Tearing at the Fabric

Of the space-time continuum


22 Comments

16 May 2009

A day like any other, right?

The popular press was focused on people like Eva Longoria. Do we even remember her? Swine ‘flu was front and centre of many people’s worries. Rachel Alexandra  won the Preakness, the first filly in 85 years to do so. British retailers were up in arms about Manic Street Preacher’s latest album cover art. Here in Aotearoa New Zealand, the pressing governmental issues of the day … ohh Gawd, hey, it was a Saturday – was one of our long-term MPs, addressing a dental health conference! Hahahaha! Not doing much for the cause of us being a vibrant, and global nation ;-).

Yes, it has actually been EIGHT years since my life imploded. The OW, Leanne, a woman I once considered a friend, someone I had known since middle school years, sent me a text, at 8.57pm, whilst I was attending a 40th birthday party that she was also supposed to be attending. The text outlined that she had been sleeping with my most beloved partner, Roger. There was little in the way of detail, I didn’t keep the text, and cannot recall the exact wording.

I went back to the party, and carried on with the evening. Smiling, dancing, completely numb inside. Then drove the half-drunk Roger home in the wee, small hours. When we were about ten minutes from home, I leaned over with my phone, and showed him the text. He was completely bereft. Head in hands, he eventually looked up, as I drove into the darkness, and said, “I will pack a bag when we get home, and get out of your life. I am incredibly sorry, so, so sorry.” I think I actually floated away somewhere far, far, away. I don’t know if I have ever come back entirely.

Time.

Time does blur things, fading the edges of memory. But it has never eradicated the pain I still feel, not the “two to five years” later when I was supposed to feel a lot better, get my life back.

It is eight years. Eight pain-filled and unnecessary years. There isn’t a lot to add. I just wanted to mark the day somehow, as it passes by in every other sense.

The first ‘online’ person I ‘met’ – a woman who is different to me in so many ways, a US-Southern Baptist, 50+ year old, home-schooling SAHM, who voted for Trump – we couldn’t be politically, ideologically, etc, further apart – is still someone I ‘chat’ with regularly. Who knew? Six and a half years after her D-day, she is filing for divorce. He didn’t do the work, he is an passive aggressive, narcissistic arsehole, and she is (reluctantly) divorcing him. Finally. She has been through the mill. She messaged me today, to reiterate that cheating is a “life sentence” – her words.

I am currently seeing a lot of emotional exhaustion in the blogging community. People who are now three plus years out from D-day. The hope is fading. The magic pill of time is not making things any better for most.

I know that feeling well. I think there is a LOT of detritus bandied about – by counsellors, churches, people hawking self-help books, the general public – about being able to build a ‘new,’ ‘better’ version of marriage/partnership. That infidelity is actually an OPPORTUNITY! Lucky you!

The truth is, it sucks. And it will always suck. For the rest of your life, it will suck in some way, together, or apart.

And that, my sweets, is my take-home lesson from eight years of the pain of ‘surviving’ infidelity, together, or apart, it makes no difference.

‘Happy’ antiversary to me!


34 Comments

Recovery 101 … from what again?

In recent weeks, I had a person come onto this blog, with the very best of intentions, I feel, but who reiterated to me the discourse of “just get over it.”

big-girl-panties

 

For the first time ever, I deleted comments. I have always approved everything anyone has written here, believing that all views are worthy of sharing, even if you, or I, disagree. My reasons for deleting the conversation in its entirety are to do with my tendency to let things get under my skin, and the obsession that it invites. I got rid of the comments in order not to keep going over and over them. I know the person involved stated that they would not return, and I believe that my replies to them may have been read as negative and unwelcoming. I still feel I would like to say something about this experience to the rest of you. I know I am not really all that well, mentally. I also know that I have experienced an extreme, in my reaction and subsequent life, to Roger’s affair. My difficulties in moving forward in my life, attempting to work on me, to become a better person, and rediscover joy and peace have been incredibly frustrating. It has uncovered something in me that I didn’t fully recognise prior to this life event. I am a deeply flawed person, who is negatively affected by other people’s actions. I hate that this is who I am, and have fought being this person pretty vigorously for the past seven plus years. I like to think I am independent, caring, understanding, and open minded. However, I have not been able to implement lasting change. Despite receiving some very good, and some not so good, counselling, hypnotherapy, etc, and working away at ‘programs’ and the like, I haven’t found a way to make the happy stick, or to cope well with the constant mind movies, grief, and feelings of low self worth.

The person who commented here offered to help me with advice about how she (I am only assuming gender because of the user name and content of our discussion) had healed. I was cautiously optimistic that we could open an interesting dialogue, and that maybe she could offer something that I had missed these past few years. I waited to hear more about a) what it was that she had healed from, and b) what the techniques or methods were, or involved. For two weeks, we danced around the concept. I emailed her, after asking if email would work, and her saying, “yes, could do.” She never replied. Then she came back on after I posted a few days later that I was feeling a bit let down about her timeliness – or lack of. I had an awful experience during my suicidal times in this journey, whereby Roger and I had conveyed to a therapist that I had attempted suicide, and was therefore in crisis, and the therapist DID NOT SHOW UP. For TWO appointments. It was utterly devastating, that someone who I was relying on to help me get through the most difficult period in my life, just didn’t care enough to ensure he had the appointment times right. So, I thought it best to say to this person, “thanks, but no thanks.”

After I did, she came back on and basically tore me a new one. The way that my ‘real life’ friends have. It was another way of saying, ‘you loser, you just let this happen, and you are basking in the pain. Get. The. Fuck. Over. It.’ Like I haven’t thought those same thoughts, and tried like hell to do so??? She told me I wasn’t trying, and that I wasn’t open to change. She told me I had fallen in a pit, and instead of fighting to get out of it, that I had set up camp there. The thing for me is this. I know. I know that parts of what she said have some truth. But to be fair to this little hurting girl, I did fight. I fought like fucking crazy! For more than five years, I was pretty sure I would be okay, that I would fight and fight and fight, and I climbed, I scrambled, I scratched at that earth, and I would progress, but always fell back in the pit. After more than five years of this epic battle, I sat one day and thought. If I have fought this damn hard and have made so little real progress, maybe I am just doing the same thing over and over and over, and learning nothing. Maybe – just maybe? HA! – I need to try something new? Maybe if I instead try to beautify this space, that might work, change the place I am trying to escape from into one that I can live in, and accept as different, maybe a little less beautiful, but still a place I can survive in, hopefully one day to thrive?

So, I know this post sounds defensive, and I accept that maybe it is somewhat. I also accept that I have some deep flaws and nicks in my character that have made this journey a far more difficult one than another person may have found it. I don’t deny that this person had some things ‘right’ about me, I told her that. But, to some degree I am now standing and making a stand. My journey, my way, in the sense that I am not new to this game – and I have tried the traditional forms of therapy, and mind techniques, etc. And, they haven’t worked for me, thus far. So, I have and am trying alternative ways to cope with the thing that has affected me far more deeply than it ‘should have’ really. My point here is that surely it is okay to disagree, or to say so without being told off like you are a very naughty 5 year old? At the end of the day, who even is that stranger to try to apply a one-size-fits-all philosophy, without knowing me, or my journey? She is no doubt a kind and caring person, offering to help someone who is not doing so well, but, for me, in this situation, I always have to remember …

morticia


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Endings

This title is perhaps not so PC. Today is my youngest child’s last ever day of school. Nineteen continuous years of primary and secondary schooling have drawn to a close for me, thirteen for her. That rhythm. That routine. And that is okay, I was looking forward to it. But sadly, yesterday a young man, two years her junior, was killed in a freak car accident involving four young men who were working together to raise money for a school rugby trip to Argentina next year. The driver failed to safely take a corner on a no exit, rural road, during the middle of the day. I get to say, “last day of school” for my baby, and that young man’s parents will never get that privilege.

bad-things-good-people

It is always sobering when you contemplate a death. A young person’s one always has you reviewing your own, and holding your own children that little bit closer, at least for a while.

We had another shock death earlier in the week, the mother of one of my son’s childhood friends died 48 hours after being admitted to hospital with end stage breast cancer that she had not told anyone, including her children, (maybe her husband knew, it sounded like that may have been likely in the wording of her obituary) had returned. She can’t have been even 50 years old?  I can’t quite work that out, did she want to spare herself the pity of others? Her children the worry of losing her? Or what else was the motivation to not let her family say goodbye properly? The younger of her two young adult children is my son’s friend. She is not doing well, she has just turned 20 years old, and the closest woman in her short life has disappeared.  I try not to judge other people’s choices, when it comes to their own bodies, etc, but I am a bit sad that this lovely young woman is left wondering what the fuck just happened, and why her mother did not trust her enough. So yeah, I must admit, I don’t agree with her decision here, just quietly. I think it was such a wasted opportunity to impart some final worldly love, compassion and support to those she had to leave here.

So, while I looked forward to celebrating the last day of school, ever, we are all doing so at the school very sombrely. The kids feel there have been too many young losses in the past two years. My son’s small year lost three in twelve months, the last not long before they finished school, also in a car crash. It is not a large community, nor school.

So, what has that got to do with my usual blog material? Nothing. Not really. Except that I so often feel that life has taken a dark turn. I can’t decide whether I just notice more of the darkness, or whether it really has. Loss and grief seem to follow me, and I can’t quite work out how to shake it off. I did laugh, as I had a hair appointment this morning, and my hairdresser shared how her mother, whom she loves very much, can be draining. She has let life’s sadnesses get her down. I have a father who does the same, and have always been so conscious that I have 50% of his DNA, and worked hard to emulate my much sunnier mother’s attitude. She had more to be sad about than many, but rarely let life get her down. I know I naturally tend more to the dark, but felt I had a good balance, was very self aware, and could steer the ship back to calmer waters when required. I managed the shittier parts of life pretty well. Until the bloody affair! And on the surface, by life’s measuring wall, it is in no way the worst thing that has happened to me. Do the setbacks stockpile? Is there really a camel with an aching back, ready to crack? For all of us?

Or is it just me? Did my supply of resilience run short? I need more directions to the store so I can restock today.


37 Comments

Shit. Just. Got. Real.

So, as you can see from my recent self-absorbed posts, I am starting on my Masters research. Friday was the last date for submission for research applications to my uni’s human research ethics committee. I got there.

Shit. Just. Got. Real.

I really am writing an academic thesis linked closely with this awful journey I have been on the past few years.

And my thesis was again somewhat changed along this journey. My supervisors and myself discussed what we called the “vanilla-isation” of the project (on the surface.) I was concentrating on the effects of infidelity on home spaces, but they gently started to prod me to look at ‘break ups’ and their effect on same. I was happy to take this on board, as it is only a year, and I need to be able to gain enough local participants. But I really wanted to include those who had relationships that ‘survived’ infidelity – as from personal experience, my home spaces have been changed irrecoverably by this, even though we did not break up – for years. So, the new working title, the one I submitted to the committee is this: “‘Home is where the heart is broken?’: examining the impact of intimate relationship challenges on meanings of home.”

broken-home

At first, I was worried that it wasn’t going to be easy to get people to think their relationship ‘challenge’ was ‘enough’ to feel they could be involved. I was worried that cheating was the major way that people got challenged in their feelings about their home spaces, I know because the affair happened in and on my properties, that I have very intense feelings about space(s). My more senior supervisor said to consider that I will still get a lot of respondents who have been challenged by infidelity, but that this casts the net a little wider, and offers a perspective that suggests that infidelity isn’t the only stressor to the construct of home. I agree. I invite all genders, all sexualities, ethnicities, etc, to be involved in this. So, the longer I sat with this idea, the more focused I became about what I am interested in. I want to know what happens to people’s thoughts and feelings about the material and spatial aspects of their ‘homes’ – and what home/homelessness even means/meant to people with regards to fucked up/broken/healing/better/different-to-they-were-before/etc, relationships. There is a bit of literature about love and homes, and home-making, but not a lot on what happens to place when things fall (apart) outside of dominant discourses about monogamous relationships in a Western context. I especially want to explore the fluidity of feelings about home – I know I can love it one minute, and loathe it the next. And this has spilled over into all spaces – I can be very uncomfortable, very quickly (anxiety) in some really weird and totally unrelated spaces (on the surface) to the affair – and that never happened to me prior to my world being torn asunder. My experience with betrayal has made for permanently shifting sands.

So, I now have to wait to hear what the committee says, whether I have covered enough bases (sensitive research is always doubly scrutinised) and I certainly do not expect approval on the first submission – this is quite rare. I submitted three times for my last project, and you really think you have it sorted by the time you have agonised over it for a month or two. In the meantime, I can make some progress by assembling more literature, and organising some themes and possible theoretical frameworks.

Best of all, I am assisting one of my supervisors with her post-doctoral research on a rural group of people, and I am really enjoying it. (Well, the transcription, not so much!) But we had a really good chat about it on Friday, and she noted that we have been very careful with this as it is a sensitive area – animal welfare and human stress are two of the things we are very aware of, especially when conducting on-farm interviews – and she mentioned that when she applied to the ethics committee that no one mentioned anything about any of the things we have both identified (separately) as touchy. We are both rural people, with rural upbringings, and we were quite surprised at the lack of any thoughts about this by an academically trained, normally sharp critical thinking, probably mostly urban, committee. And we talked about how she will address this in her findings. The research is funded to the end of this calendar year, and she has a journal article about to go to print on methodological challenges and workings. I am really enjoying working with her, and she gives me very encouraging feedback. She said the other day that she would have struggled with this with a younger, non-rural grad student as she trusts me to understand the nuances and sensitivity of going on farm walks with our participants – not to mention that I have drummed up about half of the research participants through my rural contacts! She was struggling with support, as people are wary of talking to academics – especially social scientists – about their farming businesses and practices – let alone their FEELINGS! We have found our participants to be mostly a little wary, but once we have gained their trust (we are not on a crusade to bring down farming) they have been warm and shared valuable insights and perspectives.

Add to all of that the fact that one of my dearest friends in the world messaged me from our biggest city yesterday, in an absolute panic because she had just walked into the same shop as Leanne was in! And, I laughed. Yep, I am this far out, I laughed. This friend used to share a house with Leanne thirty years ago. They were once very close. I said to sidle up to her and say, “hey! Long time, no see. Fuck the love of anyone else’s life lately?” She laughed and ran out of the shop without Leanne seeing her. And said that if she had to ever speak to her, that it would NOT be even that ‘friendly! She then said that “I simply can’t abide women who go after other women’s men – period! And ones that do so under their roofs are even more despicable!”  Not gonna lie, I cried. I have not had one ‘friend’ be that loyal to me in this whole mess. Most still speak to Leanne, they play nice. One of my oldest and I thought dearest, friends, sits and drinks wine with her at their ski club lodge. Because not to do so would be rude, right? So, this friend saying these things to me, telling me that her heart was pounding and the blood was boiling as she spied her in the homewares store made me love her even more than ever.

Let the eight hours of interviews transcription, this time around, begin! (SHIT!!!)


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Metamorphmagus

… or something like that.

My thesis topic is melding into something a bit different. I chose the original topic, because I was a little afraid. Afraid of carving too deep, too close to my own bone. I thought if I could keep it about a ‘different’ set of circumstances to my own – albeit that I did experience cheating by a gay dad (now identifying as bi – not quite sure of the reasons for the change in his own labelling system 30 years on, but not my place to police another’s sexuality) on my straight mum – so had a degree of separation. Now the title is this:

‘Home is where the heart is broken’: examining the impact of infidelity-prompted relationship disruption on home and sexual subjectivities.

Hmmm. Now, the main reason I was afraid wasn’t really too much about exposure. I have been exposed, and I am over it. There was nowhere to hide when the affair was announced from the town square to all and sundry! I did try to keep my personal situation away from my academic life, but that didn’t work either. So, here I am. Embarking on an academic examination of home, and challenging dominant discourses (yet again) about ‘home’ as a safe, loving, nurturing environment. Nothing is new here. We have known forever that the pretty picture is often a facade, and not something that occurs in reality for a lot of people. Homes are also where abuse happens, where mistrust, anger, hidden sexual desires and sexualities, etc, etc, etc, lurk. Where the very image of home is turned on its head.

home-upside-down

 

When I briefly mentioned that I was a bit concerned at this being “too” personal, my supervisors were quick to reassure me that they want to keep me safe. Both emotionally, and of course, physically. And they have been very sure to keep me focused on the GEOGRAPHIES of this topic. This is a GEOGRAPHY thesis. NOT a psych one. It is my experience that my homes and my whole sense of place – including every part of my environment, indoors and outdoors – has been severely disrupted. Home has fluid and contrasting meanings to me now. Where it was once a place of sanctuary, a bit of pride, and definitely of love, nurturing and warmth, it teeters away from that towards an abject place of loathing, and place that was desecrated, etc, to back again. My sense of all spaces is now exceptionally fluid. I don’t have a love for or loathing of certain places, they all swing wildly about on the scale, and I can never predict what my reaction will be at any given time. I still have (far less, thankfully) moments in the car when I weep, torn by the betrayal, still. This is the same in my holiday home, local town, in our nation’s largest city, at racecourses around the country, on my farm – you starting to get the picture? To explore and give voice to a group who are so often ignored, or are made to feel that their perceptions of space and place are wrong. To get over it and ‘be normal’. Okay?

It helps. Oh lord, does it help!

So, I am still in the ethics phase of this, and doing well, justification, objectives, research methods, potential risk to participants, conflicts of interest, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah, check. Until I got to the design of a semi-structured interview schedule. When I realised I was asking ‘the wrong’ questions, in ‘the wrong’ context and with ‘the wrong’ perspective. NOT PSYCHOLOGY, PAULA!!! I am re-working this, and sweet baby cheeses, it is HARD. Predominantly open questions, with the right focus, and avoiding ridiculous ‘how does it feel’ as a leading and psych kind of leaning. Also, the recruitment of local participants <shiver>! Designing a poster to whip up interest, without pushing any ‘agenda’ aaaaargh.

Along with all of this going on, I am also an assistant to one of my supervisors with her current research. I am really enjoying it. It is an interesting topic, but one we are really struggling to recruit participants for, having spoken to about half the number she originally hoped for. I am at the leading edge of this, as the target group is one I am close to, and feeling a little pressure to produce these people. My supervisor is not putting this pressure on me, it is all myself. Dumbass that I am! Work has also ramped up, with the breeding season upon us. I interviewed seven people yesterday from a shortlist I compiled to share my job – from an inundation of applicants that we did not anticipate – while my boss was overseas last month. The worst part about that was that she came in early in the day, and let me know that a former colleague of hers, a terribly capable person, has let her know that she is interested in the job, that part time works for her. So, the time I spent with these candidates (and there were some great ones) was wasted. My time, and theirs. And I still haven’t got the August accounts out to clients. Luckily, the job applicants do not know this. But, yeah, I hope my boss’s old colleague works out!

Not quite sure why I shared that last paragraph. Maybe I am just doing my usual drainage of the brain. And the tears that still fall at times are related to protecting my heart, letting off that pressure valve. I never used to cry much. I was a tough farm girl. Yeah, I felt stuff, and there were times when the tears fell, but not like this. I think of this blog more and more as that space – the pressure valve. And I know that I have made progress in recent times, because I use it far less than I once did. Or I manage the pain levels far better than I once did. I think it is a little of both.

pressure-valve

 

Whatever the reason, I am glad I made this space, even if it was probably far too late to save what was once a beautiful life, with a beautiful man, that I was beautifully happy with.

And that pretty inane wisdom folks, is all for now.


16 Comments

“So, what is your thesis on?”

Well, hmmm.

Yes, this semester has seen me embark on my Masters thesis. I went to a workshop the other day to help prepare for a possible tilt at my uni’s heats of the Masters version of 3MT (3 Minute Thesis – a competition that has traditionally been run for PhD candidates.) I can’t compete, because I am taking D (youngest daughter) and Frenchie (exchange student living with us) to Wellington for a long weekend, and the heats are one of the days I am away. To say I am relieved is a bit of an understatement! I am not good at public speaking, and as you all know, I am also not good at keeping things brief! But, I thought I would go along to learn a bit more about it, and push my boundaries. I will need to hone these skills as I progress through my thesis, and beyond. First question as I sat beside a Masters candidate (in German) was, “so, what faculty and department are you from?” And second question was, “so, what is your thesis topic?” Hmmm. I don’t have a title. And I barely have a long synopsis. So, I stuttered through a brief outline, and the reply, “how is THAT Geography?”

PMSL.

It is a common reaction. I am a human geographer, and even fellow grad students, from the same faculty don’t get it. But I will try to outline it here.

pray the gay

I am interested in what happens when we label people. And people don’t fit in those boxes. Or do for a while, then outgrow them. Or someone tries to “re-pot” them in another box that is uncomfortable, and is a bad fit.

That kind of thing.

So, my original proposal was to do with what happens when plural, or fluid sexualities unfold in a previously imagined “hetero” monogamous long-term relationship? Kind of a bit autobiographical (my parents) as in, a look at betrayal, and hegemonic ideas about what marriage and monogamy look like in Western contexts. I wanted to see what happens when we look further down the line from some of the literature on “falling in love and committing to one person of the opposite sex.” And the spatial and material arrangements of that. As in, does it mean automatic separation, or can the space be (re)configured somehow? What about when there IS separation, and children are perhaps involved, and the experience of both them and either one or the other, or both parents confronting “matter out of place” in a sense – in that maybe some familiar objects are relocated, maybe in mum’s new house, and it feels disconcerting (or whatever?) This seemed like a way of unpacking what society says about romantic relationships, and challenging it in a bounded framework of sexuality. I then thought, geographically, about space and place, and thought, “yay, I can use some of my existing online networks, to drum up interest in participation.”

Go me!

But last Friday, I had a meeting – only my second, I am only in my third week of this – with my senior supervisor (I have two, and love them both!) She has pointed me in a slightly different direction. She now has me reading the literature and unpacking spaces of home, love, intimacy and kinship. And here’s the kicker. She wants me to ground it (as after all, it is a one year project, not a PhD) in a specific geographical context, eg, my local region.

At first, I was a little taken aback. Oh no! How will I recruit participants? This is a little personally exposing, a bit “close to home” – good ol’ geography! But, I am open to it, I get what she is suggesting, and I agree. Start at the beginning. Start at how we conceptualise love. Then watch it implode, lol.

So, in order to try to make sense of how to approach this, I am reading like a madwoman, and I thought a brief post here might help me start to play with the working title, and start to arrange some order of approach. At the moment, it is all swirling around in there in a big tornado of thought, with no sequence. I am not a particularly orderly person, so it’s like herding cats. And I know my working title is nowhere near what I want it to be, and it needs to be far snappier, but I will record it here to put a peg in the ground. A marker of the origins of this thesis. I do it very nervously, as it is so far from what I need it to be yet, and I am struggling with the idea of a “fixed” sexual identity versus a fluid one – and how to incorporate that properly in the title without contradicting myself with, “okay, so one of these people has a static sexual identity, but that is not the case for everyone….”

sigh

Queering long-term ‘heterosexual’ romantic relationships: querying the effects of a romantic partner’s fluid sexualities on constructions of monogamous love in (insert geographical region(s) here.)

Aaaargh, I HATE it!

(Press publish, ewwwwwwwwww)


22 Comments

Walking through fire

Hi-de-hi campers!

Just doing a brain dump, instead of writing up my research findings.

Of course.

I have just returned from a mostly lovely weekend at the top of the South Island. One of my oldest friends and his lovely wife and two kids live in Nelson. So, my old friend, J – whom I have written about on this blog before (but not much lately) – who just cannot understand my state of mind, or my worldview since infidelity hit my life – flew down on Saturday morning to participate in an organised hill run/walk on Sunday. Sounds fun, right?

(Hint … nooooooooooooo!)

takaka_hill.jpg_0,7,800,605_jpg_320x230_crop_q85

I am not at all fit at the moment. I have let my exercise regime fall down this semester, I just can’t seem to cram it in, and it is intermittent to say the least. Understandably, I have gained some weight. So, fatty me was signed up to do a 16km walk, entirely uphill, with two people who walk up mountains several times per week. I knew it was a big ask. But went anyway. Consequently, when my two companions, J and G were getting rolling drunk on Saturday night, with an 8am start in mind, I had two small beers over the course of the afternoon and evening. Great, no problem. Except I woke with a cracking hangover! WTF? I don’t drink a lot these days, and when I do, I know to avoid wine, as it makes me very ill, and I usually go for spirits. I thought two very small craft beers would be fine. G and J drank four bottles of wine and about 6 x 1.5L of beer between them.

And they woke up fine.

I, on the other hand, was wretched. Nauseous, with a pounding head, I forced a small amount of my breakfast down, starting on the paracetamol at 5am, and taking some ibuprofen prior to the race start. I went anyway. And got up that damn hill in a very slow time of about 2.5 hours. Every step pounded in my thumping head, and I dry retched several times. The other two bounced up there, J, at speed, taking pics, and chattering away to other competitors as she strode past them as they lay dying on the roadside.

I saw it as a bit of a metaphor. I had a good relationship, the longest of any of my friends, and I was a good partner, faithful, loving, caring and probably-too-giving. J has lived a pretty blessed life and parties hard, has a pile of kids and a very understanding husband. She hasn’t given up too much, and she just can’t understand why I am so hurt by Roger’s actions, “because you are meant to be together, he loves you so much,” life is lived on the surface for her. How many Facebook “likes” or Snapchat views can she achieve? (SERIOUSLY – we are 47 and 48.) She made all kinds of noises about walking with me, at my pace, when we said we were going to do this, and even at the start line, she was saying this. It lasted about 10 strides. And she was off like a rabbit, coming second overall, without racing. G, my local friend, on the other hand, knows, and he gets it. I think. He stayed with me the whole walk – despite me telling him I was fine, and would get there. Once I start something, I am committed! I don’t give up. I got my sick arse up that damn hill. Like I said I would. And my world imploded with infidelity anyway. Life was never meant to be fair, right? Too damn right!directory_listing_images_image1_0194.jpg-scale-170-125-1415852675

During the weekend, we had opportunities to spend time in smaller groups. I spent Monday morning working on my pre-thesis project, with G’s wife, K, who is now very successfully selling real estate, and was doing her accounts – and whom I love – and we had a really interesting chat about those who seem to have life all planned out, in exactly the way “society” wants us to. Uni. Check. Good job. Check. Married. Check. Kids. Check. Lovely home. Check. “Stuff” (cars, clothes, jewellery, whatever-the-fuck-else) Check.

Neither K or I are particularly conventional, but each in different ways. She is fairly conservative in appearance, but a deep thinker, with a dry sense of humour and a wickedly quick wit – and they have worked hard and brought up two lovely kids, on little money, but loads of love and their focus has been building a property portfolio, and travel. Their own house is small, and has no “mod cons.” Their kids have never had all the technology and designer crap that many others crave. But, they are awesome kids, just getting out into the world. J has five indulged, entitled kids who have EVERYTHING and social media profiles that have caused the local town we live in to label them facetiously as “The Kardashians.” J sprinkles happiness and love everywhere she goes, but has no grip on the hard side of life, or the fact that she may just be spoiling her kids into a very unhappy and materialistic future. When a sad background of a teen we knew came up, she was shocked, like, WTF? THIS HAPPENS IN THE WORLD? Yep, who knew, J? I am always amazed at her lack of knowledge of what happens outside of her happy, little party bubble.

But, of course, that is just bitter old me speaking.

I felt my mood swinging all weekend as all of this swirled about. I was conscious of my “judgement” of her lifestyle, and was careful to be tempering it, knowing who I am today. The changed person, with emotional damage. I am a little more cynical than ever.

She made comments all weekend that I internally just rolled my eyes at, and very often, G, and K openly rolled theirs at me, lol.

I guess, the thing is, my world is so changed, and J has been trying to force me to fit back in the little hole she had me in, and I don’t fit anymore (and not just because I have a particularly curvaceous arse grown with the help of a lack of exercise!)

And yesterday was seven years.

So, there’s that.