Thank you for the supportive comments, it has certainly been a tough few weeks.
A tough few weeks, handled without care on my part, but surprisingly, I have very little regret.
So I packed away the CFA study books, I handed in my notice, and I went back onto the diet that I never failed to fly me away to the outskirts of outerspace: Fit men and alcohol.
On the first weekend after quitting my job I went on a weekend trip to Brighton with two of the girls I worked with. We kicked back and enjoyed the scene, miles away from the commercial towers of London, just sea and wind and no ties to hold us down. After doing a round of the little town, we made our way to a club called 'The Honey Club' along the front of the beach, my friends and I standing the queue with a bunch of men on a stag do, me feeling decidely dejected by the severe lack of male talent on offer. In fact, I had not met one guy who had even slightly raised one of my eyebrows in interest.
Until he walked past me.
Straight past me, in the guestlist queue on the other side, 6'1, dark messy hair and one of the most beautiful faces I had ever seen. My eyes bored into the back of his head, willing him to turn around and lock eyes with me. He was with a group of lads, and they all looked pretty young, at a guess I would have said there were about 18, but he stood out from them, his looks marking him out as more than just a silly teenage boy.
"Oh look! It's One Direction!" mobbed the guys in the queue beside us. "They must have got their guestlist entry on the back of cereal packet!"
I did not react.
Once inside I pointed him out to my friends and brought them over to dance in the area where the boys were. He was with his friends, he wasn't even looking at anyone else, let alone looking at me. So my friend pulled him over and shoved him at me. Awkwardly grabbing at her to stop and feeling a little ridiculous and pathetic I squirmed.
"Hi", I shouted
"Hi!", he shouted back.
I stared at him with a forced smile... what the fuck did you say to some random guy your friend has just shoved in your face?
"What's your name?" he continued,
"Ophelia.... Are you having fun?!"
"Yeah!" came the reply. I nodded at his answer and smiling again like an airhead, started dancing, assuming that he would turn around and go back to his friends. As he started dancing too, I began to feel uncomfortable - this was not the way I usually met guys - ever. He was still staring at me, and I began to wish I hadn't met him in such an awkward way. I stared up at him, making my eyes as big and as round as possible, a little smile on my lips, we had started to break away from his friends, as one rushed up behind him and shouted - presumably in a loud whisper, but what was very audible - "Kiss her!"
The boy obligingly wrapped his arms around my waist, and smiling sweelty, pulled me in for an embrace.
He was a sweet kisser, very soft, very delicate, not like anybody I had been used to kissing before. We managed to speak a few words - I asked him how old he was.
"Twenty" came the reply. I stopped myself from saying "you look so much younger" thinking that it probably wasn't a very nice thing for a guy to hear from a girl. Ok, so he was young, but twenty was old enough... after all, I am only twenty-four.
We spent what seemed like forever making out in a dark corner. He was so very beautiful that it was very easy for me to touch him and dance with him. I stroked his face and hair like I used to do with Theo and gently bit his ear to let him know there was more if he wanted it. We took a break outside and he asked for my number. I smiled and gave it willingly - like us, he was just in Brighton for the weekend and happened to live very near me in London. I promised to take him out in London when we got back. He told me that he was in his second year of Music College in London - I asked him what he played, expecting to hear that he was in a fledging rock band
- he plays the trumpet.
I laughed, this boy was cute inside and out.
Eventually, he had to go back to his friends and I had to go back to mine. He had my number and I had little doubt that he would be in contact.
Sure enough, on Sunday evening he messaged me:
Hi it's Oliver from the club in Brighton. It was nice to meet you x
I shook my head and laughed. Nice to meet you? So young.
We decided to meet up on Friday, I would take him out somewhere good in London, show him a good time... get Theo out of my system once and for all.
But curiosity got the better of me, I typed his name into google wondering if I could find out more about him. What I found gave me the shock of my life and sent my friends into fits of hysterical laughter.
There he was, in his school newsletter, Oliver, Head of Music, Upper Sixth...
He was still at school - well, would have just finished school when I met him - but still, fantasically, had lied about his age. He was not twenty, he was eighteen. I was right. He did look young - because he WAS.
I was not going to worry though - a pretty guy was a pretty guy - I only wanted him for one thing - for one distraction - it was never going to be anything serious. I was going to go ahead with it.
Until on Friday he was no longer replying to my messages or answering my calls.
I went to get my hair done anyway - there was no way he was going to cancel on me. He had told me only yesterday he was still up for it.
His phone was off. All day.
Twice on the trot - first Harry, now Oliver.
I didn't give up. On Monday, determined for him to face up to speaking with me, I continued trying to call. Still off...
Maybe he had lost it or had it stolen? Why else would it still be off.
Finally I got through. He apologied profusely, begging me to believe that he had lost his phone. He seemed genuinely upset by my coldness and I couldn't help but be understanding.
I knew he was going away that week and wouldn't be back until the begining of August, and he promised to contact me as soon as he was back to arrange a date to go out.
Meanwhile, I'd been busy attracting attention elsewhere. News had spread that I had handed in my notice at work, and suddenly one of the IT guys, Jay, piped up and started chatting to me. I'm not going to lie, he was cute. Yes, he was very cute. And I liked him. But I didn't like him enough. I couldn't imagine kissing him let alone wanting to rip his clothes off. While my friends in the office were delighted (he is reknown for his cuteness), I warned them that I didn't want to take it anywere. I would walk all over him, I would never be faithful...
But I loved the attention, I flirted back, I messaged him all evening, he left me little chocolates at work, and come the following Friday, as another part of the office were going out for drinks, I said that I would join him.
I stood in the office toilets staring at myself in the mirror, turning this way and that, butterflies in my stomach, touching up every square milimetre of my face to make sure I looked perfect.
Jay. I was going because I wanted to hang out with Jay.
Or was I going because the day before Jay had told me that the last time we were out, Theo had been "watching him like a hawk" when he was talking to me. Was I going because I thought that Theo was going to be at these work drinks and because I wanted him to see me with Jay and get jealous.
It turned to be the latter.
Sure, I stayed and chatted to Jay and those he was friends with, but I never lost track of where Theo was. And then, as the group thinned out and drinks neared their end, those remaining started to talk about moving on to a nearby club. It was me, Theo, and four others. I waved Jay off as he went to catch his train, standing next to Theo as I did so. Everything else was as it always was. We chatted , we drank, we danced, I did my best to pretend that I wasn't there for him, he did his best to pretend he wasn't there for me. And then it was just us two left in the club - Theo and me. And then we were kissing, and then we were all over each other, and then we were having sex again.
I spoke to him straightly about our relationship - he answered me straightly.
"I know it's a cliché," he said, "But it's not you, it's me. I don't want anything serious."
"I just want you in my life in some capacity."
He shook his head.
I stopped writing. And I didn't come back to finish the story. I have to finish this chapter of my life off.
I'm not going to carry on writing about that night, it was just another like all the others Theo and I had had earlier in the year: sex and no commitment.
My last day at work was Friday 27th July - Theo had done all of the usual things the week before, not answering any of my calls or text messages. So I sent him a text on Friday morning:
"If you don't answer this I am going to come over to your desk and embarass you. Not a threat, just a fact."
Oh that made him answer. We went for a coffee before work and started to battle through the conversation with him.
Every question I asked him I was met with the answer: "I don't know."
He didn't know how he felt about me, he didn't know what he wanted,
"I'm not good at talking about my feelings."
I became frustrated but we had to be at our desks. Let's finish the conversation later.
He does not reply to my messages or calls. He does not fucking reply to my messages or calls.
I sent him a message on Saturday night: "It is humiliating and embarassing every time you do not reply and I have to send you another message. Grant me some fucking dignity and reply."
He finally called on Sunday.
"I'm not good talking over the phone."
So we met up on Thursday. Ironically went to the little bar in Clerkenwell where we had had our first date.
Drank the same cocktails.
I couldn't stop crying, I couldn't help myself. "I'm sorry, I don't know why I'm crying, I'm not sad."
He didn't want it. He didn't want me.
"I love you to pieces Theo."
"I love you too."
"I just want to make you happy. I'd do anything to make you happy. Why won't you let me in? I'd love to meet the girl who would love you as much as me. You know she doesn't exist. You know this is your loss don't you."
He hugged me tight and kissed me as I left him for the final time. The following night, at my leaving drinks with other people from work, I asked him for the final time. He didn't want me. He didn't even want to have sex with him. He didn't want me. He got angry and shouted at me. "You don't know what makes me happy!" "Because you won't tell me!"
He ran across the road, jumped in a taxi and left me, tears streaming down my face. My phone had run out of battery, so, convinced that he would return to me, I put my final pennies into a phone box and called him. He hung up on me.
When I got home I found he had posted this link on his facebook: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/04/18/110418fa_fact_franzen?currentPage=all
and the words: At the time, I’d made a decision not to deal with the hideous suicide of someone I’d loved so much but instead to take refuge in anger and work.
I was certain that this reinforced my long-held belief that he couldn't let me in because of some deep-seated emotional pain that he had. So I collected together select extracts from this blog and emailed them to him saying:
Sorry again about everything, I know I’ve been painful. I got over it before so I should have just left it!
Anyway, have a read of what I’ve attached, I thought it might be helpful and that you might relate to some of it.
Despite what I may have said before you know you can always reach out to me. If you do ever just need a friend then I can be that and will be there for you.
I wanted him to know that I could understand whatever pain he was feeling. I wanted him to know that he could let me in.
Of course he didn't reply and I sent him a final email:
I'm just going to write what I wanted to say and save time: (I mean how much damage is one more message going to do!)
1. I have a ridiculous desire to look after others. I was convinced that there was a sadness in you that you were suppressing and that you always pushed me away because of it (now of course I get it was because you just didn't like me, duh!).
Maybe I handled it the wrong way but I thought that if you could relate to anything I had written it would help you relate to your own emotions. I desperately wanted to help you find a way to be happy that I completely ignored whether you wanted my help or not. And perhaps I had convinced myself that you were unhappy when you were not too.
2. Because I had failed so much in the last few weeks, I didn't want to believe my love for you had failed too. This was purely selfish. I know I should have left it but I really didn't want to lose you.
I was stupid, I know I caused you so much unnecessary anger because of it. If I got it completely wrong that you were sad and unhappy I'm sorry, and I'm really sorry for being so full on.
If you want to be friends, great, but if you don't that's fine too. I just wanted to say sorry and wanted you to know x
The pain I feel in losing Theo is nothing like the pain I felt in losing Alex. I never loved Theo - he would never let me close enough for that. Theo never loved me, never doted on me, never gave me time or affection.
I'm actually not losing anything other than a guy who destroyed my self esteem, made me cry, made me feel worthless and ignored me when I needed a shoulder to lean on.
THIS IS A GOOD LOSS.
I spoke to my therapist about Theo for the first time this week. She asked me to sum him up in three words:
"Unreliable. Difficult. Closed."
As I said them it dawned on me. I didn't want a relationship with that person - who would? But I had subconsciously chosen to try and love him for those reasons.
"You need to get out of the cycle of choosing men who you know it won't work out with," she said. "You're so used to people leaving that you choose men you know are going to leave or treat you badly. You have to get over the belief that you can change them or help them get better."
She was right. Theo was the opposite of what you would want in a boyfriend. And that's why I wanted him. If he had been loving and doting and showered me with gifts and love, I would have hated it. I would have thought myself not worthy. I would have thought he was wasting his time. I would have thought I could never give him what he wanted and deserved back.
As it was, I was the loving and doting one. And he was the one who hated it and told me to find someone who deserved it.
How do I feel about this whole thing? I don't want to feel anything anymore. I am done thinking and writing about him.