[22/03/2019, 10:08:30] Avi: So happy I got to know you
[22:47, 26/01/2020] Avi: Therefore, I hate to say that this will be my very last message I am sending. It was important for me not to ignore you or to ghost you again.
These messages were from Avi Taler, a postgraduate conductor from the Royal College of Music who I was dating in early 2019. One minute, he was saying how lucky he felt to get to know me. The next minute, he not only acknowledged that he had ghosted me and how sorry he was for it, but he proposed to do exactly the same thing again. How long were we dating for? About a month. Why did we break up? Because I told him that I loved him. He was not ready to hear that. He was pursuing me to begin with!
Initially, I was resistant towards Avi Taler. In the past, I had been hurt too many times. Although I might have subconsciously sensed that I was on the road to getting hurt again, I was not equipped with the tools to prevent that from happening to me. I found myself in a vulnerable position. I allowed someone (who I barely knew) to permeate my layers and get to the soft, squidgy inner part of me. Without learning how to protect myself.
And so, I tried to maintain my barriers. But Avi Taler kept pushing and pushing.
[26/03/2019, 09:23:22] Avi: Good morning!
It even led to the point where he let me think that it was official.
[28/03/2019, 13:53:37] Avi: Have you discussed me?
Avi Taler lulled me into a false sense of security. He lured me into thinking that this time, things might be different. That I would not get hurt again. That this guy genuinely loved me. At the last moment, I dropped my guard ("OK, I love you"). And he ghosted me.
He had me on a thread. When the time felt right, he casually snipped the thread. I fell from a great height.
The rest of 2019 was a crazy blur. I continued experiencing problems trusting others, trusting myself. Why? Because I had not learned how to protect myself. I overdosed 3x. I was hospitalised 5x.
Why? Because I took people's advice. I was told to "let it go". To "look after myself". I took that advice and tried to "move on".
The paradox being that "looking after myself" was precisely addressing this internal pain that was released from the experience of meeting Avi Taler. And that "moving on" was doing precisely the opposite of addressing my internal pain. By not feeling allowed to focus on him. And feeling pressurised to continue with my life as if nothing had happened. Not feeling able or empowered to process the emotional / psychological residue that remained despite "moving on" from the fact. Encouraging an avoidance mentality. Which would only serve to compound and recapitulate the same negative cycles in the future.
It’s really too much and is having a go, at him. If he doesn’t seem to want to see you take it as a message that he’s not that into you, and don’t send confrontational messages. Just let it go if he doesn’t seem to want to be in touch. People generally try to drop us lightly if they are not interested. Is hard to drop someone heavily and there is no point in trying to control him.
It was easy enough for other people to tell me to "let it go" or "move on". They had not met him. They were not experiencing MY PAIN for themselves. How could they?
Those 2019 experiences were triggered from the experience of meeting Avi Taler and feeling rejection (which, in turn, was the perfectly ironic recapitulation of old wounds). The double whammy aspect: despite the fact that the whole relationship with Avi Taler seemed to be on his terms (his initiative / instigation) to begin with.
The reality that I had tried to protect myself throughout the entire relationship. And that in the act of protecting myself, I ended up damaging myself even further.
Protecting myself? Maintaining my barriers.
It took me 7 months to seek answers. All that I wanted to do was make him aware of how it had affected me. Did he respond? Yes, he did. Subsequently, he imposed a no contact rule on 26/01/2020. Which he then broke a few weeks later on 08/03/2020. This was in March 2020. I wished him happy birthday on 30/10/2020. He deleted me off Facebook in February 2021.
The same guy (Avi Taler) who expressed how happy he was to know me on certain occasions.
[22/03/2019, 10:08:30] Avi: So happy I got to know you
[07/01/2020, 21:46:47] Rory Duffy: I need to look after that little part of myself who was crying for so many weeks, trying to make sense of it all, what it was all about, address that part of my life so I can finally be at peace with it. I’m sure you understand…
[16/01/2020, 16:22:07] Rory Duffy: Why say you’d like to continue getting to know me and that we were “building something” if you never intended to contact me ever again? Why say you’d like to continue meeting me “but we must take it slower” if you never intended to meet me ever again?
No-one taught me how to protect myself. I knew that I had to do it. But no-one taught me. I had to find that out from within myself. I received help from the CMHT on how to address that relationship. I learned how to speak out. How to stand up for myself. How to practise assertiveness. Recognise that point at which someone's actions / behaviour diverges from their words. And do / say something about it.
Finding the ability to do that was empowering in itself. Regardless of how Avi Taler responded. I made him aware.
Now I know why I find it difficult to trust other people. Even more so than I did pre-2019. And pre-2016.
[16/01/2020, 16:22:07] Rory Duffy: I’m being incredibly careful what I say nowadays…I no longer have the confidence in my own words in case I say something wrong. How can I trust anyone anymore?
Early on, Avi Taler expressed his wish to hide. My concern transformed from hiding my emotions to not let him hide. He cannot stop me. From saying his name in public. From expressing myself. Even though he has disappeared, he has become a part of me. Whether we (he or I) like it or not. Reluctantly, I chose to accept and embrace that part of me. Without shying away from it. I needed to feel the pain in order to heal it. I needed to connect with the source of the pain. In order to diagnose and cure it.
I have a Last Message strategy. It is a contingency plan for if I never hear from the other guy again. No matter how much they might have made out that they liked or wanted me. There will always be that 1% possibility that they might disappear, For no apparent reason. I must prepare myself for that 1% possibility. Not go so far as to act as if it is a certainty. But a possibility. No matter how much I am "in love with" a guy. No matter how well things seem to be going (on the surface). I feel like I can never truly draw 100% enjoyment out of "being in love". Because it is like a drunken craziness. I must hold onto and maintain some semblance of reality and grounding. I must keep it in the back of my mind that things might not be all as they seem. That this might be an illusion (a projection). The Last Message strategy enables me to practise showing the best version of myself. It is about taking this opportunity to show that best part of me required for the immediate moment without expecting anything in return. So that I am not left wanting. It gives me temporary closure and peace. Even if a situation comes back again. It is about prioritising my own safety, wellbeing and happiness. As Avi Taler recommended.
[22:47, 26/01/2020] Avi: So, as I said before, I will not reply any other texts you will send, and I hope you can accept it. I do care about your well being and hope you'll be able to take the right choices and prioritise your safety and health.
Avi Taler might come back in future. Who knows? Who cares?
The important fact is that I have had the Last Message. Reading back over what I said, I am satisfied in myself that I said all that I needed to say.
Would I take him back? My answer: never say never. My first instinct: I would. But this time, I would be much more careful. We only live once in our current incarnate bodies and minds. He is still alive. He is still walking this planet. Who is to say that this person will not come back in years or decades from now at the end of my journey and that I might learn something from this experience? I am not saying that this will happen. But I cannot disregard it as a possibility.
I have had many different relationships with many different people. We are born alone. We die alone. Everything else that happens in between is contingent, ephemeral and transient. Relationships are a test of life to see how I might respond to what happens. Regardless of the other person. So, yes, I continue my life, with my head held high. I have nothing to doubt or worry about. I have said my peace. And if he does come back, I can cross that bridge when I come to it. But what is the point of spending my life speculating the future without making sense of or being allowed to process my past? Sometimes, we must take a step back into our past to make sense of our present and future. "Moving On" alone is not enough. No matter how easy it sounds. Or how easy people make it out to be. While there may be limited room for speculation, there is always room for rumination. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Fortune-telling is not.
In the meantime, life is there to be enjoyed.
My depreciated trust in other people has led me to be more guarded and held back in the way in which I relate to other people. Perhaps this was precisely the issue that Sam had with me when describing me as "cold" and "self-involved". Because I was protecting myself? Did he see my self-protection as a weakness? Did he feel threatened by it? Did he perceive my detachment (despite telling him about my ASD) as a "lack of interest" in him?
For a 2nd time, Sam has blocked me. This time on BOTH WhatsApp AND Facebook. His loss! Perhaps he feels under pressure to "move on"? Either by himself? Or from society? Maybe he is simply afraid that I might message him back? It is sad to see someone who feels afraid and out of control in himself. Driven by his fears. I posed no threat to him. Yet in his dark, tormented world view, he painted me out to be one of those demons from which he might have been running. In his eyes, I was the "bad guy".
It is like looking into a dark mirror and seeing myself through a negative lens. This was not a relationship in which I could feel able to be myself.
I did not said that I could never date him. I said that I could not date him right now. Why? Because I felt unsafe around him. In the first place, I needed to protect myself from any harm. Who knows what he might have said or done? I only met him in person twice. I also felt that he needed to sort himself out before dating me or anyone.
[08/07/2021, 21:44:00] Rory Duffy: Hi Sam, I can’t date you right now. Thank you for your message. Stay safe. X
Sam could not see past his own fears and insecurities to clock the "right now" part of my message. He interpreted my message as an absolute rejection.
Even though it was not intended as such.
Even though he put himself in a position of potential rejection to begin with by asking me that pertinent, Black & White question: Do you want to date me? Yes or no?
I felt that he needed a temporary break and a bit of light relief. And that when he felt ready, he might come back.
There is nothing that I could do. I could control him. Any more than he could control himself.
Everything that Sam said about me might have been a self-projection. Cue the analogy of the mirror maze and the phantom. 😱
Read More: 20/06/2020
I had that conversation with Avi Taler on 28/03/2019. By professing my love to a stranger and wish to not be "taken advantage of", I was precisely putting myself in a position where I might experience rejection. When the same conversation was due with Rob, I chose to abdicate.
Last night, I told my friends that this is precisely why I chose not to have this "are we, are we not" conversation with anyone who I am dating. I can hug, kiss or sleep with anyone without having to have that conversation.
Nowadays, I might describe myself as polyamorous.
Now, people are warning me that others might want monogamy.
Oh, the irony! Is monogamy not the same thing that I wanted with Avi Taler? And what I wanted with Rob until my mental health care coordinator, family and friends advised me to not put all of my eggs in Rob's basket? And why Sam possibly felt that I was such a threat?
I simply cannot have this conversation right now. With any guy. Why? No one has taught me how to navigate it. No one has given me any guidance. Maybe this conversation is not as simple as following set steps written in a rule book? So, I choose to abdicate it altogether. I can still live a healthy life and have relationships with people. It is this experience with Avi Taler and with Rob ("do not put all of your eggs into Rob's basket") that has led me to where I am right now with Sam.
Existentialism. We are the sum total of our actions, our reactions. We are adaptable, like sponges. We are defined by our experiences. I am sick and tired of putting myself out on the line only to be hung one more time. I choose to not put myself in a position in which I experience rejection. To not judge a relationship. To free myself from labels. To enjoy life. To live out my life and be able to hug, kiss and sleep with whoever I wish without the psycho-emotional baggage that can come with it. What LV said was true. I need to live my life.
[23:00, 21/10/2019] LV: Everything you have is what you live
I feel the draw of age in my heart. I am alive. But I have not really been living. I have always been so careful. Making plans for the future. Without considering how I am in the present. Mechanisms such as the Last Message strategy have enabled me to break down what my personal happiness is and how to live it.
And what about HF? He is a guy. A stranger who I have met 2x. We seem to be getting along alright. But I am treating this as a process. To feel as happy as I can with someone without ascribing too much thought, emphasis or importance on expectation.
CR (who I met last night) observed that I have a tendency to overthink things. Another guy from the same Meetup had shown friendly criticism of the way in which I overthink messages before sending them. So true!
At this point, I felt ready to send a message without overthinking it. Despite how flirtatious and forward I might have judged my message to be.
The Last Message was a blow kiss (😘).
Since he did not give me much to go off, I thought, well, I can just send him this. It does not need to cost me anything. It is simply an expression of how I might feel about him. It is a form of mirroring.
This weekend, I might see him, I might not. Whatever happens, I will have a contingency plan to assure my personal comfort and happiness.
[19:10, 18/07/2021] Lilly 20s & 30s: Idea:
No need to say anything else. The seed has been planted. The main thing is that I got my kick out of planting it. And that is what I choose to continue doing. Like DV said to me on Tuesday, HF might be dating other people. Who knows? Who cares? It is nothing that I need to speculate about. Especially if I have been keeping my options open as a way of safeguarding my happiness. We strive to feel liked and wanted.
If nothing happens with HF this weekend, I might feel motivated to ensure that something happens next weekend. With whoever. If that is what I want right now. Let me cross that bridge when I come to it. Let me see what happens today, tomorrow and this weekend. Before I decide on a course of action for the following week. Abundance Mentality.
In light of what DV said (in terms of dating multiple people at the same time before committing to one): do I feel comfortable about going back on Tinder and picking things up with Sanjo if I am already dating HF? Last night, Megan said that she has boycotted Tinder because she keeps chatting to people and they keep disappearing. At this point, my insides writhed, knowing that there are a few guys on dating apps who are waiting to hear back from me yet do not know that I have had some tangible involvement with HF. Am I now one of those people who has disappeared? That is certainly not my intention. And even if I have inadvertently disappeared, it is a temporary state. It is only a matter of time before I am back again.
In theory, if I do not feel like I am getting enough from HF, I could log onto Tinder today and meet up with someone this evening (if they happen to be available this evening). I am available this evening. But should I? My instinct tells me "no". Wait. Why? Because this would go against my principle of patience: maintaining a positive attitude while waiting. It also reminds me of something that LA said to me on 12/07/2019, about JR, which I agreed with.
[14:34, 12/07/2019] LA: I mean, would you up and leave everything you’ve known for god knows how long for him at the drop of a hat especially with visa concerns...? This is something you’d need to talk about a lot
Manifestation. As above, so below. As inside, so outside. If I did that, it might be like giving the universe a cue to let HF know that he could do the same. And for what gain? To meet another stranger on a Thursday night? To begin again at square one?
Besides, how do I know that the person who I contact on Tinder would be available and up for meeting me this evening? Might I be setting myself up for disappointment? Or putting myself in a position where I might experience disappointment or even rejection from a complete stranger? No. There is nothing more that I need to do other than what I sent to HF last night. Relax. Patience. The ball is in his court. Maybe I could go out and enjoy a coffee and some sunshine if I have nothing better to do after work. Or play a game of ultimate frisbee.
Whatever I decide to do, it must be for the right reasons. And if I get my reasoning wrong, or feel like I have misjudged my instincts or a situation, it is perfectly OK. There is always next week. Maybe I might learn something new (like the lesson that there is nothing wrong with validation, as long as I am not harming other people). To act a bit less self-subjugating and consider what I want as my main priority above what someone who I have dated 2x wants. And continue the process of learning what to do in certain situations. Without trying to control those situations too much. Let them happen naturally. And decide what I want to do about them as and when they happen.
The main thing is: I am in control of myself.
[21:20, 21/07/2021] Rory Duffy: 😘
It turns out that I was right about waiting. My instincts proved that this was the correct thing to do.
Part of my mind was still on HF.
The last bit about getting there earlier is about ensuring that I can do everything in myself to remove ambiguity from a situation. It is OK that he can only get there a little later. I can compensate for that by getting there early and making that part of the decision. We complement one another.
Yes, I know it is potentially a little OCD of me. But I like getting places earlier because it gives me a head start. I am a slow processor. I like to have a plan. Even if that plan does not work out. Taking it upon myself to get there earlier helps me to feel more at ease and in control of myself.
Rory spent the first few years of his life in an ice cave, carving out his palace of wonder. He's a bit of a love doll, but he who melts the ice shall have his reward.
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I have been recommended to acknowledge and process all that I have been though, where it all started from how it has affected me.