
See, here’s the problem. I fell in love and I quickly learned with this guy that when I fall for someone and I mean truly fall for them, I fall hard and fast. I wear my heart on my sleeve and put my all into every relationship. I care too much because I want to feel what it’s like to be completely and utterly in love with someone to the point where you’re vulnerable because you gave that person your all. For someone who was previously by my own admission cut off emotionally, stunted even it was frightening. But it happened. This person was making me think I would love to fall in love, but for some reason in my mind I was always trying to find a way to fuck things up. I wasn’t trying to sabotage myself, I was just so used to watching relationships implode and the people who have fallen in love had been destroyed and I had promised I would never let that happen. I didn’t want to be weak. I didn’t want everything I was feeling to be decided by a man. It was that I just get bored easily or that I wanted someone who will surprise me and keep me on my toes. I was suddenly frightened that I would fall in love with this person and given them my everything and I wouldn’t be enough. I wouldn’t be good enough and they wouldn’t want me. Once they had peeled away at the layers they’d realise I wasn’t the girl they wanted and they would cast me aside, and I would be there with all the other women who had been used and made a fool of. My own pride was getting the better of me and causing me to worry. This relationship did ultimately end. It wasn’t pretty when it did and I found myself exactly where I had feared I would end up, but the fact was, I had put myself there. I was the one who had ended it. It was me, I’d pulled the plug on my own relationship. Why? The reason sounds so foolish now, but again it was self preservation. He was going to University, and I didn’t believe that our love or whatever could survive it. It wasn’t lack of trust, it was lack of belief in myself, that after 2 years, that I was enough still. I also didn’t want to be the reason he didn’t have a good first year. I would be moving the year after too and then we’d be further apart than we’d ever been.
This relationship was good and bad for me. It taught me that for the right person, love is worth it. But it also showed me that I had been right all along – if you let people in you get hurt, even if it’s you deciding how things went.
I went back to being single and then in to a relationship where it was all an act again. We were friends but really there wasn’t more than that. I loved him, but I loved him for the friendship, the drugs and the fact that he helped me escape…but then 2 years hit and it was my time to leave.
After him there was another relationship, I didn’t want it, I didn’t like him, he was just there. He filled the time and the nights alone in bed. He met needs that any 20 something woman had. We had nothing in common. This was probably the worst relationship yet. He made me so unhappy that I changed. I wasn’t Emma anymore, I had retreated so far in to myself and cared so little about the person or the relationship and cared more about protecting myself that I hadn’t even noticed that the real me had slipped away and died. I hadn’t noticed that this guy was so controlling and so manipulative that I hadn’t listened to music, or watched films, or read comics or laughed about anything that I liked in forever. 2 years somehow rolled by. I don’t know how or when it got there but it was a blur, a blur in which sadly, I can’t pick out any really happy memories. With everyone else, I at least can look back and think “That was good” in part, but this time, I couldn’t. Finally thought the internal alarm in my head went off “TWO YEARS GET OUT! TWO YEARS GET OUT!” – People talk of the 7 year itch… For me, it’s the 2 year itch. I’d get to 2 years and it would feel like I was suffocating. I was clawing at this imaginary bag over my head, or rope around my neck. I was gasping for air. As soon as I ended the relationships, (most of them) it was like I could breath again. That kind of breath in movies when someone has been underwater for too long holding their breath and they burst out and inhale hard and loud… That one that makes you know they were moments from death. That is the exact feeling I got every time I broke up with someone.
I wish I could say that I moved on, but in a moment of weakness or clarity I don’t really know, I went backwards. I reconnected with the guy I had loved first, the one I really let in. The only one I let in. I don’t know if it was the fact that he brought me out of my shell again, the sense of familiar or what that made me go back. But I did. We talked about things, and things happened, and it really did get to the point where it was shit or get off the pot. I had a big decision to make. Pick up again where we left off, and risk that it all goes wrong again and I end up even more damaged or move on.
Well, as you know, I picked move on. I will always thank him. I will thank him for helping me find myself again. Reminding me of everything that I loved but hadn’t been able to enjoy for the years with my exes. reminding me that after the manipulation that was my previous relationship, maybe I can fall in love again.
I will also thank him for showing me, all those years ago – the first time round that letting someone in was worth it, and that it is ok. It might have gone wrong with him, but he showed me a glimpse of that I could have if I found the right guy. He is part of my past that I will never regret or look back on with anything but fondness. Without him, I would never have found Harry. In fact without any of them… I wouldn’t have found him.
If you are reading this Harry, and you followed the link I sent you and you kept checking back, I know that it must be hard or weird for you to read this, a whole post about me talking about loving someone before you and all the other people I didn’t love. You know all the stories and you know everything about my past and the men in it. But I just wanted to explain to you why I am grateful to all of them. Every single one of them in a way. Without any of them I wouldn’t have got to where I am today with you.
What am I talking about? What do I mean they all helped me get to where I am today? I’ll show you.
Boyfriend #1: We were too young to know what love was and we were never in love. In fact we were too young to even count as boyfriend and girlfriend. But you taught me how to kiss, or in your case how NOT to kiss. Think “washing machine.”
Boyfriend #2: The warning signs with him were the fact that when I met him and we started flirting he already had a girlfriend. I didn’t know about her until too late. He then dumped her and moved on to me. We then “went on a break” and he started dating my best friend. It wasn’t until they actually got together that the amount of time they spent together and on calls and texting each other seemed weird to me.I learnt – If he’s not making time for you, he’s making it for someone else. I was his bit on the side. But once you promote the bit on the side to girlfriend you leave an opening. And he will always fill it.
Boyfriend #3: He was the first ‘I love you’ that I truly meant. If you know he makes you better person, then he is for sure a keeper. Why aren’t I still with him? In the end we were different people. This happens and it’s nothing to sulk about just be grateful that person was in your life.Sometimes two people aren’t meant to be together. They share happy/unforgettable times but in the end they are destined to make memories with someone new. But thanks to him, I realised what Love, proper love, felt like. He showed me everything to look for.
Boyfriend #4: We had a wonderful, stealthy, and fightless relationship. This was a relationship born out of friendship and my need to escape some things that were going on at home at the time. He was my safe haven in a wild storm. He was also my rebellion stage. We did drugs and we drank. We partied. We would sing Placebo and run around the beach at 2am. We would drive when I couldn’t sleep because of things at home. We both admitted that we were best friends with benefits really. We stayed living together for 3 years after we broke up. We were still best friends. We would still be friends now, if you hadn’t beaten me. Beaten me to prove to a new girlfriend you didn’t love me romantically… That is the only time I’ve ever had my heart-broken I would say. This relationship taught me that the way some people treat you is based on what you can do for them and that some people who come into your life to leave you, they leave a wound. How you take care of that wound is what makes the difference.
Boyfriend #5: To this day I still can’t believe I dated you. You were terrible, treated me like dirt and constantly cheated on me emotionally and physically with your “friend”. But what is crazy to me the most I how long I stuck around. The cheating was only a suspicion until we broke up, before that you acted like I was crazy. Every time I knew something was going on, you made me feel like I was nuts. You destroyed my trust I had in people, and who I was as a person. However I think I needed this relationship because it showed me exactly what you don’t want in a relationship.
This brings me to you. I still had my walls up but from the moment I saw you I knew I loved you. Every single thing that I had learnt from all of those other relationships had led me to you. I’m glad that after the manipulation that was my previous relationship, the beating, the heart-break, the feeling of suffocation, finally realising what love actually felt like… I found you. You were this shining beacon I didn’t even know I had been looking for. Everything suddenly made sense. Everything I had always hated about sappy movies where everything goes Slo-mo, and the everything goes quiet, was all true.
Not only have you gotten past my walls and everything I have put up, you have stayed with me, through it all. Through all the times I have tried to push you away because I was afraid of getting hurt and you just clung on tighter, looking me right in the eye and saying “I won’t let you do this because you think you have too, like in the past.”
Through all the times you could have, and probably should have left me because of sickness or my moods. I wasn’t looking for love when I found you, but I’m so glad I did. I’m so glad that subconsciously, my heart and my mind were taking notes on what kind of man I wanted or more importantly needed. They showed me from the moment I saw you that you were the man of my dreams, even though I had never dreamed of that man as a little girl. You were everything I didn’t even know I had been wishing and looking for. From the very first night we met, we were intimate, not physically but emotionally. I went against everything I had ever believed and I showed the true me. It has always been real. Not even for one second have I felt like this wasn’t right, like I was suffocating. I’ve never had to come up for air with you. This month marks 4 years with you, but it feels like 4 minutes and 4 decades all at the same time.
I suppose we will never know what true love feels like there is no way for anybody to possibly know that, but all I know is, that the feeling I get every morning when I wake up with you, and when we fall asleep… how I feel about you when we laugh, and even when we fight. How I feel when we sit in complete silence and do our own thing, but are still together. THAT is a feeling I want to feel forever, and it’s a feeling that I wouldn’t want or find with anyone else.
So that is why I thank all of the men in my past. Without them, I wouldn’t have known that you are the one I want to build my life with. You are the one I have given everything too, and the one who never, not even when I’m being a fucking horrible bitch, makes me worried that you will hurt me. I trust you completely and utterly.
I owe you so many thank you’s. Thank you for seeing the best in me, recognizing all my flaws, yet still choose to love me. Thank you for sticking by me when things got hard, and then even harder. Thank you for being with me from the beginning and for making me confident enough that you would also stay until the end. Thank you for lending me your ears when I needed to talk, and your shoulder when I need to cry. Thank you for doing everything you can to cheer me up. Thank you for being the silver lining to my life. Thank you for making me see that life and love is worth taking risks for. Thank you for making me feel that I am loved, exactly as I am. Thank you so much for seeing my imperfections yet still continue to give me love, much more than (I think) I deserve. You are the man I cannot wait to marry and start a family with. If we have a daughter, I hope that when she dreams of her “perfect man” she uses you as her foundation, and if we have a son again I hope he uses you as an example of the man he should become.
Thank you for accepting my past and for helping me deal with everything. I cannot wait to start the next chapter of my life with you, but I hope that it is infinite.