Fucking Children

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Around-about forty six days, nineteen hours, six minutes, and forty three seconds ago, my first significant relationship in a while ended.

That heavily approximated yet pathetically accurate time-frame took three minutes to work out. I type at fifty words a minute- bashing away at my keyboard with my head down like a frustrated Beethoven- so it took 150 words, or 7.5% of the average university essay. Considering I’ve made $200 for a two thousand word essay before, that little estimation cost $15. And since I make jack shit for this blog, I’m operating at a loss.

Speaking of losses…

I’ve debated on whether or not to write this post. And, once it was written and heavily edited to make myself sound like some sort of tragic hero, I debated on whether to publish it to the blog, and, eventually, whether to share that same blog on Facebook as a middle-finger in the air to Irish. So far I’m being an adult. Kind-of.

I’ve not really had the type of break-up where you would happily wish venereal disease, automotive trauma, mass devastation or a bout of testicular-induced Zika virus on your ex. In the month that’s passed since our break up, I’ve marvelled at the speed in which love can turn to hate, smoked a lot of cigarettes, tried to run my frustrations out at the gym, drank buckets of red wine, and written and deleted the phrase “And he’s just so gone now. It’s like everything we had was sucked into a vacuum, including the air, apparently, because now I can’t breathe” three hundred times.

Yeah, I wasn’t always angry. I was fucking sad, at first. No, make that bewildered at first, then sad, then hopeful, then resigned, then Ben and Jerry’s, then strong, and now, finally, hateful.

And I’m writing about it. Ugh. Call me Taylor Swift.

Let’s press rewind.

Irish and I had been seeing each other for a year when he mentioned moving in together. I was reticent, but put it down to commitment-phobia. We began to look at houses. We window shopped couches, and googled ‘low-slung Japanese platform beds’: the only base that we felt could withstand our nocturnal activities after my own IKEA frame was sacrificed to the Gods of debauchery five months after we started dating. We attended open house inspections, spending Saturday mornings wandering through northern Sydney suburban apartments with a critical eye. We ‘we-we-we’d’ all the way to a ground floor flat in Wahroonga, applied for it, and looked certain to get it for a decent price.

Then his mother stepped in.

She didn’t understand why Irish and I were looking to rent. Irish still lived at home and, gosh, why I didn’t just move in there? We could save money at her house. We could have the downstairs area all to ourselves… and she didn’t have to lose her baby boy to an older tattooed harlot.

Despite my reservations, I agreed and moved in with Irish, his mother, and his little brother.

For a while, it was great: crawling into bed at night and curling my hands around his soft belly, waking up tangled in him, laughing hysterically at Monty Python from a smelly fold-out couch, kicking his arse in Mortal Kombat, training together and meal-prepping for the week…In our own environment it would have been Utopia, but living with someone’s overbearing mother eventually becomes challenging: we couldn’t cook food after 5:30pm because she expected dinner ready when she got home from work or she’d order passive-aggressive take-out. We couldn’t cook certain things for everyone to eat because “Ugh. No, thanks. I’ll just have the plain noodles.” She couldn’t understand why we didn’t want to stay at home on Saturday night to join in on the date she’d organised for herself. And I quickly learnt that I’d either have to buy pyjamas or keep the sheets at my shoulders because she had a habit of bursting into our room at 6a.m. to check if Irish needed to be woken up for a morning shift.

There was more, but I don’t want to sound bitter.

Hairline fissures developed. I began to feel trapped. I was living in the Bates Motel. External pressures independent of our relationship had reared their head and, before I knew it, I was a certified pain-in-the-arse. On nights out with Irish, I began to get black-out drunk, often waking up the next morning and wondering why we were clinging to opposite sides of the bed.

“We had a fight.”

“We had a fight? About what?”

“Do’t you remember? You picked it.”

“I picked it? Shit.”

Fissures became faults as my behaviour got more reprehensible. The earth began to shake. I picked a fight with him on the night of his birthday dinner, another on his birthday. I acted like an arse and apologised, over and over again. I yearned for the way things were and promised myself to behave, then observed the co-dependant family dynamics and became unsettled again. The promise faded, week after week as slights on his part were magnified on mine and I found myself picking at him, withdrawing, thinking, ‘fuck him, I’m done, I’m over it.’ Then we’d make up, have earth-quaking sex, and I’d be back on the hook again.

The next part I’ve explained again and again to friends and family as I’ve recounted the events that lead to the break-up, and because my friends and family are a particular kind of amazing, I’m going to intersperse their comments.

So, eventually his mother got some bad news: the house was being demolished and they had three months to find another rental property. She approached me, saying that there was no need for Irish and I to leave. We could share another house together.

“Say no more, CC,” Mr. Metal said with a wry grin. “I’ve got a pretty good fucking idea where this is headed.”

She showed me a house on realestate.com, bigger than we’d ever use and more expensive than I was comfortable paying. But we’d share the rent. And look at the house! It was a mansion. Gorgeous- that spa! Not wanting to sign a lease into an environment that I wasn’t happy in, I put her off, saying I’d speak with Irish and see what he thought. Her reply was artful: “It’s what you want as well. Relationships are a two-way street. You matter too…”

That evening, I explained my reservations to Irish, fearing the worst. He was the stereotype of understanding: “No, I want to be with you. We’ll get our own place. I’ll talk to her tomorrow.” For a night, there was respite.

The next morning, we were in bed when the phone rang. It was his mother. Had we spoken about moving in together? Because there was a beautiful house for $900 a week available…

When Irish indicated that we wanted to get our own place, her shrill voice was wounded. “Doesn’t CC want to live with us anymore? What did we do?!”

“Well,” my friend Bobby V replied, flicking the ash from her ciggie. “Mummy sounds like a bit of a P.D.”

Not wanting to hear the conversation, I left to shower. He joined me shortly after, troubled, but saying that everything was okay.

His mother began to insist on taking Irish to rental inspections- she couldn’t make a decision without him. She needed his input. She needed him there. I was suspicious but understanding. The fault turned into a chasm. Things got strained. He began to ask if I was happy. I began to suspect he wasn’t. One evening I came home to find him preoccupied. He asked if I wanted to play basketball. I didn’t. This irritated him. I climbed into bed with a book and watched him fidget beside me.

“Is everything okay?”

It wasn’t.

Because they’d had a family conference while I was at work. And his family were really going to struggle without him. So he was going to move in with them.

“They had a ‘family conference’?” Bobby V asked.

“Yup. And I got voted out of the house.”

She erupted into laughter. “I’ve never heard of a family deciding on the future of a relationship! Who does that?”

“They need me.” Irish said.

“Okay,” I replied, not liking the churning feeling in my stomach. “But, I’m just wondering how things will change? I mean, you live here rent free now- we all do- and your mum manages…how could she struggle in a smaller place with just your little brother to support…?”

“I guess I’m going to help out with rent.”

Silence.

In a week I was leaving for a clinical placement in Samoa. But, Irish explained, if they moved while I was away I needn’t worry because “we can take your stuff with us and you can even stay until you get on your feet and find a place.”

You won’t leave my furniture in a house that’s about to be demolished? Oh. The chivalry.

Finding my voice, I asked, “Does your mother not want me to live here anymore?”

He avoided eye contact. “Um. No. It’s not that.”

Silence.

“Do you not want to live with me anymore?”

“I guess not.” He said, still withholding his gaze.

“Coward!” my friend Little A said. “He’s not a man, he couldn’t even be direct with you.”

My hackles had raised. “I can be gone tomorrow if you really want. I’ll call my parents and stay there.”

“Okay.”

“’Okay’?!” My sister shrieked. “I can’t believe him! The little shit. You gave up your flat with his encouragement and he leaves you homeless! He completely fucked you over. Forget him. You deserve so much better.”

“Wait, Irish…are we breaking up?”

“I guess we are.”

“Fucking coward!” Little A said. “You had to break up with yourself because he was too much of a pussy.”

“I know.,” I said. “He should be thankful that I did all the heavy lifting in the conversation.”

“Irish…I don’t want to break up. I really don’t.”

Silence.

“Irish?”

“Well, is there even a future with us? I mean, I think I might want kids one day and, well, you don’t…”

Anger surfaced. Once again my neglected ovaries were being flung at me like two overcooked kidneys. “You’re twenty four. And what, because you think that maybe you might want children in five years time you’re breaking up with me now. Fuck. I had a feeling we weren’t a ‘forever’, but I didn’t think it was a reason to not enjoy the time we had with each other now.”

“This came out of the family conference,” my sister asserted. “They were his mother’s words. She wants grandkids and you’ll never give them to her so you had to go.”

The following morning we were rostered to work together. It’d be hell. But until then I had purgatory. I couldn’t sleep. Eventually I gave up, throwing clothes into a bag, resolving to pack my car up that morning.

At 6:30a.m., the dawn was struggling to break through the clouds, and I was shoving overpacked suitcases into a tiny Skoda hatchback, focussing on the task to quell my anxiety. Mrs Bates stood at the front door in a dressing gown, feigning surprise. She fatuously asked what was happening, and I redundantly explained that Irish had broken up with me last night.

Bobby V: “I’m sorry, CC, but I just can’t get over the fact that you got voted out of the house. It’s hilarious. I’m going to be smiling all day about that.”

“I know, but focus.”

“Oh, I know,” mummy said. “He came straight up and told me.”

He came straight up and told you?

“But there’s no rush to leave,” she continued earnestly.

I gave a tight smile and walked past her to our now-old bedroom, emerging with a heavy box. She intercepted me in the hall with a stack of towels that I’d left on the dining room table, delicately placing them on top of the box. “Don’t forget to take these. I think they’re yours, as well.”

“She didn’t? She didn’t!” My cousin exclaimed. “What a fucking bitch!”

“It’s okay,” I replied, “I discovered that morning that her geriatric dog had left a runny puddle of shit in the kitchen and a few wees leading out to the back door. I left those little treasures for her to clean up…so in a way it’s a good thing I got my towels back before then.”

The next few days passed in a pressure cooker. Unsettled by the break up, I wrote him an email. I wanted to own my part in what happened. I use words like ‘closure’ to describe it, but really, I just wanted to see if there was a chance at reconciliation.

“You did better than me because I’d have just called them all a pack of cunts on Facebook and moved on, but good on you for being an adult.”

The email was met with a void, quieter than silence.

Three weeks later, we have our first shift at work together, and it’s the first time we’ve seen each other since Big MotherBrother’s Surprise Eviction Night. I was anxious, but determined to be an adult. And why wouldn’t I be? I’d moved forward with my life. I’d gone back on Tinder. I’d secured a date for Wednesday fortnight. I’d gotten a new job. New beginnings. And, to be fair, Irish was an adequate boyfriend for an entire fucking year and, rather than mourn the loss, I was trying to hold the good times in my frontal lobe. So why not end it all on a positive note?

But every effort to be civil, or professional on that day, was met with sarcasm, silence and disdain. Apparently, on a windy Monday morning in this northern suburbs psych hospital, the patients had managed to procure keys and infiltrate the office. After a morning of hostility, I decided to confront him, making him sign out an accountable drug with me, knowing that it was a chance to get him alone.

“Look,” I said as I wrote the drug books up, “this is a fucked up situation and neither of us like it, but I’ve resigned, so you have two more weeks and then you’ll not see me again. If you’re hostile, the whole thing just becomes uncomfortable for everyone. Just be an adult.”

He avoided my gaze, writing up paperwork with a smirk on his face.

Quieter than silence.

I knew then that I’d failed. And why bother trying? He was a dickhead. An emotionally retarded, low distress tolerance having, avoiding, mummy’s boy, dickhead.

Mr Metal: “You should have said, ‘Do you want these tits, or her tits? Because you’re still suckling on those ones, motherfucker.’”

When the drug cupboard was locked, he snatched the keys, turning to scurry away.

“Oh, Irish?” I called. “You forgot to sign the chart.”

He paused, weighing up the escape of difficult emotions vs. his desire to be a good nurse.

I grabbed the medication and walked past him. “You fucking child.”

Little A: “Yuck. And why would you want to have children when you seem to find yourself dating them?”

Hopefully these will be the last three words I ever say to him.

I went on my lunch break shortly after and, listless with frustration, I messaged some friends for a pick-me-up. My snapchat group of gals all responded with raised middle fingers captioned with ‘Dick. We hate him.’ One of my closest friends, Postie J, responded with the eternal quip “It’s surprising that he didn’t just ask you to speak to mummy, really”. Another friend messaged me later that evening: ‘What are you doing this weekend, darling? Because I think you need to see a friendly face x’

I’ve pontificated about the value of your support network in break-ups before on this blog. 

When love goes, leaving you in a vacuum, struggling to breathe, they can be your oxygen.

“CC,” Mr. Metal said, “I think you need a man who is a little bit more of a man next time.”

Indeed.

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3 thoughts on “Fucking Children

  1. I like the title, it has an ambivalent interpretation; I don’t like what happened to you though – break-ups are never easy on the soul. Thank God for friends and maybe that upcoming date will turn into the best thing that ever happened to you. 😉

      1. Hehe, I deserved that poke. 😀
        Well, fingers crossed (and hopefully this new guy doesn’t have a small one 😆 )

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