Somewhere in the Milan suburbs my face was pushed up against the brick wall of an Italian café. One of his hands was in my cerise silk knickers – a pair chosen with approximations of this occasion in mind – and with his other hand he pinned my wrists forcefully above my head. My dress hitched up in messy bunches, tickling the tops of my thighs as he played.
It was 3 am; any stray passerby could’ve seen us. His warm breath melted in delicious bursts against the back of my neck, commanding me to come for him. I did, in hard waves that crashed into every crevice of my body, leaving me gasping for both air and in thanks. It was everything I could do afterwards not to collapse to the ground in ecstasy, sobbing in gratitude as I hailed sweet Mary as apology for calling God’s name so fervently but blasphemously at the height of our intimate prayer for two.
Instead, I tucked my left boob back into my bra, smoothed down my hair, and hopped onto my bicycle to chase the rising sun home. I remembered to say thank you first, though. Mama raised me to be polite, after all.
My name is Laura Jane Williams, and this is the beginning of how I got over one man by getting under, and on, and in front of many, many others.
One dreary March afternoon, after six years in a (quite) loving, (mostly) committed relationship, I got dumped. He was all, It’s kinder to do this now, and I was all, NOW? IT’S BEEN SIX YEARS! NOW WOULD’VE BEEN AFTER THE FIRST DATE! And he was calm, all, You’ll thank me later because you are like a scared caged bird that I am setting free, and I was like, FUCK YOU! AND USE BETTER METAPHORS!
And then he said quietly, I’m not happy.
Eventually I said, Well, thank you for the memories.
We had a silent cup of weak tea that burned my tongue and soon afterwards he left. He didn’t turn around as I watched him walk away.
What I could have done to mend myself after gifting my heart to a bastard who wiped his ass on it, is rush into another relationship with an unsuitable man who I could – given the incentive of having to be alone with the debilitating pain of failure until the end of all time – convince myself was absolutely perfect for me.
I could have gotten married to the next chap that asked, so that I’d feel loved and needed and like I was enough for somebody – ANYBODY- eventually forgetting that I was rejected by the man who I thought was my future husband without much of an explanation beyond, “Things change, Laura.”
But then eighteen months later I’d realise I’d made a terrible mistake by burying my emotion, and I’d try to fix it by having a baby. And I’d be so miserable when that didn’t magically cure my melancholy that I’d have another baby as a temporary excuse to continue with my self-made façade because the one thing scarier than feeling alone with somebody you don’t love is feeling alone, well. Alone.
Trapped in a promise of my own making, my entire life forecast from there on would be package family holidays to Spanish islands with a man I wished was somebody else, lunch with in-laws I despised for playing along so happily with our lie, and playgroup coffee mornings with other equally unhappy mothers who secretly fuck my husband – and I, theirs – on the weekends.
Incidentally, not long after The Shit Bag Ex dumped me he got engaged to my best friend, and I’m quite convinced that this is the future that awaits them both. They deserve each other. And untreatable scabies.
Time was a far more sensible idea, I thought. But if it takes exactly half as long as the length of your relationship to get over it, I knew I’d have to be single for almost three years. Which is a very long time indeed. Not in terms of modern feminist reform, or European humanist revolution, but definitely in terms of sex. Because what I also knew is that I couldn’t go 36 months, 1,000 days, or over twenty-six hundred HOURS without cock.
I was heartbroken, not dead.
And so, over this time, I came to realise that even though heartbreak is an all-encompassing motherfucker that robs you of your time, your tears, and your ability to feel without battery-operated machinery, when you fall off the proverbial horse you have to go get back on it again.
I decided to fuck myself better.
Spoiler? It didn’t work.