Well, I won’t say that I’ve reached any higher levels of enlightenment in the last week but I’ve certainly had plenty of time of wonder. Maybe it isn’t good to wallow but perhaps it’s necessary. Even if I am just as confused and hurt as before, I’m more resigned to the outcome.
TA and I talked twice last week, once in person and once on the phone. I knew it wasn’t going to change his mind – trust me, I’m quite clear that when a man has made up his mind to finish a relationship, he is done, period – but I needed to feel like I had a say in the conclusion. Since TA obviously did all his thinking prior to informing me where we stood, I had to catch up, and that meant working through a lot in a very short amount of time.
The highlights of our conversations:
I asked if he had been lying to me with all the effusive assurances of my loveliness and our intimate connections. Not that he couldn’t lie to me again, of course, but he assured me rather vehemently that he had never lied (and to be fair, he hasn’t…with words), he wasn’t now and he never would. Okay, then, how, at our age and with our life experiences, does it make any sense to turn away from happiness when it’s right in front of you? He didn’t have any answer beyond repeating that this wasn’t a sustainable relationship and we needed to be friends now.
I asked him how he thought “friends” was going to work, exactly, given the sudden dissolution of what I thought had been going well. Did he just expect me to sit quietly across the dinner table when I’m back in Home State and happily help him work through his new relationship? He asked what I meant. I said, clearly, it meant we might be friendly – I don’t hate him, that’s ridiculous – but he didn’t get to flip a switch that simply turned off the romantic entanglement and act like it never happened. He was a little upset about that analogy but it sure seems appropriate to me.
In a moment of self-esteem, I quietly reminded him that he would be hard pressed to do better than me. I’m all sorts of good stuff – funny, intelligent, articulate, thoughtful, caring, supportive, good-looking – and we had all sorts of connections – likes, dislikes, professional, personal, physical, emotional. Did he really think he would find that so easily with anyone else? I don’t remember an answer to that.
In a parting lack of self-esteem, I told him that I wish he had found me worth the effort. I realize that there are significant miles between us; they existed when he started this back in December so it isn’t news. I realize that relationships, especially fledgling ones, are difficult to negotiate; he’s an adult and he should surely recognize that. Still, with the connections that seemed to exist between us, it seemed worth a try. In a moment of introspection, I also said I wish he had never started this. It could have been nothing more than a hilarious story about an out-of-character assignation; instead, he pursued me, with daily phone calls, mailed mementos, meaningful words – and that hurt much more than a one-off ever could have. He seemed hurt by that statement, actually, which I do find a little odd.
In the end, we parted as amicably as we could have. I said, and I meant it, that he shouldn’t pull away from Cool Friend and her husband because of this debacle – although he probably never thought of that, given his singular lack of introspection at this point – since he needs friends, and they are good people. He seemed a little bemused when he said he’d call me soon and I asked if he thought that was fair to me; he might be able to act like nothing ever happened between us but I can’t do that. Maybe in the future, since we’ll both be a part of CF’s life, but not now. He said he’d think about it.
The rest of my visit to Home State was quiet and devoid of drama. CF proved both her coolness and her friendness by not slapping me out of my pit of despair but listening and consoling while offering her thoughtful commentary on the whole thing. I visited a few other friends and family members, all of whom offered commiseration and disbelief at the whole mess. My aunt understood that facing a future with so little hope for companionship is a difficult thing. My college girlfriend agreed that he had a screw loose to expect platonic friendship after enjoying the wonder that is me. Two high school guy friends shook their heads and summed it up well: “No, you don’t get to turn into friends, especially when he was lucky enough to have you as more.” I have good friends.
I spent some time with my youngest niece and nephew, which was by far the best medicine. I did some shopping at stores I don’t have access to here. I went out for dinner one evening and celebrated Father’s Day on Sunday with the entire family without having a breakdown. And then Niece #3 and I packed up the car and drove back to PRU City yesterday. It was awful, quite frankly, between the traffic, the distance, the time to think and my stress level, but we made it and now we’re here for the next two weeks.
My niece and I were discussing depression today. She was diagnosed a few years ago and, in the interests of breaking the family wall of silence, I have tried to talk casually and freely about it with her through the years, both her experiences and my own. She commented today on how I was always so busy when all she wanted to do was stay in bed. I gave her a quick squeeze on the shoulder: Oh, sweetheart, I feel that way, too, sometimes.
But the world keeps turning and I keep swallowing the rejection while I do my laundry and write my papers and respond to my emails. The misery passes. I just need some time to get back to my normal state: uncertain how I always end up alone but fairly certain I need to accept it. I’m great and all – evidently a wonderful friend – but not when it comes to relationships. I’m not sure I have the will to try anymore.