I was so happy that I thought I would start to cry while laughing and dancing with my fiancé at our engagement celebration.I was confident I had found the guy I would spend the rest of my life with when I looked at Matthew when we were surrounded by family and friends.
He was just my soul mate.
We had planned our future together and were utterly in love.We planned to have a lovely wedding ceremony first, then save enough for our own home, and finally have kids.
My stupid 19-year-old self thought it was all so simple. I was the girl with it all. I smugly reminded myself.Why, then, 20 years later, am I still unmarried, childless, and haunted by the knowledge that I wasted the one real opportunity I ever had for happiness?
Eight years after that magnificent engagement party in 1989, I left my darling, dedicated, and faithful Matthew, confident that I would find a better, more interesting, and more satisfying life elsewhere.
There wasn’t, though.
I am 42 years old and have everything a successful person needs: successful work, stable finances, and a house in London’s famous Notting Hill. But I don’t have what I want: a devoted husband and family.
You know, I never did meet another man who provided all that Matthew did, who was as an understanding of me and as devoted to me as he was. Someone who was both my lover and greatest friend.
I find it painful to see friends now with their kids all about them since I know I will probably never have my own family. I recall the conversations Matthew and I had regarding potential parenthood, including our discussions of potential names. I can’t believe I walked away from so much joy, yet now here I am, back on the dating scene, seeking the very same thing I cast aside so long ago without giving it a second thought.
Even though I am aware that I cannot bring Matthew back, hearing about his life and how pleased he makes me hurt. He is happily married fifteen years after I called it quits on our romance
Many people will be evaluating their lives and relationships at this time of year and considering whether the other side of the fence is indeed greener. Many people fail to appreciate the nice things they already have because they mistake contentment with boredom. If you’re considering leaving behind such wealth, I strongly advise you to reconsider.
If I had just listened to Matthew when he begged me not to leave him in 1997, tears streaming down his face, how different things would be for me today. As the guy I loved’s heart broke in front of me, I was also crying, and it was painful for me to witness it. But I remained steadfast.
I warned him that one day I would look back and realize that I had made the worst mistake of my life as we clung to each other steadfastly. What a prediction those words have turned out to be.
Matthew told her, “I’ll always be here for you.” And I foolishly believed that I could return to him after putting him on hold.
When Matthew and I attended the same comprehensive school in Essex, we became friends. When I was 17 and enrolled in A-level studies, we began dating right before Christmas 1987. He had already finished school at that point and was employed as a motorbike courier.
Our family supported the relationship, and we got along like a house on fire. We soon realized we were in love. Matthew was passionate, but he was also quite realistic, something I would eventually find annoying. That Christmas, Dad gave me a leather jacket and a pair of thermal leggings.
After seeing each other for less than a month, he proposed two weeks later. He shouted at me to halt the car as I drove my tiny Mini Clubman to pick him up. We both leaped out of the car when I suddenly braked amid traffic out of fear.
He knelt in the middle of the road while ignoring the horns of oncoming traffic. He said, “Karen Cross, I love you.” I chuckled and replied yes, overjoyed that he shared my sentiments. “Promise you’ll marry me one day.”
Matthew proposed adequately with a diamond solitaire ring at a special supper in the summer of 1989. We had our engagement party at the tiny house we were renting at the time two months later for 40 friends and family members.
We moved into the modest starter home we had just purchased in Grays, Essex, the year after with stuff we had begged, borrowed, and stolen. I was in my first junior position at a women’s magazine, and Matthew was fixing tires and exhausts, so our combined incomes of roughly £15,000 a year meant we struggled to make the home payments.
We laughed with joy at the thought of this grown-up new existence. We didn’t care, though, since we kept telling ourselves that soon enough, we’d be making more money and able to afford weekly indulgences and a bigger house where we could raise the children we had in mind.
But after that, the home market collapsed, and we found ourselves in negative equity.We should have been closed because of struggle, and initially, we were. However, as time went on and my magazine career – and income – increased, I began to hate Matthew as he jumped from one dead-end job to another.
Even though I still loved him, I felt ashamed of his low-paying jobs. I was irritated that despite being intelligent, he didn’t have a profession. After that, he acquired a garish blue and pink VW Beetle.
Why was he unable to operate a regular vehicle? Things started to annoy me that now seemed so simple.
I started to wish he was more educated and wealthy. I was jealous of friends who had financially stable relationships and could help them start children.
Matthew lost his status as a peer in my eyes. I stopped seeing all the things about him that had made me fall in love with him, including our shared sense of humor, his ferocious intelligence, and his will to defy trends. I instead noticed a person holding me back.
I pushed him to pursue a job, so when he was approved to join the police in 1995, I was overjoyed. It should have marked the beginning of a new chapter in our lives, but all it did was delay it. Previously, we would spend every evening and weekend together.
Now, we barely ever see one another. While I put in a lot of hours working on launching a new magazine, Matthew worked shifts that lasted all day and night.
Our sexual life had diminished, and we had fewer nights out together. I stopped enjoying the small gestures he made, like leaving me to love notes under the pillow or browsing used bookstores for books he knew I’d enjoy. Although he was my best buddy, I treated him like nothing.
I informed Matthew that I was leaving after harboring grudges against him for several weeks. We spoke and cried for hours as he attempted to convince me to remain, but I was determined.
My parents couldn’t believe I was leaving the man they thought was the one for me. “Karen, think carefully about what you’re doing,” my father said. That day still haunts me. There is a lot to be said about having a true lover.
I, however, chose not to pay attention since I was sure that another superior, Mr. Right, was just around the corner.
I relocated to a leased apartment in Hornchurch, Essex, a little distance away, and eagerly embraced single life. I was an editor for a major magazine by this time. Premieres and dinner or drink parties were the norms in life.
We stayed close and even shared information about new relationships. Nevertheless, even after I abandoned him, I never thought the women he met suited. Now I recognize that my actions were motivated by jealousy. I was trying to keep him for myself.
But in 2000, he met Sara, his first real lover after I, and our friendship came to an end.I called him one evening not long after his 34th birthday to ask for his thoughts.
Unusual for him, Matthew requested me not to call him again. “Please stop sending me Christmas and birthday cards as well. Last week when Sara opened your card, she became pretty upset. I must prioritize her feelings.
Matthew had suddenly put another lady ahead of me, and I wouldn’t say I liked that. How can she put a barrier between us? I’m embarrassed to confess that over the following several weeks, I had many angry phone conversations with each of them, expressing my rage.
I had no sense whatsoever. I didn’t want Matthew to come back, but I think Sara stole the show.
Naturally, after one incredibly unpleasant exchange, Matthew hung up the phone and said he would no longer receive my calls. At the moment, I was unaware that I would never talk to him again.
I met Richard shortly after that. After a brief relationship, we got engaged and bought a charming farmhouse in the Norfolk countryside within a year. All the while, I traveled to London to pursue my journalism career.
I believed I had finally found the thrill and love I had been looking for as we traveled the nation together since he was a famous singer.
However, Richard complained that I frequently brought up Matthew in conversation and even compared him to him. Matthew was never far from my mind.
They differed significantly from one another. Richard appeared romantic, but he had a history of disloyalty. I never felt comfortable enough to establish a family with him. After three and a half years of dating, he eventually left after admitting he had gotten his most recent partner pregnant.
I experienced a complete breakdown in my life. I battled to gather myself throughout the following year and gave my soul a lot of thought. I, at last, got what my father was getting at. I recognized that Matthew was the one person who truly loved and understood me.
I wrote to him, apologizing and pleading for forgiveness—and a second chance—when I learned that he had broken up with Sara through a mutual friend. Though it had been six years since our previous conversation, I mistakenly thought he would still be interested in hearing from me.
I had no idea Sara, who had opened my extremely private letter, was still a patient of the home. She left me many angry, hateful voicemails after finding my phone number on it.
It was not unexpected that after writing to Matthew numerous times during the following few months, I never heard from him since I had unintentionally caused troubles in his life yet again. Ultimately, I stopped at birthday and Christmas cards, figuring he’d find a way to contact me if he ever changed his mind.
Then, I discovered that Matthew and Nicola had recently been married. I struggled to breathe for a short while before tears started to fall.As far as I know, Matthew and Nicola are still residents of Essex and are not yet parents. The following milestone is one I dread the most.
Matthew and I haven’t spoken in eleven years, so I’m forced to accept that the door is now shut.He could have found what he was seeking, and I would now be a distant memory.
Since Richard, I have only had one other major relationship, which lasted for four years with Rob. Rob made me think a lot about Matthew. He was honorable and upstanding; he was the heart and soul of the gathering, but he also had a sympathetic side.
However, after experiencing past heartbreak, we were too tired to make it work. While he had a grown son and preferred not to start over, I wanted children.So here I am again, alone, with my thoughts racing with “if-only.” We would have been married and had kids if I had stayed with Matthew.
Maybe Matthew wasn’t the correct choice after all. I’ll never know the answer, but I’m sure that leaving him robbed me of the possibility of ever having children.I can only criticize my younger, more self-centered self as I now look back. I can’t help but hope to run to see Matthew when I visit friends and relatives in our hometown.
I’d like to believe I’d apologize. that he can rely on me at all times. But I wouldn’t be shocked if he ignored me and continued.
I would caution anybody considering leaving unfulfilling relationships not to make the same mistake I did by mistaking contentment for misery. You could make a decision that you’ll live to regret.