And so began a period where I spent a lot of time by myself. I rented a room from a friend who spent a week in every 4 in Sydney and the rest in Melbourne. Away from my job, I had little meaningful contact with other people, apart from conversations over a counter when making a purchase or phone calls back to friends and family in Melbourne. I kept to myself. I had started to make a few friends where I worked, but at the time, I didn’t know I could call on them more than I did.
I vividly recall a weekend where after leaving work on Friday afternoon, I didn’t speak to a single person until I returned Monday morning. I cried. A lot. I felt sorry for myself. I think I later confided in one of those work friends and they told me I should have called one of them as they’d have loved to hang out. I just didn’t think anyone would want to spend time with “me”.
As I busied myself I learned to be comfortable in my own company. I shopped, went for long walks by the beach, cooked and even went to the movies. Once I broke the ice, going to the movies solo (always during the day time) was actually something I liked to do. It was broken up by the odd invitation out to a party or social event with some of the work colleagues I was getting to know which helped me feel like I wasn’t a total loser. I wasn’t much company though - my self esteem had taken a dive. Having a boyfriend telling you you’re fat and withholding meaningful contact will do that.
Stupidly, part of me hoped he’d change his mind and take me back. No one likes rejection. Then I found out. He was back with his ex-wife. It only took a few weeks. About a year later they had re-married and now have three children. She didn’t approve of him talking to me, so that made it an easy choice for me not to have any contact. I realised I was nothing but a rebound romance for him. Someone to help take his mind off her. Only thing was, it never really did.
A few months into my solo Sydney life, things started to change. I started saying yes more. Yes to invitations that seemed more frequent. One thing led to another. Before I knew it I had a social life and a new job. I started sailing every weekend with a group I had met through my ex. Not only was it the sport I had grown up loving so much in Melbourne, but it was very social and to this day, I am still friends with some of those I met early on in those first few months who invited me to join their crew.
My new job opened up opportunities to increase my income and learn about technology and how to sell it. I found myself living by the beach near Manly and driving around in a little convertible sports car enjoying the Sydney weather. I felt good a about myself. I fell in love - with the city of Sydney.
When it came to men I was a mess. I was a tough proposition for a while. So scarred by the man who re-married his ex-wife, I was a clingy, needy girlfriend to anyone who took me on. I think because I craved love so much, I tried too hard which put many off after only a few weeks of dating (or less). For the best part of 4 years, this was my life. I was steadily climbing the corporate ladder and having lots of fun socially but the longest relationship I had in that time would have been about 3 months.
And then out of the blue after a few too many champagnes at a Christmas function, my eyes landed on “dimple boy”. That’s what my girlfriend who was with me called him. “Look at Dimple Boy – he’s cute” she kept saying. I still remember what he was wearing and that smile with these sweet dimples.
Dimple boy is of course Mr T. Within two weeks of our first date, he had moved into my place, a few weeks later we declared we loved each other and a year later we were engaged.
After years of telling myself, there must be “more’”, it must be “easier”, there must be a man out there who would treat me better, I met him when I least expected it.
I think back now seven years later and I am sure I was ready. I had changed. That crushed self esteem of mine had repaired itself and grown. I had learned a lot (not to say that I’m not still learning and certainly motherhood is a whole new ball game that had taught me more about myself than those years on my own did).
Jumping in the deep end 14 years ago was one of the best and worst things I have ever done. In hindsight I picked the wrong man to follow interstate. But I put my stubborn self in a position where I wasn’t coming home until I had given it everything.
It’s said that to really appreciate the highs you have to experience the lows, and I did. The loneliness of it all is what I remember the most along with the desperation I had towards wanting to find love.
I am not one who believes in fate or destiny. I believe you make a lot of your own luck. Everything I have in life (apart from my immediate family), is a result of decisions I have made that all involved an element of risk. I now weight alternatives up in terms of what the worst and best case scenario might be. For the most part, the worst now doesn’t seem that bad so I usually take my chances.
To date it has paid off nicely. I can thank that lame first Sydney boyfriend who unwittingly coerced me to take that leap of faith and find myself and the family I now have in Mr T and Little T.
What mistakes have you made that turned out for the best?