A Wednesday morning, 2:30 a.m. I punched in the pin code and I was in. Complete access to texts, Facebook, emails. Scroll. Quick. Apps, what apps? Facebook. Facebook chat. Texts. Scroll. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Gemma. Sarah. Jessica. Alana. Emma. Lisa. Tegan. Monica.
"Tell me what you'd do to me next?"
"Send me some photos."
"I think we'd be good together."
"Where can I meet you?"
"Thanks for coming last night."
"She'll be at work so that should be fine."
"She's so keen, but I'll never marry her."
"My partner, my other half, my best friend, my all and more. My first love was cheating on me."
I sat on the loungeroom floor in pitch black, hands trembling in fear he would wake and catch me in the act. I scrolled fast. I clicked so quick, I read quick. "Where is she now? I can send you photos. Do you want to Skype?" I didn't read everything, but I read enough. F*ck.
My partner, my other half, my best friend, my all and more. My first love was cheating on me.
I tiptoed back to the bedroom, around to his side of the bed, and quietly placed his phone back on the bedside table. I crept back into bed and I just lay there, staring at the ceiling, both hands on my chest, breathing ever so slowly, trying my best not to cry, trying not to wake him. I looked over at him. How could you do this? I had never felt so close to someone, yet so very alone.
Two days prior, we stood in the kitchen prepping dinner, and he spoke about a surprise he was planning for me. His words sealed with a kiss, his arms wrapped around my waist. We ate our dinner on the balcony as usual, overlooking Newcastle Beach.
By this point, we'd known each other just shy of four years. Officially dating for three years and nine months, and we'd lived together for two years on and off. We'd spoken about marriage and children and travel. We lived together in Darwin, Katherine and, at the very end, Newcastle. We did long distance for months on and off, but it was never an issue. It was our norm. Life as a Defence partner. In our final year, we lived together for an entire year. I fondly remember walking hand-in-hand down Newcastle Beach one sunny Sunday afternoon and saying to him, "If this is what it's like for the rest of my life, I'm happy." He said, "Me too."
Sim and Kurt (not his real name). Kurt and Sim. We had agreed on a name for our potential future son — let's just say the name was Jude — and we spoke of Jude often, even though he was far from actually existing. I'm still convinced my son will be named Jude. When Kurt and I ended, I not only grieved for the love lost between Kurt and me, I grieved for Jude, because I felt like he was meant to be in this world and now he never would be.
"We'd spoken about marriage and children and travel."
We met in 2008, while I was chaperoning my little sister to the local — the dodgiest nightclub you ever did see. One week later, we were on our first date. Three months later I'm having Christmas lunch with his family. Four months later, we're doing long-distance, Melbourne to Sydney. Two years later, I'm living with him in the Northern Territory outback, working behind the bar of a Sergeant's mess. I was happy. Or I thought I was.
So there I was that Wednesday morning, just staring at the ceiling, both hands on my chest, breathing so slowly. Trying so hard not to breakdown, trying not to wake him. Everything in the apartment was my own. Every single item, down to the very last fork, belonged to me. But the lease was in his name, substituted through the Defence.
"'Give me your phone.' His response? 'No.' He purposely locked his phone by punching in the incorrect pin."
I left for work much earlier than usual. I whispered goodbye and good day to Kurt; he hardly stirred. I got in my car and made it 100 metres up the road to a car park. I stared out to the ocean, took a deep breath, and then I cried. And I cried. And I cried. I couldn't breathe anymore.
An hour or so later, I drove back down the hill, put the key in my front door and walked down the hallway to the bedroom where he lay, awake, on his phone. The first words that came out of my mouth? "Give me your phone." His response? "No." What happened next? Well, he purposely locked his phone by punching in the incorrect pin five times too many. Then he turned it off. And put it back in his pocket. I did try to get it from him and he pushed me back. He had excuses for everything. He said I was overreacting. He said I misunderstood conversations I had read. He even said the whole situation was "kinda funny" if I really thought about it. And then he said he had to go to work. "Will you be home when I get back?" he asked. "Yes," I said.
As soon as he shut the front door behind him, I grabbed the suitcase from the top shelf of our closet, and I packed as much as I could, as fast as I could, into this one bag. I threw my suitcase into the back of the car, and I drove away. Out of Newcastle, down the freeway, crying, all the way home to Sydney.
"After four years of him being my main focus — my all — he had officially ruined me."
Six days later, I went back. I walked into the apartment, and he had dinner ready on the table. And it was then I knew: if this is what life was going to be like for the rest of my life, I was never going to be truly happy. After four years of him being my main focus, my all, he had officially ruined me. Simone as you knew her was gone. The next day, I repacked my suitcase and left, closing the door on Sim and Kurt. For good. When I arrived back to Sydney, I was completely and utterly broken.
One month later, I scored a job as an education recruitment consultant in Sydney's CBD. I loved it. I had forgotten how big the world was for a minute there. Some days were tougher than others, and I definitely had my moments of sadness. I particularly remember this one day, I got off the bus at Wynyard, and I was walking down Hunter Street to work when I just thought, "I could just stop right now and sit here and cry. I don't think I can do this." But I didn't stop. I kept walking, heels and head high, into the office with a smile. I did that every day until it no longer felt forced. Once it no longer felt like a chore, I quit city life and became a full-time makeup artist.
And so now, here I am. Completely ruined once, now completely repaired and better than new. Waiting ever so patiently for that day when I can say, "Hey, Jude."