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Is it Love or Is It Something Else?

The following is a blog post I started a year ago, on September 27, 2011. I guess the break up with the Gone Boyfriend really was a long time coming. The post below isn’t complete. I’m posting it in this unfinished state, because I think it is a good lesson to me to go with my gut. I sensed something wasn’t right a year ago. Whatever was brewing inside the Gone Boyfriend was brewing for a while, and I was seeing something of it. I just was too afraid or unwilling to face it. My bad.

How can you tell if it is real love?

I find this a difficult question to address.

Maybe, because, before you can address the question at all, one must define love.  This is something I cannot do. Well, maybe I can do it when it comes to loving that little sports car that just drove by, or loving my job or not loving it, or loving my children…but when it comes to an adult relationship?  This is where I have trouble.  What is real love?  I don’t even know what it means to be really in love.  Moreover, I’m not sure, having been beaten by men either verbally or physically or emotionally and certainly financially most of my life, that I can even understand the meaning of love or what it would look like or feel like to have a man be truly in love with me.  Too me, it looks just too much like competition, or the lack of competition.

But, I’m currently in a relationship, and have been with a man for nearly a year.  Eleven months to be exact and, well, questions are coming to my mind.  Yes, they are keeping me up at night.  I am beginning to wonder if this relationship is really right for me.  Maybe, when I get done, I will come to the conclusion that my even asking the questions was the sign that things weren’t right.  Then again, maybe everyone needs to ask the questions periodically just to check in and re-evaluate what it is about the relationship that still is worth committing to.  At this point, I don’t know, but I am concerned enough about some things that I need to take a step back and ask, “What’s really going on here?”  That’s not the only question I’m asking either…obviously.

There were more questions like “What is true love? How does it behave? What does it look like at middle age?” and so on. I’m still asking some of those questions, but I’m certainly not thinking I should be so surprised that the Gone Boyfriend is gone.

Benefits of Breaking Up

It’s not going to get ugly here. He’s not likely to pull a U-Haul up and empty my place one day while I’m out and I’m not going to slit his throat in the middle of the night while he lies sleeping on my couch downstairs until he leaves, which has already happened; the leaving part, I mean.

He’s just going to pick up his things and leave my life as casually as he entered it. I’m not exactly going to go about pretending everything is as it was. That’s why he had a deadline (Friday) to get out and that’s why he slept on the couch; something he abhorred, which is why he left earlier than his Friday deadline. Well, that and some help from his parents. Things have changed, but they aren’t ugly.

After every breakup there is a period of grief, I think. Really, I’m only guessing at this. I’m no therapist. In fact, I need a therapist. But it sounds good, so I’m going with it. I suppose, if the relationship was horrible, one might be relieved or even overjoyed at the end of the relationship. I certainly felt that way after I left The Evil Ex. The saddest part of that relationship was that I’d wasted my time in it and was now older. Men can successfully pick up on pretty young things no matter how old they get. The same does not hold true for women. Even if you are very attractive, once you hit a certain age, men seem to become more reluctant to date you, choosing instead your 21-year-old daughter. (Well, okay, that hasn’t happened to me yet, but, I suspect it might if I were ever to go bar hopping with her…which I will be sure not to do. My fragile ego could not take it right now.)

Beyond the turmoil of disentangling two lives, there comes the task of figuring out life in your new reality as a single person. I’m beginning to move in this direction. All of my children are informed of the split (they are okay with it). I have told my closest friends, and after finding out that he was totally checked out on me, I changed my Facebook status to single. Essentially, I’m taking the steps I need to take to be free of this relationship which I’m now finding out was a sham for nearly a year. This is good for me. I’m trying not to be bitter and angry at the way he treated me, at the way I allowed him to treat me. I’m keeping busy. Making plans. I’m trying my best not to dwell on my loss and not to despair too much about the real potential of a solitary future.

As I go through my days, I consider all the positive aspects of this change in my life. This helps to keep my mind from wandering toward the sadder parts and becoming maudlin about the whole deal. Here are a few things I’ve come up with:

1. There’s a whole lot more room in my king-sized bed to sprawl out in.
2. I will now have a room to call my own, as well as a closet and bathroom.
3. Maybe now I can move my desk area downstairs and out of my bedroom…or maybe not. He will no longer be dominating my downstairs with his desk area. At least I will be able to choose.
4. I will no longer have to urge my kids to”Quick, let’s clean up before he gets home,” when there never really was anything to clean up to begin with because he won’t be coming home.
5. I will not have to wonder where he put the latest thing he cleaned up or what things of mine he threw out when he cleaned.
6. I might be able to do away with the storage unit. We only have it because he felt the garage was out of control. (It wasn’t, and his stuff is mostly what we store there.)
7. I’ll save money, since I won’t be paying his car insurance, gas, food and gym membership.
8. I will have more time to write.
8a. I will have more time to spend with my children that we won’t have to cut short because he suddenly walked in the room.
9. I can do what I want, when I want without criticism.
10. I can plan my own future and chart my own course.

Even though breakups are sad, painful and rough, there are some decided benefits, especially if the relationship was floundering anyway. I’m sure I’ll have my moments of feeling like a complete relational loser in the days and weeks and months to come, but right now I’m trying to stay positive and think of the benefits. The list I’ve created here only scratches the surface. I haven’t even considered things like how much more honestly I’ll be living because he’s not around, and how much less stress I will experience because he won’t be constantly criticizing me or my children. I haven’t mentioned how I won’t ever have to hear him infer that I am poor white trash (wait…who’s picking up your tab and paying all your bills while you channel surf all day?). I won’t ever have to be out with friends and experience his sneer of disgust when I say/do something he doesn’t approve of. In fact, the more I think of it, the better I feel about this. In some ways, it will be hard and sad. I think the saddest part of all of it is that I was too kind, too generous, and I wasted so much time in a dead end relationship. In more more ways, though, this will will be great. Once I get over my shock at what has transpired and how unexpected it all was, I’ll be okay. This is the right thing to be doing.

I’m sad it didn’t work out but, to be honest, if it wasn’t going to work out, the thing I’m most sad about is that I didn’t realize that fact earlier.

Humorous…Or Not

The beginning of love is always fun, exhilarating, scintillating, exciting, happy.  The end of it, if analyzed, is bound to be many things.  Sometimes volatile, dangerous, and painful.  In my case, this ending is interesting, if not completely humorous. How can I possibly refer to the end of a relationship that was (or so  I thought) the love of my life, certain to go the distance, as…humorous?  I mean, after all, I am devastated.  I really am.  I would never have considered living with a man if I wasn’t 100% certain this was the real deal. We really had so much going for us in so many ways. I can’t even begin to explain or list the ways this relationship seemed so right.  And yet, apparently, it wasn’t.  I have yet to learn all the lessons from this.  Much of what has transpired and will yet transpire will teach me important lessons only after the throbbing pain of loss has subsided and I can try to look at what happened with a bit less emotion. I get that.  But right now, I’m riding an emotional roller coaster that rivals anything Disney or Six Flags could come up with.

So, in spite of the pain, how can I view this as humorous?  Well, having two very stiff drinks helps.

The truth is, I am crushed.  I am hurt.  I am in all sorts of pain.  (So much for that “calm before the storm.”)  I’ve cried a lot today.  He does not know this.  I will continue to brush back the tears, to sob silently behind closed doors (read in the shower), until he is finally gone from my residence and, sadly, from my life.

Since there is now no “faking it” in our relationship (I never did, but I know he did…if not in the bedroom, then certainly elsewhere), we’ve had some very interesting conversations.  He is one who likes to dodge issues; pretend like things are fine when, in fact, they are not.  I, on the other hand, prefer to know the truth straight up.   So, as people do, we had yet another conversation about the details of unwinding this thing.  Mind you, we aren’t storming around tense and antagonist.  We woke up this morning had coffee together, and began talking about the “unwind” like an old married couple might discuss the return on their mutual fund or the sale of some property or the latest developments with the grandchildren.  Since the Non-Boyfriend (NBF), is not exactly one to be direct and honest about his feelings, and since I for some idiot reason felt I needed to know where he stood (this is critical, because I have absolutely no clue how he feels about me and how he feels about “us” in general and haven’t for a very, very long time). So…I started out asking questions and got some good information.

He admits to being such a neat freak that he makes Felix Unger look like a slob.  He admits that this is not healthy, has created problems for us, but he’s at a loss as to know what to do.  (Read:  He’s unhappy with me because my teenager doesn’t leave his room Better-Homes-And-Gardens perfect every day. )  Here’s what my son’s room looks like…normally.

This is my 17-year-old son’s disastrous room

And the downstairs guest bathroom that he complains that my older daughter leaves a disaster (Yes, this is normally how it looks, not cleaned up for the picture.) :

This is the downstairs bathroom that is, apparently, always a mess. Hmmm, no one has been in to clean it. Is this messy?

And here is the kids’ bathroom, another source of contention for him:

Again, I did not clean up for these pictures and they haven’t been photo-shopped. Is this a messy bathroom?

He says he just cannot deal with the mess anymore and he is tired of cleaning up after everyone.

Whoa!  Screeeeeech!

Let’s make it very clear, folks.  This man is NOT paying rent.  He is NOT contributing to the bills.  He only pays for anything when asked and NEVER volunteers. And he DOES NOT clean up after anyone.  Lately, even though he’s making more, he doesn’t even pay when asked. He comes and goes as he pleases and he is tired of cleaning up after everyone?  (I was careful to point out to him that he had done absolutely nothing to clean or contribute to this place, without being directly asked, for the last two months.  He agreed with me.)

I responded to his above statement, by reminding him of the fact that he pays nothing to live here and, lately, he contributes nothing, and he comes and goes as he pleases.  I told him, if I were in that place, I would consider it my rent to do whatever I could around the house to keep the landlord (read: me) happy.

I pressed him further about his perspective.  Here’s how the conversation went:

Me:  So, how long have you known that this relationship was a dead end and you weren’t willing to go to the next level? (Read: how long have you known you wouldn’t every marry me?) Has it been, what?  January?  December?

Him:  Oh not quite that long.

Yeah, end of conversation.

I have only two words for him at this point:  GET OUT!

Actually, that’s not true, I have four words for him:  GET THE FUCK OUT!

Instead, what I said was this:

“Well, then.  You could have at least have been a gentleman and gotten out once you were sure, instead of taking advantage of me.  I’d like you to work on finding a place where you can stay immediately.”

He mumbled something about working on it and named the 10th as a deadline.

I followed up with, “Well, since I just paid your rent, your utilities and your car insurance, and since you have absolutely no ability or motivation to pay me back, you will make sure this house is spotless.  You can start with the floors downstairs and making dinner tonight.”

I’m changing the locks on the afternoon of the 10th, maybe even before. (He does not know this.)  He cleaned the floors and made dinner tonight.

He can’t leave my life soon enough right now.  (And, yes, obviously, he is not telling me the entire truth about where he is with things, which is really the reason we are breaking up; he simply cannot be honest, not with himself or with other people.)

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

~ William Shakespeare

I find it humorous how relationships can turn on a dime.

I find it humorous, how, when a relationship end, the emotions can turn on a dime.

I have one week…just one more week.

 

 

Slowly, Then All At Once

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It’s happening. The Hesitant Boyfriend (who is no longer really a boyfriend but an additional child in my life) is no longer hesitating. He’s moving out. Of course, I’m also not giving him any other options, either.

I guess, if I was honest with myself, I knew this was coming. I also knew it was coming long before now. I feel like a fool for hanging in there so long, hoping things would change, knowing that with each passing day, and each passing paycheck he brought home that we never discussed (much anyway), that things were not only not improving, they were declining.

Ernest Hemingway, when asked how he went bankrupt, responded, “Slowly and then suddenly.” I think the breakdown of a relationship is like that. It happens slowly, then suddenly it’s just over. It’s been that way for me, anyway. I drag my feet, fearing to face what I suspect (know) in my gut is the truth. Finally, something happens that makes it ever so obvious that not even I, with my head-in-the-relational-sand ways can even deny, that he’s just not into me…or, at least, not enough to be living in my house with no financial obligations to pay for anything and no commitment to spending any kind of decent time with me. Then, it becomes painfully clear to me that I’ve been an idiot to allow this person to take advantage of me (because, when you take from someone without any intention of ever reciprocating, that is exactly what you are doing). By the time I figure it out, there’s no argument about it being over. It becomes clear that he’s okay with it being over as much as I am finally convinced that it can’t be over soon enough..

This explains much of the hesitation of The Hesitant Boyfriend. He’s known it wasn’t going anywhere for a long time. He couldn’t exactly admit this, because to do so meant he’d be kicked to the curb before he could even finish his explanation. He couldn’t afford to be kicked to the curb (where would he go and how would he pay for it?), so he denied his own innermost feelings, pushed them aside and tried to make like everything was fine. It worked, for a little while.

But his harping on my children for the most inconsequential things increased, his resentment over not being able to see his kids regularly (I warned him a year and a half ago this might occur), and he deliberately made plans to be busy during the holidays, something he did last year, which I told him would be a deal breaker if it happened again. I haven’t even mentioned the disrespectful manner in which he treated me in public, of late, the incessant and insulting putdowns, and on and on.

It happened slowly, then suddenly. We encountered the situation I told him would be a deal breaker and here we are.

After the clarity that comes with instances like these, things tend to unwind rapidly. In our situation, the Hesitant Boyfriend, who will in the future not even earn the title of ex, but instead will be referred to as the Non-Boyfriend or NBF has agreed to begin looking for another place with a tentative move out of the 10th and certainly by the time the 1st rolls around. Im getting the locks changed and canceling him off my insurance. He will leave with his books, clothing, and personal effects and his truck. I will keep everything else since I’ve easily paid for it all ten times over in the last year. Even he does not argue this.

So, it’s done. The unwind is happening and, as much as I do care for him, I am not going back there. To be honest, I’m relieved. It will be good to be able to come home at night, to enjoy my children without his criticisms and insults. I’ll save money, because I won’t be feeding him, fueling his car or paying for his car insurance (something he was supposed to reimburse me for but never did). It isn’t going to be exactly fun to be hanging out in the evenings alone (when my kids are at their other homes), but it certainly won’t be much of an adjustment and it will be a whole lot more honest. I’ll miss my cycling buddy, and I’ll have to learn to change my own tires, but those are small consequences to choosing to leave something that constantly created stress for me.

No use crying over something that really wasn’t. I gave it my best shot, and I do love him, but I’m so unwilling to stay in a lopsided and disrespectful relationship.

I’m looking forward to changing the Facebook status to something other than in a relationship. I’m looking forward to knowing what my holidays are going to look like and who is going to be in them. I’m looking forward to gaining back the control of my life that in some surprising ways had been seductively and gradually lost. Finally, I’ll miss the fun times, but I won’t miss the critical negativity that’s hung over our place every time he walks in the door.

He might be moving out, but I’m moving on.

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