THE STORY OF ‘D’
I have had many lovers in my life, 11 proposals of marriage, 3 engagements, 2 marriages although one in name only….not every one was significant, the ones that were…..
I was friends with D’s stepmother. She and D’s Dad were raising his son for him. The mother died tragically, and D was young and foolish. Like many Irish families, P and C offered to raise the child. He was friends with my daughter, they went to nursery together, and that was how I met C.
I was only home from 5 years in California. C wanted to introduce me to D. Our kids were the same age. We were both anglicised Irish…D had grown up only ten minutes walk from where my sister now lives in London. He had returned to Ireland with his son as a baby days before the mother died.
When I asked C what age her stepson was and she told me 25 I refused to even meet him. I was 31 and narrow-minded enough to think I had no interest in a younger boyfriend. I left without meeting him although he apparently admired me from afar, and I moved to England. I only went for a month, but met Paul, stayed, and married him about 3 years later.
Paul and I had moved to Ireland in 1996.…I still dreamed of living close to my family, building a home on the land. But as covered in a different story, that was not meant to be…..I left Paul in 2001 and moved back to Oldcastle from Ravensdale, with my three children, 4 horses, a dog, a jeep and horsebox, and 100,000 punt of debt left behind by Paul. He returned to England.
By coincidence, the cottage I found to rent, which had stables and a paddock, was opposite D’s parents, indeed had been his great grandmother’s house. And D was living with his parents. He had had an accident 6 years previously as a result of which he lost his leg from just below the knee. He was in many ways a broken man, still handsome and only in his late 30’s. He had fathered 2 more children since we crossed paths all those years earlier. One he hadn’t acknowledged, still hasn’t properly to this day, although he asked for DNA tests. By another coincidence her mother and I became friends because our sons are buddies, my youngest now 12. The other child D acknowledged and helped raise for a few years, but now questions also, and doesn’t see or support.
Should have been warning signals for me, a real good way to judge a man’s character is to look and see how he treats his children. When we were together, D did re open contact with both of his daughters, had them to visit, but mostly orchestrated and managed by me, and sadly not lasting.
I moved into the cottage in March. In June I held a birthday barbeque and invited all the neighbours. D’s family came. He did too, with a local Irish girl he had been seeing for three months. He had helped me around the cottage, painting and stuff, and told me his life story as I told him mine. There was an instant chemistry, and in my naivete I did not realise that as a newly separated woman in my 40’s I was considered fair game….
He dropped his girlfriend home before midnight from my party, and came back and saw in the dawn with me….nothing happened but the chemistry was flying and we were already ‘playing with fire’ …
His sister and step mother commented the next day….wow…what is going on with you two?
Gabriella and T were still good friends….and D was a gentleman helping me out with the many ‘man’ jobs around the place, fixing my car, re-glazing broken windows etc. We would sit on the porch in the sun, drinking Irish coffees together and sharing more and more of our lives’ joys and tragedies. It very soon became a rare day when we hadn’t spent time together.
He told me he didn’t sleep with his new girlfriend. Said she was old-fashioned and wanted to wait … then as we got closer, he confided in me that he hadn’t slept with anyone in the previous 6 years since the accident when he lost his leg. He felt less than a man. His confidence was shattered. He had had 42 surgeries and was still in fairly constant pain. He had a prosthetic leg but was painfully self conscious.
A sucker for sad stories, and unstable in my own emotional health, I decided in a crazy self-deprecating way that it would be a lovely thing if I could seduce him…restore his confidence…remind him of the beauty of life and love. I had no conscience about the girlfriend, stupidly justifying that all was fair in love and war, and they weren’t really committed because their relationship was not intimate.
Thus around the August, our relationship crossed the line from friendship to lovers….he would still date his Irish country girl 3 or 4 times a week, take her to weddings and christenings and visits to his mother’s side of the family down in Cork. I assured him I wanted nothing from him, was just living one day at a time, was glad to have a lover and a friend and let it go where it may……….I would slip over the road to him, after my sons had gone to sleep…….spend a few precious hours in his arms……and come home again. My daughter knew, she was 14 coming up 15. D’s parents and sister knew. Nobody mentioned the girlfriend, and on the occasion when she and I would meet it was awkward and I counted the hours until he would drop her home and come back to me.
God this is painful to write! I feel such a fool. And I had supposedly been a christian for more than a decade, what was I thinking?? And even apart from the christian thing, just as a woman, how could I accept the crumbs of this man’s attention and affection and not give ultimatums even if just to myself? I traded the future for the pleasure of the day………
I convinced myself that because of my ‘lofty’ motive to help this man, somehow it would work out. I was falling in love with him, but sadly my lack of self-love was having me stay in hope not based on reality. D talked of finishing with his girlfriend, but like so many men tell their mistresses, it would be ‘when the time was right’…meanwhile he carried on the double life with me, assuring her he and I were just friends and neighbours and parents of children who were buddies.
We were spending 3 or 4 nights a week together. We were friends and intimate in a false kind of way because of the proximity of our living, and the entanglement of friendships between our children and extended family. He seemed to fall in love with me too, but his protestations were usually coloured by drink. Beware a man who only says I love you in his cups…
After about a year of this, he was in a car crash. I got a frantic message from one of his family to tell me, and I jumped in my car to go to the scene of the crash and the side of my lover. Moments before I arrived, another text message came through…’don’t come…his girlfriend is here.’
Something inside me snapped and in that moment, I made my mind up not to wait any longer for that ‘right time’ when he was going to finish with her.
I went home and waited anxiously for news like the ‘other woman’ whilst his girlfriend accompanied him to the hospital. It was not too serious and he was discharged shortly after.
Two days later, I went to her work, met her in the car park, and told her. Told her D and I had been seeing each other for over a year, sleeping together so many nights a week, even the nights when he had been out with her….
She did not believe me. ‘Call him’ I said. She did.
And in my hearing he denied it all. Told her he had had a drunken one-night stand with me, and that I was making up the rest. Told her I was crazy and ………..
I was horrified. This was not how I had imagined it. And with hindsight it was never my place to tell her anything. I regret the pain I caused her.
She finished with D immediately, although apparently engagement had been the next step in her mind.
A few days later D announced to me that we would go public with our relationship. Rent a huge house together with all our children…start fresh.
But beware a man who cheats on someone else with you….
He told some of his relations in Cork about our love. He talked openly with a brother here. His favourite uncle…things were looking good. He had gone to Cork for a family wedding. We talked and texted every day as he excitedly told me of sharing our plans for the future with his loved ones.
Then something changed. He said he would be staying down there a bit longer than expected. And he suddenly seemed distant and evasive.
I forgot to say that a big part of our future dreams revolved around having children together. He wanted lots of children and we both loved them….although as stated earlier his love for the 2 daughters not in his life was far from idyllic.
But I had had early menopause at the age of 43. Whether caused by the stress of my marriage breakdown, or cigarette smoking all my life, or whatever…D had driven me to appointments with consultants in a desperate attempt to arrest the march of time…but to no avail. Short of a miracle, I would not conceive again.
And at the wedding in Cork, even as D confided in family about his love for me and our plans, he responded to the flattering advances of a 24 year old local girl. He was ecstatic that he still ‘had it going on’ and that it was not just a one off thing that some separated older woman had found him attractive.
Someone in his family showed the same cruelty to me that I had previously shown his girlfriend. Texted me and told me D had a new girlfriend in Cork and was planning on moving down there to be with her. He was besotted.
I could not believe my ears….it couldn’t be? Our plans…our love…our future? I got on a train to Cork, booked into a bed and breakfast, in a daze of disbelief and stupor. Texted the relation who had contacted me, and she arranged to meet me in the pub and introduce me to D’s ‘new girlfriend’
In a surreal setting we showed each other text messages on our phones, protestations of love to us both from him….but I knew when she told me they were sleeping together she was telling the truth. And I knew somewhere deep inside that it was over. All’s fair in love and war? I had lost.
A couple of weeks later D returned to his parents house opposite just long enough to collect all his things. I didn’’t see him. I went over when he was gone and wept uncontrollably, holding his bathrobe to my tear-soaked face in a desperate bid to feel his closeness that was gone as shockingly and as permanently as the leg he had had amputated.
Within months she was pregnant to him…they were married….and I was suicidal.
He gave her the same story he had given the previous girlfriend. I was a drunken one night stand who was relentlessly pursuing him and deluded….I have always been such an easy target to be called crazy.
We shared hundreds of hours talking and listening to each other….we helped with each others’ children…we laughed at life’s tragedies….we watched movies together…we basked in what I thought was love
But my notion of love is not very accurate it seems. He did love me….those closest to him said so. But it was conditional. If I had fallen pregnant…if I had had money…if I had not been twice divorced and a shameless lone parent…if I had had more confidence in his love for me…if I had had more self respect in drawing a line in the sand as to when he would tell his daytime girlfriend and boast about our love to anyone and everyone….
I HATE it that I am intelligent and beautiful and SO STUPID in this….
Fathers raise your daughters to believe in their worth and value!
I collapsed after he left. I had on and off been a heavy drinker most of my life but I believe it was in the six months after this jilting abandonment that I crossed the line into alcoholic drinking.
I shut myself in the ancient cottage that had once belonged to D’s great grandmother, I listened to tragic love songs at full volume, I cried until I thought I would faint, and I drank myself asleep every day and night. I texted D and the new girlfriend compulsively and drunkenly, desperate to at least have the truth be told, convinced he was just off on an affair with a younger girl to prove his newly re-discovered manhood…I waited and cried and drank.
My 15 year old meanwhile was understandably going off the rails. She had gotten in with a rough crowd of rebellious teenagers, at first bringing them home to me to ‘fix’…something I had been good at in the past. I had gotten funding and a handful of adult volunteers and taken them go karting and stock car racing, taught them to ride and keep horses, gotten them an old car to do up, did workshops with them where each confided their own tragedy that had led them to delinquent despair at a young age…I fought their corner for them with the police and courts and juvenile system. The police even asked if they could send juvenile liaison officers to sit in on our workshops because the kids were showing dramatic improvement in their behaviour and did indeed seem rehabilitated.
But when the captain of the ship goes off watch the ship quickly descends into anarchy, and the kids knew the 9 month project was over. In a flourish they stole all the tools I had gotten with grant aid, even stole money from my purse, and a few of them reverted to all the anti social behaviour I thought I had rescued them from. And now my daughter was dating, and to my horror, sleeping with one of them.
She parented my two little boys her half brothers as best she could, whilst I became reclusive, hardly coming out of my bedroom where I had a kettle and television and ever replenished bottle of whisky. Their Dad was still in England and I was falling apart.
I tried to get help, went for the first time in my life to the psychiatric unit, begged for help, told them I was failing my children and losing my grip on life. They assessed me, and told me I was neither schizophrenic nor suicidal and therefore did not qualify as “acute” enough for admission. They referred me to the local womens’ refuge which also felt I didn’t fit their brief, but took me in for a week’s rest.
I had asked a friend from England to come and mind my children while I tried to fight my way back to life. And my daughter said Grandad, my father had agreed to stay until she arrived. What I didn’t realise was my daughter was fibbing to me about Dad coming, thinking she and her boyfriend could play house, mind the boys, party and revel in the absence of adults.
My parents, far from helping, called social services. My daughter rang me frantically at the refuge saying she had locked herself in the house with the boys and if I didn’t get home urgently they may try and break in and take them. Social Services and my father were pounding on the door.
So my week’s break lasted two days and ended in crisis, caused by my daughter, but not maliciously. She was too young for the responsibility although she was 15. She had issues of her own and my collapse started the deterioration of our relationship which had hitherto been delightful and passionately loyal and close. She had been devastated by Paul rejecting her when I left him. He finally came back into the boys’ lives, but announced to me that Gabriella was not his flesh and blood, was too much like me, and he felt no responsibility toward her emotionally. She had known him since she was 4, and had called him Dad since she was 7 when he and I had married. She then transferred her affections to D, and was devastated all over again when he left. She clung onto her first love as if her life depended on it.
If I had known Alcoholics Anonymous had residential facilities, I would have found a way to go, that was the appropriate setting for me to recover, but I was not even ready to admit I had a drink problem, I thought I was just drinking my way through a broken heart. All the dysfunction from my past re surfaced and I realised that finally the running was over. I couldn’t keep re locating and re inventing my life now that I had three children.
In the midst of this, I was offered a new council house in the town. My worst nightmare to live on an estate in the town, but for the childrens’ sake I knew I had to take it. Security of tenure for life. Low rent. Option to buy. Walking distance to schools and sports etc. I should have been grateful, and on one level I was. But this was not how my life was supposed to have been….
I gave up my beautiful country cottage. I gave away my beautiful stallion on loan to a ex girlfriend of D who sadly sold him and told me he had had an accident and died. I sold my daughter’s pony, and took my old mare with me to the new house. It was bizarre and ridiculous, I kept her in the back garden for a month and grazed her on the green during school hours like a settled traveller in Finglas. When the council found out and objected in horror, I found her grazing nearby, but it’s a hard thing to forgive my sister that she never gave me a stable for my mare’s final years to live and die in dignity. My sister had taken over our family farm, an equestrian centre with 20 plus stables and the same in acreage of grazing. She did not even keep her word to reserve a stable for my father’s use, so my ageing mare was not a priority for her. I put my mare down after another difficult winter for her, she was 32. I had had her since she was a beautiful part apaloosa 2 year old. She had been with me in England and Ireland, at University…I rode her side saddle to the chapel when I married Paul. I adored her. Her life and mine seemed to have ended in ignoble indignity.
I made a home out of the new house, my daughter and I actually had fun decorating and interior designing, a love we both shared. I made a home for my children, cultivated the garden, got involved landscaping the estate and still the drinking continued. And the messy break up with D. He had taken my beautiful jeep…I had ‘sold’ it to him on paper as a write off, when we were a couple, and it was to be our family vehicle. The banks were owed a lot of money from Paul’s business collapse and the jeep was one of the few assets left. It was bad karma for me to sign it over to D to evade the debt and D drove off in it to Cork to drive around his new love.
His new woman insisted D try to prosecute me for harassment, she had completely believed the one night stand, crazed bunny boiler story, and police called to my door with a referral from Cork Gardai over multiple text messages. Those I admit to……..I was insane with grief and indignation. But as I showed the local cop the paperwork from the jeep and remnants of our love and life together he withdrew with a pitying look and told Cork Gardai there was no case….
It took me two years, with weekly counselling, to get over D. It was like a death, a bereavement. I saw him once and my knees buckled under me and I shook for ten minutes….
I saw him recently at his father’s 70th birthday party. It was totally bizarre. The catering was done by the mother of a daughter he has yet to acknowledge. That daughter was at the party too, acknowledged by D’s family tho not him. His brother was there with a wife who had been D’s lover first. His son by the woman who died was there. I was there. And his new wife and son. The wreckage of his life in all its’ confusion and glory.
He got gloriously drunk.
He still drinks way too much. He is still dashing and handsome. Still moody and enigmatic. Still a magnet for the ladies who want to comfort him in his affliction. And still a brooding solitary man even in the midst of a crowd…
How sad. Yet happiness in part is evident in his new life and new family. I wish them well. I forgive him and myself. His past was not easy and abandonment and pain had been close companions.
I hated my naivete and wished not for the first time for brothers who would have looked out for me, a father to have guided me and fought for me….and wondered also not for the first time if this was why ‘fornication’ was not recommended in the Bible….nor being unequally yoked. We shared a faith in God and a catholic heritage. Not the depth of my new found relationship with Jesus though…We shared a love of family and our nation and history. We laughed until we cried sometimes and talked from the depths of our souls. But there was no commitment there. Only foolish hopes and dreams built on sand. The sands of time. Farewell D. xxx
The following is a piece I wrote for him during our affair:
DON’T HOLD BACK !
If we should die….if now was all there is….if the present became the past and the future was not guaranteed.…if this time by your side, on your bed, in your arms was not an accident after all.
If this act of one-ness, you inside me, me clinging to you, both of us crying our individual pain….was fleeting. And not a symbol of eternity or eternal love…
If the talks we had, the deep understanding, the freedom and safety to experience pain and survive it renewed and refreshed…if the listening that spoke to the soul and finally made us feel heard and understood…
Was only friendship…an opportunity seen and seized in the mists of time,
By children in adult bodies grasping at life any life and love..
If all means nothing yet nothing hurts
I would still say ‘Don’t hold back, my love
Don’t hold back .’
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all….