Raise your hand if you’ve had quite enough of all this nonsense. I keep waiting for an official to pop up and yell, “Simulation finished! You’ve all failed, you worthless bastards.”
Eh? Still waiting.
Here in Illinois we’ve been sheltering in place since around March 21, me going hermit a week before, because I am just cool enough to be ahead of the trend.
Thanks to constant CNN exposure, I was, frankly, terrified those first couple of weeks. I watched the death toll mount online. There’s a site that breaks it all down: country by country, infection to death ratios, rate of recovery. If you don’t know where that’s found, I will not tell you.
You don’t need that. I didn’t need that.
Despite my introversion, I was horrified being alone an indefinite period of time. I missed my boyfriend, didn’t know when or if I’d see him again. Missed my kids. Worried about all my friends and co-workers – which of us would be dead within the month, because the world was clearly out to kill us.
In a twisted, cruel joke, I’d be broken up with the boyfriend before long. DURING A PANDEMIC. Enraged he showed no concern for me, offered no assistance despite knowing I was riding it out alone, I fired off an angry missive.
Hindsight being what it is, I know that was wrong. Pressure on him was intense, from several life situations. Normally laid-back, he was scared. This was not him, not his way.
But I was alone, scared, furious he did not acknowledge that. I asked him about every, single thing in his life I knew had gone to hell. Every, single thing. I fretted if he had enough food. For my last forage, I bought provisions I intended to drop at his door, along with food for myself. Then I felt stupid about that, about coddling a grown man, and took it all home.
So much food, by the way. So, so much food.
This sort of passive-aggression was the hallmark of our relationship, as it had been during my failed marriage, as well. I can see that now. My passive-aggression, his avoidance of his share of the blame, and refusal to sit down and work out solutions.
Ultimately, it brought down our relationship.
I wonder, now, if his inability to balance priorities killed his marriage. A wife who strayed, leaving him bleeding out in pain, may have done so because her husband was absent when she needed him. And someone else was. Because he can be a delight, a ball of energy that’s irresistible. He’s impossible not to love but all that’s moot when you don’t bother showing up.
Patterns tend to repeat, personality traits to become ingrained, until you find the strength of mind to change them. I hadn’t grown past passive-aggression. Maybe he hadn’t learned where his priorities should lie.
Oh, that makes so much sense now.
I was clearly not a priority in his life, when I should have been. What’s the point of a relationship, otherwise? If I’d been practicing proper self care I’d have seen the writing on the wall much sooner.
For his part, he kept a part of himself walled off to me, a defense mechanism I’m totally familiar with. But in this relationship, I spilled it all out there. He encouraged it, said tell me everything.
I complied, but did so badly. In retaliation, he cut me off, refused to respond. Next time I saw him I braced for confrontation. None came. I’ve forgotten it, he’d say. No worries.
Big worries. Avoidance is insidious.
Thing is, when we were together it was magic. We had fun, meshed seamlessly, laughing and basking in the glow of love. This was a relationship worth fighting for, but the cracks in the foundation would be our downfall.
Around month three or four, knowing he was THE ONE from the first date, I asked his relationship goals. I told him mine were to live together one day, to work toward that because everything we had was so wonderful I wanted that full-time. He agreed, said he’d already been thinking that.
I was elated.
Just past our one-year anniversary, we were breaking up by phone DURING A PANDEMIC. The dam broke; he spewed out vitriol he’d held in. He’d been lying, he said. He never wanted to live with anyone, including me. He’d fallen out of love, but had kept saying I love you I love you I love you. Scary how accomplished he’d been in his fakery, how convincing.
He left me bleeding out the way his wife had left him. Karma gone awry.
I never knew. Didn’t have a clue. I should have. If you love someone, you prioritize them. I was the one always in pursuit, the one who sent thinking of you texts. He was the beloved. I adored him, nearly worshipped. It was not healthy.
I knew where I rated, but brushed it off saying he has this avocation he’s passionate about, a worthy one. Of course he spends lots of his free time on it.
All his free time.
He forgot plans, didn’t communicate when he was actually busy on days we’d earmarked as “us” days – Saturdays from dinner through Sunday mornings. I’d sit there, waiting. Because when you make a promise to someone you love, you keep that promise. And if you can’t, you communicate.
Except when you don’t.
Usually he did, but sometimes he didn’t.
He’s hurting you, my friends said. Break it off. Find someone who prioritizes you the way you deserve to be.
But I love him, you don’t know his good qualities.
Oh, they said, you’ve told us those. We’ve seen them. But it’s how he treats you that matters. And you are hurt.
So it went on.
One of the spiteful things he flung out while we were breaking up – on the phone, DURING A PANDEMIC – was “you get in the way of me doing things I enjoy.” My very existence was an irritation to him, see above. It was obvious. I knew it but counted on the day we’d live together. I wouldn’t have to miss him then.
Properly broken up, in desperation I joined a dating site. The void was too great, too painful. You cannot replace one person with another, especially when the cut’s still bleeding, but I planned to try.
One day his face popped up, on the same site. In my head I heard “I don’t have time for you.”
Apparently, he had time for someone else.
I was pierced through, firing off an angry text. You lied, again. He didn’t address the issue, choosing instead to ignore that and say I could change the narrative to suit myself all I wanted, if that made me happy.
Deflection. He’s great at that.
Oh, what a tangled web.
I mourn the exterior of that relationship. I miss the camaraderie, the fun and what looked like genuine love on the outside. You seemed to enjoy each other’s company, said my son. We did. But the relationship rotted from the inside.
We fiddled while Rome burned.
I don’t wish him well, to be honest. Not yet. I wish him a rebound relationship that rips him to shreds, an awakening to everything he did on his part that sunk us.
I wish that smugness wiped off his face.
It’s not pretty. It’s not a charitable reaction. But it’s honest.
Of all the things I did, and the list is long enough, I never once lied.
Until and unless he wakes up to the work relationships take, he’ll do the same thing over and over.
Karma rolls, baby. Its justice is blind.
Until and unless I drop my repression of emotion, and find someone who prioritizes us enough to let down his guard, I’ll repeat over and over.
I own that. I am not sure his hubris will allow the same luxury.
I’ve achieved a degree of peace. While I’d love to lash out again, telling him my suspicion behind the demise of his marriage, I’ll let that slide.
It has to end somewhere.