The minute I rang Craig’s doorbell I knew it was a mistake. It was still the middle of the night, for one thing. How much of a mental ex girlfriend cliché is that? Of course, I was doing it covered in bruises and with a face caked in blood, so I like to think I deserved a few points for originality.
Which actually made it worse, because the last thing I’d want is for him to think I was playing the sympathy card, or doing some poor wee me damsel in distress thing. Okay, technically I was in a bit of distress, but I am no flipping damsel, which Craig knows fine. Being mugged had nothing to do with being dumped, it’s just that I happen to have won the lottery not once but twice this week.
Unfortunately, I came to the conclusion that trying to talk to him then was the worst idea in the history of the ideas just as he opened the door and it was too late. And also, he looked so sleepy and gorgeous and familiar that immediately my eyes filled with tears, and if I wasn’t doing the pathetic begging for another chance thing I was definitely doing a good impression of it.
Luckily just then – this is turning into one of those good news/bad news comics – I noticed he was wearing a T shirt I didn’t recognise, and immediately it pissed me off because I’ve been sitting around howling for days – with one quick break to go a hike and get mugged – and he’s been out buying new T shirts?
I didn’t know at this point that that wasn’t the half of it.
He stared at me like he’d seen a ghost, which reminded me about the whole caked in blood thing, and I blurted out about getting mugged and he told me to come in and put the kettle on. The kitchen was one of those slick spaceship affairs, all chrome emptiness, nothing like our cosy, cluttered kitchen, not Craig’s style at all. He must be staying with someone from work.
It was painfully, disgustingly, horrifically uncomfortable. We started off kind of making small talk a bit which was bizarre, then I just thought I was here now so took a deep breath and plunged into telling him about how when the hospital asked me who they should phone I just wanted him and even though I knew we couldn’t wave a magic wand and put everything back to normal, I wanted to try. I wasn’t ready to give up on us just yet.
He looked angry. He was half way through making tea, and he just turned around and stared at me like how dare I be saying this, and that pissed me off no end, because how dare he think he can just walk out after five years and I accept it without a word? Because that’s how it went, by the way. He came home from work last Friday and pretty much announced it was over and he was off. I was too stunned to say much then, but how could he possibly think I wouldn’t want to talk more, at the very least? Surely five bloody years deserves a bit more than basically ghosting?
So I was just about to let him have it when I heard a voice behind me, and for the second time that night very nearly puked. A woman. In the bedroom door. Wearing a hoody of Craig’s, and not, as far as I could see, much else. She asked Craig what was going on and he told her to go back to sleep and I could barely hear them over the roaring of blood in my ears.
While I’ve barely eaten a thing, barely been able to take a breath between sobs, he has not only bought himself a new T shirt, he’s got himself a new girlfriend?
Obviously I’m not that stupid.
Well, obviously I am, is what I mean, because clearly I’ve been cheated on for goodness knows how long and I didn’t have a clue until now. Because it wasn’t a one night stand. I can’t put into words exactly how that was so clear, there was an intimacy in how she said his name, the way she’d grabbed his hoody.
The way he told her he’d be through in a minute.
That cut me. I could palpably feel a blade slice through me when he said that, because in that instant I knew that he was protecting her from me, not the other way around. It wasn’t, ‘oh shit bundle the new fling out the way out of respect for the girlfriend of five years,’ it was, ‘don’t worry pet, I’ll sort my mental ex then I’ll come through to you.’ And that pretty much nearly killed me.
He didn’t even have the grace to look embarrassed.
Who is this man I’ve been with for five years?
I should have torn a strip off him. I should have screamed, I should have thrown things, I should have eviscerated him and his bloody, selfish cruelty and I did none of those things. All I wanted was to escape before I cried in front of him. Or puked or passed out, both of which were equally likely at that point.
So I just stumbled away, like I was in the wrong. Like it was no more than I deserved. The memory is making me burn with shame even as I type this.
He shouted something after me as I staggered to the door. Something like, what did I expect, which made me feel even more like I was in the Twilight Zone. How is this supposed to be my fault, exactly?
So that was my night. How was yours?