August 1, 2023
I’m struggling mightily to find a balance between three things.
1. The kind of person I want to be.
2. How I feel right now and how I want to act.
3. What it is most healthy to do.
I experience an incredible sense of betrayal in May, when David and I “transitioned to friendship”. For well over half the time we were a “couple” (just short of eight months), he spent an enormous amount of time and effort trying to make me feel OK about our relationship when I knew full well something was off.
I can’t tell you how many times I asked, “Are we OK? I feel like something is off. Is this what you really want? Are you in this? Are we going to make it?”
And he’d respond, “Yes, of course this is what I want. I believe we will make it. I feel that.”
He was patient with my questions at first, or at least he pretended to be. He was convincingly reassuring. But then he started to get frustrated. When he started to roll his eyes and get angry, I knew for a FACT I’d hit upon a truth.
I am left to wonder if he ever would have initiated the breakup. If I’d left it up to him, which I was most tempted to do, it would have taken a long time, but eventually he would not have been able to deny his truth. It was a very responsible, very adult thing I did to end things. I did the right thing.
Perhaps I waited too long. But I have grace for myself on that. Because I did trust him, and it’s good to trust the people you love. It’s just that sometimes it turns out the things they are saying can’t be trusted. But you don’t know that until after. And then it’s silly to hate yourself for believing. Trusting someone you love is evidence you showed up and did the loving thing – you chose to trust in your beloved. It is right and good I chose to do that.
This latest turn of events is incredibly hurtful. It's one thing that we transitioned to friendship. I could deal with that. I was dealing with that. I was coming to terms in a very healthy way. I was making good progress. We were nurturing the friendship. It was mutually rewarding. We were happy in the new paradigm we’d created together.
Then a bit over two weeks ago, David met someone.
He’s been consumed with this new woman. They spend a great deal of time together. And I fear for him. I know how much he needs solitude, how angry and frustrated he is when he doesn’t have sufficient time and space for himself. And he’s thrown himself into it. I know this from the significant change in the pattern of our communication.
There’s this really ugly smug self-satisfied part of me that thinks, “He’s going to be sorry. He’s going to regret letting a woman manipulate him into spending so much time with him. (Although it’s impossible to manipulate a 62-year-old man who doesn’t want to be manipulated.) It won’t take long and he’s going to resent her. It’s going to implode.”
I don’t like to think those things because first of all, I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to wish him, or anyone, ill. And second, I love him, I want him to be happy. If this is his soulmate, I’m happy he finally met her. God bless him and God bless her and… when the fuck is it my turn? (I digress.)
What’s really troubling is after we transitioned to friendship, he made explicit friendship commitments he is not honoring. And that’s the biggest betrayal.
He knows how difficult a time I’m having with depression. And he knows it’s not just the breakup. He knows the rhythm we’ve established in communicating and he knows I’m flexible, that I’ll give him space and grace. But I’m not giving him an infinite amount of space and grace. I have expectations around the friendship which he is not meeting. And I even explained all that to him a couple days ago, in detail. He was defensive, telling me he went back and looked at our conversation and he texts me more than anyone else. Ya, so? He doesn’t get it. It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality. All that shared experience, all that shared intimacy, meticulously and lovingly built over now ten month’s time -- all of that’s gone.
I can’t have a friendship with someone who is incapable of honoring the friendship. One of the things we did was check in with one another daily. He knows that full well, because otherwise he wouldn’t say, “Goodnight” every fucking night. He and I established the friendship contract jointly. I gave him grace; I mean I gave him A LOT of grace. But what the fuck. How much grace am I required to give him? The answer to that is: NONE.
I’m in control of my life, my choices, and my behavior. I get to decide what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in my friendships. I get to decide if I want to stay in communication with someone who is hurting me, regardless of whether or not it’s intentional.
So. Back to those three things.
I want to be the kind of person who recognizes we are all doing our very best, that we all bring the best of ourselves to any moment, and that sometimes our best is just not that great. I want to be the kind of person who is loving and forgiving and extends endless grace to others, because that is how I want to be treated. So that’s the highest of high roads.
I realized today that this notion of having to be friends with my exes is a lovely way to live, and more often than not it has worked out very well for both me and my ex-lovers. But there is nothing in the whole grand scheme that says this rule always applies or that I must always adhere to it. Sometimes, it’s not reasonable to remain friends. Sometimes it’s not healthy to remain friends, at least not for a time.
So, what’s the healthiest course of action FOR ME? Because I’m pretty invested in being a good person (see item #1). Other than the admittedly passive aggressive act of writing this and posting it, I’ve no interest in skewering David. I do not believe he intends to hurt me. I believe he’s in the throes of new love and not thinking about anything but being in the throes of new love. And I’ve been there. However, it’s been decades since I was foolish enough to ignore my friendships for a new relationship. Perhaps it’s because he hasn’t much experience in new relationships. Perhaps he’s not capable of focusing his attention on more than one person at a time. Perhaps he’s an idiot. (I’m thinking the latter, but I’m not invested in being very generous towards the man at present.) But I know he’s not set out to intentionally hurt me. He’s not capable of that.
Back to the question -- what’s the healthiest course for me right now? What’s the most honoring course of action? My inclination is to cut off communication. And I’m choosing to give into that inclination right now, right this moment, just now today. I’m giving into this course knowing I can alter course at any time. It may be days, it may be weeks, but I know myself well enough to know it won’t be longer than that. I’ll let this all process and I’ll know soon enough what permanent course of action I want to pursue. It may be to reconnect, and it may not.
There’s a risk that if I do opt to reconnect and he is not amenable, I lose the relationship entirely. I’m willing to take that risk. To end communication, at least for a time, is akin to risk mitigation. Risk mitigation in terms of preventing further damage to my heart and spirit.
I’ve proven out time and again I don’t hold grudges. I truly recognize we all do the best we can with the information we have at any given time, given where we are on our particular journey towards self-love and self-realization. And because of that, I cannot hold others accountable for not behaving in ways that fit with who I am and where I am on my path. There is no intentional harm being inflicted here, not by David on me nor by me on David. All is as it should be, right now, right this moment.
That doesn’t mean losing him as a boyfriend wasn’t incredibly disappointing, and losing him as a friend isn’t excruciating. It hurts like a motherfuck.
I Persevere. And life goes on.
“Truth is everybody is going to hurt you: you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.” -Bob Marley