They say karma is a bitch but on this occasion, she was my friend and ally. The morning after Terrible Tuesday, I rang in sick to work. I couldn’t yet face what Chris has told me and sleep beckoned me like a Turkish rug dealer. I messaged my best friend J to tell her what had happened and she suggested we meet after she finished work for a drink to debrief.
I deleted Chris’s number, deleted all his emails and messages. I felt strong in my resolve not to contact him and knew I deserved better, but it didn’t stop me from wondering if he was thinking of me. Thinking about what he’d done and the lies he’d told. I wondered about his partner and that little boy who had no idea his father was a liar. I wondered how Chris would feel if a person did this to one of his children one day. Would he feel like I did now?
J and I met at a bar and I immediately ordered a double. It was just on 4pm. The guy behind the bar, out of courtesy asked “bad day?”. What I should have said was “yeah, something like that”, taken my drink and walked to our table. But I didn’t. I let loose, divulging what had happened to the astonishment of the bar guy, while dropping a few choice expletives.
“Shit eh?” was all I got in response. I sat down with J and threw back my drink. It wasn’t my last. We ate dumplings while I downed double after double before we decided we needed a more substantial meal. Heading to our favourite dumpling place (I’m not sure of our logic at this stage), we bought a bottle of wine from a nearby pub and over pork buns and xiaolongbao, we polished that off too.
We were both in fine form when we headed back to my apartment which is, unfortunately on this occasion, located above a bar. I don’t remember what I drank here but it was fuel for my fire. I was enraged and sad. I don’t remember her husband coming to meet us, or them walking me to my door. I don’t remember getting undressed or crawling into my cold, empty bed.
But I do remember the tears, the body-wracking sobs as I finally allowed myself to cry. It may seem strange to believe that I had invested so much into such a short relationship – it had only been two weeks after all – but a connection like I thought we had is rare. I don’t buy into fireworks and spark but I definitely hadn’t imagined how we communicated, how relaxed I had felt with him, how we came together in bed. Perhaps it was naïve, but it felt real, such was his aptitude at duplicity.
I cried for hours and at 4am I knew I was heading for a crash. I’ve had three major crashes of depression since I found out I couldn’t have children. The first was after my initial diagnosis of immature egg syndrome in 2014. The second was a few months later when we wishfully did a second round of IVF “just to make sure”. The third was when I was caring for a friend and colleague who was the subject of a professional witch-hunt in 2015.
I recognised the signs, somewhere in my alcohol-ravaged brain, that I was not in a good place. I had thoughts of dying. I thought about how long it would take my housemates to find me if I died in my bathroom. We were all so respectful of one another’s privacy that it would have been unthinkable for one of us to enter another’s bedroom or ensuite if the door was closed. I wondered if it would be the smell that would alert them or would they eventually miss my presence. We were all very close but also very independent.
When I realised this was the direction my mind was headed, I knew I needed help. Bleary-eyed, I booked online the first available appointment with the GP, which happened to be in a few hours’ time. When I stumbled into the medical centre, fortunately located next door to my building, I am sure I was still drunk. And in fact, when my doctor asked what she could do for me, the first thing out of my mouth was that fact.
It was a long consultation as I explained what had happened but I knew this wasn’t all about Chris. No, Chris was the trigger, but this crash was long in the works, bubbling away just below my consciousness. I knew I hadn’t dealt with my pending divorce. I had never dealt properly with my rape just over a year ago. My life had changed drastically in the past 12 months and I knew I hadn’t dealt properly with any of it. I just did. I made lists. I ticked them off. I pushed on like everything was exactly as it should be. I changed jobs. I had moved three hours from home and family. I’d had affairs and had sexual relationships with almost every man in my life.
And I finally crashed. My doctor wanted to admit me to hospital but I refused. It had been one of my greatest fears previously and I had always made my ex (then husband) promise not to let that happen. My doctor assessed my mental health plan, made appointments for me with a psychologist and released me into the care of my friends and housemates on the promise that I would drive home the next day to be with my family.
It took me two weeks to recover. I went home and my mum took care of me until I couldn’t stand her fussing over me any longer and returned to my apartment. I slept and cried and took my medication and grew nervous about my first psych appointment. I had been regularly seeing a psychologist since my diagnosis but I hadn’t seen one in over a year.
I’m not sure why my resolve finally cracked, but I messaged Chris and simply asked “why”. Why did you lie? Why me? Was any of it real? I knew nothing he could say could be believed but I so desperately wanted to know that I hadn’t imagined what I had felt. He responded, surprised that I had contacted him, but glad too. He wanted to talk to me, to explain, but I was wary.
It was through these messages that I discovered that my friend karma had exacted her revenge.
Chris told me that he had left my apartment on Terrible Tuesday and driven to the beach where he’d sat in the carpark for about 20 minutes, hoping I would call him to come back. When I didn’t, he resigned himself to a long drive at night to the snow. It was on this journey that karma struck for the first time. On a dark winding road, a kangaroo (yep, I’m an Aussie) crossed his path and he struck it with his car. He wasn’t injured but the roo had caused some damage and gave him a fright.
He arrived at the snow about dawn where he met friends to hit the slopes. After about two hours of skiing, karma struck again as he took a jump. He landed badly, cracking some bones and bruising some internal organs. It would take him weeks to recover.
It was only a week or two later that karma rounded out her retribution when Chris was asked to part ways with the company he worked for. While it wasn’t a move that would leave him destitute, it was enough for me to decide that karma had had her way with him. I didn’t need to punish him any further.
But that was before I found out that Chris was not actually Chris.