Know why I abandoned this blog for so long? I lost my password. I looked everywhere for it, but I believe I threw away the little notebook with random passwords jotted in its pages. Anyway, this morning I’m in the shower and I remembered the very random phrase I made up as the password. Just out of the blue, blam, there it was.
I got to work and tried it out and here I am again.
Of course, I am writing mostly for myself because most of my blogging friends have also given up on these blogs. We’re all chatting in real time over on Facebook and Instagram these days. I know some of my blogger friends are still at it, and maybe I’ll take a look again and see if any of you are still up to it. Today’s a perfect day for it, as I have to be at work and almost no one is here and there is no work to do.
So, 2017 has been a complete shitshow. First we got Trump and all the batshit crazy people came out of the woodwork. Our country is a bipartisan, bickering mess. My dolphin activism fizzled out because I got wrapped up in personality conflicts and weird fights with egotistical people. Around that time, my depression flared up and convinced me that all of my struggles to educate and change people’s minds was in vain. The issue was too big and too many people were just indifferent. Indifference is the biggest roadblock to trying to change the world. Too many people are complacent in the way things are and don’t care much outside of their own small sphere. I can’t fight that. I am not equipped to fight that. I was losing sleep, gaining weight, feeling worthless and not interested anymore. I stepped away. And to be honest, it has felt better to not be right in the middle of shit, but the side effect is that I feel guilt and shame and like I’m weak. The truth is it’s kind of normal to burn out when you care as deeply as I did. I still care SO much. But I’m more quiet about it and doing things like writing occassional letters to senators and companies asking them to cut ties with anything related to animal exploitation, signing petitions (which I am on the fence about regarding effectiveness) and… I don’t know what else I feel like I could be doing. I’m working on it.
My desire to work on my fiction disappeared. Completely.
I stopped writing my Tarzan retelling sometime in 2016 and never picked it up again. In fact, I even avoided re-reading anything I’d written and walked away from writer groups. I can’t explain what happened, because it’s not like there was an incident or something that made me just stop one day. It was a gradual loss of interest. Until soon, the thought of sitting down to write new scenes in that book, or any of my books, was completely uncomfortable. This is the second worst thing to happen to me this year. This is like an amputation; a major limb of mine is gone, or at least paralyzed. I’ve always been a writer. I’ve always made up stories, and imagined scenes. I used to think of dialogue and plot points while I was driving, while I cleaned the house, while I walked the dogs, even while I was sitting at work or out to dinner. It’s SO WEIRD to never think like that any more. It bothers me so much I avoid thinking about it and change the subject in my mind before I start wanting to scream in frustration and mourning.
So, what was the #1 worst thing to happen this year? My now-ex.
We had a solid relationship for two years. He lived with me, and our home was so nice together. His dog and my pets got along great and we had a nice harmony and energy in the house. We went on road trips, we had a great group of friends, things felt incredibly healthy. He and I didn’t fight. We had disagreements here and there, mostly after drinking a bit too much, or over political and women’s issues (he sways more conservative than I am comfortable with, in retrospect) but we never went to bed angry at one another. I taught him how to end an argument with laughter, something he apparently didn’t do in other relationships.
I thought we were honest with one another, always. I know I was absolutely honest with him at all times. I wanted us to talk a lot. I believed he was honest with me, and was talking about everything just like I was.
We had one big issue, though, that was simmering under the surface: a lack of intimacy.
This is going to veer into TMI territory, but it’s all real and I don’t feel shame in the facts. Shame is where issues come from. I don’t want any more issues.
Make a long story short: I wanted sex and he did not. We stopped having sex altogether at least a year and a half ago, now. He initially told me it was because of possible hormone issues and that this had happened in his last relationship, too. I asked him bluntly if it was me: was it my weight? My hair color? Was it because I was not his ex?
No, no and no, he insisted. It was NOT ME. It was HIM.
But time went on and he never went to talk to anyone about it. Never saw a doctor. When I playfully tried to come on to him, he would deflect my efforts with laughter or changing the subject. I felt rejected and quite unattractive as a result of this, which in turn creates that horrid cycle of low esteem = low attractiveness, and I’m sure I became even LESS attractive to him because I felt dumpy and unwanted. I stopped trying as often to initiate things, but the topic still came up in conversation whenever it felt organic for me to say something. I tried very hard to distill the point that, look, this is important to me, and if I am important to you, you’ll look into this.
What I did, though, was push it aside. I convinced myself I didn’t need sex to be happy, and it was actually true after awhile. It was easy because our FRIENDSHIP and bond was so strong. I loved being with him, and loved the low-key, relaxed nature of our relationship. We had lots and lots of fun together, and we always had one another’s backs. If he did a show, I was supporting him by making sure he got to and from rehearsals every night (he never had his own car), and went to hang out with him and his cast mates after shows even when I was tired and didn’t really want to sit at Zipps Sports Bar and drink lame beer. I asked him about his day and listened to his answer. I wanted to plan a way for us to spend the holidays with his family, or at least make sure we found a way to get him home to Florida to be with his mom and brother for either Christmas or Thanksgiving. It was genuinely important to me that he have a relationship with his family even though he was in AZ. I loved his family.
I had thought he was supportive to me, but in retrospect I see things I didn’t before. When I got sick last spring and needed to go to the emergency room, he acted strange and selfish. He didn’ want to go back with me even though I was scared. He was more concerned that he might get sick than being with me. He got testy with me on the way home because the doctors didn’t find a definitive diagnosis for my pain and he implied I was “milking it” for some kind of attention, and if I had been considerate of him, I would have asked to go to the hospital while it was still his workday so he wouldn’t have wasted his whole free night at the hospital (meanwhile, I was trying to fight having to go to the hospital at all, not trying to be inconsiderate to his free time schedule). It wasn’t the way a true boyfriend should have behaved.
(This is sadly nothing new for me. Another ex of mine barely visited me when I was going through the sepsis infection and then laparatomy surgery 14 years ago because he “hated hospitals” and really wanted to spend time with his friends playing a board game; we ended our engagement a few months after that.)
But anyway, I overlooked these things mostly because our everyday life was so nice. I loved our familiar routines and the things we shared. I loved sampling new beers and getting into brewery culture. For his birthday in August, I orchestrated a trip to Denver so we could visit a number of breweries. We spent that trip driving all over and went to something like 10 breweries.
It was only a month later when something felt different. We had an intense discussion about intimacy one night and he started to say things that made me think he was hiding some truth from me. I suspected it had to do with his ex, Andi. Why? Because if I brought her up–especially this scathing letter she wrote to me back when he and I first began dating– he was evasive. Before this, if I brought that letter up, he would say how much that letter hurt him and he couldn’t believe someone he had loved could be THAT cruel and hurtful. He would talk about what a slob she was, and how hard it was to live with her because they would argue and there were perpetual “hurt feelings” between them, and all this negative stuff.
But all the sudden he wasn’t saying any of THAT. Now he was almost lamenting that “they never had a real chance to be alone together without her kids around” in the years they were together; and if I asked him point-blank if he was attracted to her he CHANGED THE SUBJECT. He would not answer me. In fact, he turned it around on me: “Why is this so important to YOU?” he asked. Because it is, numbnuts. Answer the question.
He did, sorta. He told me “She has a long term boyfriend.” Like that just shut the door on it, definitively.
I had to go to Cleveland for a marketing conference that had me away for three nights. This was also around the time of Hurricane Irma, which was hitting South Florida… which happened to be where SHE lived. He told me he was in contact with “family and FRIENDS” in South Florida because he was so concerned for their safety during Irma. I had to accept that, because I remember how awful it felt when Hurricane Sandy was going on and my loved ones were right in its path.
I now know he was talking to his ex while I was away. A lot. And then continued to talk to her after I got back. They had, according to her (because OMG, she later wrote to me and told me all this shit), some “side conversations” about theatre, old friends, and other stuff and it snowballed from there. I went to NJ for an entire week at the end of September. He stayed home, happily. He was talking to her pretty much the entire time I was away.
Funny thing was, I had a feeling. It was just a gut feeling but I felt like I was losing him, fast. It was largely because I never heard from him much while I was away. Almost no texts or messages, and no phone calls. Just radio silence. He was “busy working on his scripts for Poefest” according to him. Uh-huh. A year earlier he managed to get his Poe scripts memorized in less than a third of the time he was claiming he was using this year.
The day I left NJ to come home was awful. I had to leave at 3am and my sister, BIL and niece were staying for two more nights and I didn’t want to go. And I felt the plain indifference coming from my boyfriend regarding my return in his matter-of-fact texts about how he had to pick me up at the airport that morning. He picked me up, and I was jetlagged and emotional and not 10 minutes once we got home, he started laying some seriously intense shit on me:
He was thinking seriously about leaving. He wanted to go back to Florida. He began to cry and said he realized in seeing my photos and posts about being in NJ how important “home” really is… and he wanted to go home. He missed his mother SO MUCH, he said. She was getting older and he felt guilty not being nearby to help take care of things. He missed his brother, also, SO MUCH. He had been enjoying playing video games with his bro remotely and talking and now he just wanted a close, in-person relationship again.
As for us, him and me, he said he felt like we had not quite “bonded as a couple.” I was in shock about this one, because I felt plenty bonded to him. But he continued, saying in his last two relationships, he and his ex had early “bonding experiences” that cemented their lives together. He felt we were lacking that. I asked him if we could keep talking about this, and see if we could work on things, and he said, “I don’t know.” Hmm. You’d bring this stuff up to me, but NOT be on-board with trying to fix anything? OK…
I felt gutted and so upset. I couldn’t believe it seemed like he actually wanted to end our relationship. I had thought we were moving toward eventually getting married one day. I know his Mom and my Mom wanted that VERY much. I always pushed marriage-thoughts to the side only because we had both been married once before and I was content in taking things slowly. I didn’t want to push him. Now I wonder if I should have pushed… but I only think that once in awhile, these days. You’ll see why, soon.
We kind of went about our lives in an awkward way. I again didn’t want to push the hard conversations, and we seemed to do well when we focused on the happy and positive things, so we fell back into that pattern. Playing with the dogs, watching our shows, talking about the news, having beers and dinner.
But then on Friday, October 6, he took us to dinner at our favorite spot, Papago Brewing Company. As we were settling in to eat our dinners, he said it: “I’m moving back to Florida and ending this relationship. I’m planning to leave around November 2.”
I tried to handle it rationally and let him talk, while inside my heart is pounding and I’m feeling crazy-trapped and out of control of anything regarding “us.” Plus we were in public and I couldn’t just break down crying there.
But it was true. He really was ending it. He had decided, for both of us, that we were finished. He said we had “plateaued” and that “it’s not like we were going to get married. I don’t mean any offense, but I don’t see you as marriage material and that’s mostly because I don’t believe in marriage. My mother has been married four times and marriage doesn’t solve any problems in a relationship. It’s not for everyone.”
In the days that followed, I was lost and flat-out gutted. We talked a lot more, and I pleaded with him for some more time. After all, we had invested two whole years already, so what’s say, two more months? Would it be so unreasonable to go talk to someone, get some counseling? Try something adventurous and new to spark something between us? Anything, everything… I was willing to do it. I just please, please, please needed him to not just decide for BOTH of us that this was unsalvageable.
But, no. He wouldn’t change his mind. In fact, I finally had to ask him to say those words definitively so I could stop trying so hard: “Nothing you say can change my mind.”
Wow. Just, wow. So, it was all over, we had never bonded (news to me), and he had to leave ASAP, no questions asked. I had no say in it, I just had to accept it.
Here’s the thing: I was so good to him, for two years. I took care of him, he took care of me; we were such good friends and partners; my family adored him, my pets adored him, my friends accepted him and liked him. I let him live in my house only paying a portion of the living expenses (he made a lot less money than I did). I let him use my car when he needed to. There are countless other things that were good about our life together, and none of that amounted to shit. Nothing worth fighting for. No second guessing or second chances for me. Not only were we breaking up, he was moving thousands of miles away so it’s not like we could phase out of our close relationship. One day he would be here, and the next: totally gone.
It just didn’t feel fair.
It felt like I was being cheated out of a chance to change anything, the chance to try. If he had just given me that, it would have been so much easier, emotionally, for me. I really sank fast into a deep depression, not feeling “worth” much, not even worth a little more time or effort. Everything we had was just about to be finished, for good. I didn’t want this, in any way, shape or form.
He stayed for an entire month. That’s because he was doing a show that he was in through October 30. I let him stay in my house even though I think, in retrospect, I should have kicked his ass out, knowing what I now know. I feel so angry that I was used and taken advantage of for his own convenience.
All this time, I tried to find out more for my own peace of mind. Like, where was he going to move? Was he going to live at his Mom’s? Yes, he said that he was going to stay with her for a little while, but the plan was to get an apartment with his brother somewhere relatively close to his Mom’s place in West Palm Beach. I asked him a couple times if he had been talking to Andi, because of another damn gut feeling coming from that conversation when he wouldn’t answer about being attracted to her again… and he said they were just casual friends and yes, he had talked to her a couple times but mostly he was talking to her son, who was in the Marines and seemed to need advice and support while getting through basic training. More than anything, he said, he couldn’t wait to be with his family again. Talked about making the Thanksgiving turkey so his Mom wouldn’t have to cook this year. It was ALL about his family, this move. And the urgency was so he could be back there for the holidays this year.
Meanwhile, I looked into selling the house. It was not really MY house; it felt like OUR house because he had moved in with me just 6 months after I bought it, and everything reminded me of happy memories we’d had. Plus, I was sick and tired of the pool. And I would be paying a lot without his contribution to the monthly bills– I could handle it, yeah, but if I could find a way to live cheaper, without a pool, in a new place and making a fresh start of my own, why not? So I put energy into that, in many ways to distract and give myself a plan of action so life would not be happening TO me so much. I needed to get control of my own life again after having him comandeer the wheel of our relationship and drive us off a cliff.
But right when I was beginning to get used to the notion that it was going to be over for good between us, and thinking we might remain friends after he left, things took an ugly, blonde turn.
I’ll continue this in my next post.