I thought I would feel sad that I didn’t get to spend the day with him, but actually I just floated around in a bubble of love, smiling to myself, like a mad woman. If anything, being apart encouraged me to appreciate what we have even more; yes, the cliché of absence makes the heart grow fonder playing out before me. (I know it’s gauche to be smug about one’s love life – but please indulge me, just for today…)
Over the last eight years so many areas of my life have not gone to plan, but along with those unplanned challenges came an unexpected love.
After having my heart broken in my early thirties, I reinvented myself as strong and independent (well, after the getting drunk and sobbing stage) determined to embrace being single. I still hoped to meet someone, but I didn’t want that quest to dominate my life.
And for a while I just wasn’t in the mood for men: I would get asked on dates, say yes because I felt like I should be getting ‘out there’, and then cancel them at the last-minute.
But there was something different about Mike (yes, today Husband has been promoted to Mike). In fact, I manipulated the situation so he would ask me out: I’d seen him around at work and thought ooh, I like you. I found out his name and job, and basically created a fake reason why we should have a meeting. For the first part of the meeting we played the game and talked about work, but we then drifted easily into just chatting. The follow-up email didn’t bother with action points and went straight to asking me out. Yes, it had worked!
It was an exciting, secret romance. We didn’t want people at work to know, until we knew what it was. Relationships weren’t frowned upon, and were common in an office with 1500 people, but we didn’t want to be the subject of office gossip. Although once we got found out, we did our inevitable stint.
I knew very early on that he was the one. I started fantasising about engagement rings and running away and getting married, which was pretty amusing as I had never harboured any desire to get married before. But everything felt different with Mike.
I never knew love could be so easy (past relationships had often been volatile and complicated). I never knew someone, other than your parents, could show such strong unconditional love – the way Mike has supported me through everything still overwhelms me. I never knew that sharing my life with someone would feel so wonderful. And I never knew that I could still feel giddy about someone after nine years.
And when I stood at the door on Saturday morning clutching a bouquet that was nearly as big as me, all these feelings rushed at me. ‘Don’t cry.’ ‘Don’t cry.’ I chanted to myself – I was on my way out for lunch and didn’t have time to redo my make-up.
I arranged the flowers and popped the accompanying card in my handbag, I wanted it with me all day. When I woke up on Sunday morning – our wedding anniversary of seven years – I didn’t feel sad that Mike wasn’t here, I just felt loved. I went into the lounge and smiled at the flowers, and I followed my text instructions to find my hidden card.
And love was just what I needed; it was a welcome tonic to a difficult week.
About three weeks ago I woke up and suddenly felt better: after five months of struggling to get back into my groove, the energy just came back, overnight. It was fantastic, but it also freaked me out. The change was so dramatic, I found it unsettling. Is this it? Will it last? Can I get back to my life? The questions ran round my head; it’s hard to manage your life when it keeps stopping and starting.
In a bid to keep the thoughts from getting in my way, I kept myself as busy and distracted as I could: I caught up with friends and gossiped over coffee, I absorbed myself in writing, I met Billygean, I treated myself to things I didn’t need, we went to the seaside, I swooned at Jeremy Renner in The Bourne Legacy, we met with friends and drank champagne – just because, Mike took me out for dinner. I squeezed more life into those ten days than I had managed in five months.
But it was not to last: my endometriosis had different plans for me, and I spent the following week or so in pain and miserable. (I saw the specialist yesterday. I have a new pain management strategy and have to go back for a scan. We shall see.) And the timing was unfortunate: Mike had just left for his big adventure. I had made all these plans so I wouldn’t be home alone and I had to cancel them (including a trip to see my family and a good friend’s wedding), I was understandably disappointed.
And whilst my body was leading the way in this shutdown, my mind was struggling too. Such extreme highs and lows back-to-back are unnerving. I desperately tried to keep faith that once the cycle of endometriosis had run its course I would return to my new-found energy, but this was hard to trust after the last few months.
The only person I want when I feel this out of sorts is Mike, to feel his arms around me, to have him stroke my forehead, to give me gentle kisses – but he was the other side of the world.
I held it together. Just. But I think after such a horrible week, it made all the love feel even more powerful. (And I had done my bit for the love party by writing a card for Mike to open each day he is away.) As I got into bed that evening, I sprayed my pillow with his aftershave and kissed his photo on my phone, chuckling to myself at my utterly ridiculous behaviour.
And over the last couple of days, as I have floated around in my love bubble, the pain has started to lift, and just as I had hoped, the energy is coming back.
In love AND energy, now that would be grand.