The evening sun streams into my courtyard. Sitting on a large rattan chair, sipping my latte, feeling the sun’s dying heat on my face and the cool breeze on my shoulders, I am absorbed in the stillness of the skyline. Life, for that brief moment, is suspended.
I hear my iPad, nestled by my side on the chair, ping. I glance at my email inbox; the new message is from my solicitor, telling me Paul Allen has paid up the money owed in accordance with the court agreement. It’s the end of the road, the last page of our tempestuous ‘love’ story.
For a few minutes, I am elated. Suddenly, caught off guard, my eyes well up with tears as I am wrenched back into the memory of the breakup, of the battle. I put my face in my hands and sob in relief that there is nothing left to be battered and bruised with.
The court hearing was originally scheduled for 13 October 2014. On that October day as we hung around the foreboding corridors of the Four Courts, waiting for our case to be called, through my barrister I offered Paul the opportunity to settle the debt. He turned it down. In the end, due to a long list of cases, our hearing was postponed to 16 December 2014 when the case was eventually heard and settled. Even with the turbulence Paul had put me through, I still had hope that he would spare me the court case. I was naive. Paul was continuing to call the shots, to use the resources of the law to threaten my resolve and disparage our relationship.
Two years earlier on Wednesday 10 October 2012 at 7:30 pm, from a hotel room in London, in the haze of despair, I made a call that would terminate our relationship brutally. It heightened the turmoil that trapped me in a battlefield of emotions and led to the final slap of the court hearing.
Less than forty-eight hours after that call the silent bullet landed in my inbox while I was still in London. The email arrived on Friday 12 October 2012 at 5:26 pm. It was from Solicitors, acting on behalf of Paul Allen. The email stated;
We act on behalf of the above named
who instructs us that you have been harassing him both by phone and by text
and by watching and besetting both his home and his business premises.
also instructs us that you have also been watching and besetting his parents' home
you have also been watching and besetting the home of[his partner
our client does not want to have any further contact with you in any way.
He does not wish to engage with you either professionally or personally
He has made a statement to the Gardai in relation to this harassment
Please note that if you make any contact whatsoever with him our instructions are to seek an injunction restraining you from any further contact
As I read through the email, each word hurtled like a rocket aimed at my heart. I was alone and had just returned to my hotel room from a busy day at Frieze Art Fair. As I grasped the betrayal of his instructions the blood drained from my body, my legs buckled, I fought for breath. It was as if my oxygen had been suddenly cut off.
“Just a few days earlier, we had hot sex. I barely touched your hand and zap we were intertwined. Later curled up in your arms I whispered, “I live in fear of losing this.” We hugged. You said nothing. After a few minutes, I quietly asked, “Are we slipping over the edge – falling apart. I am so confused.” You whispered back, “Stop. I love you.” Then with your lips on the nape of my neck, you breathed, “We should die, rather than not be together.”
My mind was spinning, I screamed in despair overwhelmed in a crescendo of emotions, in panic-stricken disbelief. Paul had knocked me off center. I struggled to find my footing in the middle of the attack. Fixated on the heartless, detached words of the email, cutting off all communication, he had trapped me in a nightmare scenario.
With his knockout punch, he delivered his final ignominy, forcing me to battle for my character. I knew I had never “watched” or “beset” his parents’ home or that of his partner, but with those words, he made me—”the love of his life”—doubt my reality and feel like a desperate lowlife. The warped charge that I was harassing, besetting, or watching his home or workplace was heartbreaking.
The word “abuse” doesn’t seem enough to express the pain I suffered for seeking the truth, and for wanting to take back my life.
Paul came at me from all fronts—first the legal letter, then the Gardai.
“Oh God, what did you say to the Gardai? Did you present me as your stalker? Not your lover, not your best friend, not your soul mate, but your stalker. I cannot bear this.”
Of all the ways Paul could have ended it, I never imagined it would be like this. But then I had never imagined he would ever leave me. He had always said – “We should die rather than not be together.”
“Like Houdini, you have twisted and turned the reality of our relationship to suit your trick. You have used your lawyer, and then the Gardai as your ‘get out of jail free’ card, all so that you would not have to face me with the truth. Is this offensive a measure of your despair or your pain that you cannot express to me? Or is it perhaps a measure of regret or guilt?”
I describe my life during that time as being in a tumble dry cycle: “I am hurled around, hitting against the sides of the drum. Erratically lacerated, mangled, being knocked and jolted about some more, not knowing how bloody long the cycle will go on for or where the next blow will be.”
And then he came at me with an unimaginable finishing blow. He brought a photograph of me, in an intimate nude moment, to the Gardai. He said I had sent it to him and to the editor of the Sunday Independent.
“Why are you continuing to invade my life, to gnaw at my sanity? Why did you to say I sent the photograph? How the fuck would you know if I had sent it or not? Do you not care that someone has abused me like this? Do you feel nothing for my sensitivities? I loved you passionately. You said you loved me to bits. So tell me, why are you doing this to me?”
Faced with the information that the photograph was in circulation was horrific but the information that Paul, whom I had trusted deeply, said I had sent it was another even more terrifying thought.
The photograph was also sent to my estranged husband. Whoever sent the photograph (it was not me) was attempting to add fuel to the fire in my personal life, to threaten my stability and security, to destabilize my mind with paranoia, and to humiliate me privately and in public. This incident – the photo – went on to have a profound impact on my life.
Overnight, anxiety took over my life in a way it had not before. With the raid on my character, I felt unsafe for the first time. I had shared my most intimate thoughts with Paul and something about myself that I could never tell anyone else. We had an adventurous sex life in which I broke many boundaries, but I did so in the belief that I was safe and secure. Everything I did with Paul and shared with Paul, I did in the belief that he loved me and cared about my well-being. With that belief torn asunder, I felt exposed and violated, like I had been duped and raped. I wanted to die.
When Paul discarded me like worn out slippers, he ignored the fact that he owed me a lot of money, and I had personal belongings in his home and office. It was not until and only when my lawyer responded to his legal onslaught that I was able to retrieve my personal possessions a number of weeks later. But he denied that he owed me money, so rebuffed the lawyer’s request for the loan to be paid back.
In the latter part of our relationship, Paul and I had gone to counseling. As the counselor had dug deeper into our mercurial relationship, Paul did not feel the counseling was helping us. She was negatively impacting on our relationship, he said. He consoled me. He loved me, he would look after me. We were, after all, soul mates. Against the counselors’ advice, I left the counseling.
“I am falling apart. The volatility of our love has fused my mind. I cannot continue to live on the edge of my sanity, to continue to gauge your emotional temperature. I do not know what to do.”
At one point, as he drove me from the counseling to my car at the Hampton Hotel, he told me he had decided that we should take a break. Very quickly he followed that up with a call suggesting we have dinner, but I did not go to dinner with Paul that night. During that drive home, I had resolved in my mind to let him go. I felt I could not take any more of us. My resolve only lasted until Paul’s next call the following morning. My need for the oxygen Paul breathed into my life, my aching addiction for his touch, like a wrecking ball, had crushed my fragile resolve.
The ponderous thought that remains with me is why. Why did I doggedly trust and believe him? Why did I let my guard down? Why did I get sucked in so deeply? Why did I fall so hard? Why did I make myself so vulnerable to him? Why did I lose myself in his fickle heartbeat? Why did I put my life in his hands?
Why could he not take me in his arms and say, I am sorry? Why did he treat me like a stone in his path to be kicked aside?
Writing has been an important avenue for healing, and it is the only channel in which to define my reality and reconcile how he could love me to the point of tears and yet hurt me as if I was an enemy.
I was trashed and deeply humiliated in his distortion of our relationship. We made a pledge to always protect each other. He did not protect me. In his abandonment, he annihilated his protection.
To not have my suffering recognized would be a further, almost unbearable form of cruelty. Paul counted on my shame to keep the silence, but I was never going to give him that final power over me.
Without any legal recourse or legal precedent, the essence of my healing – my validation – was to write. As the writing developed, the following grew, with extraordinary support and compassion. As a result, strength and energy flowed back into my mind and body. Through my blog ‘On The Edge,’ I saw my experiences reflected in other women who emerged from the depths of such darkness. Seeing myself in their stories has allowed me to name my experience as an emotionally abused woman, and now to finally let go.
I can now see we were never solid, we were just a construction made out of vulnerability and passion. I am now totally detached from Paul Allen; I don’t feel anger or resentment, sadness or pity, yearning or emotion. I don’t feel anything for him. However I am left with a deep wound, which randomly achingly seeps filling me with anxiety, but I have made a choice I won’t let it choke my life. What has happened has happened. I have amazing people and love in my life. Now it’s time to ‘demolish my bridges behind me’ and move forward.
“In those moments the pain seeps from the wound strangling my veins, suffocating my chest I take a deep breath, dig deep inside me to where there is love, and the love stems the pain. Then I shake myself up, move on, show up, and keep breathing.”
This post is my autobiography on my experiences and my feelings about my relationship with Paul Allen. Nothing more, nothing less.
We are on the way with Eventide Love; blog to book. If you would like to receive a book launch offer especially for all of you as loyal followers and fans, please register below. Your details will not be shared. PROMISE. I am wracked with doubts and insecurity about my writing but am lucky to have a wonderful editor, Amy Scott, holding my hand.
A foundation of modern morality is the relationship of power and responsibility. The more power you have, the more responsibility you bear. (Inherent in the definition of abuse is the use of power without responsibility.) When we form emotional bonds – when we love and are loved – we gain a great deal of power over the emotional health and well-being of the loved one, whether we want it or not.
Accompanying that power is the responsibility to protect those we love from deliberate and repeated psychological harm for the purpose of controlling or manipulating them or merely for the adrenalin rush of feeling superior. It is the responsibility of everyone to love without abusing the power that goes with it, and it is the civil right of everyone to love without suffering intentional and repeated hurt.