Since our upcoming anthology will be a collection of sad, mad, bad romance stories and poems, we thought it appropriate to ask our writers what their particular view is of that weird, beautiful, frightening emotion called love. Let’s start with Cat Nicolaou, one of the new additions to our pool of writers, and hear what she has to say.
(And a little side note: Our first anthology, Gifts from the Dark, is on sale from today on for the next five days, that’s February 8 to 12, for $0.99. Go tell everybody. Now, over to Cat.)
Happiness… What is happiness? You must have wondered that a thousand times in your life. I know I have. No matter how many people you ask that question, you will hear a different reply from each and every one of them. And no matter how much you like their answers, it will never be the same for you as well.
I should probably introduce myself to you before I tell you my story. I am Cat, I am in my late 30s and I live on a small island. I have a business, a successful one which I have had for 15 years now. As you can understand, since my early 20s, my life has been career-oriented and I worked really hard to make my dream come true, and it did come.
Now, I’ve decided to make love the prime goal in my life. Yes, it is a cliché and you might be right to think that my biological clock is ticking and I want a family of my own. I do, I won’t deny that. At some point, I do want that to happen. But what I am mostly looking for now, because I know this is what I really need, is a companion to really connect to. I am the sort of woman who needs intellectual connection before physical attraction. Sure, a nice set of hands on a man, just because I have a thingy with veiny arms, will make me absolutely ecstatic, but even the most handsome face will not tempt me if I can’t feel a mind connection.
As I said, I live on a small island so I can’t say there are many opportunities for me. Yet, I do realise that it has also been my fault because I’ve only focused on my career in my life and that made me even more reserved over the years and distrustful of people, not only men. I don’t easily let people in, but I have decided to work on that for my own benefit since I realized that I do need someone there for me.
So what did I do? Since no one around me made me tingle in anticipation, I decided to open up myself to people online. You know that I’ve been on social media since 2008 and I didn’t start talking to people since 2013. That’s right. It took me 5 years to actually make myself available to new experiences, whether friendship or love. I didn’t go and I won’t ever go to online dating sites. That’s not my thing, but I did join groups of writers, since I decided that I am one as well. No, I didn’t join to find love. I joined to meet like-minded people, both men and women. But love came for me.
I know what you will say. It can’t be love if you have only met online and he is miles away. Well, it’s not something I haven’t told myself. Yet, I can’t deny what I’ve felt. I am a romance writer, so yeah, my mind is full of old romance stories of people falling in love through wonderful and inspiring love letters. And I would have agreed with you that it was only my mind playing tricks with me because of those words if that were my case, but it wasn’t. Love words were scarcely said between us, because we were saving them for when we were actually able to be physically together, but it was everything else that made me fall for him.
The connection we had, was like having known each other for a lifetime. It was easy, effortless to be around him. I was never bored with him. And the more I got to know him, the more he seemed to fit into my perfect man list.
And then everything crumbled. I won’t tell you why that happened. To be honest, I don’t know yet. I haven’t got all the answers. Was it him? Was it me? I don’t know and it doesn’t matter anymore. I do know that long-distance relationships of any kind are hard work and most of the times, they do not work out even if there are strong and very real feelings between the two parties, which in my case, I believe there were.
What I want to talk about is what happened after he was gone, because that is something all people have gone through, regardless of gender. I would never claim that heartache is a woman’s privilege and that men are heartless. No, I’ve seen men crying and it was not pathetic at all. And it’s not for women either. No one is immune to heartache or should be.
I went through all the phases of a real ‘physical’ breakup. I cried my eyes out for I don’t know how long. I pitied myself for doing something to drive him away. I got angry with him. I got even angrier with myself because I let him do this to me. Then I doubted myself again and then I doubted him. And I cried some more and I got on my friends’ nerves because I was talking about it over and over again. And I sent him messages to make him return and then regretting them and then did it again and regretted it again. And then one day, I stopped.
And that’s when it happened. I realized it was nobody’s fault. Yes, there were feelings. Yes, I invested a lot of time, but then again so did he. It just wasn’t meant to happen and that was it. If circumstances were different for both of us, then yes, maybe we would be a great couple now, but then again we might not.
People meet online all the time, so I will not say that everything would have been different between us if we were in the same place. I don’t believe that. As I said, I believe in connection and I haven’t yet found that in the place I live.
What I did find, however, was myself again after what happened. I am a workaholic as you have probably figured out by now, so what happened, forced me to take a step back and try to see what’s going on in my life now. It might sound corny to you but it did work for me. Take some strolls out on your own if you’ve been through a similar situation. I went to the beach. By myself. I had never felt the need to go to the beach without my friends before. The beach is supposed to be the fun place you go to relax with friends, but I didn’t need that. I needed me time.
I wore a bikini, for the first time in my adult life. And I gradually started feeling beautiful. I worked out a bit at home as well. I am bored of exercise, to be honest, and what hard-working person isn’t, right? But I felt it was something I wanted to do at the time and the more the results showed on my body, the more confident I felt in my bikini. Yes, I did start to draw men’s eyes on me and yes, I did have a man flirt with me. An older gentleman, a tourist, who was actually married, so I never went through with that when I found out, but the reality is that his interest, when I wasn’t looking for it, made me feel more confident about myself. And it’s true that I wasn’t looking for it. I wasn’t ready for it. What I was looking for was a way to make me feel happy in my own skin again. And my beach did that. It set things right for me. I even wrote a list for him one day. 42 reasons why I had fallen in love with him, because yes, it was real for me and despite the pain I went through, I don’t regret the experience now. It gave me something I needed at the time and I gave him something he needed too. And the circle closed. And that’s just it.
And then he gave me something more. The need to rediscover myself. To see what I really need in my life, in a partner, in my job, in everything I do.
So yes, through that, I found something really valuable. ME.
Did I find my happiness? In a way, yes, I did. But even so, I know I am now heading towards the right direction again and the person I will encounter this time will be exactly what I need in my life, because I know what that is now.
So bottom line, no matter what the advice columnists tell you about not texting a man or woman when you have broken up with them and not chase them around, I will tell you this. If you think you need to do it because you think they are worth it, go ahead and do it. Most probable you won’t bring them back and maybe they shouldn’t be back in your life anyway, but YOU would know in the end you did what you had to do to close the circle and get over it. It is a process. A painful one, but you need to go through it to finally find what you are looking for.
And I don’t mean another relationship, because what you should be looking for is YOURSELF. Be happy with yourself first. Let’s not forget that some people are single by choice and they are very happy with themselves. That might be your choice in the end as well.
But even if you keep looking for that perfect one, as I will do, make sure that you know what you are really looking for before you seek another person out, by knowing yourself first.
I am getting there.
Cat Nicolaou lives with her family and many pets on a small island in Greece. She grew up surrounded by crystal clear blue waters and beautiful beaches. Living in such a peaceful area, she enjoys the idyllic setting around her. It is therefore not surprising that she likes to write romantic stories. Strolling by the seaside is where she gets all her inspiration. As an ever-romantic herself, she likes writing and reading stories with a happy ending, though she does torment her characters before they find a happy resolution.