The Rastafarian had continued to message me. I had ignored him or been curt with my responses but, on this particular evening, having taken a sort of ‘joie de vivre’ home with me, after a chilled afternoon with friends, my heart felt big enough to reply to him. I forgot, for a moment, that I’d lodged a claim against him to claw back the money he owed me.
‘Hey,’ I replied, ‘I’m good – how are you? Busy planning so no, I can’t come over. Sorry.’
I had lost some work from the previous night and so I was prepared for an evening of planning.
‘Come when you can. I want to see you. I love you Hun xx’
It occurred to me that it may be a good idea to pay him a visit in order to be as transparent as I could be about my claim against him.
‘I’ll let you know when I’ve finished,’ I replied.
‘Please give me a time,’ was his slightly stroppy (I felt) response, ‘or I will make other plans.’
This unleashed a fury from my phone which surprised even me. I reminded him of all the times he’d said that he was busy, but would ‘let me know’ if he had time to see me and being fairly easy-going about such things, I’d just got on with things whilst waiting for a text. By this time, my laptop had fired up and to my pleasant surprise, the loss was not that devastating. I managed to recreate my original Smart (my lesson plans are gradually evolving from PowerPoints to Smarts – a painful process!) from Smarts that had been ‘auto-recovered’ for the coming week and so when he back-pedalled and said ‘OK, OK, whenever you’re ready,’ I gave him a time in an hour or so that I would be there.
Seeing him was difficult. He was pleasant, loving, almost humble. After some time of genuinely enjoying his company, I told him.
It was not an experience I would want to repeat.
He said nothing for a moment, then looked away.
‘God,’ he muttered, ‘you’re taking me to court . . . ‘
I justified my actions but he didn’t seem to be listening.
He didn’t shout, just stood, quietly.
I felt I was witnessing raw emotion, genuine feeling, pure distress. I didn’t relish in it, yet there was something refreshing about seeing his feelings exposed. There was a certainty about the reaction I was seeing. I knew that this was an honest response – there was no deceit – this was real. No melodrama, just quiet . . . Conversely, it polarised past emotional responses in its brutal honesty. It compounded the uncomfortable feeling I’d had in the past that his emotional responses weren’t necessarily genuine . . .
I left and sat in the car.
He called me.
“You’re leaving – just like that?”
“I didn’t think you’d want me around.”
“Shall I come back in? To talk about it?”
“No. I don’t want to see you.”
“Well, that’s what I thought,” I said, as he put the phone down.
I should have felt strong, empowered, justified . . . But instead, I felt intense sadness. He’d greeted me warmly and his mood had been upbeat and I was responsible for him crashing and burning, emotionally.
He sent me a message full of melancholy and I sent him my defence back. He responded once more and so I suggested I return so we could talk. But he refused, so I left.
I waited patiently to start feeling at peace with myself. But it didn’t happen. I went to bed and lay awake, feeling troubled. How can this be? I wondered. I had taken perfectly reasonable action, yet I was feeling negative with myself. How was he feeling, I wondered? Angry? Contrite? Wronged? Humbled?
When I woke the following morning, I had that sickening feeling about a minute or two after waking, that all wasn’t well. This is ridiculous, I thought. It was a feeling of loss, much like a bereavement or the end of a relationship. I had not prepared for this. There was something about seeing him broken that was causing me acute emotional distress. He deserved to be taken to court, there was no doubt about that, but I didn’t have enough desire for vengeance to enjoy the pain it would cause him. I wanted my money back, but at what cost? He deserved this, but maybe it should be at someone else’s hands, not mine. Someone who could see this through. Maybe this wasn’t for me. Maybe it wasn’t the Rastafarian’s time to grow up yet. Maybe I should turn the other cheek. ‘Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them!’ I thought of Les Miserables, when Jean Val-Jean steals the candlesticks and the priest, instead of dobbing him in (I’ve definitely been around teenagers too much), says ‘hey – you left some behind – take these too!’ I’m not suggesting I had a desire to make a gift of anything else to him, least of all a pair of expensive candlesticks, of which I have none, but I did feel a desire to walk away from the angst of the tangled mess that my relationship with this undesirable character had become.
At work, I pondered over my feelings and my actions in snatches: past, present and future. I say ‘in snatches’ because you can’t really take time out from a lesson to reflect on your personal life, so inbetween lessons, the memory of his face was fading in and out of my mind, whether I wished it to or not. A colleague had suggested I return his bracelet to him, out of goodwill and I had reacted strongly. Goodwill?! I had questioned. Hadn’t I shown him enough goodwill?! I think he had regretted his ‘advice’. The Rastafarian didn’t deserve his bracelet back. He had broken my crucifix and owed me 2k, amongst other misdemeanours. But at this moment in time, I stared at its presence around my wrist and I didn’t want it. It meant nothing. I would return it. I would withdraw the claim too. It was unlikely that I would be successful and I didn’t feel bitter any more. He didn’t deserve for me to withdraw the claim but I didn’t want to carry negativity around with me. I pitied him. He might have extorted money out of me, but I had the capacity to forgive him and move on. And leave him behind. On his hopeless treadmill of deception, excess and playing at being a grown-up.
I messaged him. I told him how disappointed I was in his treatment of me, but that I was withdrawing the claim and dropping his bracelet round. He was pleased. In the evening, I dropped the bracelet round and we were ‘friends’ again. He showed me the letter he’d received from the court and when I had the chance, I secretly slid it into my pocket. I realised that my new address was on it and that I didn’t want him to be privy to such information.
My week progressed and Rhiannon asked about the money situation. I told her he hadn’t started to repay it and she expressed a desire to contact him herself. I was not in favour of this. He was capable of the most venomous vitriol and as she herself was recovering from a break-up, this was not the kind of exposure I wanted for her. It wasn’t news; both she and her brother had made it clear that they would be contacting him if he didn’t start to repay the money.
I decided I would like to see him to alert him to my children’s intentions, in the hope that he might start to take responsibility, in the face of his potential embarrassment of my children communicating their disappointment to him.
‘I would like to talk to you face-to-face,’ I messaged.
‘Can you lend me £10 and I give back tomorrow?’ he replied.
If ever I’d had doubts about ending the relationship, they had just popped like an over-inflated balloon. I declined his request, of course and the verbal abuse that ensued was relentless. This man had no scruples. No remorse. No sense of responsibility. To call him childish even, would be an insult to children, because my children had never displayed such lack of care for others, lack of humility, lack of ability to reflect on their actions, even at a young age.
I blocked him.