Learning To Live With The Mistakes You Make

It was coming up to Valentine’s Day and I was doing my usual moping around, moaning about being alone and wondering if I would ever find love. When out of the blue I got a text message from Phil asking how I was. I hadn’t seen him since Jon’s epic fail of a birthday party when he’d shown up, scaring Andy off, much to my amusement. Part of me regretted introducing Dave as “my boyfriend” to him as when I saw Phil a spark ignited in me and made me feel a little nervous sitting at the same table as him for those brief moments. I never realised Jon had passed on my number to him so we could keep in touch. He asked me if I was still with “that geek from the party”. I pointed out “that geek” was one of my best friends and no, we weren’t actually a couple, only pretended to get Jon to leave me alone. Phil told me it had worked as he was now chasing round after a 15 year old school girl. He then wanted to know if we could meet up for a drink and catch up because he apparently hadn’t stopped thinking about me since Jon’s party and wasn’t sure when the right moment would be to get in contact. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. In the back of my mind something was telling me to be cautious but then there was something else that was telling me to go for it this time and I had nothing to lose. I agreed to meet him but explained I had a strange request and had to pass his number on to my friends in Manchester to “vet” him first. Oddly he agreed to this and said whatever it took to see me again. I gave his number to Caz and she did her interview, giving me feedback at the end of it. She set me up on a date with him that night, telling me he had got me a Valentine’s Card and some red roses so better get something quick. Blimey, I certainly wasn’t expecting romance. I stopped off at the card shop on the way to The Pilgrim, quickly filling out the card inside the store whilst being given the evil eye by Jon’s sister, who worked in there, when she saw who it was for. I left and headed for the pub, slightly nervous. Phil was already standing outside waiting. He threw his arms around me and admitted he was terrified I wouldn’t have shown up. We went inside, exchanged cards and had a drink. He gave me six red roses and was really upset that one of them got crushed in his pocket. He explained there were six because it had been that many days since he had text me to get back in contact again. Okay, I hate to say it but that was really sweet. We talked all evening and it was nice to catch up. He told me his housemates would kill him if he drunk any alcohol, because he had lost his licence through drink driving, although one wouldn’t hurt. He hadn’t driven down, his other housemate, Stuart, dropped him off. I met him when he came to pick Phil up afterwards as they dropped me off home. Later that evening, he sent me a text message to say he had a wonderful time and would really like to meet up again sometime. I agreed I would too. The following day he text me again to say he couldn’t stop thinking about me and wished I was his girlfriend. I said I would be willing to see how things go as long as he didn’t mess me about this time. We saw each other on weekends and I became really friendly with his housemates Michelle, Caley and Stuart. I also doted on their animals, especially the dogs Harvey (Dalmatian), Eddie (terrier) and Chumley (Cocker Spaniel). I even stayed there for the two weeks Michelle and Caley went to Las Vegas. Things were going really well and after three months, the girls suggested I moved in as well. It made things a little easier for travelling to work. After all, Sevenoaks is only a couple of stops from Paddock Wood on the train. We lived in the middle of nowhere though at Bow Petts Cottages, just off Knowle Park, so had to rely on someone to drop me off in Sevenoaks town centre in the mornings and pick me up in the evening until Phil got his licence back. That wasn’t the first time he had lost his driver’s licence, what I didn’t know was he had only just got it back that night I saw him at Jon’s party. I knew he had a drink problem, I just didn’t realise how serious it was until it was thrust upon me. He used to make me sit in the car while he popped into his parents’ house and when he came out, I could see the bleariness and knew he had been drinking. His mum used to say she would mark the whiskey bottle and see how much it was going down. The same goes when he used to stop at One-Stop Convenience Store, be in there for five minutes and come out with nothing. Things started to go horribly wrong the day after Michelle’s birthday barbecue. I was at work when I had a call on my mobile, it was from Shell. She was calling from the hospital to say Phil’s Dad had died and asked if I could come home. She picked me up from work and he was understandably quiet in the car. He didn’t want me to go to the funeral as I didn’t know his family and his Mum may not want me there, but Michelle told him to stop being so stupid and spoke to her. She said she never would have thought that in the first place. In the week after the funeral his eldest brother was staying down their other brother’s house and they all went to the pub. I had to wait in the car, of course. I was sitting in there for almost two hours twiddling my thumbs before he came back out. I asked him if he’d had a drink and he swore blind he hadn’t had anything other than Coke, even though you could smell it on him. Both his brothers and his father were alcoholics so I should expect nothing less from him really. A month later he was dealt with more bad news with the death of his eldest brother. He’d died while in the pub, falling off his favourite bar stool of a massive heart attack. I went to the funeral with his blessing this time and was driven up by his sister. She was very nice and probably the only tee-total one out of the family. Even his Mum liked a drink or two. The next couple of weeks were a rocky road it has to be said. He cried himself to sleep most nights, wouldn’t talk to anyone and became increasingly withdrawn. He had text messages on his phone from the same unknown number saying how much they loved him and how sorry they were to hear about his Dad and brother. He disappeared to Dartford every Thursday nights, supposedly to meet up with the Allsorts Crew, but Dan and Glenn hadn’t seen him for weeks. Then one late afternoon he arrived back after taking the dogs for a walk, literally falling in through the door. He stood up and kicked the door frame, acting sober, saying they should get that fixed. He staggered in to get changed, stuffing his mouth full of chewing gum to try and mask the smell of all the alcohol. The dogs were now safely tucked up at home. Why did I agree to go anywhere with him? We left the house and started walking up the road to where he usually parks the car. He had a genuine look of horror in his face and was ready to call the police when he couldn’t find it. He thought it had been stolen. I said I would go look for the car and to wait where he was. Low and behold, it was parked right outside the house. I told him I had found the car and asked where the keys were. He had left them in the car, with it unlocked. We got in the car, a mistake on my part I know; I should never have gotten in there with him knowing he was drunk. We drove down to Sevenoaks to the offices where we cleaned with Michelle and Caley. Two Police cars had driven past on the way through, I wish they would have stopped and pulled us over but no such luck. He obviously had so much practice that he had been an expert at it so they hadn’t noticed. Caley and Michelle flipped when he turned up in that state, more so because he had taken the dogs out in the car beforehand. Caley battered him, I wasn’t going to intervene. I would have done the same thing myself if I hadn’t thought he would retaliate. He walked off and I stayed with Michelle and Caley. I sent Caz a message to let her know what had happened. At that stage her and Dez weren’t together anymore, but before I knew it, he was calling me and telling me he was going to come and get me to take me back to Manchester. I told him not to worry and that I will get it sorted. He also politely offered to come down and kick his head in, but that’s a different story. There was a time when Dez would do anything for me if I asked him to, he was my best friend and I miss him. I really could do with his help sometimes at the moment. On the way home Michelle drove past Phil’s parents’ house and found him lying in the bushes, passed out. She and Caley dragged him in the car and took him back home. I slept in Stuart’s old room that night as I was about ready to pack my stuff up and move out there and then. The following day we had a long chat and he admitted he had a problem. I convinced him he needed help and we contacted Alcoholics Anonymous. I went to the first few meetings with him and he seemed pretty keen to get better at first. He even got himself a sponsor. Although I later found out that was all a lie as he was still secretly drinking.

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