Today, we drove nearly two hours to a small mountain town that’s home to a newly discovered breakfast spot. It’s a small restaurant set on a hill with a cozy, lodge-like feel, plenty of strong coffee, and our favorite–steak and eggs. The last time we visited, we stayed nearly two hours.
This morning, I decided to engage him in conversation around Mel Robbins’ “Mindset Reset” program. Specifically, reviewing 2018 by rating on a 10-point scale how we both felt about our bodies, our work, our money, our love life, and more.
As expected, he rated his feelings about his body higher than I did my own. I rated my satisfaction with money higher than he did. And when the conversation turned to work, he said it was the worst year ever for him–my fault for involving his employer in our breakup–while I expressed wanting more growth (and compensation) in the new year.
And then, we moved onto the topic of our love life in 2018. And he found his soap box. He felt the year was rife with him being manipulated, betrayed, controlled, and trapped–by me. His goals for the new year were to assert control–make his own decisions, do what he wanted to do, not let me control or manipulate him, and definitely not to behave as a doormat as he had been.
Where does this leave me, I asked. After all, when you’re in a relationship, there’s another person to consider. I agreed that pursuing individual goals was important, even in a relationship, but simultaneously, there has to be some regard for the other person’s feelings and needs. And, I added, we both felt those things this year.
“I don’t want a relationship as badly as you do,” he pointed out.
As the conversation went on, I found the courage to reiterate to him that Facebook was a trigger for me. He’s on it 24/7, posts repeatedly throughout the day, is addicted to monitoring the reactions to his posts, and never moves faster than when he hear the sounds of a Facebook notification.
He also never mentions me. He does not post my picture. He does not use “we” when posting highlights from our trips and activities. He’ll readily tag, picture, and mention others, but not me. It’s my fault, he explains. People from work follow his account, and I did crazy during our breakup so that he feels he must hide our relationship to save face.
He is still embarrassed of me, he said.
Hearing those words took the breath out of me.
I felt the sting of tears behind my eyes, but I did not cry. He hates it when I cry in public. And so I held it in, and I resolved to be quiet. And courteous to his Facebook friends that we met as we left breakfast. And enjoy the sights and sounds of the dozens of shops lining the downtown streets.
And somehow, I found a way to let go of the pain. I still hurt. Greatly. Remembering his words threatens to bring tears to my eyes again.
But at the same time, I believe it’s a call to detach. I am so emotionally enmeshed in this man that my day is made or unmade by the words he says, how affectionate he is, how much attention he pays Facebook versus me.
Maybe detaching is what I unknowingly but successfully practiced today after I felt my heart rip again, because interestingly, just before we wrapped up our afternoon of window shopping, he looked at me and told me he had a wonderful time with me, that I was really great company.
I am perplexed by this. Because I felt great pain. And then I let it go to keep–quite literally–putting one foot in front of the other. Because I’d be damned if he told me again that I was “not fun” after he told me this. Because I’d be damned if he told me again how he couldn’t take me out anymore because I cause scenes. Because I’d be damned if the afternoon was ruined by an unkind word, even if it is true for him.
I am not an embarrassment. I’m an asset. I’m a good partner. I’m someone to be proud of.
But I’m also a recovering codependent. And working my ass off to ‘lose’ the symptoms of borderline personality. This means I like to talk about feelings–I need to talk about feelings before they consume me. Because I’m learning how to find a balance. I’m learning how to trust. And I’m testing the waters to find who is truly trustworthy.
I’ve repeatedly asked him to commit to me for 2019. Commit to me moving forward or leave us in 2018. He doesn’t feel that the fix is committing more to me in 2019. No, he’s not going to do that. He’s not saying he’s leaving me, but he is not going to commit more than he is now.
And somehow, I know he is right. Him committing to me is not going to fix the ills between us.
It dawns on me that I’ve been asking the wrong person to commit to me.
I need to commit to me. I need to commit to me as if my life depends on it. Because it does.
Oh, how it does.