Turns out I was right. My heart is broken. Again.
It’s Monday. Three days after Christmas. My new boyfriend and I are trying to make it work, I guess. We’re spending time together, anyway. My therapist would agree with me that it is an ‘insecure attachment’, though. It’s hot and cold. It’s push and pull. It’s needy and then distant. It’s ‘where are you going don’t leave’ and then it’s ‘I can’t handle this you gotta go’.
I go to his house when I’m done with a therapy session. I’m sad. Some part of me knows this is not a good idea and that it is not going to end well. But another part of me just can’t get enough of this person.
I offer to buy him lunch. There’s one spot in town that’s still doing outdoor dining and cocktails in this COVID holiday season. I was there just the day before with my best girl. A few days before that I was there with my mean, scary ex.
We get in his car to go.
We’re about to get on the freeway when I decide to share.
“I exchanged texts and calls with my ex last night.”
I thought we could share this kinda stuff. So much of our relationship has consisted of sharing, openly and honestly, about our messy ex stuff. I had no idea this would upset him.
“Why did you call him? What the fuck, Jamie? Explain it to me!”
“I don’t know.”
“What did you talk about?”
“Why did you call him??! Are you just trying to make me jealous, now?”
“I don’t know. It’s a bad habit. I didn’t know what was happening with you. You were being aloof and confusing and I wanted attention, I guess.”
“I can’t be with you every second of every day, Jamie. Do I have to worry that you’re going to call him every time we are not together??”
“I’m sorry. No. I didn’t see him. I’m sorry. I don’t know.”
“‘I don’t know’ is not an explanation. This doesn’t make any sense.”
He’s fuming. He’s turned the car around. I’m grasping at straws trying to explain. I point out that I’m scared, too, that he’s reaching out to his ex. His behavior is confusing. It’s not his fault and I don’t mean to blame him, but the lack of clarity coming from him triggers up this needy part of me that is desperate for any kind of attention.
He doesn’t get it. He’s taking me back to his house, tells me to get in my own car and leave. So I do.
When I get home, I text him.
“I’m sorry. I don’t like my ex. I do like you, though. Is there anything I can do? I wish I could just buy you some food and that we could be nice to each other. I’m really sorry.”
He responds angrily. He says I’m still entrenched in his abusive power and that it’s sickening. He’s not wrong and I tell him so. He is going to play disc golf with a friend now and he is convinced that I will reach out to my ex again before the day ends. I assure him that I won’t. I promise to block my ex, delete his number, and get rid of every trace of him I possibly can.
I do need to do something to keep this scary, violent man out of my life after all.
At some point the conversation shifts. My new boyfriend sees an opportunity here, I think.
“I’m so mad I want to tie you to the massage table and do nasty things to you!!”
“Then do it,” I text back.
This could be fun. We do have a playful relationship. Maybe we could turn this into an erotic game. Of course, part of me is scared. Part of me knows how manipulative this is and is scared of being used and abused some more. But that part doesn’t get to have control right now. The playful, naughty little girl part of me is too interested in seeing where this might go.
I have to wait until he’s done with disc golf. And I do. I wait very patiently. It’s hard. But I’ve been a bad girl and I deserve it.
After a couple hours pass, he texts me again.
“Heading home. Going to take a quick shower then come tie you up.”
“Go get your blindfold and and put it on the massage table.”
“I’ll text you when I get there. Make sure the door is unlocked and put the blindfold on. Pour me a drink and put that on the table, too.”
“You want me to be wearing anything?”
“Leave your clothes on. I will take them off.”
Fuck this is hot. Sure it’s a little scary and a little humiliating. But also hot.
I do what he says. We play out this fantasy. He punishes me for what I’ve done. He does whatever he wants to my body. He says mean things to me.
Most of this is pretty fucking hot. Sure, some of his insults make my heart clench. And I don’t like the threat of him fucking me and then leaving me. But I’m excited about the potential of this creative, playful, role-playing kind of sexual relationship.
And I’ll do anything to prove to him that I’m sorry and that he is the one that I want.
Once he’s satisfied, we put our clothes back on and it’s different now. I want to cry. This is not love, is it?
But maybe it is. Maybe it can be. Maybe if I can just keep it together right now, there’ll still be a chance for this to grow into something good, something meaningful.
We spend the rest of the night together. We pick up some wine and some burgers. I finally get to buy him some food like I wanted to at lunch time. We chat about the sexual possibilities that await us in the future. We snuggle and laugh. We settle in and watch some episodes of The Office before we go to sleep together in my bed.
There’s a dialogue going on inside of me as I struggle to fall asleep.
“I’ll be better to myself tomorrow,” some part of me thinks. “I won’t always allow people to treat me this way. I’ll do better at taking care of my inner child. Starting tomorrow.”
“But we like this one,” another part of me argues. “He’s fun and there’s still potential. We don’t want him to leave,” it protests.
There seems to be some level of negotiation between these polarized parts. Maybe we can do both. Maybe we can take better care of Jamie and keep this guy around. Seems reasonable enough for now. One day at a time. We don’t have to decide anything in this 24 hours. That’s what they say at the meetings, right?
In the morning, he gets up early. He’s motivated to do something better today, too, it seems. We have coffee, do some reading in my living room together, and then he’s gonna go home and do a workout. I’ll come and join him a little later, after I take care of some things around the house and shower. We’ll spend the day together like the happy couple that we are trying so hard to be. He’ll cook me breakfast. We’ll make a shopping list for dinner. We’ll plan on going for a walk in the park. We’ll need to have some more sex before we can get out the door, though.
Eventually we get back into his car. We’re going to the grocery store to get all the supplies we’ll need for home made cole slaw and pulled pork sandwiches at my place. It’ll be so nice to stock up the refrigerator together and spend the next couple of days together, like a real couple.
He has to stop for gas. While he’s pumping, the darkness starts to descend. When he gets back in the car he can see it on my face. He comments that this look scares him. I admit that I’m feeling sad. I gaze out the window and the tears finally come. This life is not turning out like I thought it would. There is nothing perfect about this. It’s so imperfect and so disappointing and so sad.
He asks if I’m crying and I nod. He asks if I want to talk about it and I do.
I try to explain. This imperfect situation, with his ex and my ex and all the shit, it’s hard. It’s painful. It’s overwhelming. It’s sad.
He gets defensive. He argues that I shouldn’t wallow. My sadness scares him.
I try to explain. I’m not trying to wallow. I’m just having some feelings and I can’t ignore them. It doesn’t have to ruin the whole day, though.
He pulls into the grocery store parking lot. He reminds me that he doesn’t have enough money to buy all these groceries. I assure him that I can take care of it. I’m hurt and angry that he’s so dismissive of my feelings, though.
“Do you want to connect with me or do you want to pretend?” I demand.
“Let’s just go get the groceries.”
“Ok, so we’re pretending,” I snap, sarcastically. I get out of the car and get ready to put on a happy face again.
“Stop trying to piss me off!” He’s not getting out of the car.
I get back in the car and we’re driving back to his house again. The conversation is a blur. He’s angry. He thinks I’m trying to fight. I’m not trying to fight. I just had some feelings, that’s all. He can’t take it, though, and I think he feels attacked. This is not healthy for him, he can’t do this.
So I get back in my own car and I drive home. Again.
Hours of what I interpret as the silent treatment follow. No call. No text. Nothing.
Eventually I text.
“I’m interested in experiencing this life fully. I wanna feel all the feelings (or maybe it’s more like I have to in order to live). High and low. Dark and light. Like a paradox. It’s scary and painful oftentimes, especially since I’ve been trying for so long to avoid the big feelings. I don’t see it being sustainable, though, avoiding my own feelings. This life is messy and hard and it’s impossible to dodge the uncomfortable parts. I care about you. I’m interested in all the parts of you. The funny, silly, joyful, laughing, playful ones and also the sad, dark, hurting, confused, afraid, lonely ones. It all warrants and deserves attention. I hope you can see that for yourself. You are so valuable. All of you. I’m gonna do my best to keep working on seeing it for myself. It makes sense that my feelings about the messy shit in our lives would affect you and that you don’t wanna deal with it. And I don’t need you, or anybody, to fix it or resolve anything for me. I just wanna be seen and heard. And it hurts to have my feelings dismissed by you. I can’t help it that I have sad feelings. I don’t have these feelings in order to start fights or piss you off or to wallow or bring anybody down. I just have these feelings. I can’t help it. I also have happy, fun, playful feelings at other times. I got it all, you know? I’m a complex, dynamic human being. If it’s too much for you, then that’s what it is and we don’t have to be together. It’s sad. I’ll miss you. A lot. But I can’t control or limit my own feelings for you.”
He doesn’t respond. My phone does alert me, though, that he has stopped sharing his location with me. I didn’t realize he had been sharing his location with me.
Eventually I text again.
“I wish you could just say something. I feel like I pour my heart out to you, we spend all this time together, have all kinds of sex, and then you just disappear. It’s so confusing.”
“Can’t talk right now.” Such bullshit.
“That is not something. What is happening?”
“I don’t know what’s confusing. I said I couldn’t do it anymore. You’re so complicated, so many mood swings. I can’t keep up and I’m too sensitive to ignore any of it and it puts me in a bad place too. Too much arguing. I simply can’t do it.”
“Ok. Thank you for explaining.”
God, this hurts. I’m too much for him. It’s not surprising. It’s actually pretty familiar. I’m too much for a lot of people. My ‘too muchness’ has been the reason for so many relationships not working out.
I was too much for my mom, too. I wasn’t allowed to have any feelings as a kid. I was expected to be a content and polite rule follower. Anything else would have been met with alarm and/or abandonment. I spent a lot of time alone in my room. I would watch television in my room while she watched a different television in hers and we would both just numb out. I wouldn’t realize until much later in life that she was using me as a strategy to keep her own extreme feelings at bay. Before I was born, she used substances for that. She’s using substances for that again, now that I’m gone.
So. Somehow it makes sense. On some level, it’s all coming together. And sure, it’s getting easier to feel my own feelings. To accept all my own parts.
But I want somebody else to accept me for the complicated, messy, polarized human that I am, too. And right now, I still want it to be that boy. Part of me hopes, expects even, that he’ll come back. Another part of me hopes that I’ll be able to resist it if/when he does. Either way, I’m keeping the massage table.
I’ve got to get ready to go and see my therapist now. I wish I wanted to see her as much as I want to hear from him. I’ll take what I can get, I guess.
One day at a time.