Thursday, 24 May 2012

A difficult conversation

We met in a pub beer garden yesterday evening, the weather being nice for a change. The sun was an orange disc in an almost colourless sky. Virgil had a burger. I drank apple juice. We tried to ignore the people on nearby tables listening in.

Virgil looked tired and pissed off. He looked at me warily and without affection. He said, 'What do you want to talk about?' 'Did you read my email?' I asked. 'That's what I needed to say to you.' 'I thought it was very... poetic,' he said. 'But I didn't think much of it was to do with me.'

I said: 'It would be so wrong to give up on our relationship now. I know it needs to change, radically, but we love each other. I have come to some important realizations, these past few days. They're epiphanies really, about fear and how my anger is an intellectualisation of a feeling I've been too ashamed to admit to. My fear is stopping me moving forward in my worklife and it's causing chaos in our relationship.'

'I wish you could have said these things to me six months ago,' said Virgil. 'I'm exhausted by you, not just your dissatisfaction, criticism and demands of me, but also your own stuckness and sadness.'

Tell it like it is, Virgil.

When it got dark we walked around and around in the park, talking about what he would need from me to even consider trying again. 'I feel under massive pressure,' he said. 'I haven't even had time to think about this properly.' I said: 'I thought when you suggested meeting today that you had had some thoughts. I feel as though you are trying to squeeze me while I am vulnerable and desperate.'

'I'm seeing Sarah on Friday,' he said. I felt a small fizz of something in my chest. Just a small one: whether Virgil sees Sarah has little bearing on our relationship. 'Why are you telling me? Is this some kind of test?' I ask, then: 'Well, it's a difficult thing to hear. I feel sad that you have broken up with me and that you are planning a date with Sarah less than one week later but that's your business.'

'She asked me out and I thought, well, I could use cheering up so I said yes,' said Virgil, and I understood and it didn't seem so bad. It's nothing I wouldn't have done myself if there was a Sarah in my life.

We agreed about some things and then we disagreed about others. We almost argued. He said, 'What you are saying is generous, magnanimous. It's, well, it's incredible. I don't really believe you can do what you say you can do in terms of changing and things being different.'

I said: 'I mean everything I say and I think I can change but I need you to be on board and supportive. If you are grudging and disbelieving my confidence will be nowhere. You can't just be waiting for me to fuck up.'
It was midnight and we were both losing it. Virgil hadn't changed his mind about splitting up. I had hoped he might but he said I hadn't managed to convince him of that. He wasn't persuaded that it would be any different. We agreed to meet again next week.

This morning, an email from him apologising for his demeanour and behaviour, for being rude and negative. He had been tired. He hadn't realised what I was hoping to get from the conversation and felt put on the spot. It helped a bit to hear this, but it doesn't make it any more likely that he will agree to trying again.

All I can do in this minute is type and then curl into a ball of snot and misery and howl.


  1. ahh kid, I don't know you, but I feel for you. Going through something similar myself, just keep moving forward, doing the best you can. Nothing is going to make it easier, but time, lots of time.

    1. Thanks, Anonymous, it's awful how someone you love can suddenly seem like a stranger.