September 9, 2020 at 4:29 pm #366467
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.
RyanSeptember 9, 2020 at 5:05 pm #366468
I imagine that if you choose to resume the relationship with her, you will be in 100%, and be her son’s step father, or father, for as long as you live. I can’t imagine you doing otherwise. Am I wrong?
You shared notes that she wrote, some of them read like diaries, entries that were not addressed to you. Does she blog, and you copied one or more of her blogs in this or a previous thread?
Those were unusual writings, on her part, very deep, thorough, very thoughtful… didn’t go together at all, in my mind, with the image of a mother yelling at her child.
anitaSeptember 9, 2020 at 5:13 pm #366469AnonymousInactive
Ry, I am going to push back that I think you wanted something from this woman, or want something from this woman, that is not there within her personality to give to you. So yes, this is on us when we assume or when we hope that the person we pick is more mature, more this or that, than they are. We tend to ignore reality and we build up big false narratives in our heads. Now you are shocked that she only calls when she needs something. And you allow her to take up your time because it feels good in the moment and then when you guys hang up and it is silent from her, you feel awful. You want her to be someone she can’t be is my point. Now your choice is to stay hooked and stuck or decide to revise your perspective.
It may sound like I am blaming you but I don’t. Our only hope is to learn from these people and situations. How can we grow and gain our own maturity and internal strength if we don’t have these situations. But if we keep living in denial, then we don’t learn. You wrote: as she once said to me, “I’ve learned to protect myself and rebuild my walls once I start seeing red flags.” She said this loud and clear that she sees red flags in you or in your relationship. We have to get to the point of believing people when they tell us who they are and now they are. The struggle is learning to accept and let go. Until you accept and let go, there is not room in your heart for another woman because your focus is on her. And as long as your focus is on HER, you can’t change yourself for the things that need changing so that you can create a happy life. And it seems like she still keeps you on the hook, she doesn’t want you as a lover, but she calls you when she needs something. It feels like perhaps she is using you? But I don’t know, I just go by what you write. And this makes you so miserable and unhappy so it feels “wrong” to me. My goal here is to have you value yourself as much as I see your value. I want you to get out of the misery and embrace life again.September 10, 2020 at 4:08 pm #366519
“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.September 10, 2020 at 4:30 pm #366525
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.September 10, 2020 at 4:54 pm #366526
I understand better now. I could re-read this thread and the previous to understand better, but for now (I am not very focused at this time), what I understand- and let me know if I am partly correct- your fascination, perhaps, in regard to your ex is the image of you in her mind. It is almost as if you are a mystery to yourself, not seeing yourself clearly, and as she reflects the image of you, like a mirror, you are fascinated by it, trying to see it better (?)
And her son, the connection with him was special, for you and for him, it has been much simpler than the connection with her, much simpler. There was clarity there, you saw him clearly, he saw you clearly, nothing to explain, or analyze, or figure out.
She wrote to you that your (more than friends) relationship was not defined, and she said to you, “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 don’t see any reason why we can’t be friends… If we are meant to be friends, then great!”-
– I don’t think the two of you defined “friends” in the current circumstances. Working on a definition may lead to your heart and your brain being at rest.
anitaSeptember 11, 2020 at 6:45 am #366535
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.September 11, 2020 at 6:53 am #366536
I am currently putting together a post for you based on your two thread, it will take some more time before I submit it.
anitaSeptember 11, 2020 at 11:32 am #366547
In your two threads, you shared some objective information about yourself, such as your age (44) and how many times you were married (2), but the information I am looking for is your subjective experience of life, not the objective data. It seems to me that you went through life almost randomly, things happened (ex. “I married my child’s mother when I was 20 because it seemed like the right thing to do. Joined the military and got divorced… moving back home.. enrolled in college.. joined the AmeriCorps.. “, etc.) , you chose this, you chose that, but all along inside, you felt the same way, “Treading water”, and you did not having much insight into why and how you kept feeling the same way, no matter where you happened to be, and what you happened to be doing.
“for my ex’s, my practice at keeping my feelings and emotions at a distance.. She has a young son.. we had subsequently formed a strong bond.. I remained in the mindset that I was leaving but she saw a future together and wanted me to see it…. She found a place.. expected me to join her, but I never did… She was lonely and miserable.. She arrived back home in Nov 2019 and I arrived here Jan 2020.. She.. finally started a relationship with someone in April… she seems happy, and her child is close to family again.. Other than a 30-minute walk at night, I rarely go out except for the grocery store. I am lonely… I miss her child terribly.. it’s a bit of jealousy and loneliness that makes me pine for her now… I miss how strongly she believed in me and how much she fought to push me to see myself in a better light“-
– this is the key sentence which my last post to you is about: she had an image of you and you are attracted to that image, an image of a man who is worthy of someone else’s time and great efforts, including moving to Wash DC so to pursue a long term relationship with you, as she told you: “A large part of the reason I moved out here was because I was trying to solidify my building a relationship with you. A long term one”.
More about her image of you, she told you: “Don’t downplay yourself. R… how amazing you are, what a light in my day/ life you are.. how damn near perfect you are… please don’t find it so hard to believe that someone could be so overwhelmingly fond of you… You are beyond words the best person that has walked into my life”- this is not the image you have of yourself, not one that anyone in your childhood reflected to you. But she did.
You shared that you suffer from concentration issues for much of our life, that you were diagnosed with dysthymia in the past, a diagnosis elevated to recurrent major depressive disorder, a depression that is invisible to the people around you. “largely (I) feel mirthless.. Emotional withdrawal.. negative feelings about myself (and others to an extent.. I just remain flat… my walls of disconnect and withdrawal.. my coldness… I’ve battled depression for as long as I can remember. Introversion and a lack of self-esteem as a child, combined with an emotionally neglectful mother.. I was never close with my parents”-
You grew up without love, without a parent or anyone being very fond of you. You wrote: “For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with accepting love and embracing it”- you were not shown love as a child, not enough love to leave an imprint in you, so… nothing to embrace.
“Another issue is that my memories of my childhood are limited.. I cannot remember… My mother is often emotionally cool, so perhaps this plays a part in my issues?”- when childhood lacks love, we tend to not remember it. Notice: you asked if your mother being emotionally cool plays a part in your issues- this, to me, means that you have little insight into your childhood- a mother is most significant in her little boy’s life, and seems like you are not aware of this fact.
“I miss how strongly she believed in me and how much she fought to push me to see myself in a better light”- this is what you miss about your ex. She may have been the first woman in your life who strongly believed in you, who tried hard to be with you, and who wanted you to be okay inside.
She wrote to you: “You didn’t want to make the full commitment to me but you also struggle with this being just a friendship”- you were never interested in her long term (“I do not feel that I would be truly happy with her long-term.. I was not willing to make the commitment, as I never just thought thought that she was the one for me… I did not see a lifetime with her”), you are interested in her image of you and you want to keep that image alive.. I think you want to believe that this image is really you. And you are interested in her son.
You wrote about her son: “Nearly every time I’d visit.. when I would walk in the door of their place, he would run around and scream, ‘(My name) is here! Mommy, (my name) is here!!'”- you knew that his excitement seeing you was real, you knew he was truly happy to see you, that to him, you were a very important person, not the invisible boy you were as a child and onward.
You wrote about your ex: “I don’t think I wanted to partner with someone who dealt with unresolved issues”. She told you about one of those unresolved issues, her anger at her father. She wrote to you: “You don’t understand the level of anger that resides in me, Ry. I’ve tried not to let you see it… The rage makes me shake and I could honestly kill someone without a second thought until I’ve calmed down”.
I wonder about your anger, you expressed some anger at her, in your threads, but mildly so, nothing like her rage. But I wonder if there is rage within you that you repress so much that it leaves you flat and depressed. It seems to me that her sharing with you about her rage (while not raging at you or at her son) repelled you, as if the emotion of anger repels you, and you reject it in her as you reject it in you.
“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”-
– “a sense of purpose”, you wrote, living purposefully is different from what I suggested in the beginning of this post, that you went through life almost randomly. To live life purposefully, I think that you need more insight into your own childhood, and you need to connect with emotions you long buried, pushed down, including anger. Before you can open up to others, you need your awareness to be open to your emotions. You wrote early regarding your exes, that you’ve been “keeping my feelings and emotions at a distance” from them. But you have also been keeping your feelings and emotions at a distance from your own awareness.
Your feelings and emotions being kept away from your own awareness is keeping you flat (and depressed to one extent or another).
anitaSeptember 11, 2020 at 8:11 pm #366594
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.
RyanSeptember 12, 2020 at 12:50 pm #366614
I appreciate your words- they mean a lot to me. Take your time responding. I will be away from the computer for a few hours.
anitaSeptember 12, 2020 at 2:58 pm #366632AnonymousInactive
Ry, I admire you for knowing now is the time focus on yourself and working on your issues. This really is the key for most of us. Until we get to where we have greater self understanding or healing or have learned what we need to learn, we tend to make the same mistakes over and over. It is called being human. I see this woman as both pushing you away and also reeling you in. When people do this to their lovers or friends, it tends to make me think something just isn’t right with that person. So we want it, it is flattering and makes us feel lovable and worthy with the person who reels us in and then we are so very hurt when they push us away. Maybe we even think we need another person to complete us but this old movie phrase is nonsense. This makes us very unhappy because who wants to be pushed away once one is reeled in. No matter what, she has made it clear you are not the one romantically for her but she is happy to have you as “back up” or to “use” when she is lonely. You live in a tiny town and maybe this gives you the opportunity to step away from romance, as you said. This is very wise of you. When we fix our own issues, we will attract someone we can have a successful relationship with. It is hard to resist the pushing when our relationships are pushing us for more because it makes us feel good about us. But in the long run, sometimes we have to be pragmatic. I have a female friend like this and I finally decided last month to stop chasing the relationship because it is truly I push and she pulls away. Like you, I get the impression from what she says that my friend has friends she likes better, which is her right and all I can do is accept. For me, and for you perhaps, once we stop focusing on that which isn’t right for us, we can focus on other things. As long as we are tied to someone like this, doing the pushing and pulling routine, our minds are occupied. A potential new friend could walk into the room but we are not paying attention because our mind is on the difficult or unhappy relationship. If the relationship causes emotional pain, it isn’t right. We can’t fix other people, and you have tried your best. I do admire your willing to keep working on yourself. This is all we can do as perfection can’t be attained.September 13, 2020 at 12:53 pm #366667
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.September 13, 2020 at 1:22 pm #366669
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.September 13, 2020 at 1:30 pm #366670
You are welcome and thank you for your kind words.
You wrote: “I don’t know if I’d classify my life’s path as random… All these choices after.. were done in an attempt to better my life”.
In the conclusion of my previous post, I wrote to you: “To live life purposefully, I think that you need.. to connect with emotions you long buried, pushed down”-
I understand that you made the best choices possible using your rational thinking, but to make the best choices, to live purposefully, not randomly, we need access not only to our best rational, logical thinking, but also to our emotions. Our emotional going-on is a most valuable source of information and motivation, most needed so to make decisions that are best for us.
I am glad to read that you will proceed with therapy, hope it works out well for you!