When I joined a gym thinking that it would turn my life around, I had no idea that it would, in fact, turn my life upside down.
I thought, when I joined, I had passed my biggest obstacle — just working up the nerve to go in the first place. This was closely followed by paying an amount which I considered to be a lot of money for a personal trainer. I felt selfish, but after being diagnosed with cancer and losing my mom to cancer just a few months earlier, I thought I had to do something to boost my dwindling self-confidence.
With news of further cancer testing on the horizon for myself, I was becoming more and more depressed. Couple this mix of emotions with a partnership where both parties were having trouble seeing eye-to-eye on some key issues, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Then disaster entered, in the form of my personal trainer, who stood 6’5” and was both gorgeous and oh-so-great to talk to. I was completely oblivious. I guess I just didn’t think someone like him would be interested in someone like me.
My sessions were three times a week, and I quickly began to feel better and stronger day by day. My confidence began to rise and the inches dropped off, all while my trainer encouraged me and told me how “gorgeous” I was. I laughed it off – surely he couldn’t mean anything by it, he was younger and did I mention that he was gorgeous himself!
He must have had girls after him all the time, and I thought that he must do this with all his clients. “You say that to all the women,” I said to him, and he assured me that he didn’t. He seemed sincere, but again I just brushed it off and carried on. It was just a harmless flirtation. After all, I had a partner at home, although I unintentionally hadn’t been talking about him at the gym, and I was coming off as single. I really didn’t mean to not bring him up in conversation; I just didn’t want to bring any form of problem, outside of my health issues, to my training. I wanted to be stronger and healthier so that I could take on whatever my cancer might bring my way. That’s why I was there after all, not to gossip about my troubled relationship. It just never seemed to come up, so I didn’t mention it.
Meanwhile at home, I went through my first Christmas without either of my parents and with a partner who seemed at times quite cold and distant. I felt very alone. I had hoped that my partner might finally propose over the holidays and possibly consider discussing the idea of having a child via in-vitro or adoption. He wasn’t interested in any of that and had told me so at the outset of our relationship several years ago.
I believed him and at the time agreed. I wasn’t interested in marriage or children at the time either and I thought my mind would stay that way but it didn’t. I knew I couldn’t change him or pressure him to change as that would just cause resentment. I didn’t see that I was the one who was slowly becoming resentful.
Thinking that there was no future for us and fearing for my health (I was told just after Christmas that I would need another treatment round for my cancer), I decided that I had to leave the relationship. It had taken me months of arduous over analyzing to come to this decision. My trainer, who was none the wiser, also chose this as the time to tell me how he felt about me and that he wanted to begin dating me.
My head began to spin.
As we began texting often outside of our sessions, what was once lighthearted and flirtatious quickly took on a more serious overtone.
Then we kissed.
Again, being completely oblivious and finally realizing that I had never formally told my trainer that I was in a relationship, I confessed and apologized. I figured that would be the end of it. He was somewhat deflated and expressed his wish that I be free and uncomplicated.
Undaunted, he told me that he would wait in the wings, so to speak, as I sorted myself out. We wanted the same thing — a chance at something potentially wonderful with each other.
When my partner went through my phone one day and found all the texts, the fit hit the shan, so to speak!
My partner had suspected that something was up, and had seen what was coming with my trainer and I long before I did. Have I mentioned my obliviousness?
To my partner, my trainer was of course the problem. Granted, he was part of the problem but he was not the problem. I felt angry. For months, I had been trying to talk to my partner about my desire to try to have a child of our own and to possibly get married. Every time these topics came up, it led to an argument. He told me that if I wanted these things, I needed to go out and find them elsewhere – with someone else. I hesitated, since I loved him. Love conquers all, right?
I questioned if I should leave a man I loved and had been living with for years, only to be miserable without him. I thought time and time again that I might just be going through a phase. The thought of having children wasn’t something that I thought I wanted before, so why was it something I felt I might need to have now? After each argument, I retreated to my corner and internalized my feelings. Eventually they would simmer down and my partner and I would move on, until the next time.
My biological clock seemed to be ticking loudly. It ticked about missing my mom and dad, and then it tocked about how old I was becoming. I am nearing forty and my childbearing years are dwindling down. I resented my partner for saying “no” to even a discussion about the option of having a child. I wondered what my problem was. Whatever it was, I had to get to the bottom of it before I ran out of time — and it seemed to me that I was going to have to do that alone.
When I explained the real reason behind my actions to my partner, that I was planning to leave him long before I realized the intentions of my trainer or my own feelings that had developed for him — my partner froze. He cried like I had never seen him cry before. Then he told me that he too wanted all of the things that I had been wanting – he suddenly wanted a child with me and he wanted to get married.
I now felt even more angry and resentful than before, as I wondered why he had waited until this point to share all of this. I didn’t believe him. I spoke to my friends about it at length and they didn’t believe him either. Even my therapist was skeptical. It seemed impossible that someone could change just like that. I saw it as a feeble attempt at trying to keep me from leaving him, and I told him so. He then admitted to having taken me for granted for the last several years and that this situation had caused him to see the truth. He loved me and would do anything, even go to counselling, to keep our relationship and love alive.
My heart was pulled in every direction. I loved my partner and wanted to believe him. If only he had expressed these things to me before. All I really wanted was for him to just listen to me, to really hear me and talk through it as a couple, not argue at length with me about it until I felt miserable and hopeless.
I hated that it took another man for him to see and hear me.
We separated, though we were still living in the same house. I thought his attempts were a little too late but still agreed to counselling. My partner seemed so earnest in his feelings. After all the time that we’d been together, I could at least try.
I told my trainer what was happening. He listened and said he would back off and let me figure things out. He said he wasn’t going anywhere – he knew what he wanted, a chance with me. My heart skipped a beat.
Several months later, my partner and I have been on trial separation after trial separation. I have tried. I want to love my partner, I really do. There’s just one small… large… problem. I can’t get past all that has happened, I still resent him and I still doubt him. Also, whether I fight it or not, I am simply in love with my trainer. I feel a love for him that I can’t compare to anything else I’ve felt before. I’ve tried to second guess it as just being lustful, but it’s not. I’ve tried to spell out logic to my brain – he’s younger than you; you have a man who wants to now give you all that you want and you have loved him for years — but logic won’t listen.
I love him. He has challenged me, made me think, listened to me, supported me in my fitness goals and encouraged me to fight for what I really want — all without overtly forcing his own agenda.
Despite that, in one insecure moment, I told my trainer that I couldn’t have him in my life anymore and now I may have lost him forever – my heart can hardly stand the pain I now feel. I said what I did out of fear. After all I had been through, I didn’t want to go through any more rejection or cope with any more life changing situations. If only we could skip past the uncertain, awkward phase of just starting out in a relationship, not to mention cut through all my baggage. My life isn’t Pride and Prejudice, but if it were, he would be my Mr. Darcy.
Maybe one day he will find a way to forgive me.
As far as my health is concerned, I have gained so much as I am now cancer free and in the best shape of my life. I still struggle with the mental aspect of all that has happened to me over the last few years but according to my therapist that is to be expected and nothing to be ashamed of.
I’m trying to cut myself some slack on that front and doing the best that I can. I know that I can no longer back down from the things that I feel I want and need in my life. If I choose to have a child, I will – I don’t need a man to do that. To start, I need to stand on my own first and go from there.
So, here I am, almost where I started. I need to do something for me. Several months ago that something was as simple as joining a gym – now, I need to rejoin life and start over on my own.
It may not sound simple, but I know that it will be just as rewarding in the long run.