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I have neglected my writing due to a combination of work craziness and laziness. I also recently picked up a side gig of tutoring so between that, my full-time job, and my copywriting side hustle, I’m exhausting all my brain power to bother to write words for myself. But, I decided this year I was going to get the first draft of my book done and so words must flow.

I know he reads this now, curious for tidbits about himself but I don’t want to let that stop me from being open. He started reading after I ended things a bit over a week ago. The inconsiderate remarks and selfishness were too much to take anymore. When he interrupted me venting about my distressing day of work to tell me he wanted to go to sleep, my stomach sunk. A tight knot of grief lurched into my throat and in that moment, I felt utterly insignificant. No matter that I had just listened to him talk about his day, asked questions, muttered appropriate listening sounds and sympathised with him. When it came to returning the favour, the support, the care factor, it just wasn’t there.

So, I ended it with resigned sadness. He wasn’t a bad guy just an inconsiderate one. He didn’t interrupt me with malice. He was just unthinking. It hadn’t been the first time and all signs were pointing to a future with more of the same. I hated the way it made me feel. Bad enough he still couldn’t be bothered/didn’t want to tell his friends or family about me. I was still “a Tinder chick”. I deserved more, I thought. Perhaps that was misguided of me. Perhaps this is just modern dating, where you learn to settle for less and less until you stop recognising yourself.

Worth. It’s so difficult to retain. Every time I think I have gained some there’s a man standing by ready to take a hacksaw to it, lowering my standards and my value until I leap on the smallest praise or compliment to feel … something.

Professionally, academically – it’s been a good year. Personally, I find myself taking two steps forward and three steps back. I keep returning to what’s bad for me. Tom. Michael. Tortoise. I settle for scraps trying to find an elusive crumb of genuine feeling. I’m left disappointed.

He didn’t want me to end it. He kept messaging me, telling me it wasn’t what he wanted, asking to see me, to hang out. I resisted. Why should I have to keep spelling it out. Why should I have to keep being the bad guy and pointing out poor behaviour. Why wasn’t it enough that it happened once, twice, seven times for him to see we just weren’t compatible. But still he persisted, insisted, we could make it work.

Every day my resolve weakened a little more. I did miss him. I missed hanging out and cuddling on the lounge and him playing with my hair while we watched Netflix. He added me on Instagram, started liking my Facebook posts. He continued to message me good morning and occasionally goodnight. He wanted to see me, to talk.

I was working away, living in motels and being abused by stakeholders. One joy of a woman told me our project would cause suicides, marriage breakdowns, cancer and heart attacks. She told me I had no morals and I should have said no to working for my client. She told me to get a job at Woolies. Another made an open death threat to my client and told me to write it down. My colleague and I leaned on each other to vent, to share, to debrief. And he was still messaging me.

I called him to tell him I missed him and we agreed to meet up the following night, my only night at home in a week. I went straight to his place after picking up my car. He was cooking me dinner, handed me a beer and let me talk about my trip away. I could see he was making an effort but I went there to talk and so I did. I told him how he made me feel, how dismissive he was of me when I spoke. He told me he had mentioned it to his mum. She took my side.

He had missed me, that was evident. Always affectionate anyway, he kissed my cheek and my head and held me in long hugs in his kitchen. I agreed to stay the night.

We drank beer then switched to gin. Something was on TV but we talked instead, him sitting on the floor in front of the fire while I spoke from the lounge. When I cried, he held me.

When he said “I love you”, he was as surprised as I was. The words had slipped out, much like all the other things that came out of his mouth without a filter. He became shy and embarrassed.

The next morning, I ribbed him about it mercilessly, telling him it was OK for him to take it back. He denied saying it at first but I know he remembers. He declined to take it back. It was our three-month anniversary. I updated my relationship status on Facebook because it’s important to me that I’m not invisible. I am not a mistress.

So, we’re together and he said he was going to tell his family and his mates.

I don’t know if it will work out. I don’t if he won’t say something in another week, two weeks, that leaves me sad, angry, upset, unworthy. But we’ve agreed to try and, tentatively, it feels good.

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