Here is the set up
The last argument started because I approached him at a quiet time to ask when would be a good time to have our talk. I had been there 12 days and we still had to work things out
He agreed we had a lot to talk about and said whenever I wanted and he followed up with “this is your thing” indicating that “couples therapy” or fixing the relationship was really my bag of tricks. He threw an insult in as well saying “I don’t read vogue” and I replied with “please don’t insult my intelligence, you’ve said that multiple times now, do I look stupid and like I read cosmo/vogue for my communication skills?” I knew this wasn’t going well already but I also felt I wasn’t going to crumble as much as I had for him in the past.
In hindsight I should have just picked a time and moved forward but instead I tried to negotiate the right time with him and that’s when the conversation deteriorated beyond my control.
The major issue originated around the fact that he smoked while I was there and smoking is a full deal breaker/boundary for me. I can manage a cigar once in a while but it’s really hard for me as I am allergic to smoke. I gag, my eyes water, my throat closes and I literally want to vomit. Then the psychological piece of repulsion kicks in because I thinks it’s just gross. We already managed a couple of instances where I had, in fact, managed him smoking a cigar (and he tried really hard to clean it up for me, but it was still pretty bad and he knew it – he really doubted my reaction to it). I wasn’t happy, but I dealt with it and didn’t want to make it the end of the world. However, nothing was as blatant at this example.
(Saturday) While I was napping he went to the porch to smoke a cigar. I can’t even imagine how he thought this was ok or acceptable. When I woke and saw this I immediately burst into tears and walked back inside. I tried to wait but couldn’t and I knew walking back out there while he was on the phone and enjoying his cigar was wrong. I knew it and couldn’t stop myself. As tears were running down my face I opened the door and he pulled out his earbud and said “why are you crying” and I replied with “why are you smoking when you know that’s my dealbreaker?” And went back inside. He said some shitty machismo things to his sister which I could hear through the window and I waited for him to come inside.
When he came inside he asked again, not very nicely, why I was crying, and I asked him to come sit and face me on the couch. I acknowledged I should not have come outside the second time and interrupted when I was upset (I was calm but I was crying and his sister could hear what we both said which embarrassed him, but there was no drama). However, when I saw him smoking I couldn’t control my reaction and I felt diminished and unimportant and devalued. Almost immediately he launched into a thousand reasons why he should be able to smoke if he’s stressed including “you take a bucket of pills for your anxiety.” At that point I said he was insulting me and if he couldn’t stay on topic, which was his smoking, then I was going to go upstairs and shower. He kept going after me at that point and I said I wasn’t going to be spoken to that way and walked upstairs to shower. I called down to him when I was done.
While he was in the shower he said “no rush to get ready I cancelled dinner and you can figure out what we are going to do now”.
He didn’t bother to try and get rid of the tobacco smell from his face/breath/hands which he normally does a pretty good job of so I wouldn’t touch him or kiss him the entire evening. I know this bothered him but he didn’t say a word about it. Friends met us out and he drank heavily. I was not sulking and we had a good time until my son had a terrible car accident and we became distracted with that. Scott was so drunk and I was so distracted that we just passed out upon arriving home.
(Sunday) The next day we didn’t speak very much but had a lovely day walking, hitting golf balls and making dinner together.
That’s the gist of the backstory. I was there a week when the smoking incident happened. It seemed to lie down a bit that Sunday. And by Wednesday we seemed to be in a better place which is why I approached the conversation again. It was the entire point of my trip: repair the relationship. I was supposed to leave in a day or two and was wanting to have the conversation.
Instead of agreeing on a time to talk, the conversation somehow disintegrated quickly into a debate. I believe I may have said I wanted feedback and that’s where it went sideways.
I had been working hard to incorporate his requests into my behavior while I was there. I was conscious of telling him my schedule of when I was working, eating, working out etc. I was more aware of being clear of what I wanted and when as he seemed to prefer me being directive. When I said this he looked at me with disgust and said “you really think you’re doing better?! What about that roadshow on my porch?” When I genuinely had no idea what he meant (about “roadshow”) and asked twice he then said “I’m going to go back to scrolling on my phone if you are going to play dumb because we’ve had this conversation about your behavior already.” Then it kicked in that my “roadshow” were the tears when he was smoking. The final nail in the coffin (or the point of no return) was when I put my foot down and said “so, you have no accountability in this equation? You were out there smoking when you promised not to smoke around me and I am not able to feel some sort of way about that and you are calling it a roadshow like it was a dramatic outburst.” He said it was. Everything was going to revolve around this one incident of mine, I knew there was going to be no accountability on his part. I have lived this episode for months, I knew my part and his part. I wasn’t willing to play that assigned role any longer. I had to stand up for myself. Smoking is a deal breaker.
At this point he stood up (we were facing one another in the couch) and walked behind me (because he was angry – but if you recall his letter he doesn’t like to be told he is angry) where I could not see him and he kept talking – here is what came next – a series of sideways barbs that I knew nothing about until this very moment because Scott has no idea how to have an adult conversation:
1. When we were out drinking with his daughter and her bf (day 4)I suggested to the bf to buy Scott a bottle of scotch because Scott is so extraordinarily generous. The bf lives there at least 4 nights a week and the kitchen snd main living room are in Scotts main home. So while the daughter pays rent, the boy still encroaches on Scott’s area and when Scott spends weeks with me, he lives there full time (rent free). The boy was super insulted I suggested it and I’m sure I got a look on my face but all I said was “he’s very good and very generous to you”. The next day I told Scott the entire story. I said I understood why his daughter was dating the boy because his reaction was much like I expect Scott’s would be at that age, too much bravado – like I’m not doing shit for some old man. Scott said the kid was like him and thought he was a little shit and we moved on. We may have referenced it up once or twice more in the week.
The day of the argument (a week after the event) he said (behind me where I could not see him) “and Shane won’t come here anymore because you yelled at him”. When I said I didn’t yell at anyone (which is very true, it was a conversation only), Scott said “it’s his perception! It’s not your place to get involved. Stay out of my kids life”.
2. We are walking around the street and see a home for sale. He takes the paper and gets excited when he sees the price. When he gets home he immediately starts telling his daughter how much the house is going for and they start discussing how much they could sell their home for. He is super excited. He also has no intention of selling his home. When his daughter leaves the house to start asking questions to understand where he is coming from. The other home is much larger and more updated and on a bigger lot. I am ALWAYS asking questions, it’s my personality. He knows this about me. I was trying to understand why he was saying he would get the same price for his home. I am also going to sell my own home soon and I am trying to understand how the market works and what he might understand/know differently than what I do.
During the argument (4 days after the house conversation) he threw at me “and you told me right in front of my daughter that our house was a piece of crap”.
3. During the argument he said “and the next time you text your therapist about me you might want to cover your phone because now I’ve lost all trust in you”.
He refused to clarify this comment, when it happened or what he read. I asked multiple times and he stated he refused to tell. I stated that I do not text my therapist except to confirm an appt, so he must have a read a text to a friend while in the car, and it was pretty interesting he was saying he lost trust in me when he was the one who read my text, wouldn’t tell me when or what it said, and lost trust in me. He still refused to state what he saw but said “these things happen when you leave your phone on your lap.” I suggested he tell me what he saw or show him my phone as I have nothing to hide from him but he refused to even speak at this point.
This comment also came from behind me and not face to face.
4. At this point he came around to face me, but on the opposite side of the couch and standing, so not at eye level as I was sitting. He called my walking out on the back porch a roadshow again. I told him to stop insulting me. There was no tantrum, I was not a child, and all I did was walk out on the porch and make a statement calmly at an inappropriate time – but it was hardly worthy of being called a roadshow when he was the one who crossed the line in the first place.
5. He then started spouting words I had used out of context and said I was “repulsed by him” (I said I was repulsed by his smoking – I asked him to go lick his ashtray and see if he felt repulsed and get back to me) . That he was an “alcoholic” There were more but for the life of me, they didn’t stick.
He stopped moving at that moment and said “I’m not the guy. I’m not the guy to change for anyone. It’s my house. If I want to smoke a cigar and drink on my porch on a Saturday I’m going to do it and no one is going to tell me not to”. His face was blank and his eyes were dead. There was no emotion there at all. I had seen this look before and it has confused me. I don’t think he knows how to feel love, he looks at me like he hates that he loves me.
The ending –
At that – I replied “well there’s our answer”
I got up and went upstairs and cried. I felt sick. This man just chose smoking as being more important than our relationship and while I realize its not quite that black and white, that is how it feels. And what’s worse, when he said it to me I looked at him with pause and thought to myself “can I accept him for who he is and accept the smoking?” I actually thought about compromising my own standards for a man who is not worthy of me. I knew he was right about one thing, he had every right to smoke and drink in his own home. I also knew I didn’t have to be there for it, that was my choice.
Later that night when he came up he went into the guest room and actually locked the door. I went over and knocked to ask why he would lock the door (we sleep with an open door in his home) and he made up some weird thing about not being surprised in the middle of the night. At that point I said I pitied him for not understanding what love really was because I would have slept with him in the same bed on our last night together and we could have said goodbye peacefully.
I am certain the entire 13 days I spent with Scott neither of us said I love you to the other.
The next day he never said a word to me but I went and sat next to him on the couch and let the tears roll. He asked why I was sitting there and I replied I was sad for all the things we wouldn’t have. I asked him if he wanted one last walk together which we did. He took my hand and held it as we walked the neighborhood though we didn’t speak.
He hugged me goodbye while I sobbed and told me not to cry. He said we just don’t work together. I said we were breaking up over smoking because he’s so stubborn. I saw that look on his face again as he stepped away. No goodbye. Just stepped away.
I sat in the car and cried a good 10 minutes before I could compose myself for the long drive home.
Scott has insulted me in so many ways. As I write them, even if there are places I am at fault, his abuse is pretty heavy. The list has really become too long. For him to lock a door against me as if I could harm him somehow is psychologically painful to me. The stonewalling about the text. His inability to even reach across and touch my hand when I cry is almost inhuman. The look in his face when I’m emotional will haunt me – its empty.
Somewhere in there he kept telling me I was playing games. It makes me think that only someone who plays games actually says something like that. If anything I was working really, really hard to make sure I didn’t pull any triggers of his. But in order not to pull his, I can’t give up myself. He is telling me I need to accept him as he is but he does not want to accept me as I am.
I am certain, and I really mean certain, my behavior has been the same. I am nothing if not consistent. He fell in love with an idea of me and presented the best version of who he WANTED to be, but not who he really was. I can be critical but I am not cold or cruel. I am not unkind. I no longer yell. Yet somehow all of these words were used by Scott and they tapped right into every one of insecurities because that’s who I USED to be. And I’m afraid of her. I don’t. Want to be her anymore. You haven’t even met her she’s been gone so long. She grew up when she was raising kids and losing a momma and building a team at work. My worst traits haven’t disappeared entirely but the way Scott describes me is someone who existed in my 20s or early 30s and behavior I had with my x and it frightened me and I responded to it by believing it to be true because it USED to be true. That modicum of truth has distorted my vision for months now.
What I believe has happened is that I acknowledged where I need to change and grow and I am more than willing to work on those things, and Scott exploited those insecurities. I can be critical, but there is a huge difference between being direct and being critical and somehow his filter began interpreting my directness as criticism post Thanksgiving. As I mentioned, I do not think that has eve been any different with me, I am very direct and inquisitive, and he acknowledges this in his letter that I ask questions and push him to a place to be a better man….but that must be lip service.
I want to tear all of this relationship apart. I want to hear all your thoughts over and over. Where I went wrong. Where I didn’t. Why I feel like such crap and went back time and time again after such obvious abuse.