I arrived at the office on Friday to discover a beautiful bouquet of roses and lilies at my desk. My first consideration was whether the bouquet had come from my mum. Then I considered that maybe it was from one of the crazy Tinder girls I’ve dated in the past year. Then I realised my irrationality. They were from my beautiful girlfriend, the woman who has chosen to be by my side despite the fact I am mental. That she would go to such an effort, that she listens, that she cares, that she shows affection through the detail, never fails to astound me. I love her for it (and many other things). I’ve never been bought flowers before – only flowers of condolence.
It’s Valentines and it’s a day of mixed emotion. It was Valentine’s Day eight years ago that I Facebook messaged my late wife asking her out on a drink. It was our first contact and we were still at university. We met three days later and I fell in love at first sight. She didn’t – she always said she was taken aback by how short I was and disappointed by my accent. She fucked me on the first date in my little single bed anyway. Charming.
My wife was rarely one to compliment me to my face. She complimented me by boasting about me to her friends, by parading me around on her arm in a triumphant way, and by making love to me like she’d never laid her hands on anything sexier. Yet, looking back, I realise we lacked emotional intimacy on so many levels. I found out so much about her after she died that she had hidden. She effectively lied for our whole relationship.
I’m older and wiser now. Grief has aged me, but then I’ve also just plain old aged and learned from observation too. A healthy relationship is one in which both parties open up, both parties listen, both parties compromise, both parties kiss and make up. I didn’t have that before. It’s ok for me to admit it – my marriage wasn’t great, but I still adored and loved my late wife. The intensity of grief I’ve felt has been incredible despite losing someone who I probably would have lost anyway, albeit in a different way.
But I’m healing. I have found myself, eight years after first contacting my wife, in love with another woman who confuses me, yet makes things oh so simple. She’s honest. She doesn’t play mind games. If anything, she thinks too hard about straightforward things! We awkwardly discuss things that are new to us, particularly navigating feelings around my wife’s role in our relationship, but I like to think we’re on equal footing. Do you know what it’s like to feel utterly comfortable, safe, vulnerable and wonderful simultaneously in someone’s arms? That’s me with her. I don’t deserve her yet, after everything I’ve been through, actually, I really fucking do. And despite my quirks and baggage, I really am a catch!
My girlfriend said that we wouldn’t do Valentine’s apart from cards. I’ve never been one to make a huge deal out of it, but it’s our first (of many, hopefully) together. So, of course I got her more than a card, and, to my delight, vice versa. Although we are not spending today together, we have celebrated already over Friday lunch.
She got us tickets to Matilda the musical. I got us tickets to Book of Mormon. We know one another so well, yet we’re constantly discovering one another too. It’s so exciting! I love having her in my life and I hope she’s finally starting to believe that, even though I cry on her.
This Valentine’s Day, I’m simultaneously happy and sad. Sad at what I missed out on, but ecstatic that someone makes me feel alive. My heart is vibrant and beating again and I think I might be starting to get my head around loving two women.