I’m so out of practice with writing these things down. I don’t know how it’s going to come out here. It’s always one thought tangled with ten others, and tackling one means branching out all the gnarly shit I need to think about.
There were three really big things I had to deal with this summer and fall:
- A complicated and broken relationship with my work and team
- My personal relationship start and breakup
- My really fucked up sleep cycle coming to a head
The thing taking up most of my attention from day to day is #2. I keep beating myself up about that. It’s something I feel like I should have long been over, and it’s hard to be kind to my own heart and mind.
I’m not going to unpack the relationship itself here now, but touch on what came before it and what I have to deal with after.
I keep telling myself it was only two months, but that wasn’t it. It was an intense two-month relationship with a 1-year precursor of familiarity, a very casual and unhurried build-up of at least 5 months, all of which resulted in a two-month relationship that had a definite “finally!” attached to it. All of that – the build up, the familiarity, that ease – was gone inside of a day. It has taken me months to really start to get a grip on how to get over it.
The start is addressing how I felt about relationships and my prospects for happiness in the first place.
Before this happened, I’d given up. In practice anyway. The last guy I was interested in and involved with couldn’t decide between me and another woman, which was not the first time I’d been in that situation. It was already a complicated before even getting to that piece. That was 7 years ago.
The following year, someone I’d known for a long time expressed feelings for me and, after wrestling with it, I said I didn’t feel the same way. I said I wanted to be friends and he cut off all communication with me immediately. Having been on the other side of this, I understood why he didn’t want to speak to me for awhile – at the same time, I lamented the loss of that relationship.
It was at that point that I decided no matter what I did I would not be able to grow my social circle in a meaningful way with people I cared for and who cared for me, especially as an introverted person with an already super tiny set of friends – themselves introverts I saw and spoke with infrequently – and that I would have to be content with a life of solitude. But in the back of my mind, I recognized that I, as a then-26 year old, had time to interact with people who would make me feel differently. I was surrounded by people who either met their partners when they were very young, or sometime in their late 40s and 50s. I understood realistically that relationships could take all kind of formats, even if I didn’t emotionally feel like possibilities that involved meaningful and long-term romantic interest, safety and faithfulness were out there for me.
By the time this last relationship came around, I’d formed routines around alone-ness, but that dependence on those routines for maintaining some type of meaning had long since been wearing thin. I wasn’t just an independent, solitary person getting on in my life without anyone else; I was alone and more often felt that way. At the same time, I’d found myself not just wanting someone physically around me, but appreciating the relationship-friendly displays I saw around me. Meaning, I was finally in a space where I could see those things – like people holding hands, or Valentine’s Day balloons – without being bitter about them. There was a maybe to it; maybe not today or tomorrow, but sometime. And in the meantime, it was great to see other people take part in those activities.
When he asked me out, it was perfect timing. We’d been around each other for a long time and both were already predisposed to being friendly. He worked in a place I considered my “escape,” the place I’d gone to get away from all the work shit and other things taking up my mental space. After two months, this highly affectionate, seemingly genuine guy who had just gone out of his way to celebrate our two-month anniversary and treated me like a stranger the next day came over to my apartment and told me he hadn’t been telling me what he was feeling after waffling about it and in a somehow exhaustive yet roundabout way that being together is not what he wanted. But I had to say it. And it was over. That two years of casual familiarity and safety was done.
At this point, we’ve been apart longer than we were together as a couple. Today is not the day I unpack all of what happened, but since it’s been over I can say I’ve realized and have been dealing in a pretty concentrated way the following:
- I’d internalized the fact that he said we would have each other to get through the winter, which has always been really tough for me. I’d taken that to heart and, right or wrong, I straight up resent him for not following through
- My safe space is ruined/off limits because he works there and our dynamic is messed up and the loss of it has been pretty devastating on top of everything else
- This is the fourth time I’ve been in relationship status with a guy who is weird and cryptic about another woman and can’t decide what to do between her and myself and
- There is no way I can put away what happened with him without dealing with all of my pre-relationship hangup shit
The upside of this moment is that I’m coming back around to the understanding that I can only be myself. I may not be able to fix anything else, but I can grow comfortable in my own skin again. At the same time, the truth is at my core I don’t think I will ever find a partner who will care about me and be there and stay there to express it, let alone love me in that way. I can hope these are the emotional spillings of a youngster fresh off a short tour on the relationship boat, but still, I cannot imagine love. And I can’t help but wonder if pursuing dating and relationships for the rest of my life is going to mean dealing with men who can’t make up their minds about what they want because I’ve rarely seen anything else.