I’ve come to love my therapist. Earlier this week, when I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest, I texted her to see if she could meet me asap, but she was sick. So I waited and few days and texted her again to see if she was better, and didn’t hear from her for several hours, during which time I’d hypothesized that she’d gotten diagnosed with cancer and was in the hospital, or perhaps she’d died suddenly of a heart attack. I would need to find someone new, fast. Who would I find? She’s come to know me over the past two years, and I’ve come to trust her. She’s seen me at my best and at my worst.
Turns out she just had a bad cold, and not terminal cancer, so I met with her yesterday, and felt so much better afterwards. She validated my feelings. This taboo topic I’d brought up with my ex-boyfriend was not such a terrible thing, and while his initial reaction was understandable, it became an overreaction, and I need to be able to express my feelings without fear of punished. I know I’m being vague here, because I don’t want to write the details of our conversation should I decide to put my name on this blog in the future, but suffice it to say that I misinterpreted something he’d done, and he misinterpreted my misinterpretation. He thought I was accusing him of something horrible, which I was not. I felt uncomfortable with something due to my own issues and thought perhaps he had mildly overstepped some boundary, which he had not. The situation revealed my jealousy and insecurity, and his defensive nature.
I can get over my jealousy and insecurity, but I don’t think he can overcome his defensiveness. In this situation, he has come to understand my perspective, and let down his defenses a bit by apologizing for telling me hated me. That came after we’d spent a night in the mountains, drove back around midnight after The Conversation, after he’d given me all of my stuff in a trash bag, and I’d returned his phone and bought myself a new one. After he texted me that he hated me, I shut off all communication. Talk about deal breakers. I won’t be in a relationship in which my partner tells me he hates me.
Even after all of that, after realizing this is how he is, this is how it’s gonna be, this is what happens when times get tough, I told my therapist I’d still take him back. I won’t ask him to come back, but if he were to return I’d take him. My therapist didn’t treat me like a crazy person, or shame me. But she did ask, “Even after all that? Do you really want to be in a relationship with someone like that?” She reminded me that there are a lot of men out there, and that I have a lot going for me. It doesn’t feel like I have a lot going for me, but that’s another story. The point is, he’s the one I want. If I find someone else, I’ll just have the same problems. I’ll want to change him, he’ll get on my nerves sometimes, times will get hard on occasion, and I’ll want to leave at some point. Unless I can learn to love and accept the one I’m with, I won’t be happy. She reminded me that there are a lot of men out there who don’t have mental illness, that when I meet someone else I can recognize the good parts like what I found in him, and if any of the red flags go up that look like what happened with him, I can leave right away. She had some good points.
On the other hand, there’s still a part of me that believes he can and will change. He’ll grow from this. The dreamer in me feels that maybe he needs to do it on his own for a year or however long it takes, and I’ll grow in the meantime, and then we will run into each other again, and start over on better footing. The skeptic in me wonders if he’ll love and respect me once I become a stronger, more confident and outspoken woman. Would the new him love the new me? The current him probably wouldn’t, and I can’t fantasize that he’ll become some new version of him that I want. That’s just a fantasy based on no evidence whatsoever. But how do couples grow together? I guess just one day at a time. There are never any guarantees, no matter what, even if the couple is married. Even so, how can anyone be sure of their commitment? How can anyone rely on their partner or their relationship? If they realize they can’t rely on that, then how do they stay together? If every day I’m thinking this may or may not last until death do we part, then… what? One day at a time is the only answer that comes, but that’s just not satisfying to me right now. I feel like I’m still missing something.
I just want someone who doesn’t threaten to leave every time we have a conflict. That’s not too much to ask, is it? I know it’s not, because I’ve had it before.
Ironically, he withdrew because he was afraid it wouldn’t work out. He couldn’t commit because he was afraid we wouldn’t stay committed, yet that’s precisely why we didn’t stay together: because he could not commit. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy. And he cannot see that. He has decided he’s no good at relationships and therefore he’s not. What I can’t understand is why he can’t learn not to overreact and withdraw so that his relationships last, and I guess that’s part of his mental illness combined with the damaging effects of his childhood upbringing that he just cannot control. It’s so hard for me to get that.
I know that I’m powerless to change him, but what if he wants to change? He is not powerless over himself, is he? On the other hand, he may not necessarily want to change in the way I want him to change, or maybe he does but couldn’t if he wanted to, and I’m not a higher power. It’s not up to me to decide how he behaves.
Sometimes the truth just really sucks.