Here it is. The hallmark piece I have been both equally afraid of and eager to write. If you have read any of my previous posts, you might have learned of my divorce. It has been almost two years since it was finalized. While time has moved forward, and so have I, I cannot help but to be baffled by the residual affects of the pain. It has been a journey – ever ongoing – of re-positioning myself, finding who I am and extinguishing the falsehoods left behind by my failed marriage.
Look What You Made Me Do – a phrase immortalized by Taylor Swift. I can’t listen to the song without thinking of all the things I have done, fuelled by hurt and confusion. Tales From the Orchard is all about dating in a modern age – relationships, heartbreak, fuckbois. All I have done so far is skimmed through the prettiest of details. So let’s truly take a walk through the orchard shall we? Let’s actually bite some apples and climb some trees. So without further adieu:
PART ONE OF THE ONGOING SERIES
The Incorrigible Body Double
In the days that followed my marital breakdown, I shifted from living with a beloved coworker ( who is family to me) to a run-down Parkdale abode with three other roommates, one of whom is a good friend. My parents and I converted the common space into my bedroom. It was super kind of my friend to open the doors – and his roommates to accept me: an over emotional, transient feeling, vulnerable woman.
To be fair, my friend did warn me that his roommate found me attractive. I remember the phone conversation where he specifically asked me – a few times – if I would be comfortable. I was both comfortable and immensely flattered. His roommate wasn’t a bad looking guy himself.
Truly, it had been too long since I felt attractive. Blaming yourself is a natural reaction to disloyalty. The loud pings in my mind told me I was unworthy of affection – if my husband couldn’t love me, why would anyone else? This sort of rhetoric, along with surmounting vulnerability, makes for a potent potion. Suddenly I am no longer the person I once knew and I have been replaced by a validation seeking body double.
It wasn’t long before I ended up sleeping beside my cute roommate. I hadn’t gotten a bed yet and I was sleeping on the floor. He offered his, under the stipulation that he would be a perfect gentleman and not touch me. I coyly agreed under the guise that nothing would happen. We both knew it would. I am not an idiot. I assured my friend that we’d be PG while knowing we would not. Thus I loped off to his bedroom, destined to not sleep.
The roommate had a fiery and combative personality that day to day collided with mine. Every inch of our personalities opposed each other. Perhaps that’s why we felt somewhat magnetized. I mean, maybe it was just me who felt the magnetism – he really could have been playing me the entire time. Regardless, being in bed beside him prickled my skin – in a good way.
We made some nice conversation and then turned out the lights. A few minutes later we both exclaimed that we couldn’t sleep. We were too attracted to one another to sleep side by side innocently. Thus began the alluring game of trying to keep our hands to ourselves.
I remember him complaining about pain in his back – which is highly probable given how much he rode his bike. I told him I was good at massages – which I am. It is just a back massage right?
The massage turned into more bemoaning about our promise to be hands off. And soon, hands weren’t off anymore. In fact hands and lips made contact in a flurry of forbidden temptation.
We didn’t have sex – thank gosh – but came close enough. We swore each other to secrecy and went about our days, exchanging a few R rated texts throughout. I remember feeling indescribably odd – a mixture of liberation, guilt, hurt and hormones. This was something I would never had done years before.
My mind kept saying, “if only he knew.” He being my ex – the one who had once accused me of being asexual. The truth is much bleaker: I was never asexual, I was just rarely aroused. Such is life when you hit a lull in a long term relationship. It wasn’t always that way.
When you swear something to secrecy you almost guarantee its reveal. Soon after, everyone in the house knew. I take part of the blame for this. I wanted them to know – I wanted the reaction, to feel bad. Traditionally my family has always upheld chastity, so veering away from it felt so good. And soon, the roommate and I ended up in another tussle, one that left large bruises on my chest.
When my mom saw the bruises I tried to make an excuse. But she knew. Mom always knows. She met my roommate – disliked him immediately – and concluded something had happened between us. I don’t blame my mom for freaking a little. She had only known me as someone who valued virginity until marriage. This behaviour was a dramatic flip. I didn’t know where I stood anymore – I was obviously not a virgin but also not married.
Mom went so far as to ask my friend to keep an eye on me. She was afraid and rightfully so. It was obvious that the roommate and I were never destined for more than the casual physical encounter – and that we didn’t have any mutual respect for one another. So we stopped, for awhile. Our run ins were mostly one minute conversations – or arguments about our differing opinions on everything. Sometimes I hung out with him, as a friend. Yet our relationship was never really friendly. Our combination of personalities were just toxic.
I spent a lot of time feeling disenfranchised then. I had lost a huge portion of my existence and all I wanted was a replacement. That void is too big for anyone to fill immediately. No friend, no family member, no hot acquaintance would be able to measure up to what I felt I needed. Yet, it was the combo on lonely nights and the desperate need for love that drove me back to the roommate. And really, our “hands off” game was just belaboured foreplay.
So again, we found ourselves in a gust of skin on skin. But still no sex was had – and this frustrated me. Somehow sex with him would feel like vengeance, like a deliberate opposition to my ex-husband’s vision of me: the good Christian girl, who lived a straight laced life. I wanted my laces scrambled.
I feel like at one point I was almost begging for it and begging isn’t sexy. He refused under the premise that the house was too full of people and we’d be “very loud.” Looking back, this seems like a half-truth. Generally, in the moment, you stop caring. But we decided to wait until the house was sufficiently empty.
Days passed and then weeks. The apartment was never empty enough – or we just weren’t home at the same time. We had barely seen one another. Then I met a woman who was looking for an apartment – and a roommate (Cass Elle). And that was it. It was time to move on.
The roommate and I parted on a sour note – something to do with a final rent payment. He blocked me on all social media. I blocked him on my phone. We don’t speak anymore – I doubt I’ll ever see him again.
Looking back, I am glad we never went farther than we did. I never respected him and he never respected me. It would have been toxic and counterproductive in the healing process. I would have been allowing myself and my body to be taken advantage of in a vulnerable state – and I would have likewise been taking advantage of him. And essentially, no illicit seeming sexual experience would have been enough to extinguish the hurt.
And so ends the first chapter. Washed away with the promise of a fresh start. I felt terrible about what had happened for awhile, until it faded into context. I was not myself and was acting out of a place in my soul that longed to rebel against my own principles. It wasn’t the right time for me to go so far as that – this comes later.
Next week: Pictures of you, Pictures of Me