It’s obvious to all who know me and/or read my musings, I’ve not dated a man in many years, but I was relatively late to come to learn that I was a lesbian.
One reason I wish I’d have known myself well sooner, was that the abuse I have suffered at the hands of men, wouldn’t have happened. As may be expected, my not knowing myself is likely a product of the low self-esteem I had, which would allow the abuse to happen.
I am the same age now, as you were when you met that 21-year-old student in the public house she worked in as a barmaid.
You chatted, and got on. You came to the bar each week after that-and eventually arranged to meet for drinks regularly.
Over the period of the following year, you grew close. You danced, laughed and were happy together. You got on very well.
Then you kissed.
After this, you told her you ‘didn’t want her to get too involved with you’ and she accepted. I suspect you knew this hurt her hopes greatly, but she was not the type to be angry.
The drinks out continued. You slept together. She asked you if this changed things and you said you didn’t want a girlfriend but ‘why not just carry on sleeping with you and see how it goes’. Crestfallen but with this glimmer of hope, she did.
You eventually began calling her your girlfriend, rather than ‘this girl I’m seeing’, I suspect this correlated with other men often commenting on her looks and personality, she was well liked and others found her attractive.
This boosted your ego. Your ego was very important
A girlfriend however, tends to be more than someone you go out and get drunk with twice a week. This young woman was surprised and shocked that this continued, apart from sex would be involved now. As soon as you woke the following morning, you would leave without as much as using the shower. Just straight away, off. If it was a weekend, to have dinner with your Mum and Dad. If not, to go home. This left her deflated and upset, and you knew.
Now and again, you’d get her hopes up with promises that she could do something different with you, be a bit more involved. Meet your friends-but it would never happen.
You took her to the Lake District for a break once, her hopes full of spending some quality time together, perhaps talk, go for a meal, walk somewhere nice. She soon realised it was all to be spent in the pub, just the same as at home. She’d feel sick and want a rest from this, not understanding how you could do it*-but she stayed.
Because you’d been so nice to her before the ‘dating’ started, she wanted to make it work. She also did not notice or dismissed, all the red flags that now she looks back, were so glaringly obvious you may as well have presented them in a sizeable bouquet.
‘Women love being called slags during sex’
‘Women have been around me and my mate too much’
‘I never let women get in the way of my life’
When it came to actual sex, you had no interest in pleasing her, but she just put it down to her being hard to please and was just glad she got to be with you.
One evening, she finished her shift at the pub at 20:00 and you wanted to go out around that time. As you were driving the car to her house, near where you’d be going out-she asked that you’d pick her up to save her the 30-minute walk home.
She was told ‘Yes I will just this once but don’t be expecting it more and do NOT be late out or I’ll just leave!’
Looking back, you had no intelligence. But because your opinions, as a man were so important, she believed she was the one who lacked intelligence because she did not understand the things you spoke of. You knew of her past, and you knew she was vulnerable and it put you in a great position.
Once it dawned on her that the relationship was going to be nothing more than going out, getting drunk and having sex, she felt she would lose you if she didn’t comply. So, she put up with it. She got herself through it by going out every. single. night. Drinking until she passed out. It put her in the company of other people and took her mind off her horrible situation. It stopped her wondering what was wrong with her. She still remembers vividly arriving home, staggering into her cold, dark house and feeling the crippling loneliness as she had viewed her friends any given night with their partners, embracing, enjoying one another, kissing, excitedly planning their futures and wondering how she had ended up here-you’d always seemed so nice.
She was not allowed to ring you ever, only text.
At some point, you had a problem with your landline ringing, and nobody responding when you answered. You angrily asked if it was her. She said no. She said no because it wasn’t. Being a trusting, ‘normal’ human being she forgot about it.
A week or so later you were very angry with her for being ‘obsessive’ and she asked in what way had she done that?
‘Phoning me ‘ouse!’
Sometimes, she would have you walk out of the pub in the middle of a night out. She remembers sitting at the bar, and you walking ‘sorry sweet’ with a glassy stare, out of the door. You’d gone and left her. *
Another time it was when you were in bed with her about to go to sleep so she thought-gone. *
About 18 months in, she became afflicted with a particularly aggressive infection. In agony, having seen the student nurse she realised she had to go to hospital. She didn’t drive and asked you for a lift, to be told
‘You know I’m not like that! I’m watching the football!’ *
It said other things-but that is all she remembers, very vividly.
A friend was appointed to take care of her that week as she could not walk, bathe herself or do much involving movement.
She won’t ever forget how that felt. Almost 20 years later.
About ten days later she limped into town to go to the pub she worked in, to let them know she was getting better and should be able to work next week. You were there. You walked half way home with her. She cannot remember what was said other than she told you it was over, but you weren’t having it.
Another notable time is, where she had gone into town and realised you were also in town. Excitedly she went to meet you at the pub you’d said you were in. You weren’t there-staff told her they thought you’d said you’d gone to a different pub, so she texts you and asked and was told ‘no’. She asked where you were-you told her. She went there and you weren’t there.
You led her on a wild goose chase through town, laughing with your friends probably.
Crestfallen, after about an hour and a half, she went to the pub she worked in and drowned her sorrows, cried and went home. *
Two years in, she grew stronger. You argued with her one night, in bed, over her having male friends.
She told you that you and her were better off as friends. It seemed to be accepted.
The following day, you texted her a usual text ‘I’m rough today’ or some such and ‘see you Wednesday’.
She responded that she meant what she had said, that you were better off as friends. She didn’t strictly mean this however, she meant ‘I’ve had enough please go and let me recover’, but she daren’t say that. She was scared she would anger you
The response ‘Wow you’re serious, I didn’t think you were! You don’t like me anymore-do you not want to give it a go’.
She responded no.
And then the tirade of harassment began. Had she been stronger she would have called the police. You would come into her work her house, phone her work and house constantly, phone her friends-she had friends arguing with her about her decision-she had never told anyone how she felt or how you treated her, so she couldn’t blame them.
You even got her mother on your side. She felt sorry for you.
Not content with having her as your subservient, loyal girl for so long, your ego bruising had to be her problem now.
Life was hell from then on in.
She came out the other side.
*all the times marked with an asterisk are probably unnecessary, because they mark the times she later learned you had been taking class ‘a’ drugs-unnecessary because you probably took them all the way through the relationship, beyond and before, but she had no idea. Drugs weren’t a part of her world. Alcohol had become her whole world, but she managed to not have it take her.
I am 38 now.
Would I date a 21-year-old? Absolutely not. So much for the huge age gap in terms of such different stages in life, but I also wouldn’t deem one one of my closest friends. It would seem very odd. I need not say ‘I certainly wouldn’t take advantage of one’ either.
You were cruel, nasty and abusive, despite never laying a finger on me.
You were an egotistical, self-worshipping asshole who not so much lacked empathy, but had none at all.
You have a girlfriend now, I notice. As a therapist and as a grown, experienced 38-year-old woman, I absolutely do not believe you will have changed.
I hope you have, for her sake, I hope you have.
I was a ‘late bloomer lesbian’ knowing only a fairly long time after we split.
I am so grateful for my sexuality. Because I would never trust a man again.
I am so grateful to be with someone who is kind, patient and notices the good in me.
And appreciates me for who I am. But you had a long-lasting effect that will always stay with me. I still, even now, ask if she’s okay far too often.
I still worry she is saying she likes me and doesn’t mean it.
My girlfriend before her, was a terrible persona and again, I put up with it, and didn’t tell a soul, instead choosing to stick up for her and make excuses for the mental load I carried and the way it manifested itself.
But she was in no way as terrible as you. The power dynamic wasn’t there. The age gap was very small. The chauvinism wasn’t there-and you had no excuse for it.
I will always remember you, unfortunately. I just hope your girlfriend now is stronger in herself, than I was back then.