Dear __

I write this letter, because in speech I am often inarticulate and clumsy, or the words fail to make the journey from my brain to my mouth.

Don’t worry – this is not to bare you bad news. This is not a ‘dear John’ letter – quite the opposite.

I just wanted to say that I don’t know what has happened to me since I met you. Before you appeared in my life I was cynical, jaded and had all but given up hope of ever finding someone to enjoy, to make me feel whole, with whom I could have fun, share passion or even just watch TV.

I had just about had enough of the ill-matched dates, the nice-but-not-quite rights, the downright unsuitable and those I liked who wanted better. You were my last ditch attempt and I was sure you were out of my league, so I entered the whole thing half-heartedly.

But whatever spell has been cast has been potent with lasting effects. We met as total strangers, without even the usual exchange of emails or phone calls. I was a bag of nerves as I got off the train, waiting to see that flash of disappointment in your face, as you caught sight of me. I could not even give eye contact, as I spotted you and walked towards you.

But your smile and your “don’t worry, I won’t bite” were enough to allow me to exhale. From then on, the climb became a level stroll and the two hours we planned to spend together became eight. And the only time I checked my watch was when you took me back to the station. For the whole day we had drifted into our own time bubble, we talked and talked and kissed, held hands and the stranger became the only person I even noticed.

It has been a few weeks now and still I think about you whenever I can. I don’t feel I deserve your affections when I am guilty of so many misdemeanours. Maybe you will find out more about me and change your mind. Maybe I should enjoy it while it lasts.

At least if it all ends tomorrow, I can thank you for showing me someone cared for and believed in me one more time, that someone kind, caring, sexy and beautiful gave me a chance, took me back to a place I haven’t visited in many years. You have made me feel like I matter, that I am not just someone who cooks, cleans, works, advances to middle age and solitude… And I know you have loved and lost, but if you hadn’t I wouldn’t have you now and your open, generous heart. I will give you mine and more, if you stick around and see beyond my flaws.

Here’s to hoping this does not end.


Me xxxx

The man in the picture

The man in the picture smiles broadly; he shows a row of even white teeth. The smile is natural, spontaneous, etching crinkles around his eyes. And those eyes – clear, blue, welcoming the camera lens, not shifty, nor untrusting. He presumably knows whoever is behind the viewfinder – maybe it’s a friend, an old girlfriend, lover, brother or sister.

He stands in a large green space, surrounded by hills, limestone and mist on the horizon. The straps of a rucksack rest on his shoulders, his thick brown hair – closely cropped, a neatly trimmed beard. This coupled with his blue fleece suggest ‘outdoorsy, natural, low maintenance guy, up for fun and adventure.’ This alone draws me in.

The man in the picture is looking for ‘long term relationship, short-term relationship, fling, marriage, just friends, let’s see what happens.’ He doesn’t disclose whether he wants this all at once or which he would prefer – or maybe he would like a different woman for each. For this man, I would happily play six different roles and change my name, clothes, hair and voice for each.

The man in the picture is 38, 5ft 11ins, describes his sense of humour as ‘goofy’ and would happily bake a cake for that special someone.

He likes woman who are down to earth and comfortable in their own skin, but hates clothes shopping.  I feel I tick all these boxes and many more.

The man in the picture ‘likes’ me. I ‘like’ him by clicking on the word ‘like’. He writes me a breezy  ‘Hey, how are you’ message. I reply in a similar vein. The communication channels have now opened. We discover we both like crunchy peanut butter and walking in the hills. He starts calling me ‘hun’, I call him his name. He tells me he’s already been on ‘a few’ dates and clearly, he is picking up a virtual fan club of admirers, all vying for a date.

We have a frantic week of messaging, getting in touch at least twice a day. It gets quite heated in a virtual 70-miles-apart- way. We mention showers (of the spraying bathroom variety), underpants and stockings. My heart begins to leap every time I hear from him. I am infatuated with a photograph and some words. The idea of him excites and intrigues me.

Then, I am thrown back to the ground with a thud.

There is a longer than normal gap between our messages, not just a pause for him go to work, get on with his life. It is a gaping, empty, cold pause. His profile disappears; he has hidden it.

I am bewildered, lost, find it hard to swallow. I tell myself this is not even a whole person – it’s a part of him he has chosen to display on this forum, probably his best side, his shop front. So why should I feel so bereft?

Before I can stop myself I send him a message asking how he has disappeared – did he even know he had disappeared? Maybe it was a malfunction on the website, a page inexplicably lost.

But the man in the picture wanted to disappear.

He needed a break from the whole caboodle. Other stresses in his life were taking over so he needed ‘head space’ and not the added distraction of messaging strangers.  I would take distraction any day.

Seven long days pass. My heart is on the floor. I tell myself to stop being ridiculous. He is just a man in a picture, who manages to hold his smile, despite being stressed and a heavy rucksack weighing him down.

Then on the seventh day, a message pings into my silence. He treads carefully, asking how I am and how my life is.

I adopt a bright and breezy tone, suppress my excitement, joy and relief. And we restart our exchanges, but something has been lost. He is less interested, wearier.

The man in the picture is fading away; the camera lens is starting to lose focus.

Now you tell me!

Now you tell me, after five years of waiting and hoping, five years which made me question everything. Five years of hurt, self-doubt, endless tears and heart ache.

I gave you my body, my heart, my soul. I sacrificed time with friends, time with my kids, time for me. I looked deep into your eyes for even a speck of the love I craved, but it never came.

For years I waited, hoped, wished, but it never came. “Forget him, move on, find someone who really cares,” inner and outer voices told me. But no, I carried on hoping; feeling that nothing, no one, could match up to you and the feelings you ignited in me.

You were my world and every decision I made – what I said, wrote, planned, dreamed – was for you or because of you. I was utterly, hopelessly under your spell.

Yet still, you were indifferent. You left it to me to contact you, you never even told me you liked me, or held my hand in the street, never called me your lover or girlfriend. Everything we did was down to me. Weeks, even months, could have passed before you contacted me.

And now the spell is broken. I am bled dry of love for you.

All these years of digging for the treasure of your heart have exhausted me, left the soil dry, empty, spent. I have finally accepted that the inner and outer voices were right. Only now I ask myself why I defied them for so long, for years of my life which I will never get back; years of my life when I could have been happy with someone else.

I am finally moving on, planning a brighter future, without the second-guessing, endless waiting and pain you caused. There is someone else who cares for me, who wants me, whose heart is open. It is early yet, so the buds are only just starting to form, but I can finally smile with true hope.

YET NOW YOU TELL ME YOU LOVE ME. After all this time, all this hurt, now you tell me. It is too late. You bled me dry, used all I had for you. You say love is an infinite resource. Not so when you rip out someone’s heart and stamp on it. You cannot fix it, but someone else may have a chance to help me grow a new one. I cannot and will not go back.

I wish you well, but please do not tell me you love me.