If you’ve been following this blog for a long time (thank you to my besties who have been with me since day one – all those years ago), then you’ll know I have a really long, messy, seriously fucked up history with a guy called Matt.
The other day, I logged onto Facebook and saw that I’d missed his birthday by one day.
I went through a rollercoaster of emotions realising that.
I was distressed to have forgotten. I was confused at how this could have happened when a secret, subtle part of me keeps a careful eye on Matt’s life and always knows his birthday is coming up…and elation that maybe I was finally starting to let go of the guy who’s loosely kept my heart in his back pocket for over 3 decades now.
Swallowing down the panic “Aaargghh! I forgot Matt’s birthday!!!”, I quickly messaged him on Facebook messenger “Oh gosh, sorry I forgot, Matt! Happy birthday – hope you had a good one”.
His reply said everything.
In every word of his short response, my whole life exploded and came back together in the blink of an eye. I was broken by this guy, I was made alive by this guy. This guy has been my ultimate goal and my bittersweet heartache. This guy has been all I’ve ever wanted and the only thing I’ve ever asked for myself in my whole life…and now I was beginning to forget him.
Matt’s response floored me. It took my breath away at the realisation of it. The depth of it. The profound pain of it. The years it took to form it. The tears I’ve cried over him and the promises he always makes me that are the only things to stop the pain – even for the briefest of moments while the mirage of getting what I’ve always wanted shimmers just out of reach…as it always has.
“You’ve never forgotten before” Matt had typed out “Thanks, though. I had a great day“.
Those words. That sentence. That sums up my entire relationship with Matt. I know him. He knows me. We’ve been in each other’s lives since we were in our early teens. Matt can just look at me and easily reads my mind. He knows how deeply I love him and how I’d do anything to get him to just talk to me. It honestly scares me – the depth of my crazy infatuation for him.
“You’ve never forgotten before”
Matt’s right – I’ve NEVER forgotten before. To know he knows that too, just sends me into familiar heartache and confusion. When you think you’re in love with someone, their birthday means a lot to you because it means a lot to them.
In my teens, I would hopefully read my ‘starsigns’ and do those stupid quizzes in magazines and in those ‘gypsy’ or ‘fortune teller’ machines in gaming arcades where you’d put in your birthday and the birthday of the person you loved…and they’ll spit out a page of nonsence – but to my young, foolish heart – this was “our” (mine and Matt’s) future being told from the very stars. If any readouts/results said we weren’t meant to be, I’d roll my eyes, crumple that paper up and walk away thinking “star signs are bullshit”…but on the regular ocassion where they’d say we were “meant to be”, I’d swear they were written by astrological GENIUSES and would take their words as written in stone.
In my 20’s, I was hospitalised over calling and writing to Matt hundreds of times. I was literally cracking up over how much this guy messed me around. He told me he loved me, we planned our small wedding and how many kids we’d have. I left my life in Perth to fly to Darwin and build a life with Matt – who had a girlfriend. Great. So I flew back with the scattered pieces of my heart and I honestly thought I’d die from the pain it caused me.
You’d think I’d learn from these experiences, wouldn’t you? But this guy – this guy had me under his spell and I didn’t spend a day of my entire life without thinking about him in some way.
In my 30’s, Matt was again back in my life. He was honest enough this time to say he had a girlfriend and was working through a divorce with his ex wife. I didn’t care. I let the love-crazy 14 year old in my heart join forces with the 21 year old who was still trying to sticky-tape my heart back together from the last time Matt broke it…and before I knew it, I’d left my husband and was flying 5 hours to Darwin to ‘have a do-over’ (Matt’s words) with the man I’d loved pretty much all my life.
When I lost my virginity to Matt at 32, I felt like this was something that was bound to happen. I think it’s the one time in my life when I’d asked so desperately and for so long that even God in His wisdom let me have that moment – even to just shut me up. The thing was…I was always going to be in love with Matt and he was always going to keep me as a side piece; the nice girl always waiting on the sidelines cheering him on and there whenever he snapped his fingers.
He knew it. I knew it. We both lived like that.
It never once occured to me that I could cut ties with this guy. The guy who would reel me in whenever he was lost or lonely but would never love me back. Not fully, anyway.
Matt – for me – is like an addiction. I went about 8 years “sober” from him, focusing on my life and not leaning into that phonecall or that email or message that would reel me back in again. Matt would leave the flame burning and would test it at times, messaging “I was thinking of you last night” or “I probably shouldn’t say this, but…” and instantly I would be back there – addicted. Matt was like cocaine and every time I ‘used’ it, I felt like I was on top of the world for a moment…then come crashing back to earth harder than before. More bruised than before. More empty. I’d say to myself every time “NEVER AGAIN, JD” but then a message from Matt “Remember the time we…” and I’d be that excited 14 year old again. My phone would ‘ping’ with a message and at the sight of Matt’s name on my phone, I’d be 21 again and doing everything I could to get him back, or 32 again and aching from having sex with Matt, but thinking at the same time that I wanted to hurt like that…forever.
But 3 days ago, I forgot Matt’s birthday.
For the first time in THIRTY YEARS I wasn’t the first one to wish him happy birthday. I hadn’t been up all night so I could be the first to text, call or message him at 12:01am on every 9th of February.
I’ve celebrated Matt’s birthday every year for 30 years of my life. I’ve been in so many different homes, under so many skies, in so many states of repair or brokenness…yet I’ve always held onto that day. Matt’s birthday. The one day where no matter what place “we” were in, it would be okay to message him.
But this year, I forgot.
Probably because I was having a cupcake shoved into my surprised and OUTRAGED mouth at the time, but God’s a creative God, right?
I’m thankful for this. I’m hopeful about it.
Maybe this means I can finally let Matt go.
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