Simon Mark Smith's Autobiography
I had just started a new job and was sitting in my office and Monica, the Welsh girl who works down stairs, came up to see how we were settling in. I was chatting to her but I got a phone call so I sat down and looked at her while she talked to my co-worker. As I looked I was struck by the beauty of the curve from her waist to her hip.
A few days earlier I had spoken to her for the first time and on finding out that she was Welsh I'd told her about my brother falling in love with a Welsh girl but because neither of them had been willing to move to each other's home towns they had gone their separate ways. Soon after the girl got married to someone who she didn't really love, but visited my brother before and after the wedding where they both opened up to each other with their feelings. However faced with reality they went their separate ways again, this time though they weren't so certain of their decision.
Ten days had passed since I'd started working in this new place and there was a leaving do for one of the other workers. We were in the pub but I was only able to stay a short while as I had to go off to teach an evening class. I had sat near to Monica and thrown a few jokes her was and took some photographs.
A bit later she came up to me and asked
“Are you flirting with me?”
“Yes” I said “Is that o.k.?”
She laughed and said “Yes”
“So does that mean you're going to come back to my place later?” I asked
We swapped numbers and after I'd finished my class I returned to the pub. She was still hanging around. She then had to pretend to her friends that she was going to make her way home alone so they dropped her off near to Putney Bridge station. From this point she had two main routes she could take. One was the main road and the other was a quieter, slightly more dangerous parallel back road, she took the latter.
I saw her walk down the dimly lit street and drove to a point where another road joined it. As she walked in front of me she was delving in to her bag for her phone, instead she put her fingers in to a loose tomato and then as I flashed my headlights at her she jumped and squashed it
She got in to my car and we went back to my place. I was living in a temporary accommodation at the time so my room was stuffed with my belongings and there was only a single mattress on the floor. I asked her if she wanted a drink or should we cut the civilities. She said she didn't need a drink so we lay on the mattress and began to kiss. It felt good but nothing mind blowing. She had her glasses on still so I asked her to take them off which she did, but she put them next to the mattress so the next day we discovered they'd been stepped or lain on and were bent slightly.
We made love together that night and it felt good, she told me she was just looking for a bit of fun and I replied that we never know what's around the corner.
A few days later she came around again and over the next few weeks we met regularly, grabbed illegal kisses covertly at work and went for breakfast at the River café outside the station, as a sign of solidarity we'd share a dish of apple crumble.
She wasn't my type physically, - she was quite voluptuous -, and her face didn't really grab me either. After a short while she got a bit fed up by my nonchalance and after an evening at a restaurant made it clear that we weren't having sex that night. I didn't feel too bothered either way.
A couple of days later she came around again, we made love and chatted till the early hours. Every night she'd call me before she went to sleep if she wasn't with me, but the calls became unnecessary because most nights we were together. As we started to do more and more things together I started to find her more and more beautiful and found being away from her difficult. It got so serious that I even let her drive my car – and then one morning I said it to her. Between the 10 th and the 17 th of November 2004 – somewhere in the autumn river mists of Lysia Street Fulham I told her I was falling in love and she said “Yeah I feel the same way too. I love you too”
* * *
I'm not sure if scent and taste are the fundamental criteria upon which relationships are built but I believe that they can create a barrier if they are not complimentary. Some mornings I would push my face in to Monica's arm pit because I liked her scent so much.
In theory we're supposed to get to know people, see how we get on and from those we learn to trust and like we find our partners. But in reality most of us spend more time and effort considering which tomatoes to buy at a supermarket than working out who we want to be partnered with. It seems for all our years of evolution we still haven't devised a good way to match partnerships.
With the Internet we can go on dating websites which use categories and criteria to work out who's more suitable for who, but that doesn't take in to consideration factors such as chemistry or whether bodies feel right together and I certainly haven't found any scratch and sniff dating sites so far. The feel of someone's skin or lips upon our own, if not right maybe the minor jarrings that ultimately tip the balance.
At the other extreme are night clubs or other pick up joints where it's all about visual clues, followed by sexual clues, followed by chemistry and lastly personality. By the time you've had sex with someone for a while you can feel a strong bondeven if you might not necessarily get on with them.
I feel like screaming sometimes, I'm not asking for much am I?
I want to partner up with someone who I find attractive on both the physical and chemistry levels, then I want someone who I like being with, that means we can both be relaxed in each other's company, enjoy what each of us has to say, think and do, and I want them to be trustworthy, honest, reliable, have similar dreams, aspirations, and values. They've also got to want me sexually, be affectionate, cuddly, kind, caring, considerate, and respectful. OK I admit it the list's beginning to look a bit ambitious I know, and there's more to add to it. For instance I like to feel psychically connected to someone, - put that on a web page I think not -, have similar cultural references, have someone who's able to understand me when I have irrational thoughts or feelings. Alright I can see that maybe it's not so simple after all!
* * *
I remember on the 10 th of November telling my co-worker that I'd met someone but I really wasn't sure about them and that I was considering ending the relationship. By the 17 th I felt committed to Monica! We'd had 7 weeks of playing around which included speaking to each other nearly every night, buying a new bed together and getting to know each other sexually. I remember making love to her one morning and looking in to her green eyes which that morning seemed much brighter than usual. I suddenly felt like the sex was no longer just sex but suddenly we were connected to each other.
A couple of days later I got food poisoning and spent the night being violently sick, the next day Monica came to me in her lunch hour and brought me some fruit and drink. She lent down towards me and I stroked her face and said thank you. I also told her that her tights had a nice pattern on them and she appreciated the appreciation. From my perspective it was an unavoidable truth.
So lots of making love, loads of chatting, doing a few romantic things together, looking in to each others eyes, feeling cared for, the weight was beginning to bear down on me and I liked it.
If I was to do a lottery ticket and the first 4 numbers that came up matched my ticket I'm pretty sure I'd get excited, a rush of adrenalin and subconscious hopes of being rich would start coming to the surface. Then when the next two non matching numbers came up I'd go through a momentary feeling of despondency. Isn't this a micro-metaphor of what happens when we fall in love? We have a subconscious check list of who we dream to be united with and as we get to know someone we tick or cross the boxes until one way or the other the “evidence” mounts up for or against them. The trouble is in the meantime we start to bond with that person so even if they start to look less promising we can't pull away easily.
Somewhere during that week my checklist seemed to be coming on nicely, and there'd been enough good sex, affection and connection to allow me to let go. But when I let go I also brought with me a great wash of emotions that at first were not apparent but even so lurked in the background waiting to have their say.
* * *
I told her I had fallen in love with her. Well actually I sang a verse from an Elvis song which goes “hold me close, hold me tight, make me thrill with delight, let know where I stand from the start, because I want you, I need you I love you with all my heart”.
She said “I love you too”
And then I said “I wonder at which point in a relationship one would feel devastated if the other person was no longer in our life, because I would feel devastated if you weren't around anymore.”
And she told me she felt the same way too.
So 7 weeks in to the relationship and after a slightly rocky start we were both together with similar feelings towards each other. She felt like a friend, she felt good in bed, she felt like she might be “the one”.
The night of the knight and the nightmare (Tuesday 16th Nov 2004 )
I have had this kind of strange sleepless night before, each time it was at the beginning of three of my long term relationships. It's a night where I want to get out of the bed of the person I am with and walk away. I know that if I go it will be over, and I don't want to hurt my partner's feelings but I'm overwhelmed with nausea, claustrophobia and a fear of being trapped. Monica was going to be interviewed on TV the next day so she would have been very annoyed had I walked out. I lay there thinking the pillow was uncomfortable, the walk to the loo was difficult in the dark and that something was wrong. I struggled for a while and Monica woke up and asked if I was ok. I told her I was uncomfortable and she helped adjust the pillows. Her caring nature – she was the knight in shining armour - tipped the balance and I stayed the night knowing that I was there for the duration.
Her birthday was a couple of days later and she called me to ask if I'd pick up a book from work and bring it to the pub. I was just about to get in to the shower and then make my way to a class I had to teach before joining her. I said to myself, “If you love her then you'll forget the shower and go get it, so I got dressed, raced out and got it for her. Apparently she also felt that if I loved her I'd go get it so fortunately I'd made the right decision. In the box marked devotion and prioritisation she placed a big tick.
When I came to the pub after my class Monica was not surrounded by loads of friends but instead was sitting next to a male co-worker who was running his fingers through her hair. Because our affair was a secret he didn't know we were partners but I was confused as to why she didn't stop him. I sat there and seethed with anger, while Monica looked at me as if to say sorry Darling but I can't stop him. I felt a rush of anger that she didn't have the wherewithal to stop him and that she was couldn't see how much it effected me. So on the way home I told her how I felt and she brushed it aside saying he was just being affectionate.
I put a cross on my checklist.
I didn't realise at the time how much it had affected me but to keep things running smoothly I took on board her points and threw mine in to the sea of my subconscious. Things did continue to run well for another week or so until she told me she was going for a drink with an ex lover of hers because he might have some work for her.
Had I not seen Monica letting her co-worker fondle her hair I might have felt less unsettled but I now wondered if she would be able to fend off a seduction. I didn't know her at all then, and when I told her of my doubts she couldn't understand them. The child in me who fears being abandoned, who thinks anyone who loves me will go away started to see Monica as possibly an infidel. Could she be trusted? My insecurity coupled with her having different boundaries to me opened a crack in the relationship that we would fall out of love through.
A few days later she informed me that she had promised a friend that she would go on holiday with her over Christmas as she told me my heart sunk. I knew that this would be hard for me to cope with, and no matter how much I reasoned with my self I knew that asking her not to go was a “no-go” option.
The following week ( November 24 th 2004 ) I moved out of the temporary accommodation in to my new flat and immediately it felt as if we were moving in together. I asked her to consider moving in with me, but she declined saying she had already done that with someone else in the past and it had made her stay in the relationship merely because of practicalities. How sensible, but I wanted her to throw caution to the wind. It wasn't that I really wanted her to be unrealistic it was more the symbolic gesture. Instead I picked up that she was not feeling towards me the same strength of feelings as I was to her. There is no right or wrong in this matter, after all who's to say how much love and commitment one should make after 7 weeks of knowing someone, but once a significant imbalance becomes perceivable there'll be “trouble ahead”.
I tried to continue to be nonchalant about the holiday but it started to cast a shadow over our future it. On the day that she was going to meet her friend to book the ticket I dropped her off in Putney High Street and just as we were going to say goodbye a man went past with a wayward hairstyle and Monica said “now that's a hair don't”, and we both laughed but as I laughed I knew that our relationship wouldn't be the same ever again. I wanted to call out to her with the word “Don't” but how could I? I couldn't.
As I drove home I saw her walking up the road with her friend. I bibbed my horn but neither looked up so I drove off.
The logic of my insecurity was this. Monica went to bed with me very quickly, she was going on holiday with another woman who I didn't know to a resort people told me was a bit of a young people's meet up place, which when I checked it on the internet confirmed my fears. I thought they possibly might drink quite a bit, (Monica liked drinking to get drunk), and in this situation a man might start touching her, as our co-worker had, and she wouldn't stop him, and then he might seduce her. Behind this set of thoughts was the feeling that I am not potent enough for someone else to want to be faithful to me. This is the inheritance of my childhood and it's one that sets a path to self destruction in the present.
* * *
I didn't see her for a few days after the “booking day” and when she next slept with me I felt worried that I might accidentally hit her with my arm as we slept so I moved a safe distance from her. I went to therapy and talked about this and we covered some ground about a violent boyfriend my mother had had and how I felt that if I'd ever go that way I'd want to kill myself. I started to cry and continued to do so after the session. I sent Monica a message telling her how I felt and she said she couldn't bare to be away from me and wanted to come and help. When she came around I told her about some of my past and she cried too and then I told her about my fears about her going away. I explained my “psycho” logic and she re-assured me she wasn't like that but all I had was a childhood of abandonment, 3 months of love and her word of the “truth”. But I did feel reassured to a point and I felt that she had come to my rescue. That weekend I bought her a diamond ring, I have never bought a woman a ring in my life. We might not have been engaged but for me this was as close as I'd ever been.
As Christmas approached my doubts and her re-assurances continued but by the time she was waving me goodbye from the airport I had become a clingy faded version of the person she had fallen for. For 6 days before she left she had gone off sex saying it was pre-menstrual pain putting her off, but I felt my clinginess had something to do with it. I felt I was now at the mercy of my insecure self and that I would in time push Monica away, the thought of which made feel even more insecure.
We also worried she might be pregnant. On the evening of her departure her period started and she said to me that she was slightly disappointed because she was getting used to the idea. My needy child part, who wouldn't make a good parent I suspect, was touched that she'd have such a feeling.
When she was away we were in constant contact almost. If I didn't hear from her within 5 hours I'd start to worry that she'd forgotten me. At times while she was away I missed her so much I cried. But my need for constant re-assurance began to weigh down upon her. I had also given her “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera to read while she was away. It was a not so subtle message to her that what we had was significant and that I'd hate her to throw it away on a frivolous escapade while on holiday.
She missed me too, maybe not as much as I was missing her but as the days drew on her commitment to our relationship seemed to become firmer so by day 5 she was suggesting that all bets were on, all her cards were on the table, she was willing and able, she loved me with all her heart and “did I want to play Russian roulette between the sheets with her?”
“Yes” I said “I would”
* * *
When she came home we made love that night, unprotected and again the next night – but even though her period still hadn't completely finished she did become pregnant.
We didn't know this at first but over the next week her sexual feelings waned and one morning she snapped at me and I told her off for doing so, and she cried. She said my anger made her doubt whether we should be together. I was shaken, for me my retort of “just because you're tired doesn't mean it's ok for you to talk to me like that” said in a cold tone and with an angry face, didn't warrant such a devastating reaction.
But to her she felt she had tried so hard with me over the weeks before and during going away to reassure me that this was an unappreciative slap in the face. I felt that although she had made an effort with me that didn't warrant her being able to shout at me unchecked, after all her help was a gift not a pre-pay deal. After a day she calmed down but from this point the relationship changed in to one where the dynamic of distancing, pursuing, threats of separation and making up took over from the fun loving one we'd had previously. This continued for about 4 weeks until we discovered that she was pregnant. The next day, she had an abortion.
If you asked me what trait I really loved about Monica it was her humour, her sense of irreverent fun, and her child like playfulness We would spend many hours talking together, often in to the early hours, and then lay in together so breakfast in bed would occur as the sun was setting. But as the relationship became more insecure the conversations became more focused on the relationship itself.
The initial relationship, the friendly sexy one was lost and the new one was dark, intense and about jealousy, possessiveness and freedom. The focus was no longer on love, but on the imbalance between our feelings, and the lack of freely given love and sex. After the abortion her sexual desire seemed to vanish, she told me she didn't fancy me anymore and I started to spiral down in to a dark depression, my childhood fears and lack of trust now dominated the landscape of our world and every week the relationship dropped down a notch until by the week of my birthday we got to the notch of no return. I questioned her trustworthiness once too often and she stopped saying she loved me.
For the next four months we tried to salvage the relationship. Lots of psychic-like incidents occurred, but Monica thought it was just my agenda. And so it went on, me trying to persuade her to stay and her feeling more and more constricted.
As we rolled in to July 2005, and just as it began to feel a bit better, I dropped her off at Fulham Broadway station one evening. She was going off to meet up with the friend she went on holiday with. I had a feeling wash over me that this would be the last time I'd say goodbye to her as my girlfriend and a quiet acceptance took hold of me. That night I dreamt her friend was sitting astride of me trying to have sex with me. I told her she was just trying to split us up. In her hands she held my penis which in the dream had been split down the middle and, I stress this was a dream, was the shape of a wooden spoon. – Obviously the message, at least partly, was I thought her presence would stir things up between us and cause a split. The next day when I greeted Monica at work with a kiss she turned her head away from me.
Later she came around to my place and told me that the look I gave her when she'd turned her head away had angered her, and if she didn't want to kiss me hello I should accept it. As I drove her back to her part of London the conversation became darker. How she felt that just because things had picked up lately between us didn't mean she felt any differently towards me, i.e. she still didn't fancy me. She said if it hadn't been for the doubts cast in her about how genuine her feelings were due to the abortion she'd have split up with me a long time ago. She felt she couldn't love me the way I needed to be loved.
So I asked if she wanted to split up, she said she didn't know. We didn't see each other for a week. During this time she felt happier not seeing me and I felt devastated. I sent her an email asking her to wait until things were more stable between us before making a decision but when we met up she was determined to call it a day, and so on Monday 11 th July 2005 we split up.
She felt the damage had been too much for such a short lived relationship and she didn't want to go on. We decided, partly because we felt there was a possibility of a friendship between us, and partly to do with practicalities of working together, that we'd try to remain friends. This meant having a one month safety zone of remaining faithful while we (mainly I) tried adjusting to the new relationship, during which we'd see each other socially a few times.
12 th July 2005
I've just dropped off Monica's bits and pieces that she'd had at my place. We hugged goodbye on her doorstep, her head turned away enough for me to get the message that she wasn't feeling close. She asked if I wanted “our ring” back, I said I wanted her to have it to remember us. She said of course she'll remember us. Then she made a joke about Zsa-Zsa Gabor and her attitude to men and diamonds, I laughed.
I said “well it's not the end but just a change in the relationship” and she agreed, well she would because she was instigating it. As I was getting in to the car she said something but I didn't hear it properly so I asked her to repeat it thinking it was something funny, but on the third try she shouted “I was just saying thanks for the lift”. I said “bye darling I love you” and I drove off home while she moved bits from the hallway up to her room. She didn't want me to go there. In fact ever since making love to her and getting her pregnant just after Christmas I haven't been asked to stay the night there.
On the way home I felt sick thinking about not being able to make love to her again, not feeling her naked body against mine and the awful thought that in time, possibly a month or so, she'd be in bed making love with someone else. I hope by then I will have let go of her for now it doesn't feel possible though.
When I got back to my place I realised that my attempt at taking away reminders of her wasn't going to work, the bed is “our bed”, we bought it together and she chose the colour and headboard. The lamp is one just like she has in her place. There are now two bins, one normal one and one for recycling, that was her idea. There's some DVDs she said she'd come to watch with me in the near future, and a couple of other things that send a pain through me to look at right now!.
She's just texted me a message saying “I know you're hurting and I'm sorry darl x”
After a couple of months apart I was glad I was no longer with her.
End of chapter 6