Part three: Red flags

I walk through the courtyard and up the stairs at the back corner of the wall, towards the old tower lookout. It’s colder up here, the wind is stronger but I am sheltered by the overhang and it’s quiet. I look out over the village below and spot my home on the far side of the valley. I love this place, the mountains, the castle, the snowboarding in the winter and the summer nights full of laughter and warmth. When I had come back from England I had spoken to my boss and told him that I would be leaving my job in Austria to start a new life in England with the man who I planned to marry. I physically cringe every time I think of it, what had I been thinking? I didn’t want to leave this place, I didn’t want to say goodbye to a community who took me in and accepted me so completely. This was my new home, but now, now I was standing before an abyss of unknowns and I felt frozen to the spot not wanting to move and not knowing where to move too. I felt broken and lost and very alone as I stood there, the mountains so huge standing before me, with every peak I was reminded how small I really was in the world. At first, I would notice little yellow flags, like the tiniest sensation that things weren’t quite as they should be. It was the changes in the promises that the man I was planning on spending my life with was making, he had said of course a dog in the house in something I would want, but after we got engaged it changed to ‘no I would never have a dog’. It seemed at the time like something I could talk him into later so I left it alone when it started to become an argument. He bought me a mobile phone so that I he could call me and we could text each other, but then if I forgot to charge it, or if I didn’t pick it up while I was having dinner with friends it became an argument. I put my elbows on the edge of the stone parapet and stretched, again cringing at the thought. I had taken August off to spend the month in England and it was there that I finally allowed myself to really opening and honestly look at the commitment I was about to make. It left me hallow, how do I back out of this was all I could think, we had a venue, we had a dress, a church, he had bought a ring, his parents were so excited, mine were excited. How could I change my mind? It would just be viewed as another ‘Laurie runs from commitment’ moment in my life, no one would understand, they never have. When I was nineteen a really lovely guy from Scotland had wanted to marry me, but I was nineteen and I panicked at the thought of settling down at so young an age. I hated hurting him, I had honestly cared about him but I couldn’t marry him. I started dating someone I knew wouldn’t want to marry me, and that dragged me into a long drawn out pathetic mess that left me, leaves me still as I stand here on this cold November night a sad reflection of the girl who once danced in the rain believing the world was hers. I sit on the old bench behind me, unable now to see the valley but with a whole view of the night sky, it’s so beautiful that it catches my breath, yes, it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth. The cold air isn’t the same here as it is in Toronto where I grew up, there is no humidity so the cold doesn’t seep into your bones, you don’t sit and shiver, you just bundle up and enjoy. I lean back and close my eyes thinking about all the mistakes I had made that led me here. There were so many thousands of little mistakes, so many compromises of myself that chipped away at me until I was soon tiny little broken pieces lying all over Canada, Austria and now England. In August I was told my long hair would look better cut shorter, my clothes would suit me more if I wore ‘these ones’, I would not embarrass myself if I were less ‘Canadian’, if I tried to be a little more British. By the end of August he announced he would never dream of living in Canada, which had been a promise he had made me before the ring, before Paris, before that day in June when everything changed. I remember begging God earlier in August to give me peace about my decision to marry this man but each day my heart grew more and more unsettled, until finally I couldn’t sleep or eat, red flags seemed to pop up daily but all I could thin was ‘how am I supposed to end this when so many things had already been planned, and yes, there was a part of me that has to admit that I wanted to be married and I was afraid that if I said no, if I backed out, then this time I would never get another chance. He had corroded my self-esteem by then (already a quite battered from the non-committal guy in Canada) to a place where I honestly believed no one would or could ever really want me. I open my eyes, not being able to help the tears that had formed at that thought, the idea that I might be unlovable hurt to my core, it’s all I had ever really wanted from anyone. To be loved.

To be continued…

Published by lauriehaughton

Author & Photographer

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