A Realistic Understanding

For the first time ever, I have started to better understand some of my motivating behaviors.

I suppose it’s a good place to start.

I keep a running list of what bothers me about myself so I can speak to my therapist. I ask myself questions when I pass immediate judgement on people or situations why I might be lacking the necessary empathy to better understand. I just didn’t know what to do with some of these thoughts.

My list of questions has included:

Why am I always so critical, often times even unintentionally. I take things very personally. Why is income such an indicator of, not only others worth, but my own self worth. I have high expectations for myself and those around me. I don’t listen well.

One part I have just come to understand is that my impressions of money come from the way I was raised. My father and mother put a lot of importance on earning money and having a reputable job that was not “blue collar” like my father. My father owned his own business and my mother managed the money. While we lived in a beautiful home in a great town, a child doesn’t really understand that. I just understood I didn’t have what the other kids around me had. Their parents afforded them luxuries my mother wouldn’t entertain. My friends families went on what felt like extravagant family vacations. If they wanted to shop at the mall, their parents gave them a credit card. I want allowed to buy Jordache jeans. I remember going away to sleep away camp, which is costly and certainly not something every child gets to do, but my clothes, my bedding and even the food my mother sent me with felt inferior. I didn’t get the care packages every other week that the other kids did. We were not poor by any means, we just lived in a moderately wealthy town and the friends I made just happened to fall into the wealthy category. My childhood didn’t feel unhappy to me, but now that I am forced to look back to discover why I measure things the way I do, I realize I was often times unhappy and I became a very jealous and competitive child.

While my father didn’t drink, he was a workaholic and I have my drive from his example but also built in from my birth father. Drive was one of my best qualities. I never associated workaholic to another form of addiction. I tried my entire life to win my fathers love. A father who didn’t want children and only agreed because my mother did and he wanted my mother. I didn’t know I was fighting a losing battle coupled with a personality that was inflamed my father. He wanted a bright child, but not smarter than him, despite the fact that he knew my education was important.

I have only just realized that working harder and earning more money always won accolades from my father. I didn’t even realize this by the time I was an adult. I do remember him scoffing at my college degree and that I would never know a hard days of work sitting at a desk. I distinctly recall years later, after a month of coming home from work in a black car at 10pm every evening, my father telling my mother he didn’t realize how hard I would have to be working. He didn’t know I heard him say that to her. I guess I didn’t know it most likely added fuel to the bonfire of my drive to succeed and “show him” I was valuable. And if value was hard work and money, I could show him that and he would value me.

So much of this makes sense to me. Why I equate self worth with money and achievement. And how money and achievement must be linked to drive and determination. I willed success at one point in my life and was literally able to achieve it through sheer determination. I never allowed myself the opportunity to fail, because failure meant my father would no longer value me.

And, in turn, I have learned not only that I don’t know how to value myself when I’m not earning money, living in the right town, in the right home, buying what I want, spending what I want … but I don’t value others who don’t measure wealth and achievement the same way I do.

I get that all this time it sounded like I was a spoiled brat, and sure, compared to most I probably am. I didn’t know why it was so important to me and could never understand why I placed such importance on it.

While I comprehend on an intellectual level what I’ve learned and discovered here, I know I don’t have the tools at hand to change my world view yet. Strangely enough, this was an area that Scott taught me to view slightly differently and I began to truly questioning what my issue really was. Why wasn’t it ever enough for me?

What if it still isn’t enough? What if I continue to judge value based on income and ambition?

This is easier said than changed.

Low Reserves

After the conversation with Scott last weekend I realized what little reserves I had stored up were entirely depleted. I had also been struggling with a personality at work as well as an exceptionally long and busy week. By Wednesday I was tapped out.

Add to this I haven’t done any working out for close to two months and I’m not eating well.

I’m speaking to Scott. I have told you and my therapist and no one else. I am not getting into a relationship with him. If he continues down a path of self care, I said I would consider seeing him and friendship off in the future.

I am embarrassed or perhaps ashamed to even write it because I know people do not change and I am giving too much to a person who didn’t care enough to give back to me and take care of me for months. I know not to trust this person. I know this could be love bombing. I know all of the things and still I feel a part of my head settle because it feels like some sort of repair.

I spoke to my therapist about it and about trauma bonding and about how we all try to repair our childhood traumas and we just can’t. I see this on his part and on mine.

I’ve been working hard all week to understand myself and I know none of this work happens fast but, I swear, I need whatever part of my child that rules me to feel safe more quickly so I can stop turning to the wrong places seeking it.

I can write about it, read about, repeat it and do allllll the things I’m supposed to but I cannot seem to consistently act on it. Sometimes it’s like I’m two people. My crazy has been replaced by desperation (though it doesn’t feel that way, I am just giving it that name).

If I do not find a key for how to accept what is about to happen in my life (selling the house, potentially moving) I am going to have a nervous breakdown and continue to fall back to negative patterns. I need to find this key that is going to motivate or encourage me to step forward on my own. I have found it before but these past two years it feels more elusive than ever.

I’m not dumb. Or desperate. I don’t have the self control or the self worth I need to do what I should be doing. I do not know how to find it. And having my entire circle worrying about me is making me want to hide and withdraw. Keeping myself out of my own head and vulnerable is more work than I expected and it’s draining those around me. the therapist help but I also cannot afford her more than once a week and I’ve budgeted for a limited amount of sessions.

I know I need to break this down into small pieces and do what I can. Some days that happens. But I keep looking at September and seeing a black hole. In my dreams even. It’s as if my life stops in September because I cannot accept what is happening to me and I can’t figure out how to.

And he stepped back in, disguised as the man I always wanted (because in those two weeks he went to therapy and read the books he was supposed to read with me) and has a few tools at his disposal to better understand me. I’m not blind to what’s happening. I just don’t know how to self soothe

I just don’t know.

The Talk

I know those text meant he was drunk. I could tell by the writing.

I did respond to say I don’t know what to say to you and his response was abrupt, that he was sorry and he wouldn’t let it happen again but he thought I might want to talk.

I agreed to talk. I knew I could and would hang up at the first sign of tension.

I didn’t expect to be on the phone with him for so many hours, the entire day in fact.

It was equally one of the most sad, yet cathartic conversations I have ever had with someone. It felt like genuine honesty and emotion (on his part) and because there had been so much trauma during our relationship, built on our individual past traumas, there was a lot to unravel and unpack.

I think the one thing that I sit here wondering this morning, which I plan to speak to my therapist about this week, is what I am really feeling. I am unsettled, which I would expect. But I feel disconnected to a sort of extreme, which I didn’t expect. And, perhaps, I feel a sense of guilt for feeling less empathy that I might have had Scott shared these traumas in real time and we had this conversation at the right time in our relationship.

The conversation took most of the day. It was very calm on my part. Mostly calm on his part except there were several sincere crying points. I went on mute or he would hang up when these got too heavy. He was sober/not drinking for almost the entirety of the conversation until the end, when he became overwhelmed and admitted he was an alcoholic.

We were able to walk through the exact turning point, which I knew but never understood why I was paying for it for months. I’m not exactly sure how much I can (or want) to write and mostly because I’m so exhausted from it. But, not in a way I would expect of myself. I don’t find myself wanting Scott back – I did find myself wishing I could comfort him, because I know how it feels to sit in pain alone and it’s horrible. But beyond that, the rest of what I feel is very muddled right now.

So I will start high level. We know the turning point was Thanksgiving. We never recovered from the episode where I chastised him while he was helping me. There was also a conversation that weekend where I just have raised income again. He felt defeated and scared. He felt like I was his mother all over again and then it made him angry at me.

I found out his mother and father put him in a car at 13 and dropped him off at the door of a juvenile detention center. When he did his time there and was released, they did not pick him up and he was effectively homeless so his young uncle came to get him. His Uncle could not support him so he put him to work building cars. He never was welcome or went back home unless he visited. His parents always told him he would never (and has never) amounted to anything and would never do anything right. He told me his mother was a horrible person who he just wanted to get away from, but I don’t know much more than that. He did say she never offered him a day of comfort that he can recall. He had just read one of the books my therapist suggested and realized he was an avoidant attached style. While I knew pieces of this story (and this is till yet a piece as he couldn’t get through it without breaking down) I had no idea of his age, what his parents had really done, or how he truly felt about his mother.

He admitted he never recovered from Thanksgiving and everything went downhill from there. From my side, I always felt I was working an uphill battle since Thanksgiving and never gaining ground. I felt demoralized and penalized for that one fight and couldn’t understand why he continued to attack me for the same thing and go back to it.

Even though he said he tried many, many times to talk about it (he raised it many times, thats true, but within arguments and not with this level of vulnerability) he was never in a space where he was ready to forgive me. Or, he didn’t believe or understand the true value of the relationship. Unfortunately, for Scott, the loss had made him realize that one moment cost our entire relationship an opportunity to build stability.

He told me how he made it through the first week with his friends telling him to get on the dating websites and go out and have fun. He said he tried in and off and couldn’t. He told me how he would be sitting watching a random commercial and get watery eyes. And then something else and get watery eyes. Until he finally sobbed at a news story with Lester Holt and said to himself “this, this is what’s she’s been talking about. This is a broken heart.” I felt sad he didn’t even understand the feeling until he was in it. Once he was in it, he said he couldn’t control it, and then the gift for his daughter showed up. He said that opened the floodgates and he couldn’t go back. He realized all he had done and felt he could never be sorry enough.

Throughout this, the crying, the sincere emotion, the “I love you’s” didn’t draw me in. It was as if I watched him from a distance. My inner child was terrified of him. He had hurt us so badly so many times that there was no way in hell we were even peeking around a corner. Conversely, Trixie was nowhere to be seen. I had no need to drive a point home, correct his story line, offer my opinion or any of it. I was able to comment from the viewpoint of one being outside the relationship looking back. But not looking back two weeks, I realized I was looking back much longer than that and assume when we were away in February and he left me the second time that I had actually disconnected then and hadn’t accepted it.

This feeling was very strange. I wanted to help him and offer support, yet I didn’t want to cross any emotional lines. I didn’t cry once. I didn’t say I love you. I didn’t feel for myself, my emotion was already drained over the last 6 weeks. I did say I miss my friend. That’s the most I could offer and I know how this must have hurt him. If he feels about me the way I feel about Tony, the loss of “the one” is soul crushing. So, if what he says is truly Scott, I can’t help but feel for him.

I still don’t know some of the other triggers, my criticisms, post Thanksgiving that drug him further down, but he referred to them several times. I wasn’t in a place to hear them and I don’t think we could have discussed them. Just getting to the root cause was work enough.

Once we got there, he did become more of an open book. Maybe. If I can trust him. If this isn’t some tactic to pull me back in. He’s not pulling me, but I would believe he was authentic.

He talked about the smoking and drinking. Stated he wants to stop. He talked a lot about people’s expectations of him, and how he feels a bit like a circus performer having to adjust to everyone’s expectations. He talked about wanting to give me everything financially and how this scared him because of my judgement. He talked about what he saw for our future very specially and what he planned for it, but he had never spoken to me about this. He threw in a couple times things he planned for us, or would buy for me, or places we would travel to. I didn’t respond to any of it other than acknowledging a statement.

Scott has never spoken this openly sober. He’s never displayed any emotion. He’s never been vulnerable like this. I remained calm and as objective as possible. I removed myself from the relationship so it made it easier.

Unfortunately, Scott still had enough language within the conversation that is worrisome. Everything he does is to please me is the most worrisome of all. He “says” he wants his life to be at my service, that he wants “this girl” back.

He made an appointment for therapy this week. He’s still not all in, but feels like he’s going crazy now because he can see what happened and wants to know why he sabotaged an entire relationship. He asked why we couldn’t do the work together. He said he’s doing it for me, because it’s important to me. While I tried a few times to say it needs to be important to him, I laid it down, it’s not my place to tell him what should be important to him – he’s going to need to figure that out for himself.

By the evening he was drunk, and sad and lonely. There were more tears. Lots of apologies. Actual direct apologies. None of the veiled “but it’s really your fault” apologies. Lots of declarations of love. And a lot of gratitude.

I was most thankful for the gratitude. While it took a lot out of me (I am worn down today) – Scott has no one. Absolutely no one he can trust or talk to and be vulnerable. I know it can’t be me, but right now I can’t deny him. As long as I can control myself and not feel pulled back to relationship, I can temporarily support. If he reverts to anger and frustration because he’s not getting what he wants, I will know this was somewhat of an act. Maybe not all of it and maybe not intentionally.

He sent lots of flowers today and my favorite snack. He said thank you for being there. I’m sure he is equally unsettled as he didn’t get anything from me clearly – no indication of friendship, relationship, communication – nothing specific. He asked directly if I felt what he felt, if I ever loved him the way he loves me. He expects me to be clear about what I want, he’s asked multiple times, but he lost my trust and doesn’t get to know what my heart feels anymore. Not beyond the hurt I feel for losing a friend.

The conversation was cathartic. Difficult but cathartic. I didn’t expect that at all with Scott, ever.

My takeaway is why do I feel so distant and cold towards his pain? How was I able to disengage when I’ve never done so before? Did I ever really love him? Is he so broken that it scares the shit out of me? Why is there some feeling of longing, hurt and nurture side by side with this cold feeling? Did I really want him to be like this during relationship?

I think his pain is the thing I could never put my finger on from the beginning. His pain speaking through the bragging and bravado. His pain speaking through the anger and abandonment. His pain in his cruelty. His pain was his wall and it’s obvious now. I just didn’t know that’s what I was responding to then, but I identified it the first time I met him. I’m pretty sure this was the unidentifiable thing that’s been a mystery to me all along. This man is in so much pain and it’s so buried that he doesn’t even realize what it’s done to him. Until he met me.

I’m ok. I will be ok. I knew it after the first text he sent. He released me with that text. It’s horrible to say but I needed the validation that he hurt. The phone call was beyond my expectation – he hurts more than I thought possible of Scott.

Second Sense

I heard from him.

I was surprised, but not surprised.

Before we broke his daughter was trying for a bar tending job she really wanted and she got it. She was so excited and I was happy for her and wanted to give her a little something. I had been telling him for months that she needed a real leather belt, so I figured this would be a good gift. I purchased it before we broke up.

Then promptly forgot about it until it was too late to cancel it. That’s fine. The girl has no strong adult women figures in her life and zero female encouragement, and she needed a belt. I knew the sentiment would be welcome.

The belt finally arrived mid week this week and I received a sweet little text from her. I replied with positive encouragement and a note about how I knew she would do well in the future blah blah.

The next morning, I received the first communication from Scott:

I was surprised at his text, but it was thoughtful. It didn’t set me back which was more surprising to me.

The next day I received another text from him asking for my referral code to buy a Peloton. I replied with the code and nothing else (I get money for the referral so I wasn’t turning it down!).

I was due to see a friend that evening and she’s fabulous with makeup so I asked her if she minded doing my makeup and taking some fresh photos for me so I would have updated profile pics for the dating apps and social media. While I was in her chair getting glam and we were discussing him, she asked what I thought and, before I realized what I was saying, I said I knew he would be reaching out again.

So that’s when it hit me. I think I knew, maybe, after the first text. But I knew, certainly, after the second. My gut told me that he was struggling with the reversal of me not reaching out to him as I had done almost every time in the past.

I went out with my friend and didn’t give him texting me another thought. Of course we spoke about him, but more about how I was ha doing it and what I was feeling and how I was taking one day at a time. I said that when he sent me the second text, something inside me released him.

Perhaps it was knowing that he missed me or that he cared. Or that he hurt. Maybe I needed the validation. Quite likely. Either way, I had noticed a small shift.

As it also happened, during the day I had my therapy appt and it was very constructive as I started to realize I had bigger fish to fry than Scott. I am facing serious life challenges ahead and can’t afford to have a partner who is anything less than supportive right now. Just like I would at work, I need to prioritize. I can date and have fun and find a fun partner to pal around with during the summer if I want, but my focus needs to be on what I’m doing with my home and career and I don’t need additional turmoil.

Of course the moment you put these things into the universe, the universe likes to throw in some twists and turns.

Scott text again this morning.

I haven’t replied. I will reply because I am not an asshole. I just don’t know what to reply. I miss my friend. But, I am not going back into relationship with Scott. Full stop. I am not going back into relationship with Scott.

You may feel I am being harsh, but the text doesn’t ring true to me and like all things Scott, I can’t pinpoint why. Maybe because he’s told me he’s never cried a day in his life and certainly not over a woman. Maybe because he’s told me he’s never had a broken heart. Or maybe it was the look in his eyes and face those last days and moments when he was so shut down to me.

Tell me what you think about the text and what I could reply that is kind and leaves a door open for a friend, in some future.

I Don’t Even Know What This Feeling Is But Let’s Go With It

This is new.

This is not what I’ve felt so many times.

Not the crushing pain in my chest. The sobbing heartbreak. The utter brokenness.

There were still similarities. I couldn’t think straight. I was disoriented. Foggy. I was obsessing for about 10 days over him to try and uncover clues I may have missed. Lots and lots of tears.

I have identified the core of what attracts me to him and what kept me with him and these things are so strong, so important to me that I am struggling to let these go in the face of all the other things that are wrong.

And there is so, so much more wrong than there is right.

But this is going to be about what was right.

Because I am going to turn this around – TODAY.

Scott was a nice guy, for a hot minute. Whatever he was at the beginning he was NOT after Thanksgiving. I clung to the first version of him with desperate hope and made excuse after excuse when I KNEW better – I KNEW BETTER! I knew this guy wasn’t right for me FROM THE FIRST DATE.

But, here are those things, the things that created the Halo effect I couldn’t let go of after everything we did to each other.

  • He made me laugh. Out loud and hard. At him. With him. He made me want to laugh all the time. He was silly. He looked for ways to make me laugh. He tried to get the giggle out of me and loved to be rewarded with the belly laugh. I loved to laugh for him and with him. I loved to look for things to make him laugh. In hindsight he was not witty, but I realized this didn’t matter as much – he was funny. (must have absolute non-negotiable for me, the dude must be funny)
  • He loved my body and face and never made me feel self conscious for one minute of any day. This is simply unique for me. I was always beautiful. Part of this was because I didn’t care enough about what he thought of me in the beginning which was liberating, but once I did care, I realized he accepted all of my physicality as it was and that was so immensely freeing that I cannot explain. I am terrified to experience exposing myself to another man again. This may be one of my greatest all time fears second to the fear of being alone. (must have: body acceptance). Scott did this really well, I give him a lot of credit for this – but it was also the only thing he complimented me on, my looks.
  • I don’t want to be alone. He kept me company. We met just weeks before covid. We did become friends. Unfortunately I feel that the relationship will have killed the friendship and we won’t be able to get back to it ever again. I will miss being friends with Scott and the ability to talk about random nothingness at length. I loved how he liked to investigate random nothingness as much as I did. He had an innate curiosity about things (just not about human emotion). We were buddies. I couldn’t figure out how to keep the relationship in this light zone. I’m not built for it but it would most likely would have survived here floating on the surface and never diving deep. (must have: be friends)
  • He would have moved with me. Wherever I was was going to be where he was. No questions. He didn’t have ties. While I loved that he would have done this for me, I also have to acknowledge that I am tied to my family and friends and my roots run deep. He doesn’t understand that and maybe he even didn’t like that “just us” was never going to be enough for me. I wanted a family around me. But, the chances of me finding someone willing to change coasts with me is slim. He taught me to look at it as an adventure. (must have: deep family values)
  • He is smart and I learned something from him most days because he stayed well informed. He had a lot of free times so he ready quite a bit and watched a lot of news. (must have: high intelligence)
  • I loved to work out with him and he was very physically fit. he was fit and active his entire life which also included healthy eating. He encouraged me to do better and even ran a marathon with me. This was excellent for me and such a great influence. He always encouraged me to work out, take walks, drink my water, eat well. And I always encouraged him to eat snacks. It was a perfect balance. (must have: aligned fitness goals)
  • He was easy to live with. we just moved through a day together easily. My x and I used to have those age old arguments of who left clothes in the washer, or dishes on the counter, or the lid off the toothpaste, or drank the last of the milk. Not so with Scott, we were both highly considerate of the other in the home.
  • He was a great cook and I loved preparing meals and cooking with him. I learned so much. (nice to have)
  • Sex was good, not great. I would have preferred a more generous lover.
  • He had a sense of adventure and wanted to go places and do things. He was willing to travel anywhere and was happy I was researching places and trips. (must have: sense of adventure)
  • In the beginning he made it abundantly clear I was his girlfriend, that I was important to him and we had a future
  • I believed he would never cheat on me, in this sense I trusted him. But, we also know I trust them all. I am gullible.
  • He could build, fix or make anything – a house, a car, a computer – anything. I always admire this in a man. In the beginning, he was very helpful at my home, but I criticized him once (and I was wrong and I apologized more than a dozen times because he never let it die) and he never lifted a finger again. (nice to have)
  • We loved to touch one another and always held hands. Conversely, he slept very far away and didn’t really love the snuggle.
  • Our politics are aligned

I am sure there may be other things, but this is a comprehensive enough list with the must-haves at the top, the things I can’t live without and you might be surprised that no where in the list is my normal fluff. When I write my must-have’s I can think of important value’s that are also missing (like having peer relationships, honesty, emotional IQ, not being a heavy drinker etc) and I’m glad I took the time to write down what I did love about him.

I’m putting it out there – he brought a lot of good stuff to the table – let’s get this out into the universe so I can bring it back to me because I deserve all this and more from a good man.

There are many smaller things, but none as important, I think, as the ones above.

The list for the mismatches is much longer. Some things I didn’t even think about until I started to write.

Weird Memories

Did I forget or did I bury it or a combo of both?

A while back, maybe January or early February when Scott was here and we often went out to eat, he began complaining no matter where we went to eat. I forgot about it until just now. I don’t know what triggered this memory, except he is mostly on a loop on and off all day, so I guess the rando memories are going to come up.

We were at different restaurants and nothing was good enough. I wouldn’t say I disagreed, one place his steak wasn’t cooked well (twice), another place the service was slow and just not great, another place the food was mediocre.

At the place where the service was poor, at the end of the service, the manager came over to check on us as he had complained. Halfway through the time we were there, the server changed and the second server was amazing and we made a note of it (to the second server). So we assume she told her manager and he came over to check on us. While we were standing, whatever the manager said to Scott set him off, and Scott got angry. I was embarrassed enough to walk away. Scott complained that the manager was a bit trite and perhaps should have offered a free drink or something and not asked “how was your service” when he knew service sucked. I didn’t feel that way in the moment, maybe the manager didn’t speak to the server, maybe he was just making his rounds and asking perfunctory questions and Scott jumped down his throat.

I just recall being so uncomfortable by the confrontation I had to walk away and outside the restaurant as I couldn’t’ be a part of whatever was happening between Scott and the manager.

Another time (the 2nd time he left me at a hotel) we were at a historic inn and the server delivered him warm beer and didn’t move the plates out of the way when we were not eating. He was angry with me that day. So angry that he complained the entire time about his beer and then did not leave her a tip on our drinks.

These were not the only times Scott jumped at a server or hostess for not getting the type of service he wanted when he wanted. I always tend to go the polite route, particularly in covid times when everyone is under undue pressure.

I know there is always that saying that you should look at how people treat service people because it will show you what type of person they are. Until this very moment, I don’t think I realized what a piece of crap he could be because he was so exceptionally good to “his” bartenders at “his” places that I think I overlooked these bad behaviors. Again, something that didn’t really show itself until this year when his personality began to change.

I still don’t feel great, but I do feel a bit less weepy. I still feel pretty emotional and sort of sick so I don’t know if it the hormones, the breakup or the vaccine at this point. I did finally get outside for a walk after almost 2 weeks of pure inactivity.

Breathing more easily

The breakup, the hormones from the d&c pill, and the vaccine have probably all contributed to the way I have felt this week. I know I’m an emotional creature so the hormones wreak additional havoc on a fragile state of mind but the feverish delusions were a killer mid week.

Today is the first day I opened my eyes and wondered why he wasn’t the first thing in my mind

I remember the day after we broke up, when I was still at his home. I slept alone in his bed and I had a large glass of wine and took a sleeping pill and knocked myself out from all the crying. When I woke up, the light was seeping through the windowpane, I felt rested and for the one very split second that I acknowledged I was happy upon waking in my lovers bed, the more deeply seated sadness swept through me in the exact same instant that the relationship was over. It was a horrible and final thought and feeling. I don’t recall actually understanding anything this distinct before right in the moment it was happening before. (I mean waking up with a moment of forgetfulness and then having that awful and sudden realization it wasn’t just a bad dream.)

I learned from Tony that when I’m this fragile, when my anxiety wants to take control, it’s better just to take a sleeping pill and Xanax and go to sleep. No use trying to fight it. No sense in having a glass of wine because the wine makes me melancholy and wants to reach out. I just need sleep. I need to restore my mind and body with forgetfulness so it can do the proper work of healing the next day. I won’t need to medicate for long, but a week or two won’t kill me if it gives me the rest my body needs. For one moment I felt shame because Scott threw back at me that I take “a bottle of pills” when I’m stressed. Yes, they are there when I need them. I don’t need to justify a medical condition nor liken it to his smoking, and he shouldn’t have either.

I’ve done a lot of reading and watched some videos. I’m journaling at least once a day here. I even had a really good conversation with my son and, to my surprise, my x husband.

Here’s a really strange thought. I don’t think I was ever proud enough of Scott. Or proud at all. Perhaps he knew this. Sensed this. It occurred to me after I spoke to my x. As any reader of my blog knows, our hate for one another ran deep for years. We have both done a lot of work and a lot of growing and have come to a place of acceptance and perhaps even partial understanding. There is no more hate between us. I wish he was a better parent to my boys but he will always be selfish and much of my own shame and guilt is derived from his selfishness and my desire to compensate for being a present and available parent. That’s neither here or there, the point really was, after talking to him the thought occurred to me I might be a bit embarrassed to introduce Scott to my x.

How fucken weird is that?

Like all kinds of wtf, right?

But there must be something to that. That if I somehow, somewhere felt that I wouldn’t want to introduce Scott to a man I divorced, something must be wrong. It does cross my mind that years of mercilessly being teased by my x, and his derogatory comments about anyone weigh into that thought subconsciously, but I still think it’s sort of disturbing to me.

And then I realize I was never proud of Scott from the beginning and it was my mistake for thinking that was something I would perhaps grow to accept. I recall thinking about it along the way. I introduced him to one friend and some family. He always seemed uncomfortable around my people but yet had started out as gregarious with me. I was baffled by it and didn’t give it enough thought. He seemed to lack social ease among strangers which was odd for someone who claims to get along with everyone, but as I dig deep, I’m not exactly sure I understand why, but acknowledge he didn’t have the type of social grace I would want from him to bring him around my extended circle, including business associates. My mistake here was thinking his job and his two MBA’s meant he had developed better interpersonal skills.

As I learned along the way, his job didn’t require him to interact with (shall we say) some of the most salient people, he was often brought in to “do the dirty work” or “make heads roll” because he was good at roughing people up to get them to comply. I was fooled by the word mediator until I started to listen to some of his work calls and gain a better understanding of his role. He didn’t work within a team, he was an independent contributor, each case being a singular and independent case from the last. So while he needed to be (and was) highly skilled and educated in his area and the legalities of it, because he was the government, he didn’t need to be a good people person. I missed the people part of his job entirely because he always talked about the people he worked with and it took much later to realize they were simply office buddies.

Scott is a really smart man, he just doesn’t have good interpersonal skills and he is immature. Looking back, the signs were there built right into his history, I just didn’t see them. He attended college in his 30s when he could afford to put himself through school which explains why he associates with younger people so easily, his social circle was never built with peer relationships. When he couldn’t build those relationships at work, he built them at the bar or through this daughter.

My kids have started talking to me about Scott and one mentioned he never had a conversation with Scott while he was here where Scott wasn’t drunk. I was horrified. I had no idea. I didn’t even think it was that obvious but I suppose it was to him. They also told me they heard him be cruel to me more than once and continually stonewall me. I had no idea this was all so apparent in the last few months. My brother told me he thought he was very strange and there was something off about him. Everyone is relieved it is over.

My kids didn’t understand why I wasn’t complaining sooner, nor do my friends and family. I know now how much I was hiding and holding back. I shared very little about Scott because I realized it was bad. I knew if I told the bad stuff it would shade the good and I wanted to give this relationship a chance on my own without their input. Maybe this was a mistake. The only place I spoke was here.

My fog is starting to lift a little. I’m still not sure if I wouldn’t answer a text if he sent one but I know it won’t be me reaching out any time soon.

Dear Jana

My blog has been a lifesaver for me for years. Although I am only consistent during tough times, it is when I need to journal the most. I have been so lucky to have readers engage with me thoughtfully and honestly, even when the truth hurts. This particular comment from Jana really addresses so many of my own questions I figured it would be great to copy and past both Jana’s comments and my answers as I work through it.

I had one post written and scheduled for this morning before I read Jana’s comments and its sort of eerie how many of her own thoughts were starting to surface in my head. It often takes me a while to sort through the emotional murkiness I create for myself.

Thanks for all the thought starters Jana – you have always been such a great support and eye-opener for me and I always appreciate you.

Jana’s comments are in italics and my thoughts/replies/comments are in regulars font.

You have every right to have boundaries and dealbreakers. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for that. However, an area where you can do better is to to not let anyone cross those boundaries. Of course, they may do it – but you shouldn’t redraw the boundary to keep the relationship going. If smoking was a dealbreaker, then the first time you learned he was smoking (especially since he knew this was not something you would tolerate and after he lied to you about it), then that would have been the time to end the relationship.

Quite frankly, in my view the lying should have been the biggest issue. I don’t smoke and I don’t want to be with a smoker – but at least if they came out and told me, ‘Look, I do smoke. I’m trying not to smoke so much, but I’m probably always going to want to smoke from time to time.” Then you could have a real and reasonable conversation about the smoking, possible compromises (not just bullshit promises to quit) and then make a decision on whether you can tolerate that or not. With Scott, he lied up front (I’m sure because you had mentioned you would not be with a smoker and he wanted to bang you) — but then once he had gotten what he wanted, he let you “find out” that he was smoking. You bitched about it and he told you he wouldn’t – but then he did. Then you bitched about it some more and he said he would only smoke cigars – but he smoked more than that (after all, you had stayed after that first time). You bitched some more and he became progressively more angry and resentful until he told you straight up he would do what he wanted, especially in his own home. In my humble opinion, the first time you determined that he was smoking (which meant he was lying), I would have thanked him for the memories and ended the relationship. He certainly can do what he wants and set his own boundaries, especially in his home, but you don’t have to debase yourself by staying.

*This is all 100% accurate. Had he been honest, at any time, a conversation would have been possible.

I would suggest that you really examine 1) Why you were willing to keep adjusting your boundaries in order to stay in the relationship. *I adjusted (for smoking) because I wanted to believe what he was saying rather than what I felt to be true in my gut. Also, because he never smoked around me (except the very first fight in Dec, then he never did again) and he would do his best to be sure I didn’t smell it or taste it before we were together. When he said he wanted to quit (and he had quit once in his life) I believed he would want to quit again.

Do you feel you must be in a relationship to be happy? Is your sense of self-worth based on whether someone finds you attractive and desirable? *A half answer is mostly yes to both questions. I am not entirely unhappy outside of relationship, I am happier within. I have such severe body dysmorphia that, yes, much of my self-worth is centered around being comfortable in my body, not necessarily in being attractive. Desirable, yes (but not in a sexual way, just overall).

Do you not have enough activities or close friends to help you with any loneliness you feel? *Sure, I have plenty. They do not fulfill me the way a partner does.

and 2) Why do you have the mistaken belief that you can change someone – or that they SHOULD change in order to be with you? In a real, healthy relationship, neither party expects the other to change. Both parties realize that there are going to be things about the other person that drives them crazy – but they figure out a way to deal with that and/or compromise with love and respect. If one of the party is not willing to do that – the relationship will not work. *I submit that people do not change, but they do grow, and growing together, and even better, healing together, can be a beautiful thing. In the beginning with Scott I was entirely judgmental about all the normal things I usually am in dating, I let go of all of it, and saw other behaviors that I didn’t even have any idea I needed to be wary of because I hadn’t been exposed to them (in a sense).

You are not the bad guy here — but I would submit that Scott is not really the bad guy either. He lied, which is something I would not have tolerated, and he treated you with disrespect, which is equally bad. But you also lied – to yourself when you kept convincing yourself that he would change or that the relationship was healthy. And you treated him with disrespect when you started to nag him about his behaviors (smoking, drinking, hanging out with younger people, staying in his job). *Nag seems a strong word here. We had one discussion about his drinking where he admitted he drank too much and was pulling back, that was not at my request – it was because he blacked out twice when I wasn’t with him. He was also with the kids when this happened. So the conversation with the kids and drinking happened once. I was on his about his job early on but stopped long before the Thanksgiving holiday, acknowledging it wasn’t my place and in an effort to understand I had to accept his decisions. The smoking caused one big argument in December then did not appear again until March. It is easy to pull out the big ones as they are so obvious, but they are also the ones I tended to focus on the least as I knew they created the most tension.

You can’t change Scott (or anyone), but you can change yourself. But first you have to be willing to really examine your roll in your history of failed relationships. That’s a pretty hard thing to do and not fun at all. But then you need to figure out a game plan for future dating and relationships. A plan where you are not so desperate to be with someone. Where you expect respect and truth and will not tolerate disrespect. Where you get to the point where you really understand that, while you will never be perfect (and that is OK – none of us are), that you are always trying to grow and that you are willing to accept that the other party will not be perfect, but that’s OK as long as they are trying to be the best human they can be. *I believed that is what I was trying to do with Scott, I really do. I was striving at every turn with Scott, to be a better person.

The line about “expecting truth and not tolerate disrespect” should be my mantra. I have found this impossible to abide by, which does make it appear as if I am desperate to remain in relationship at all costs.

I would suggest that you also work on why it is so important to your sense of worth or your view of a “good” relationship that a man needs to follow the scripting you have in your head of how they should act – how often they should be texting and calling, how many and what types of gifts and perks they should be buying for you, how they should anticipate all of your needs on a first date. All of that is mostly superficial bullshit and doesn’t allow either party to really get to know the other to find out who they really are and what is important to them in life or in a relationship. *With Scott, this all fell to the side. I thought about these things during dating, then evaluated the importance of them over how I felt when I was having fun with Scott. I can’t say I don’t think about it, I’m not sure when (or if ever) I won’t think about some of it, but I do realize what I feel is important on a date now, and what isn’t.

Hopping into bed as quickly as you do may also be contributing to your pattern – women especially equate sex with feelings, love, or some sort of bond. Take sex out of the equation until you really have a handle on who someone is and if he’s worthy of that next step. *we can agree to disagree to a point. I had no emotional feelings for Scott post sex for many, many months. Same with other men I had sex with after Tony. HOWEVER, I also know there is a risk that when I get a little crush on someone, that’s when I should stay out of bed – that’s when the trouble starts with the imaginary bonds. Sex with Scott was very good, but I never felt the emotional connection, that real passion, I have had in the past – it was ALWAYS missing from sex.

You’ve got a continued difficult road ahead if you’re serious about becoming more emotionally healthy and learning to love yourself instead of just medicating your pain and doubt with quick fixes like weight loss surgery and drama-filled relationships. As you have found out, time and time again, these types of things cause more pain and heartache, more doubt, more guilt, and in the case of your surgery, it almost cost you your life. You deserve better, Madeline – but only you can do the hard work to make things different and better. *I love this comment Jana and it really helped me clear out some cobwebs. Strangely enough I had some of these thoughts the other nights and had written a post on lying…..I should have identified that trigger as the smoking gun long before the actual smoking (there must be a great play on words in there for a more clever person!).

I am confident, despite what has happened with Scott, that I have changed and grown. I don’t understand myself and why I want to accept an unhealthy relationship, or why that feels more comfortable to me than having no relationship. I don’t have those answers yet. I am searching for them though and I appreciate having you as a trail guide along my path. Thank you, Jana.

Lying Always Confuses Me

Over the past week all the journaling, talking to friends, my therapist and just getting more days between Scott has helped me to sort through all the different layers of things that were intertwined and which I couldn’t seem to unravel well enough to see what was clearly in front of me HAD I BEEN HONEST WITH MYSELF.

I have resolved to rake over as much of my memory while it is still intact as I often bury and forget thing in order to move on, it has always been my own way of compartmentalizing trauma. So, if I don’t get this stuff out of my head now, I won’t be as clear about it later. It’s important now as it is as close to reality as it will ever be.

I was raised in a home where lying was the order of the day. My parents lied to us and trained us to lie on their behalf for a multitude of reasons. I learned to lie well at a young age. However, as I grew independent in my own relationships in life and away from my parents, I realized how much I hated lying (much like I hate smoking) and resolved to try and live a life that was more transparent. I had probably already indirectly acknowledged this at a very young age and its why my personality is so direct and critical, I want things to be right, true, not false – because it felt like everything around me was false, I could never really tell if and when my parents were lying. Then I married a man who did the same and the pattern continued. I even have one son who can’t help himself, he lies for sport and he knows it. Lying can make me anger almost more quickly than anything else, it is probably one of my worst triggers and the hardest for me to control. I think part of the reason it sets me off so badly is I hate when I don’t see it coming, and, of course, I am often fooled because I always believe in the good of people.

I believe people genuinely want to be good and honest and this isn’t always the case. Honesty for me may be one thing, and it may be entirely another for someone else. People talk about some types of white lies being ok, and I get confused about where you draw the line at that. Sometimes a type of storytelling or embellishment to a story is a bit of a lie, right? I guess it’s all in your perception of what a lie is.

And, for me, this is a very, very unclear line.

Scott is a storyteller. He loves to embellish a story and refers to many of his stories as “legendary.” In the beginning I was a little confused by the voracity of his stories, some seemed so outlandish, but as time wore on, and as he repeated them (often as it turns out) I understood the stories to be almost entirely true. Almost, but not quite. Let’s just say close enough to the truth. Over time, when the story was repeated I could glean the different details and sometimes could ask a question or two and get the whole (truthful) story out of him.

I think that I have been lied to so much over the years in my relationships that I tend to try and believe what I am being told instead of what my gut is telling me, or worse yet, what I am seeing with my own eyes.

Scott’s first lie was about smoking. But his next was about a woman.

And, I should have had the courage to end it right then and there – that night – except I was in another state with no transportation at his mercy. We did argue, pretty badly that night – when I heard the lie about the woman and the lie about the smoking and he went off the rails at me with anger. I tried to fix it then too, because up until that point things with Scott had been fun, happy and good.

I wrote about that first bad argument in early December. All the signs were there.

I saw them. I wrote about them. And I looked the other way for fucks sake.

From December until the end of March, I let the same behavior get worse and nothing I could do was going to fix it. Mark my words, whatever set Scott of initially, whatever trigger I pulled – that lever never came back level. Not only did his actions become more disrespectful but I allowed it to happen.

The question is why.

The question has always been why.

I thought, by being with Scott, I was striving to be better – I was dumping so many of my old scripts out the window. It wasn’t easy, it really wasn’t easy – and I wasn’t asking for anyone’s applause. I wanted Scott to see me, to ask questions, to understand how I had changed and how I was growing and how hard it was for me, just how much I wanted to do it. I took his criticism of me to heart, I wanted to hear what he said so I could be a better person, but while doing that, I was also stepping over my own boundaries and sending the wrong message time after time.

I suppose in hindsight the message was that if I can’t value my own boundaries and standards, neither should Scott.

Everyone can preach about self love. My therapist wanted to introduce to me to God yesterday and it took all my power to not quit her on the spot (I do not know what I believe, but I do know this is not something I want in my therapy. Also, to be fair, I made this clear when I hired her long ago, I did not want God or religion brought into therapy ever as I know she does religious therapy). Self love, God, self-worth, gratitude, acceptance – I know, I get it – these are all the valuable and important internal mechanisms I am missing. People can repeat these words to me until they are blue in the face but I do not understand what it means. I only seem to understand the pain and abuse. I only seem to understand the neglect. I do not truly understand how to get away from it and just sit with myself and be happy with just myself and what I have. I have also read extensively that some people just can’t do it alone, some people need a relationship to be successful at finding that self-love – what if I’m one of those people? What if I can’t do this alone?

All I can say is I feel very, very alone.

A Week On

It’s been a week and a day since it ended, a week since I left him.

I have looked for emails or text from him every day, even though I know its fruitless. Good thing too, because I already know I am weaker than he is. I feel like every man I have ever met is stronger than I am, they all have more self worth than I do.

I have friends who check on me, but I know better than to keep talking about it which is why the word vomit here is so abundant. I know journaling gets it all out of my head and on to paper. I know, after Mexico in particular, that I must write and write and write, until the pain is less tangible in my body. It does flow out through my fingers on to the page. The tears often come out too.

Between the vaccine and getting my period after almost 11 months without a period and this breakup, my emotions are running rampant and are very hard to keep in check. I haven’t worked out in a month (since he left me at the hotel in February I lost all the will to exercise), I’m not eating well, and I have little to no focus on anything. After sitting in bed for 2 days in delirium, I gave myself today to skip one more workout and focus on just getting my act together at work (because we don’t also want to lose a job now do we?). Tomorrow I can focus on a little exercise and map out a plan to get a routine back together.

I am unsure if I ever told this story, but back when Tony and I split and he went to work for Peloton, I thought buying the bike would make me feel closer to him. It didn’t. The bike became a coat hanger for 7 months or so. Then, one day, I realized it was silly to own such an expensive piece of equipment and not use it, and my love of exercise (or some version of love) was born. In the back of my head I also thought, if my xbf was going to be taking care of himself, how dumb was I to not take care of myself? Revenge body anyone? I don’t think my thoughts were that literal at the time, but something like that. Scott is a lifetime athlete, he inspired me to do well, and to work with him. Maybe I am depressed I am going to miss my partner because he was the first man that I was able to share my new found love of running and Peloton (and he embraced it with me). His blocking me on Peloton is a real slap in the face, there is no actual interaction with one another, you can just see each other workouts. He knew this would hurt me, yet it is no cost to him. At the moment, I need to unwind my exercise from Scott or I am afraid I will lose the love of something that has become critical to my sanity. AS I am writing this, I didn’t realize how I was correlating the two, but this seems to be the only answer for why I have lost my passion right now.

I do miss him. And each time I miss him I say (out loud) “cancel, cancel” (thank you @miaknipst). Sometimes it works. I know ultimately nothing works but time and I just have to get through it. I don’t understand how someone so very smart (and he is very smart, two impressive MBA’s) doesn’t have any desire to work on themselves. I just don’t get it. I believed we could have helped one another in so many ways. I know that I can only help myself, do my own work, and continue to grow and cultivate my own self-worth.

The one image I try to keep in mind is this: each time I cried he would look at me and he would be dead, just dead, behind his eyes. No emotion. Not pity, sympathy, empathy or concern. Maybe not even disgust. Just an absolute look of blank deadness. To me, the look was cruel and I couldn’t meet his eyes. I suppose in the moment I thought there was anger, but he didn’t especially demonstrate overt anger (and I think this was especially contrived, he tried hard not to display anger). The words in his letter do not align with the image on his face, or the anger that spewed from his mouth about how he really felt when I exhibited emotions he didn’t understand (they were always “outbursts”). I need this image to haunt me when I am weak because it was horrifying to see someone who claims they love you, that claims you are the one they “feel in their soul” are their lifetime partner, reflects back at you.

This cannot be what love looks like. Love cannot harbor this much disdain, even at the end as things fall apart. Perhaps he loved me as best he knew how. He certainly loved a thought of me, an ideal.