The very first man I dated at nineteen reappeared in my life thirty seven years after our split. I had forgotten why our relationship had ended.
During those thirty-seven years if someone had asked me about the most influential relationships I had in my life I would have missed that relationship out completely.
Not because I did it consciously, I had simply relegated the experience to the most distant recesses of my mind and only the basics of it were available for recall.
My first-ever long-term relationship… That lasted a whole year… My first love… Not an important influence?
Now that was an interesting psychological phenomenon to observe in myself.
I will explain…
In seventies and eighties the thing to do on a Sunday was to go to the “Sesh.” The Sunday session was a few of hours of binge drinking that occurred because of the liquor licensing laws.
It was probably the catalyst for our binge drinking culture — the government of the time had special religious laws that trained us to binge drink.
My sister and I started the habit of going to Steve’s “Sesh” in Nedlands when I was about fifteen or sixteen years old and we kept it up until I was eighteen and once I was of legal age I felt that it was optional.
Steve’s was popular and packed and there were always people spilling out the doors. I didn’t have any money at the time so drinking wasn’t an choice, I would order a glass of water and it would arrive with ice and I would sip it as though it was straight vodka.
I was at boarding school at the time, and every second week-end my parents would sign me out so I could stay with my grandmother in Nedlands.
It was wonderful staying with her as she really cared for me in a way that my mother couldn’t so I revelled in her attention.
At the “Sesh” if a man asked me if I wanted a drink I would order a Pim’s because it was pretty and I liked the umbrella — I actually didn’t much like alcohol and didn’t really drink much of it until my mid 20’s.
On the Sunday’s that I was with my Nanna, I would hang out at the “Sesh” for the few hours allowed and then go back to Nannas, don my school uniform complete with tie, hat and lace up shoes. I would take the taxi back to the “gaol like” boarding school by 8pm.
I had no idea what Nanna thought we were doing. Maybe she thought that we were just going for a walk?
Times were much freer then and most adults were not the control freaks that many parents are now.
I left boarding school and continued with the Sunday “Sesh” with friends when there was nothing better to do.
We would trawl around to different places. One of the places was Chelsea Tavern also in Nedlands but on the highway. We would walk in and it would be so crowded that we women would get fondled and pinched and not know who did it as there were too many close men to choose from.
I always found these places noisy, confusing and as I didn’t often drink — outright stupid. I remember men with reddened, beaded sweaty faces and slurred words coming much too close to me and blasting me with alcoholic breath while asking me out.
I don’t really know why I went. Peer pressure I am guessing — it just seemed to be the thing that was done on a Sunday afternoon.
After a couple of weeks going to Chelsea Tavern I got to know a guy who I will call Sam. He was English and had not been in Australia for long. Sam had the strongest accent, and to my unschooled Australian ears it sound as though he was from Northern England — Manchester or somewhere like that. I thought that he was from the back blocks of nowhere.
Little did I know that he was from London and had a life of endless opportunity and due to rheumatic fever conversely had experienced such pain that he would spend his life trying to prove that he was good enough by being spectacular.
He was quiet and thoughtful and didn’t seem to get drunk, sweaty and garrulously — stick his face in my space — annoying.
I was a student and was still skint so I am guessing he bought me a Pims or two. After some time we got to go out together.
We went out for about a year but it was a strange relationship because he spent all weekend playing soccer.
I am not a spectator so when he invited me to “watch my man play sport” I declined as I had assignments and study to do. I could see no point in sitting in the cold being bored to death. It would have been like putting my life on hold to “please” my man — while I wasted my life. That was not going to happen therefore we caught up during the week and I would be home by midnight.
Sort of a Cinderella thing, I had my life to lead as he did and we both accepted that fact.
Apparently he was well known in the soccer world but I was oblivious to that fact. He had played a few games for Chelsea and then played in Johannesburg before coming to Australia under a very good contract. I knew nothing about soccer so this didn’t impress me.
Although he had only been in Australia a short time he owned a house and had started a business. Again I knew nothing about buying houses and business so didn’t give those facts a thought.
OK — lets get things straight here. I was nineteen years old and at that age many people are not interested in that sort of stuff, and I wasn’t. I was on my own life path where I had decided that these sorts of things were going to be done by me and I was not interested in the success or lack of it in the man I was dating.
Another fact was that he was eleven years older than me. “What the?” was I not thinking. “What the?” was he doing?
When I was older and told my friends about him they called him the “Cradle snatcher.”
Anyway, that is the way it was…
Sam had a younger brother who was addicted to heroin and at times he would come and stay at the house. This brother was extremely good looking — at the time — however — just having him in the same room as me gave me the creeps. He would proposition me the minute Sam was out of the room — it was skin crawling stuff.
I tried to speak to Sam about this but he was dismissive.
What is it about alpha males? Do they have a specific neuropathy of the eight cranial nerve — auditory/vestibulo-cochlear? Or is it a fact of life that most men simply don’t listen to women?
He had a life full of work, business deals, soccer training, games and deals on the side and he mainly focused on that.
Over the year I came to understand that he was just not really interested in putting time let alone care and kindness into creating a healthy relationship with me, so I moved on.
My heart was bereft. In order to deal with it I blocked him out of my mind — I hit the delete key and that was that.
I remember him being really upset by our relationship demise. This is the polar opposite of the previous behaviours of ” I don’t give a toss” that he had been doing before the split.
It appeared to me that he only gave me true attention once I had let him go. How many songs of that time sing about that situation? Whole albums of both male and female singers.
For some time afterwards my doorstep would have gifts from him.
First a dozen red roses in a beautiful white box with a red ribbon — my reaction to that was “Why didn’t he bother to do that when were together?”
Then he started to leave records. First Carole King — Tapestry — with a note to listen to track four — “Home again.”
Luckily at the time I simply put the record away and didn’t notice the irony of Track three — what I felt — preceding how he felt or I could have got him to listen to Track three “It’s too Late.”
I purposely didn’t listen to the words of Home Again and didn’t until decades later. I just didn’t want to revisit a relationship with him — that level of painful confusion was not an option.
Over time he became more introspective so left Carly Simon and then the Moody Blues records— again I didn’t listen to the tracks that he asked.
Once I had hit that exquisitely painful delete key I just couldn’t.
From about that time onwards I had a “gluey” disc at L5/S1 and it would regularly get stiff.
I would always do the right thing being the “a good Physiotherapist.” It didn’t give me major issues apart from feeling stiff on and off. It did sometimes annoy me that it would come back but it was never severe enough to actually seriously treat because it would release with a few stretches. I didn’t give it much thought.
Over the years I occasionally saw Sam and each time he tried to engage me. I was always polite but I had him filed away as “not good for me” so I kept him at arms length so that he had no way in.
Fast-forward thirty-seven years.
When I was fifty-six Sam contacted me again and asked me for coffee.
At this age I was unphased by the behaviour of others. Time had cured me of the vast majority of my insecurities. I felt up to whatever arose in life. Therefore, I curious about us as I realised that I had forgotten or blocked most of the details of that relationship.
I was not sure that was a good thing.
This left me feeling interested as to why I couldn’t remember what had happened and open to meeting up with him.
I felt that it would be “character building” for me to open that Pandora’s box of suppressed emotions, so I decided to follow that idea. We started dating again or as I can see it now. I consciously put myself into “past-life-therapy”.
It was a strange feeling to date Sam, as I would slip in and out of current time.
One moment I would feel like that nineteen year old who was enamored with him and at other times I would see him from my calm older eyes, only to be flipped back into the past and feel all confused and bothered again.
It was exquisite fun!
At times I would simply say to him “I’m back at nineteen you’re not going to get any sense out of me now, I will answer that later” Sam would look confused by that answer but I was telling the truth.
It was bliss to be back in his arms as it was familiar and felt “right.” I think the physical attraction was probably the main reason I was with him at that young age. He was actually a good choice as he had been a very gentle, interesting and kind lover. Just what an inexperienced nineteen year-old would require when you come to think of it.
He thought that it would be a good idea for us to travel together for a week to see how we would get on in present time. It proved to be an amazing week for me. Familiar and easy would be the feelings I would give our time together.
Each day another memory would return and I would be whipped back into the past to face another situation that I had buried.
It was like having a daily Kinesiology or Psychology session without the Therapist.
A gentle unfolding of feelings and memories, so as the time went along I realised why I left him in the first place and it was a solid reason that would have to be sorted if we were to keep dating.
In current time I teach a course on relationships and this is one of the quotes by Tolstoy that I use in the course.
All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Happy families require all of the functional behaviours and if one or more is missing then you can’t have a long term healthy, happy family.
This maxim is true for relationships and businesses. I have stolen that quote and rewritten it.
All happy relationships resemble one another, each unhappy relationship is unhappy in its own way.
Wendy Schulze (apologies to Leo Tolstoy)
This is the reason why I chose to move on from Sam — he didn’t have a few basic relationship skills.
We discussed this and Sam was most happy to talk however, his actions remained the same. This is exactly what had happened thirty seven years before and that gave me a clear choice.
It was like a “not so instant replay” thirty-seven years later.
This time I left him knowing that he was not meaning to be hurtful or unkind. He simply didn’t have primary relationship skills and didn’t seem interested in learning them.
He had explained to me that his relationships during those thirty-seven years had not been very happy. They had been filled with bitter recriminations and all that sort of stuff that doesn’t really interest me — these unhappy relationships were still affecting him in current time.
After we stopped dating I was struck down by severe back pain. I couldn’t sleep at night due to the pain. Worse, treatment didn’t help. This is because I was stretching it as I would normally do. I hadn’t realised that this time it was a different situation for those joints.
After a couple of weeks of not sleeping I understood that the pain was mainly inflammation — not my usual stiffness— and once I started to give myself Physiotherapy treatment for inflammation it quickly settled and I have not had a stiff back since.
It was like I had been holding that tightness and pain in that triad of joints for all those years. Once I reclaimed and resolved those feelings it just let go, and when it started to move after thirty-seven years it protested with inflammation.
This is what Applied Kinesiology is based on. Emotions creating stiffness, pain or illness. I was a living example of resolved emotions resolving physical ailments.
For the last thirty-seven years I would need to stretch my back at least once every few weeks particularly after long flights or times in the car. It is now over a year and I have not had any stiffness in that area despite long times travelling and sitting — it is like a miracle.
I am so grateful towards my nineteen-year-old self who was so enamored and at the same time worked out that that relationship was not good for her.
To love someone and walk away is a very difficult and brave thing to do, that young hurt girl must have been very strong.
Sam and I are now friends and we catch up from time to time.