It’ll be obvious to anyone who follows this blog, that I’m a huge believer in the adage ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. I’d like to share one of my many stories today, just in case someone out there needs reminding of this.
Lets step back in time, to almost twenty years ago…
My first job after leaving home was working as a waitress in a market cafe (caff not café) for £2 an hour. I’m still rather baffled how I got from this to working in the City at a big corporate firm less than four years later. Lets just say I had a very lucky break, and that the background checks weren’t what they are today. I’ll be forever grateful for that first City job, as I learned so much and it paved the way for me to have a decent career. I also met some amazing people, two of whom are still very close friends. This may not seem relevant, but bear with me.
I had foolishly racked up debt as soon as I was able to, and took on a weekend job in a pub down the road from where I was living to help clear it. Anyone who has ever worked behind the bar will know this makes you instantly desirable to the opposite sex. I’d never been in such hot demand, and could literally take my pick of the bunch. I started dating one of the local lads, lets call him Dave.
Dave seemed like a pretty stand up guy…
He had a good job, earned decent money and his parents had a nice house (things that were important to my foolish, naive, much younger self). He was godfather to several of the babies that had recently been born in the area, which clearly meant he was trusted. Most importantly of all, he treated me like a lady, and was very sweet. There wasn’t much chemistry in the bedroom but I could live with that, because he seemed so nice.
Dave would drink in the pub on a Saturday night, and wait for me to finish up after it closed. Then we’d go out, get hammered, go back to my place, sometimes attempt to shag, sometimes not bother, and wake up on a Sunday with very sore heads. One weekend, after we had been together for about three months, his parents were away, so we went back to his house after going out. We’d had an absolute skinful and I was fit for nothing but sleep. It was around two or three in the morning, and instead of also getting into bed he insisted on going out to walk his dog, claiming it hadn’t been out all day. Afterwards I would realise that he disappeared a lot, but I genuinely never thought anything of it at the time.
I was roused from my sleep by loud crashes and bangs, and remember being really scared thinking someone had broken in. I leapt out of bed to find Dave butt naked with another man, about to have sex a few feet from where I was sleeping. I flew into what can only be described as the fit of a wild beast. Started beating them both with my fists, yelling expletives. The other guy ran for his life and got the hell out of dodge. Dave broke down and told me he had always known he was gay, but his family and friends would disown him if he came out. Lets face it things were a lot different back in the nineties.
I was the perfect alibi – the barmaid girlfriend all his mates wanted to bang
Turns out that Dave had been picking up men in the wee hours for some time, and not being careful. The three months I had to wait for my HIV all clear were agonising. He also told our mutual friends that we had broken up because I was sleeping with one of his mates. I left that town behind a few weeks later and started over (something I was well versed in as I did a lot of moving as a kid). Fortunately for me, having a decent job and good friends meant that instead of completely falling apart, I was able to pick my damaged self up and recover.
In the years that followed I had flings, and too many one night stands, but didn’t have another proper boyfriend until I met my husband. It took me a long time to come to terms with the level of hurt he had caused me, and allow myself to trust again, but I did get over it. Like so many things from my past, this experience now feels like it happened to someone else.
I guess the moral of the tale is this…
Have faith that time really does heal all wounds.
No matter how raw and painful they may seem.
And what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!
For more about me, and my life, read my book