Big Love was the fairytale prince that swept me off my feet, true Disney story-style. That’s where I left off last time, right? The man who opened doors and showed me amazing adventures … just like that time we went skydiving.
I don’t think skydiving was the reason we parted ways, but it was one of those turning-point events in our relationship that definitely signalled the beginning of the end. He wanted it to be his thing, but I really wanted to do it too, and because I did it, something changed with him. I couldn’t work out why or how or what was wrong, but something about that particular event changed our relationship so that it was irreversibly damaged.
It was actually about a year and a half into our relationship that things first started to go sour, but didn’t he warn me that would happen? When we first started dating, still in the war zone, he told me that he had a nasty habit of screwing things up around the two-year mark of a relationship. He always had done and he was worried he always would do. I told him I wouldn’t let it happen, of course. Because back then, I truly believed that you could change someone for the better (or what you thought was the better) if you had enough love in your heart for them. I’m now smart enough and wise enough to know that’s not true. You can’t change someone, not even if they need to change to not die, if they don’t want to change themselves.
He warned me about a few things that might come hand-in-hand with dating him. He was absolute garbage with his finances and had gotten himself into trouble on more than one occasion. He’d battled a pretty fierce addiction to cocaine and binge-drinking. He wasn’t really a cheat, but he had cheated on his partners before. But that was all in the past, he said. Things were different with me.
Weren’t they always?
Anyway, about eighteen months into our relationship, we went on a festive night out with his work colleagues. Everyone dressed up and drinkin’, it was a fantastic night. I laughed hard, danced until I literally couldn’t dance anymore, and made friends with some new, fantastic people. But then, a few hours into the event, things changed. People started going to the toilet in groups of two, three, four. Things were passed between partygoers not-so-discreetly across the table. Noses were being wiped, eyes were wide, people were being way more raucous than they had just a little while before.
Cocaine had started to do the rounds.
“Here, have some of this,” someone said to me, popping a little bag of white powder into my hands.
I’d done it before, but it wasn’t a regular thing of mine. And I kinda half-knew about Big Love’s battles with the drug, so I shooed it away and politely declined and carried on drinking.
A little while later, Big Love danced over to me, drink in one hand, little baggy of white powder in the other.
“Come on, let’s do it. It’s Christmas!” he said.
And because everyone was having such a good time and it felt like absolutely nothing could go wrong, we did it. Together. And it was a WHALE of a night.
I’m not going to say that we did bad things, because we didn’t. We did good things. We danced the night away, flirted with some dancers in the local gentlemen’s club, sniffed more, drank more, laughed hard, talked too much, and all the rest of the things that come with a GOOD night. And then, when we went home, we fucked into the early hours of the morning, doing all sorts of things to each other that we just weren’t brave enough to do otherwise.
But that good night started all of the bad ones off. Because by doing drugs *with* him, I’d given him the go-ahead to do drugs period. And Big Love couldn’t take it or leave cocaine in the same way that I could. If it was there, he’d want to do it. If it wasn’t there and the idea popped into his head or was brought into conversation (which happened a lot), he’d go out of his way to find it. And that’s exactly what started happening.
That one night turned into more nights. We started hanging out with a different group of people, going to different clubs, turning up at different types of after-parties. And then, when I didn’t want to do drugs, he’d do them without me no matter how much I begged him not to. Eventually, my concern over his drug use became so great he started leaving me at home all the time. We’d never go out together. It would always end up in a fight.
You see, he’d do things on drugs that he wouldn’t do sober. He’d say mean things to me, get angry with me, and then blame me for problems that weren’t even there. And when he’d get angry with me, he’d take it out on me in the best way he knew how: by flirting outrageously with other women. Sometimes, he’d do it in front of me. If I wasn’t there, he’d do in front of the people I knew that were there, in the hope the stories would eventually get back to me. But it wasn’t just this behaviour; there were other things. Money started disappearing from our bank account faster and faster, the money that we’d saved to buy a house was dwindling. He became determined to be a bodybuilder, taking all sorts of supplements and possibly even steroids too. I never knew what he was doing. He was always so secretive about it.
He’d spend hours upon hours in the gym and at first, I’d go with him. But then he started fooling around with one of the girls that worked there [during a makeup/breakup cycle] and I didn’t like having to face her every day, so I stopped going. We turned into strangers. He’d go away with work for two weeks at a time, come home for a week and spend that entire week avoiding me.
Eventually, we found ourselves locked in the makeup/breakup cycle all the time. It wasn’t happening every few months; it was happening every couple of weeks. He’d break up with me to do all the things he wasn’t supposed to be doing, guilt-free, and then he’d come running back to me for help to detox when the money or the drugs ran out. The last six months or so of our relationship were horrendous. The fastest, worst decline of a relationship I think I’ve ever had. I started getting resentful — of him, of his best friend (whom he was spending a lot of time with), his work, all the other people he was spending time with when he wasn’t spending time with me. I found boxes of condoms with some missing, and we ended up fighting so aggressively that objects were thrown and holes in walls were made.
There were accidental overdoses. He got fired. Crashed vehicles. Lost friends. Lost me some of my friends. Spent thousands and thousands of dollars. Ruined my plans. Almost cost me my job. I should’ve walked away a lot sooner, but I couldn’t. Because it wouldn’t be just walking away from him; it would be me walking away from my entire life. I’d moved to the other side of the world for him, leaving everything behind. My family, my old friends, my job, everything. I needed to be sure that leaving was the right decision before I made it, but I ended up staying for so much longer than I should’ve done. Long enough to see him move on multiple times, and even for me to try and move on myself.
That man did so much more than just break my heart. He ruined the fairytale for me. He grabbed my heart, tore it up into tiny pieces, sprinkled it around me on the floor, and then set fire to it. He took a scared, abused girl, gave her the world and turned her into a mighty warrior of a woman, and then he tore her right back down again. Not that she stayed down, but he definitely knocked the wind out of her sails for a long time.
The proper end came eventually. He never went back to the man I once loved, and I think I changed too much to be the woman he once loved, too. He hurt me on levels I didn’t even know were possible, hitting bits of my heart I didn’t even know existed.
You can’t just show a girl the world like that and then rip it out from under her.
I’ll never forgive him.