Not In Kansas Anymore...

Click your heels, and see if home is where you hang your hat, or somewhere else inside yourself as this simple, postmodern girl takes on L.A.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tonight's Topic: Cleaning Up Your Own Shit

I was taking a theraputic walk as-ordered by Therapist J this evening ( why? I don't know. Apparently she has some wacky notion that physical activity is helpful for depressed people. I'm not overly fond of physical activitiy when I'm NOT depressed, but what the hell-- it actually does seem to help me get out of my head and feeling a tad bit better when it's over. ); luckily for me, there's a lovely, well-lit bike/walk path behind my house in Burbank. People walk there all hours of day and night, and are generally friendly. Since Burbank is also well-monitored by a police department that is neither LA City or LA County controlled, they are often bored and cruise by. Needless to say, it's quite safe, and so I feel comfortable going out to walk when I'm more awake and inclined to do so; that is, at night, when it's cool and dark and no one can see me mope or cry if I need to.

Anyway, I was walking along and unsuprisingly, some folks were walking by with their dogs. (CA = big dog town, and here's a lovely place to walk your pet that even has waste-bags and disposal containers every few blocks for that oh-so-neccessary maintainance issue. ) I like dogs, even though I don't have one, so I usually stop to pet the pups, and be community friendly with my neighbors. In this case, there were two guys walking their two dogs, and I said hello and petted Avalanche and Dylan while Guy #2 held them, and Guy #1 scooped the poop. As I was turning to carry on with my trailblazing, Guy #1 said to me "Are you going that (pointing back the way he just came, the way I was heading) direction? Would you mind throwing this away?" He was referring to the aforementioned bag of dog poop he'd just picked up. I said, "Oh, noooooo." I walked away and laughed, but then I was thinking, "AS IF. Dude, if YOU don't want to deal with your shit, why should I have to? "

It was then I realized this was a metaphor for my relationship life, lately. I know, I know, if you've just started reading this blog, or don't know me personally, I've sort of left you, Dear Reader, in the lurch in terms of filling in the details concerning the Course of My Most Recent Relationship. Well, I've considered it carefully, and.... the interest of mental health, I'm not going back and describing for you all the wonderful ways we fell in love and magical moments and so forth. I will give you this basic synopsis, and you are going to have to deal with it. As things progress in the healing process, perhaps more will come out about earlier stories and important landmarks. Okay? Okay. So, to sum up:

I have known of MC since I was about 17. He dated a girl I had known since grade school, and they were each other's first loves ( I mention this because Girl- I'll call her Lana--is now his Best Gal Friend Ever and still in his life, and it will come up again because of that mere fact . She first revered me and thought I was the Coolest Thing Ever but as admiration turned to cold envy and jealously, grew to hate my guts when she was about 17 and I was about 19/20. The feeling became mutual as I watched her become backbiting , gossipy and untrustworthy. When I began dating MC, I made it clear that I'd had a crappy past with Lana, but we'd all grown up, I was willing to try to mend fences and be cool with her, and who knows? Maybe be friends? Sadly, THAT feeling was NOT mutual. She was willing to be supportive of his choices, but wanted nothing to do with me , ever. And that's when I realized that for HER, nothing had really changed at all, in 20 fucking years: I was just doing what I had always done in her eyes, which was try to cheat her out of some ill-won trophy of self-esteem-via-some-random-boy OR try to steal something that was already "hers" and important to her. As a result, I kept the peace for his sake, but I really hate that girl. Which is sad. But I digress....). I didn't ever really KNOW him, know him; I knew him enough to say "Hey" if I saw him on the street, and I certainly heard alot about him from Lana as their tumultous love affair went on. And that was it.
Cut to 4 months ago: he joins Facebook, sees me, puts in a friend request, and I confirm it. He reads my profile, thinks I'm cool, and writes me an email saying so, mentioning that since he still lives in Hometown he rarely runs into cool people anymore, so he wanted to reach out. I think that's nice, and I read his profile and he's really far smarter and funnier than Lana ever gave him credit for, and I email back that I hope we get to cultivate a friendship this time in our lives. I leave it at that.
As time goes on, we get to know each other, and we start to IM, and the IMing turns into this 5-hour-a-night extravaganza, and that turns into phone calls, also of the 5-hour-variety, and eventually, he expresses a crush sometime in early March. I hesistate, and don't reciprocate, and pull back. Eventually, though, he wins me over and the feelings become mutual and he comes to visit in April and we fall in love and it's all intense and serious. I visit in May and we're still in love but it's a total disaster. Why?

Well, really, because his life is a cabaret of chaos: I had known all of that BEFORE I came to visit but the enormity of it all -- and more importantly, how it affects him -- became alarmingly apparent when I was there. He's got so much on his plate it's a wonder he can even make room for anything else......including a girlfriend. Hmm......
Basically,it starts to seem to me that he doesn't have the emotional energy to give to a serious relationship. His family is in a great deal of crisis ( his dad is essentially dying; MC is the oldest child and as such, has had the job of maintaining his parents' rental property and being his mother's main emotional support foisted upon him. To the exclusion of the other siblings. ). His business of 20 years is losing money possibly failing. He'd come home tired, but I'd expected that. I even had expected to spend some nights on my own while he worked, or even to have to give him space to chill out after the day was done. (I'm pretty cool about that kind of thing, because I'm wired similarly, and I need my space and alone/downtime just as much.)

However, outside of that, he kept being all disconnected and weird, and I kept saying "What's going on?" while I was there. I kind of started to figure it out: he's so used up I don't even think he realized he was shutting down. And it kind of started to make me feel lonely and odd in this relationship where I would have thought the goal would be to become more intimate and close. It wasn't like I was expecting all this romance or excitement; when I was there, I was hoping just to hang out and BE and talk and cuddle and watch tv and do all those average, boring-but-great couple things that bond you. This was a long-distance relationship. I just wanted the time, and the chance to BE boring and smoochy and regular.
As days rolled on, though, it really became an issue; some days he wasn't even present enough to have a conversation. We'd drive for an hour and barely talk. (This had NEVER been a problem before). And in one incident I don't care to elaborate on-- we'll just call it The Wedding Incident-- I *really* needed him to BE there for me emotionally, had asked him to, talked to him about it, and he totally dropped the ball ( which he later felt awful about, but was still pretty damaging to the trust bond between us, and which even though he was sorry about, STILL didn't understand how he'd failed.)

( I should add this as a addendum:
Complicating matters is the fact that he has pretty serious ADD. That's fine. We all have things we have to conquer in this life. But he's not ready to really take responsibility for it. He had gone off of his medicine in May and I'm pretty sure that made things worse, because when I got home, I did some research. I found out that being all spacey and disconnected is pretty common for men with ADD, especially when they're under stress. And it's the #1 complaint that their partners make! I did insist he go back on his meds ( he did, but he was really resentful of me about it) tried to get him to read some of what I had, but without success. )

So, I keep coming to him, talking to him, trying to get him to hear me, trying to reach the man I once knew. I keep trying to get him to solve the problem. And he doesn't, ( because he doesn't understand it, isn't in touch with himself to grasp what I'm talking about). Unfortunately, this is where I start to freak out, just overwhelmed with what I'm suddenly dealing with, worried about losing him, and then the crap hits the fan. He shuts down even further, while the more he shuts down, the more freaked out I get. That escalated to a no-win point, and we just started fighting. Over dumb stuff that doesn't matter, because that's where all the anger and frustration is going. Great.
My body wasn't doing well with regard to the level of stress this was causing. I had warned him, and I knew deep inside myself: I could not continue pushing my psyche and brain chemistry under this kind of duress without my illness kicking in. I'm just not made that way. As Sassy so aptly put it, "This kind of situation is enough to make anyone crazy. But you're sensitive, Jessica. I am so worried it will push you over the edge. " And she was right, and I was right: I snapped. My brain, for whatever reason it functions this jacked-up way, just gave out. I started on the crying uncontrollably, anxiety-attack, not eating, not functioning track, and oh, the leaps and bounds I had to go to try and not jump the track and keep it together! ( My doctor and therapist have been getting a workout. ). It was bad. And I kept saying to him, "PLEASE, the stress of this is making me sick. Let's come to a place where we can put each other first and really solve this, or at least coast through for awhile til things calm down." But it was like talking to.....someone with headphones on. He was just checked out. Could not deal, did not want to deal, did not know how to deal. Needless to say, it was pretty heart-crushing to see him drift away more and more and even to a degree, disregard what I was going through.

FINALLY, though, it all came out in one rush of a terrible conversation, one of those conversations you never want to have with your love, one that pretty much seals the deal on The End, like it or not:
It turned out that he was in addition to the aforementioned energy problem ( which was causing the disconnection in the first place; I also contend it is his ADD, but he flat out told me right then it was "none of my business"-?!?!) he had come to the realization that he was no shape, post-his-ugly-marriage-and- divorce of 2 years hence to really be "working on" problems. He was just tired ( She had cheated TWICE and during marriage counselling. Gotten pregnant, hid it from him, had an abortion. And then she left, so I think I understand that feeling of feeling like working on something being too much. I guess I thought he was past it more than he was; I think he thought so, too. Apparently not.). He'd wanted something "easy", he said.( I laughed at him, because who doesn't? No one signs ON for problems. And he said, "I know. It's childish. And it's my baggage from the wife. I never said I was easy." )

And, somewhere in the midst of all the drama, he didn't feel "in love" with me anymore. HE wanted to just slow down and "date" and to make sure he "didn't make a mistake".


So there I am, sick as a dog, struggling with both strep ( ha! A fun parting gift from the travel!) and the attendant mood-draining antibiotics, the juggling act I'm doing with the antidepressants, the anti-anxieties, the weeks of trying to figure out how to get through to him, and this is the information I get. Well. At least it was honest.

In the end, I basically I told him that you can't back up the emotional truck, so to speak- no one really gets "do-overs". He'd pushed for a serious relationship, and now he couldn't hack it, and that's fine, but I wasn't going to be putting myself through any additional angst not having a partner who didn't want to work on a problem if it arose. Furthermore, I wasn't going to be putting my emotional eggs in his basket waiting for his sparkly crushy feelings to return! (I asked him why he even would bother with that dumb "dating" idea anyway, and he said, "Because I remember what it used to be like. I do love you." ) Unfortunately, that's not enough, for anyone to hold on to.
I said that I loved and cared for him, and yet it was clear to me that he had no emotional energy to give to any sort of relationship that was going to be worth a damn, and that he needed to go deal with his life without the burden of a serious relationship. I said *I* needed to go and heal myself and get myself back on track after what the last month did to me without a serious relationship, and that that was my main priority now. I said that if he ever found himself in a place where he DID have room in his life for a real deal, let me know, and that in time, I imagined we'd be friends. He agreed that this was all very wise and it was unfair of him to ask me to stick around while he sorted out his feelings, and he apologized for not knowing sooner that he wasn't ready, that he wanted to be, and that I deserved someone who was. I agreed with him, and we ended it on a positive note.

And then I got off the phone and cried and cried and cried. I know I did the right thing, for the both of us. It's the most compassionate thing to let someone go when you know they cannot handle anything else on their plate. I know, more importantly, I did the right thing for ME, to put my health first, and to hold out for the respect and love I deserve, the kind of thing I was giving out so freely to him and to no avail.

I believe he loved me. In honesty and in effort to stay at least listening, and from all the things that happened before all of it went wrong. I believe he meant well. I know I did. But don't we all when these things start out? Perhaps not ( look at Anthony!). At any rate, I know that, although I'm not sure how it is of any application of comfort now; I'm just sort of saying it as a reminder of something good out of it to hold on to when it seems all bad and burdensome as an experience to carry around with you....

I'm sitting here now with all the knowledge that I handled it with the most amount of grace and dignity and compassion for the both of us I could, but it is no big consolation. I'm still left with a broken thing, and all the pain, anger and heartache that ensues forth. Yippee. But what I did was unbearably hard and I hope to never have to do anything close to that painful in my life again regarding romantic relationship. Its like I had this beautiful amazing thing, and then I turned around and it slipped right through my hands in an instant. It really has broken my heart. Not to be hyperbolic, but I feel like something has shattered, split in two.

That was two weeks ago, and brings us up to now ( and in the interim, I'm sure that Lana, somewhere, is dancing in glee that she "won"; now she can fill his life with her drama and keep him occupied and have his full attention. Yes, it's completely platonic, but it doesn't matter. She's completely proprietary about him, even if he's too slow to realize it ( gawd, didn't this girl learn to share in kindergarten? Geez.) and I'm sure she was just irritated as hell I was there. Now I'm not, so it's much easier for her. Fuck it- that's why I moved out of small towns.... makes me want to run her prideful, sneering, schadenfreude-filled ass over with my car. But again, I digress......).

So anyway, here it is, the whole story, up to speed. Satisfied? Okay. Back to my shit metaphor.

So in all of this processing, I went through despairing of losing someone I love and having to let them go, and moved on to just angry and hurt. I went through sad, and maybe I'll revisit it, I don't know. But I've realized that while I may not have handled things perfectly, I'm a good person and a really good girlfriend. I'm also kind of a catch ( I know, that's arrogant, but listen: I'm smart, very educated, funny, with wicked sense of humor, I'm not a dog; I clean up pretty good, for the most part, and I'm caring and devoted to people I love. I think I have things to offer!).

TO ME, what happened here was a result of him breaking something. He just isn't in touch with his own shit, and either incabable or unwilling to start sorting it out for himself. He's also not very in touch with what's going on around him, and incapable or unwilling ot really pay attention. I don't know what is up with that-- it could in part be maturity, his illness, his family pressures, but I also think it's just maybe how he's functioning in the world right now. Which is all well and fine if it's just YOU, but once you get older, it affects other people. Unfortunately, I got caught in the middle of it and got very hurt. I'm sure he's sorry and all-- he expressed as much, as much as he could get a grasp on that he'd fucked up, which wasn't alot-- but somehow I don't see him speeding towards the therapist's couch trying to figure it out so he doesn't fuck up again or hurt anyone else. Maybe he can't right now or doesn't have the energy or WHATEVER, I get it.

Still, isn't it lame to be FORTY and not have sorted through your psyche in a major way at least ONCE? Even my shrink said, in sort of a ponderous, musing kind of way, "You know, it's funny. Usually when people get to be that age, you know, they're cooked. Done. " ( I thought it hilarious that she was comparing him to a chicken or a turkey in the oven!).

I would agree. At some point, you have to take care of your own shit, grow up and not roll through life oblivious We fine people for not picking up their pets' poop. I wish we could fine people for not dealing with their emotional shit, instead attempting to foist it upon others to carry around and deal with, via being so unaware ( and sometimes willfully unaware) and careless. Sassy used the word "reckless", and I think it applies. If only there were a fine or a ticket for that.