I know exactly when the end began. He gave me a great hint when he said, "I'm sorry love, I just don't feel comfortable doing this anymore." Not a bad hint eh?
He kept speaking, carried on for several more minutes. I never heard anything else he said. Right at that moment, my heart shattered. Shards of glass seared painfully through my body. I bled to death internally, but my lungs continued taking in air.
We met online. A fast friendship that sprang out of nowhere. I told him things about myself I'd never said to another human being. He told me personal things also. We talked about our pasts, our families, our likes and dislikes, even our wants and needs.
When the ICQ logging on sound rang from my speakers, my heartrate tripled. Excitement filled my day. I smiled at everyone all the time. I found myself grinning into the saucepan of vegetables cooking on the stovetop for no reason other than my happiness was overflowing.
I was completely and utterly head over heels in love. Even the moon, on my twilight dog walks, looked huge and beautiful, and glowed like the massive sphere it really was. I felt I could just step across the glistening sky and walk around it all night long. I wrote poetry. Pretty amateurish poetry at that, but when I sent him some, he loved it. He met every need I had. I felt that I met his needs too.
We had an unconditional love. We could stand naked in front of each other and be unafraid of what the other would think. How many people can admit to receiving that kind of loving? How many of us can say we haven't judged another person at some point? We never judged each other.
Nothing else existed unless I wanted it to. My family, my own children and husband... they were all completely secondary to my online love. But still, I met their needs too. I gave my job all my attention and love, I gave my family all my attention and love, and I gave my love everything of myself that I had to give. I held nothing back.
Oh yes, I went through a difficult time. Having to accept that we'd never be able to meet, was so hard for me. But I got past it. I accepted it. It seems though, that he couldn't. He couldn't deal with the 'other' woman in his life. His cyber mistress. Me. He couldn't deal with the guilt he felt when he was with his pregnant wife.
Oh, I haven't mentioned he was married? Yes, I knew that much when we began chatting. But I didn't realise she was pregnant. I didn't realise that he was looking for some kind of sexual release because his wife wouldn't, or couldn't, accommodate his needs. I just didn't know.
I'd found the unconditional love I was looking for. I'd found an ability to be able to return it. My mind blanked out every other aspect, every other possible problem, every other realistic event. I lived totally in the moment.
And then it ended. Like the click of a locked door on a jail cell. To say I was devastated sounds so trite. I couldn't stomach food for three weeks. I couldn't stand to be in the kitchen cooking dinner for my family. My stomach kept heaving. I picked at pathetic morsels I'd put on my plate so my family wouldn't notice. I lost weight rapidly, my cheeks became gaunt and my hair and skin looked lifeless. I went for my nightly walks, taking the dog with me. I sat on the bank's edge by the creek and bawled my eyes out. My family needed me, but I couldn't give them anything of myself. I had nothing to give.
Why me? Why the hell me? Why let me fall in love so deeply, only to take it away from me? I couldn't come to terms with the loss at all. At any point in any day, I would burst into tears. The loss of control I felt when these tears smothered me, scared me to death.
I could be in my car driving in traffic to work, and suddenly this overwhelming ache would move up my shoulders, up the back of my neck and culminate in floods of tears. I'd arrive at work only to tell them I couldn't cope and then drive home. I'd be working with the kids in the classroom and suddenly tears would stream down my face. I'd go home and sit on the couch in the lounge, with a cushion in my lap. Staring at nothing. Sitting there for hours. Until my family came home. Then I'd go into automatic pilot mode and cook and clean and help with homework and all manner of mundane day to day things a wife and mother does. Along would come walk time again, and off I'd go with the dog. He must have thought I was stark staring mad. All I'd do is walk and cry. Looking up at that huge moon I'd just let my whole body tear itself into little pieces.
Now, three years down the track, I've finally stopped crying. I've accepted what happened and what could not happen. I've begun to care about my own family again. There is a glimmer of hope which hasn't quite died that has me thinking, I may even love them again as I used to.
I've learnt a lesson that not too many people get to learn. And do you know what? I'm thankful that I've had the chance to learn it. I know what unconditional love is. For that few months in my life years ago, I had it. I know how to receive it and how to give it. One day I may even forgive me for letting myself fall in love.