C. and I are through, permanently, and so I am back to where I started. And this time, I feel it will be much easier, because it has become apparent to me that he was not the man that I had thought.
On Saturday, I was at a friend’s party when I ran into J., who used to work for my friend. J and I have a lot of common interests, and although I found her a tad nutty, she has generally been a lot of fun. In fact, I had also run into her recently at a party for C.’s running group.
On Saturday, she was so drunk that my first thought was, “My God, I hope she didn’t drive here.” She proceeded to tell me, unsolicited, that C. was “handsy” and had “hit on every woman in the running group.” She also went on to add that it was odd that C.’s sons were “so much better looking that he was.” I pointed out that C. had only one son, and he was only a teenager. I asked if perhaps she was thinking of someone else. She seemed confident that C. was the “annoying guy who hit on everyone.”
That night, I talked to C. I told him what J. had said. I was clear that she had been drunk and seemed confused, and that I would find her a dubious source of information at the best of times. And I added that even if it were true, I understood that it wasn’t a betrayal of me if he had flirted with other women in the group before we met, although I would perhaps rather he not run with someone he had a past romantic interest in.
He was LIVID. Mostly at J., but when I added the part about him not running with other women he’d been interested in, he said, “See, THIS is why I’m so mad! You’re spiraling over this bullshit!”
I pointed out that I wasn’t spiraling. And for some reason, at that point, it seemed like a great idea to point out that his declarations of, “This is bullshit! This is ridiculous!” seemed more like a non-denial denial, like something a politician would say. (I suspect that, although I hadn’t believed most of what J. said in the first place, his extremely angry reaction made me start to wonder if he “doth protest too much.”) As you might imagine, that made things exponentially worse.
He was so furious he told me he was done with the conversation and was going to bed. I begged him not to go, not to leave it like this, but he was insistent, firmly said, “Good NIGHT, A.,” and hung up.
In the morning, I got a very curt message from him. He told me, among other things, “Your distrust drove you to use the tiniest, dumbest detail of my wording to continue putting me on the defensive. That really hurt. I’m going to enjoy my day with the kids. I’m not going to let this ruin my day. You and I can talk later tonight.”
I responded that I had believed him and still did, that it was stupid to get hung up on semantics and that I was sorry. I added that as hard as I was working, there would still be struggles and I needed to feel he was a safe person to talk to. I told him to enjoy his day with his kids and that I looked forward to talking later. Later, after I ran about (which he loves to do), I told him how nice it felt to run after so long and that I wanted to share that with him, and I loved him.
He didn’t respond, and he didn’t call that night. I received a few more very terse, curt messages from him, and my friends who saw them were stunned at how cold and withdrawn he was. He didn’t call Monday night, either. He had been supposed to have dinner with us and meet my children that day, though he had informed me in the morning he no longer felt it was a good idea (which I agreed with). That was also the night J. chose to message me and tell me she’d had C. confused with someone else.
Instead, this morning, I received this:
I don’t feel that this is the best way to handle it, but at this point I think it would only be harder any other way. I can’t do this anymore. I’ve tried and tried, but this pattern of behavior is not something I can handle. I’m very sorry. I care about you and I know you try very hard to manage these feelings, but it’s apparent that this cycle will not stop any other way.
But I was stunned that the man I had so cared for, who had called me the “love of his life,” who had seemed so mature and so kind in so many respects, was ending our relationship by text message over such a stupid argument.
I’m astonished that you felt this was appropriate. However, your very cold tone and disrespectful words towards me the past few days had also begun to persuade me we were incompatible. People who love each other should be able to respectful and kind even when hurt and angry. I would kindly suggest that just as I am working on my own issues, you look at your communication skills.
You came back to me knowing this would be a work in progress. I will not beat myself up for being unable to make an overnight transformation.
I was proud of that. I felt I was kind and firm and expressed my own concerns in an appropriate way without belittling him or lashing out.
I did cry. Hard. The kids saw me sobbing and hugged me. I told them they wouldn’t be meeting “Mr. C,” and that just like Mommy and Daddy had decided they weren’t a good match, Mr. C. and I had as well. I said that I was sorry and I knew they’d been excited to meet him. My oldest said, “I was excited too. Now I’m just mad.”
I texted Sara, my therapist, who promised to get me in as soon as possible. I talked to several friends, who were as appalled as I was. I cried to my boss, who told me it sounded like C. had a lot of issues going on. (Yes, I wear my heart on my sleeve, why do you ask?)
And while I’m sad and hurt and angry, I also feel relieved. I had not seen this angry, hurtful side of C., and I don’t believe he has a “healthy emotional core,” as one friend put it. It’s possible to be mad at someone and still communicate. It’s possible to be very hurt by them and still be kind.