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Ry

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  • #366669
    Ry
    Participant

    Rose,

    Thank you yet again for taking the time to reply to my post! I’m so grateful that I stumbled upon Tiny Buddha. People like you and Anita are saviors.

    And, yes, I agree that the push-pull nature of the relationship with my ex is ultimately an unhappy one. Think it is amplified for me because, while she claims she wants me to continue to have a place in her son’s life, she makes little effort to maintain that relationship. I’m sure she would argue that I could take the initiative to call, but I know the weekdays are busy, and she may be with her new beau on the weekends. Ultimately, I must be pragmatic and move on as she claims have done. (I shouldn’t use the word “claim” and she said it last December; however, I think she enjoys having me available in a sense when she is lonely or wants to chat with a friend.)

    Yes, living here in this small town does afford me the opportunity to work on myself. While I have perused the dating apps on those lonely nights here, the dating pool is more of a puddle. This is ultimately a good thing because I have often escaped into relationships, only to have them end with more hurt and good wishes. In my reply to Anita, I see my counselor this Tuesday, so I will address with her the points you both have made here. I’m beyond tired of existing with so much left unresolved in my mind and soul.

    I’m glad you have come to a resolution of sorts with your friend. It’s difficult because friendships can be so fleeting, and we simply want to connect to other humans. Ultimately pragmatism must win over emotions.

    #366667
    Ry
    Participant

    Anita,

    I finally had some time to digest your amazing analysis and wanted to offer my response…

    I don’t know if I’d classify my life’s path as random. Yes, my daughter was a surprise, but I did make a conscious decision to try to give her a normal family life. Her mother and I had worked together for a few years before we decided to date; however, I don’t feel like I was entirely comfortable dating, as I still hadn’t really figured out who I was. Yet, marrying her felt like the responsible thing to do at 20-years-old, so I did. All these choices after (military, divorce, college, etc.) were done in an attempt to better my life. I truly felt that these things would make my life better and make me a happier person. I feel that they did in a sense, but any fulfillment was fleeting. Suppose the “treading water” title comes from the lack of real fulfillment stemming from the choices and endeavors. Truly most of my life has been without passions, hobbies, or really dreams at all. Yes, it’s a sad way to live but time doesn’t stop.

    I’ve certainly dealt with anger issues for much of my life—even as a child. Not anger that would manifest in violence but always there below the surface. There has always existed a frustration within me. A chronic feeling of being misunderstood or never feeling like I fit in. (That could play a part in why I keep trying different experiences. Wanting to find “my place.”) While I don’t have many memories from my childhood, one that came to mind is a vivid one when I was an early teen. My mother was on me about something and I remember lashing out and saying “freaking.” This escalated the argument because this was “too close to the other ‘F’ word,” she replied. I remember egging her on, and playing dumb, and asking her what the other ‘F’ word was she was referring to. She never said it buy that memory is quite vivid.

    My father grew up Catholic, and my mother Lutheran, but both converted to Episcopalian when my sister was born. We added the Episcopal church but left after some time because the pastor had an affair. We ended up at another Episcopal church when I was in my early teens, and I was confirmed around 15 or so. (Memories are fuzzy.) That pastor would cheat on his wife as well, and I quit attending after that—it all seemed so hypocritical. Honestly, I was never truly religious. I enjoyed the sermons but only as a history-esque type lecture. The point of all this is that my mother continued attending a non-denominational church—largely without my father—until converting to Catholicism a few years ago, and they both attend a Catholic church now.

    The reason I say all this is that I feel my mother is always seeking something. She had a contentious relationship with her father (my grandfather). I believe that I’ve written here that when they would infrequently travel to visit us, she would spend the day crying and generally be depressed for a few days after their departure. Obviously the relationship she had with her parents affected her parenting regarding me and my sister—that “parental introjection,” to cite Freud.

    I have my counseling appointment this Tuesday, and I will bring all these cogent points you have made with me to the session, Anita. They are truly insightful and have given me a different way of approaching things with this new counselor. A better foundational starting point since this is only our second live, in-person session. Again, thank you so much for putting so much into my, and others, board posts.

    #366594
    Ry
    Participant

    Anita,

    I have been attending therapy off and on for nearly 15 years, and this is one of the most insightful and eye-opening analyses I’ve ever read about myself. I’m rather flabbergasted as I sit here and process what you’ve deduced. It is late here but I just wanted to say thank you and I will write a proper response in the morning.

    Ryan

    #366535
    Ry
    Participant

    Good morning Anita:

    Thank you for replying even though I’m sure it was late there…

    I agree with you and with Rose: I think my ex has defined “friends” and I need to accept and let go. I tend to romanticize things, which is the reason I felt a bit excited when she mentioned visiting next summer for a road trip through the mountains. I “romanticized” it, not in a romantic sense, but more in the vein of reminiscence. We took so many trips in the hills and mountains of the DC area, that the idea of another trip with her would remind me of happier, more carefree times–even though we both knew those times were shortlived.

    She laid things bare when she returned home last December (after I helped her move out of her apartment and the ill-fated Christmas party):

    It’s not that I don’t miss you but things just have to be different. I don’t mind having you as a part of my life, but we broke up months ago. I know we were still close and I let lines blur sometimes, but it doesn’t change the facts; we aren’t a couple, we are friends. It’s not that I’m mad at you for how things were left last week, but it was very clear that there needs to be a definitive separation between us. I can’t go to Italy with you. I can’t do a road trip with you to move your stuff. I can’t do a weekend with you in the mountains for my birthday. You didn’t want to make the full commitment to me but you also struggle with this being just a friendship. I didn’t have the ability to put my foot down on the line between us when I was in DC, but now I can/must. I really didn’t want to talk about this. I just wanted you to take the facts and the hints and let the friendship settle where it will. But you continue to push for romantic settings, and I’m not sure how else to easily let you down. I don’t hold resentment towards you but I also don’t hold any romantic feelings for you.

    Granted, things were still raw then but the walls she put up remain. Certainly, I would welcome a visit by her–and hopefully her son–next summer, but what are the chances of that? We could still be in the midst of the pandemic, she could be even more involved with her current beau (or a new one), I could be involved with someone, I could move… There exist too many variables to pin my hopes on a visit that may or may not happen. And, yes, I think she does hold deep and powerful feelings for me, but she stuffed them down to cope and survive. My ex has had a contentious (to put it mildly) relationship with her father. This is part of as series of texts she sent after she’d asked her father to send some books to her in DC, and he flipped out when he could not find them:

    I don’t want the day to come that he’s gone forever and I’d wished I was there more. But it is so hard to love someone like that. To let him be a part of my life. To let him have an influence on my son. I know now I can’t leave my son with him. I can’t trust his anger and I can’t… I don’t know. But I don’t want to look back and feel I deprived him of that relationship.

    My mom always gives me shit for being someone I’m not. Being tougher than I am. Having walls and being cold. Because when I finally let go of that shit, I finally wear my heart on my sleeve again it gets shredded every time. Every fucking time.

    And I believed in [my son’s father]. I believed in every person who’s ever hurt me. Even after they hurt me. I want so bad to call [my son’s father] and see if he’s ok, tell him he doesn’t have to be ashamed and just say upfront what he actually wants. But I know he won’t and I know I can’t. And I know he doesn’t deserve it.

    But it is my own security that I think everyone will hurt me. Including you. It’s probably why my relationships never work because I mentally set them up for failure at the start.

    I just have so much hate inside sometimes and I get so angry but it’s all trained. I wasn’t like that as a girl. But the more pain I go through the more hate and anger I hold and sometimes I just blow my top and then I hate myself. I hate myself so much because I’m such a good person by nature, but I’ve choked the life out of that girl for so long. And now I can’t get it back. And I hate that I’m raising my son with this angry person. (Referring to her father.)

    I’ve worked hard to make myself a better person. And to love who I am but I just can’t. Because I eventually explode every time and I’m reminded I haven’t changed for the better at all. And I’ve worked hard for nothing. To mask the person I’ve become. It’s not real change. It’s like putting a fresh coat of paint on a dilapidated house.

    This is my fresh start. A reminder that no matter how far I run I can’t escape me. I still yell at at my son, throw things, lose my cool. You don’t understand the level of anger that resides in me, Ry. I’ve tried not to let you see it. You’ve seen some of it recently, but it’s like another person. The rage makes me shake and I could honestly kill someone without a second thought until I’ve calmed down.

    While she tried counseling in the past and while we dated, she did not in DC—when she probably needed it most. And to be honest, this was a large part of why I could not see myself in the relationship long term. Perhaps it was selfish of me, but while I loved her, I did not want to deal with the seething anger. Yes, much of the time, it was stifled, but it was always there.

    And for the reasons she mentioned in the text chain above, she will only allow me to occupy a cursory part of her heart and her life. No matter how deep the connection is, she will keep any vulnerabilities hidden. She won’t ever call to say how much I meant to her, or how important I was to her and her son. She has said those things and they are buried now. I must learn to move on or accept the perfunctory nature of our relationship.

    #366525
    Ry
    Participant

    Rose,

    Again, thank you for taking the time to reply. It means so much to have a dialog here. 🙂

    Yes, you are correct too. I feel that I enjoyed the familial aspect of the relationship: I enjoyed doing things with my ex and her son. I think what I miss now is the friendship that was. Granted we were in a relationship, but even after things ended early last year, we were still close (because we were all the other had).

    I think what stings is that she moved back home but we still texted/called regularly. Then, she came back in early December 2019 to move the stuff in her apartment back home with her mother. Once she left, the switch flipped, and she became cold—her “walls went up.” She flew back a week later for a holiday party, and while I was her date/guest, she hardly interacted with me. Then, when I flew home for Christmas and visited her and her son, she largely ignored me while I played with her son. I knew, and she had admitted, that she was angry with me—and had every right to be. So, I guess I grieve the potential that may have been there, or I feel shame for hanging onto the relationship as long as I did. I’m not quite sure.

    I have made a lot of progress with “letting go” these past few months. Her having a boyfriend certainly helps. When I analyze my emotions, I think letting go is what I struggle with. Not so much in the sense of letting go of the romantic relationship, but rather letting go of the connection and the friendship. There was so much that we did for one other and there was/is a powerful connection there. I want to remain friends, but at the same time, I don’t want a casual friendship where we aren’t able to keep the connection. Nothing sexual or romantic but I miss the intimacy of being able to talk about things beyond the superficial. Something more than, “How’s the weather there?” Not sure if this makes sense but I’m struggling to explain it better.

    I have another counseling appointment next week. I continue to work on “me,” and have been, so I do see my value. I don’t think my feelings for my ex are holding me back. While I would like to meet someone to combat the loneliness, I know that I am not in a position to have a relationship. I need to fix myself before I jump into something else. I’m not entirely happy in this new job and this town of 30K leaves a lot to be desired (especially in the small dating pool/puddle). I’m more concerned with my own needs right now and really cannot focus my energies on anyone else.

    #366519
    Ry
    Participant

     

    Hi Anita,

    “You are beyond words. The best person that has walked into my life besides my son.” -My ex, Sep 30, 2018

    I really have not given any serious thought to rekindling things with my ex. There are fleeting moments here and there when I imagine moving home, but I do not feel that I would be truly happy with her long-term. We would both have a lot of work to do, and I think she tried to make it work as long as she could. I was not willing to make the commitment, as I never just through the was the one for me. I dealt with an ex who dealt with severe mental health issues and I don’t think I wanted to partner with someone who dealt with unresolved issues—especially when I battle my own. This may be selfish on my part but it’s honest.

    While I think she loves me, she put those “walls” up and pushes aside the “what if’s” or “what could have been’s.” You asked if she blogs? No—at least not publically. Most of my quotes are from text messages or emails (where we did most of our serious talking). This is a text from May 2018–about four months before I left for DC:

    And there’s limited commitment with us – for understandable reasons. But it doesn’t make it any less difficult to wonder if I’m determined to make this work… I don’t know. I don’t have the right wording here. It’s just – I refuse to throw all of this away when you move. And I know you don’t see the move as a break-up either, but you also say you don’t know what’s going to happen. And of course we don’t know what’s going to happen, but the anxiety of that response without a “but we’re going to do everything we can to try” as a follow up to that really…. puts a knot in my throat. This really isn’t the best way to talk about this, I know but if you really want to know the truth I examine almost everything I say because I don’t want to fuck this up. I don’t want to scare you, I don’t want to lose you, I don’t want you to hold back in this relationship because you fear hurting me. So I keep quiet and I’m as careful as possible about letting my emotions and intentions out.

    She truly saw something special in me and in our relationship. And while I saw qualities in her I admires, and pushed her to achieve new goals, I did not see a lifetime with her. I should have been honest with her, but I did not know for sure at the time and I did not want her to pass up the opportunity for a new life in DC. And as I said before, my bond with her son perpetuated the relationship longer than it naturally should have lived. This is just one of the heart’s filthy lessons I suppose.

    As for your initial question, I don’t know how long I’ll be a part of her son’s life. I still buy him the occasional gift or clothes and talk to him whenever I can. However, if things grow more serious with her current beau, she may find less of a reason for her son to talk to me (regardless of what she’s said in the past). And, eventually, I’ll end up in a relationship. It’s difficult to say if I’ll devote as much energy in trying to maintain a relationship with him, when it often feels like a one-way street with his mother. This is a Feb 2019 text from her—a month and a half after she arrived in DC:

    My concern is that you are in a different relationship than I am. Whenever I talk about my future it’s to make things better for three of us – me, my son, and you. When you talk about my future is to make things better for me and my son. This is more why I feel like a project than any gift that you give me. You want to make life/future better for me with no expectation of being in my life in the future. At least not in the capacity I envision. This wasn’t necessarily a conversation I was looking to have now or via text, but there’s going to come a point in the near future that we need to have a frank discussion about our relationship. You’ve always avoided talking about it. Even at the beginning you said things like “oh, you said the C word”. Taking it as a joke, as it was mostly intended, I didn’t think much of it until we are more than 1.5 years into a relationship without any real discussion about our future. And I’ve been patient because you were working on moving here- things will be better when he moves. Things will get better when I move there. Things will get better when he moves out of his friend’s place. Now things will get better when you get a different job. And by better I don’t mean our relationship will be perfect but just that you can take a minute to think about us and our future rather than just yours. And now your search for a new job is taking you anywhere, but when I say I’m willing to move and follow you your silence and tiptoe around the conversation echoes so loudly in my universe. I want a family. I want a partner who is committed to making a future with me- working toward something together while still working on our individual selves. And based on a comment the other week, I believe you are in this relationship for my son. You love him and he loves you. You love helping people and it brings you joy, so who better to help than a helpless, amazing little boy whose father has abandoned him and whose mother had a lot of room for growth. And I believe that you think if you and I are not a couple that your relationship with my son will disappear. I’m here to tell you that’s not the case. He needs good, male influences and I’m not going to deny him that in you just because you and I aren’t romantically involved. You’ve even said to me “You’ll always be my friend.” Ouch. But true. I don’t see any reason why we can’t be friends especially since we are all we have out here. And I can’t see why we can’t be friends with benefits on occasion. But we will have to decide what exactly our relationship is or is going to be because my heart needs a rest. My brain needs a rest. I cannot go on guessing and wondering and hoping. If we are meant to be friends, then great! I’d love that. If we are meant to be more then we need to talk about our future. And I’d love that too (btw)! But, full disclosure, I hold a solid resentment toward you for moving into that place. And I’m sorry this topic is coming out like this but you’ve kinda opened it up a bit with your last texts and it seemed like you wanted a response and I just respond in a neutral way when these words have been ready to burst for a bit now.

    I wish my being in your life gave you more fulfillment. Me moving to DC was not just for you. I needed a change, I needed to explore, I’m getting a little better but I’ll likely be back home next year.

    You’re a lot of good things for me. You encouraged me to get a masters, you’ve helped support me financially and emotionally for the last almost two years. I’m not heartbroken – I can’t be mad at you for not falling in love with me. It sucks that I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic and I need those three words. You show affection and love, whether you want to see that it’s love or not. But I need the words of affirmation. You’ve been good to me in a lot of ways. And we have a lot of good memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’m glad I’m out here and I’m glad you have been in my life in the capacity that you are. There’s no need to apologize so profusely. You do need to start seeing a counselor. And you need to go to the gym. And you must change your inner voice. All I can do is offer the ways I change mine whenever I start heading south or hit rock bottom. I still struggle with being a single mom and there are days I hate myself so much for having a kid. And I hate my son. Then the next day I hate myself for hating myself. Some days I wish I had no emotions so I wasn’t on this constant emotional roller coaster. But it all boils down to keeping a better inner voice. Don’t be so worried about helping me and apologizing to me–help you and apologize to you.

    Full disclosure, I knew things weren’t rainbows and butterflies when we talked just before I got the official offer from the consulting firm. But, the real question was – with or without you in the picture, would I regret not taking the opportunity? The answer was yes. I knew it would be hard. I knew I would miss home. Shit, I had a pretty good idea that we wouldn’t make it to the end of my lease. But I couldn’t live with the regret of not moving from home for a little while – the opportunity passed me up twice before and I wasn’t going to do it again. So don’t beat yourself up. It’s all good. And I’m out here if ya need someone and when you need to get into a different space, and my son and I are always around.

    Things soured a bit after this, and while we had many fun experiences together there in DC, there were many moments when she was angry at me, depressed, lonely, and all of the above. She needed to cut me loose and she did last year. Her son is almost a year older now, and my ex seems to be in a better stop mentally, so I think she is not as angry as she was (and things with her son are better for them both). Her mom and step-dad get him every Friday night and he spends time with her beau.

    #366467
    Ry
    Participant

    To address your points, Anita…

    No, my ex is a very non-materialistic person. Well, at least she was with me. I was very generous with gifts, and it would make her uncomfortable on occasion because she did not know how to express her gratitude. I think the point I was trying to make is she typically only calls when she can use my help or wants to vent to someone. Help in the sense of assisting with her resume or job application, or to vent about work, etc. She has never (pre- or post-relationship) asked for money or gifts. She values time and experiences.

    And, no, I do feel I hold any anger toward her for seeking a partner or at least a relationship. It helps to quell the lonliness. She was lonley much of the time in DC, when I was working and in school, so I cannot berate anyone seeking contentment. Especially in this crazy year of social isolation. Thing the “sting” was more of an excitement about possibly doing an “adventure” again–as we used to call them. While she was largely alone in DC, I made sure that we did something nearly every weekend. We put many miles on our feet and my Jeep exploring DC and the surrounding area. Those are some of my fondest memories, and the “sting” came in believing they may happen again in the future if she is single.

    I am not going to pursue things with her for a few reasons. First, I need to work on myself. There are things about me I need to get a handle on (depression, a sense of purpose, opening up to others, etc.) before I pursue another relationship–or consider trying to rekindle things with my ex. Second, I want her to be happy. Even if it is not with me. She mentioned that she and her current beau were very open and honest from the start–something she and I were not. Which surprised me when she called a few weeks back, and in the conversation, mentioned that they had a fight. She was vague but she was making dinner and he was over and wanted him to help start the water in the shower so her kid could bathe. Either he didn’t want to or didn’t figure out that he needed to help? Not sure but I believe he was unsure if he wanted to take a paternal role in the relationship. (Not entirely sure but things are apparently better now? My concern is that another man will enter her son’s life only to possibly disappear. And he may not have the desire to remain in it as I have. However, that is something she will have to grapple with if/when the time comes. And who knows? Maybe they are meant to be?

    The “happiness” I worry about compromising maybe isn’t happiness at all? Perhaps it was more of a longing and regret that I’ve been working to overcome. I truly love her son and my relationship with him likely caused me to stay with her longer than I should have. I saw DC as a new start for me, and when she showed up, I felt pressure to take care of her. To make sure she had groceries or got out of the house on the weekends. Sadly, not in the time and proximity dimensions she so desperately wanted. She finished grad school last summer and made a good friend at work, so there were a few weekends I did not see her. I was still in grad school, so it’s not as though I had any time to date, even if I wanted to. Any desire for that would have felt, for me, like a slap in her face. Now that it’s been 6-months since I’ve finished grad school, and being isolated, alone in a new town, this perpetuated and intensified my feelings for her. I don’t know, Anita. Most of our conversations were always so easy and effortless–to include her calls now–part of me wishes I could have allowed myself to embrace the relationship in a deeper, more meaningful way.

    Ryan

    #366426
    Ry
    Participant

    Thank you, Anita. I cannot express how wonderful it is to myself (and others) to have this interactive forum. 🙂

    #366390
    Ry
    Participant

    Anita:

    The previous few times she’s called (FaceTimed), she has called to discuss work or something related. Of course, she FaceTimed tonight to initially ask about some pre-K books that her family and I purchased for her son. This led to about a 45-min talk about work, goals, our vehicles, her son, etc. He was on the sofa with her so I was able to chat with him, which is great. It felt good to talk to her–it’s very easy and natural–and she mentioned coming up next year to doing some off-roading in the mountains her. However, she did mention her son learning to swim in her boyfriend’s pool over the weekend, so any hopeful notions were swiftly negated. All in all, it was a good conversation between…close friends?

    Don’t get me wrong, Anita. I know the relationship is over and I’m finding myself more accepting of it. There will remain the sense of loss–moreso when I see her son and how tall he’s grown in the 8-months since I’ve seen him. While my ex and I were instrumental in pushing the other to be better, for her it was all or nothing. Who knows what the future holds? I’m not referring to reconciliation, but rather, perhaps I can continue to contribute to their lives in a sense…as long as I don’t compromise my own happiness.

    #366345
    Ry
    Participant

    Thank you and I am, Anita. I’m certain that the move to a new town and the pandemic that brought upon the isolation allowed me to grieve more than I should have. I’m certain the FaceTimes and chats with her son only prolonged my longing. However, the past few weeks have brought some realizations that she and her son are a part of the past. She stopped making an effort for her son and me to continue to have any sort of relationship, and she truly only calls when she needs something. Lessons we’re learned and growth has slowly occurred.

    Ryan

    #366316
    Ry
    Participant

    The yelling, or at the very least, the general frustration with her son was the primary red flag for me early in the relationship, Anita. My ex suffers from depression and anxiety, but it seemed so often her frustrations poured over onto her son. He was a toddler, and that isn’t easy, but everything just always felt so frustrating for her. She claimes that she yells/fusses/etc. at him much less now that he is older (he about 4-1/2 now). Perhaps things are better in her life but I know there are moments of frustration still. As she used to tell me, “Thick skin is required in this family.”

    And, now, I do not feel my lack of a physical presence is his life is damaging him. He has his mother and stepfather there to dote on him. Now the distance is more damaging to me, as I know there are times when it’s jsut the two of them there when she could have him call. Oh, well.

    Ryan

    #366305
    Ry
    Participant

    Hi Anita:

    Yes, and thank you. I will continue to share here as I work to address/resolve these issues as best I can. I want to ensure–as best as I can–to have healthy and happy relationships in the future.

    And, yes, I’d say anger is an accurate emotion. While I wish that she would focus on herself and her relationship with her son, we split up early last year and remained friends due to our proximity and truly having only each other. However, I cannot fault her or be angry for her seeking companionship and happiness in her own way. Father’s Day did upset me but her mind is elsewhere and that is okay too I suppose. However, the lack of any true semblance of involvement with her son does make me angry. Primarily because she said how much she wanted my relationship with her son to continue. However, the fact that my ex only calls when it concerns something she needs speaks volumes about my future relationship with her son.

    #366295
    Ry
    Participant

    Anita and Rose:

    First, that you so much for taking the time to reply. It was nice to get something return when I scream into the ether.

    To your point Anita, yes, I feel that I have traditionally “gravitated” toward the loving part of my relationships but kept the deeper connection at bay so I could control the rejection. This, of course, would typically fail and cause me more pain, because when the time came that I chose to reject the woman and end things, I was emotionally invested and would grieve more when the feelings that remained were unrequited. It is obvious that these women must protect their hearts, so why would they give anything more to me once their heart has been broken?

    And, Rose, I certainly do not disagree with your perceptive impressions. I foolishly thought there was something deeper there. And maybe that’s on me? Maybe there was/is but, as she once said to me, “I’ve learned to protect myself and rebuild my walls once I start seeing red flags.” I believed that even though I could not make the commitment to her that she wanted, we had built a deeper friendship at least; however, either she does not want that, or she is not emotionally mature enough to have that.

    I think the turning point in feeling ashamed of the mistakes I’d made, and grieving for what I thought I saw through clouded lenses, was this past Father’s Day. I had sent her a gift and a card for Mother’s Day—even texted her in the morning wishing her a happy one. When Father’s Day rolled around a month later, I got a text at 9:00 at night. “I’m an asshole. Happy Father’s Day! Sorry, just forget you have your daughter sometimes because she’s so grown.” My ex spent a lot of time with my daughter, so this was a real punch to the gut. Granted, she had begun seeing her latest beau in late April, so perhaps she did not owe me anything more than that? She tried to date two people shortly after she returned home, and has dated her current beau for a few months now, so I do not think she is comfortable being alone and simply focusing on her son.

    And perhaps there is a part of her that is jealous of the relationship I had/have with her son? My ex would try to allow him to call me during the height of quarantine but that has dwindled now, which may be best for him long term? My ex’s mother and stepdad still text photos of him just about every weekend when he spends the night with them, but we do not have any regular interaction. I do know a large part of my grief was losing him in a sense and knowing that while she claims she wants him and I to continue to have a solid relationship, she has done little to maintain that.

    I have been working with a counselor for a few months now and have focused on the issues you two identified above. I know that if I continue to put in the work on myself, any future relationship (with the right, emotionally mature woman) will be that much better. While I miss intimacy and sex, I have purposely not sought any relationship here. (Un)Fortunately, being in a town of fewer than 30,000 people—in the middle of a pandemic—helps to make meeting someone that much more difficult.

    Again, thank you both for your replies. I am beyond grateful to know I am not alone.

    #363675
    Ry
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Thank you for responding with such an extensive reply…

    Yes, my connection with her sweet son certainly helped to break my walls of disconnect and withdrawal. I had a purpose with him as a playmate, teacher, protector, and father-figure. I’ve known him for nearly threequarters of his life, so that makes the distance even harder.

    What the relationship with my ex taught me is how paramount it is to be open and vulnerable with a companion. That is something I simply must work on with my therapist, as I cannot continue to hurt women (by my coldness) and I do not want to end up alone in life. I enjoy and am much better when I have a companion in this world.

    -Ry

    #363671
    Ry
    Participant

    Hi and thank you for taking the time to reply twice, Brandy.

    Yes, I agree that I should break off contact… Our communications largely consist of her sending the occasional banal text about work–we used to work in the same organization before the move to DC–or she’ll share a TikTok on every other day or so, or a Snapchat every week or so. She made it clear that we would exist as friends about 6-weeks after she returned home (after she had flown back up to attend her former organization’s Christmas party, and I was her guest):

    “It’s not that I don’t miss you but things just have to be different. I don’t mind having you as a part of my life, but we broke up months ago. I know we were still close and I let lines blur sometimes, but it doesn’t change the facts; we aren’t a couple, we are friends. It’s not that I’m mad at you for how things were left last week, but it was very clear that there needs to be a definitive separation between us. I can’t go to Italy with you. I can’t do a road trip with you to move your stuff. I can’t do a weekend with you in the mountains for my birthday. You didn’t want to make the full commitment to me but you also struggle with this being just a friendship. I didn’t have the ability to put my foot down on the line between us when I was in DC, but now I can/must. I really didn’t want to talk about this. I just wanted you to take the facts and the hints and let the friendship settle where it will. But you continue to push for romantic settings, and I’m not sure how else to easily let you down. I don’t hold resentment towards you but I also don’t hold any romantic feelings for you.”

    I know she’s coping with things too. She has the benefit of going to work and having family nearby, so that’s helpful for her mindset. And her son actually FaceTimed me today for the first time in months. He was at her mom’s home, so I guess he felt free to call. Only a few minutes but it was sweet to have a conversation with him.

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