Thanks for the memory, Facebook! I know it’s not personal, and a picture rarely hurts me, but there it is. Today would have been my 13th anniversary. Or, I guess it is, because we’re still technically married. I said it last year, but this one really is our last anniversary. I had planned to do a nice, mopey, anniversary post, but something came up that is completely taking my mind off of my anniversary. Yay?
The guy I like and had been seeing for a couple months, M, broke things off early this morning. Why? I misread, I was insecure…and I also fucked up.
The most neutral version is that I really think (thought? I have no idea) that the way dating worked was that you assumed non-exclusivity until you have a discussion about being exclusive (usually that’s when you take down your profiles). That’s not the way I’d like it to go ideally, because it’s more natural for me to only like one person at a time. However, I have never had things that are unspoken be what I want, I’ve been lied to a lot….and I admit that I am very afraid of missing out on someone with relationship potential because I’m so hung up on a guy who isn’t emotionally available (to me) that I close myself off to meeting other guys.
I remember talking to one of my friends earlier on about him, and saying “I want to ask him ____, but I’m too chicken.” I don’t remember what ____ was, but my friend said “that’s a lead-in to a relationship talk, and it’s too early for that.” I think it was the day that I told M that I tend to see other people until there’s a talk about exclusivity. (My friends know that I hate dating around, but I force myself to at least talk to someone else because I assume that the guy considers himself free to do the same until we have a discussion about being official).
I was okay that that didn’t lead to talk of exclusivity, although that would have been a relief to me. I really didn’t want to see anyone else.
He has told me explicitly that he’s not seeing anyone else, and he said he can’t ask me to not see anyone else or offer anything in terms of a relationship because of his circumstances.. (I told one of my friends he was being dumb for not just cuffing me). What I was unclear about until yesterday was whether or not he was “talking” to other girls on OkC (he’s on often), and if he was only seeing me because he only wanted to see me or because he’s having debilitating (and mysterious) health problems.
I went out with a guy right around the time he and I met for the first time; I’m 99% sure it had been booked before I even knew I was going to meet M. A combination of traveling, schedules, and my own ambivalence/hesitation to commit to doing anything socially if I thought there was a chance I could see M kept us at the “send each other an interesting article or picture from Seattle and don’t talk again for days or weeks” level until about a week ago. We had made the plans, I dunno, a while before…and then the day of M asked what I was doing that night. Do I wish I had ditched my plans with this other guy to see M? Absolutely. I panicked about it. I mean, I shot back a text that was trying to be funny–“you snooze you lose.” Under the circumstances, though, it was in really poor taste, I avoided saying who I was going out with, but…I see now that it was obviously a date, because if I was going out with friends, I would have invited him. I would love for him to meet my friends–especially my closest ones, my fellow music teachers.
In my mind, I had made plans, so I’d be an asshole to ditch them last minute. I’d also be a sucker who drops everything for someone who isn’t her boyfriend. But it would have meant I got to see him and, admittedly, this other guy is just a nice guy that I wish I had met in a totally platonic way, because then I could be buddies with him without it looking shady.
There have been so many times I’ve scrambled, last-minute-ditched, etc., to prioritize the guy I like, and it has always left me feeling dumb, desperate, and needy.
This wouldn’t have been that, though. I didn’t see it.
But, being selfish and unable to do the right thing and just not see him…I invited him over after I came home. I knew it was tacky at best, but he frequently comes over only late at night or early morning, so…well, no, I never really was able to justify it. I just couldn’t stand the idea of not seeing him. I got home too late (I had had too much beer and got stuck in place while I sobered up to drive home), which is just as well because what I was asking of him was disrespectful at best.
The next day, he came over, and it was wonderful. I actually felt certain that he liked me as much as I liked him. I know what it was–he said he had missed me.
Yesterday, he asked me flat-out if I was seeing/pursuing/interested in anyone else, and I’m like “sort of, but no one I wouldn’t drop like a hot potato” HINT HINT. And he reiterated that he can’t ask me to make any sacrifices when he can’t even promise me time. I asked him flat-out if he was seeing only me because he only wanted to see me, or just because seeing more than one person takes up more energy than he had….in other words, if he were well, would he still only want to see me? He said he was “reasonably certain.”
Then it all fell apart. He found out that where I was last Tuesday was a date, and he felt that I had lied by omission. We talk every day, he asks what I’m up to (in a I-care-about-the-day-to-day way, not a controlling way…and I know the former from the latter), and I really didn’t know what to do about it that night. The first time I saw this guy was right around the time we met, so it wasn’t an issue. This time, I implied I was out with coworkers, which is a lie. He wanted the whole truth, so it was a betrayal.
And then, of course, there was the “come over later on” thing, which I think speaks for itself. I don’t think there’s really any question or controversy that that was a terrible idea.
He said a lot of things, and I don’t really want to do a point-to-point reaction to it right now, because I still haven’t really been able to wrap my head around all of it. He categorized me as either “asshole” or “dumb,” and he was leaning toward the former. From his perspective, I put all of my past negative experiences ahead of my actual experiences with him, and I didn’t even see him beyond his role in my inner world. I was also blind to not see how much he liked me. He said he doesn’t think that I really do want a relationship–I’m much more motivated by a need for attention, blog material, and dick than I am for love. I’m much darker and not nearly as good a person as I think I am. He said I’m really not any different from other girls where I live. He said that he never actually knew if I cared about it (he still didn’t), and I guess he was surprised that I liked him enough to cry about it. He basically told me to fuck off, and he said that that wasn’t something from which I could bounce back.
And I don’t know if it’s just denial or what, but I can’t just let it go. I only ever wanted him. He’d be enough, even though he’d be unable for the foreseeable future to fulfill my need to know I “went out.” I just wanted him. I said something really stupid when my Ambien (and retrograde amnesia) kicked in that sounded like I was throwing in his face the fact that I “went out” with this other guy…and, I can’t expect him to believe this, but (1) that’s a fucking low blow, and (2) I. really. don’t. give. a shit. I just want him.
The worst thing is that I understand exactly how it is to feel that you’re not enough for someone. I would have never thought I had it in me to inflict that feeling on someone I care about. And this is why I understand that the list of things he could be construed as abusive when taken out of context. I understand, because I remember feeling how he feels, and I’m sure I let loose some pretty nasty things as I tried to make sense of finding out that I apparently didn’t know the person I loved. I know trying to distract yourself from the pain by intellectualizing as “this person is a fucking idiot if I’m not enough for them” (I had actually said to one of my friends “he’s dumb for not just cuffing me”). And I know that the attempt to intellectualize doesn’t work, and the feeling of not being enough is deeply wounding.
I had had a small moment of clarity shortly after a couple guys who had no business contacting me did. My default is to respond out of politeness at best and curiosity at worst. I have almost never not responded to a text. After this, I realized that responding was not only NOT polite, it was actually the morally wrong thing to do. Also, what the fuck does it say about me that I can’t resist responding? I have only gotten one message since then that I would have responded to before but didn’t now, but I do think it’s concrete, if small and unimpressive, step toward being less of a trainwreck.
I think the takeaway from this disaster is going to come from me facing the fact that I, who think of myself as all heart and always more attached than the other person, made the guy I want and like to feel like he isn’t enough for me. Because that’s insane. I don’t know exactly what kind of lesson/actual change this is going to lead to, but that’s a huge what-the-fuck in terms of my own cognitive dissonance. I can absolutely accept that I’ve “learned” to be more guarded about letting a guy know how much I like him, but I believe him, and I’m having trouble grasping that I was capable of that.
I slept a few hours, then I woke up and called the other guy to tell him exactly what was up. Seems dumb in terms of strategy, since M already told me to fuck off, but it seems EXTRA assholish to get dumped and then deploy my backup guy like I’m granting him some kind of a favor by taking up time that could be spent with anyone else. I did use someone as an object in my internal drama…but it was that guy, not M.
This is the cheesiest example ever, but a sort of deep-cut Weber musical came to mind when I was thinking about this. It’s a one-woman show called “Tell Me On a Sunday,” about a young, English hat designer who moves to America with stars iin her eyes. (Bernadette Peters was the original Emma). The first song, “Take That Look Off Your Face”:
This guy that I’m with, this drummer from Queens,
he’s crazy, but I have hopes.
Take that look off your face.
Oh, I knew how you’d be.
You think I’m the same girl
who lets men take advantage of me, here’s one more.
And he’s possibly using me, it’s true.
Still, I’m here in New York;
Who’s using who?!
Most of the show is about her string of relationships and maturation. This one ends poorly, then she dates some rich lawyer from L.A. who really doesn’t seem to feel much for her, then she falls in love…and he breaks up with her for someone else. Her next is a married man for whom she doesn’t really feel much, and she assumes the same is true of him, until he leaves his wife and kids and shows up at her door. She ends it, and then has a meltdown in front of a mirror with a reprise of the first one:
What in the hell have I done this time?
If you want something ruined, give it to me!
Show me a dream, and I’ll show you a nightmare!
I’m not a little girl anymore, I keep forgetting that!
I set out to use Paul, and now look what I have done.
What kind of a person have I turned into?
‘Cause I never used to be like this.
A love really hurt me, I hurt someone back.
My work’s had a great successful bow.
And that look of New York I wanted to have,
oh Emma, I have it now.
Take that look off your face.
You were better naive
And it’s the oddest thing that this show from, like, the early 1980s, should pop into my head at all, but it’s kind of relevant. I’ve been dating for a year, and I’ve been getting “better” at it…but I’ve also become jaded and neurotic. I’ve also lost myself. I think that, deep down, I don’t believe that I can have what I want. You don’t have to go very far down to find the belief that I had the great love of my life, and that’s over, and I won’t have it again.
Sometimes the show is performed as a stand-alone that ends with Emma determined to be herself, even if it means getting hurt. Sometimes that’s performed as the first act of Song and Dance–which tells the story of Joe, and their eventual reconciliation, completely through dance and very 80s variations on Paganini.
A better writer could tie up all of this–the anniversary, my massive fuck-up with M, my determination to look at myself in the mirror, own up to my bullshit, and not rely on good intentions alone to be a better person. But I’ve only begun to process the last 24 hours (and year of gradual changes), and I am terrible at letting go of false hopes. I am trying to hear the truth, but it’s hard to really focus on anything other than wanting him back.
Great job, me, coming up with something to take my mind off August 16.