Oh man….this one was so hard for me to read. Written in 2014, the woman I was then is barely recognizable compared to the woman I am today…but this…this is where she was born.
I stood up to him yesterday
I don’t know why…well, at least I didn’t know then…but I sent a text telling an ex that I was thinking of him. We’d broken up a few months ago, and as usual, per my pattern, I had initiated the breakup.
My pattern was pretty typical of a serial dater…fall hard, fall fast…only to discover that I had yet again, fallen into the trap of we were “meant to be”. I tried manipulation, I tried patience, I tried bending and twisting and contorting to get him to give me what I needed…what my heart cried out for…true love. And in return, he manipulated and stayed firm. He told me that I just needed to be patient and allow things to unfold, that he might eventually come around. Sure we could meet at a hotel for several hours and have mind blowing sex, but that was all he could give me. His life was way too complex for anything else, but maybe sometime soon he would be able to take me out on a date and spend time with me.
But ohhhh…those hours at the motel were magical. They were incredible and beyond the sex, we talked, we shared, we were on our own little island and I fell in love. He was amazing, as a person and as a lover. A single dad who put his kids first, an injured warrior in the battlefield of love, a man who had overcome so much and just needed someone to understand him and care for him, who needed those moments of tenderness to get himself through. He was a man who could take charge and who knew my body, who took me to heights I never dreamed possible.
When he told me early on that he was going to ruin me, I thought it was exciting. I hadn’t realized that he really meant it. He wanted to dominate, he wanted to control, he pushed me past the limits of all common sense, he pushed beyond my boundaries and I found myself compromising and bargaining and excusing when I shouldn’t have.
But finally, his inattention beyond the motel room got my attention. I soon realized that, were we to continue as we had been, he would indeed, break me. I sent him a long heart-wrenching email asking him to fully engage in a relationship, offering him a choice but telling him that I needed more. It took me hours to write it, to put it just so…to explain myself.
So I sent the email and I waited…and waited…and didn’t hear from him. I figured he must have decided to just move on, that I was too much trouble, too needy. After a week, he called me. Not to discuss our relationship, but to ask me for referrals for his business. He had received the email but never read it.
Never. Read. It.
And so the fight began.
I said I needed more and he became angry, he said I was ruining everything, that our relationship was perfect. I was dying inside, I was shattering and he said it was perfect. I told him that I knew he couldn’t give me what I wanted and that I had to move on. He said he had a customer and would talk to me later.
A couple of days later he sent me another text. He told me that he liked it when I was feisty and he could be ok with that.
I ended it as gently as I could. I told him, no, it wasn’t feisty, that I wanted more and I had to move on. He said he knew that I had met someone else and I could just go ahead and go.
Met someone else??
In a way, it was true. I had met myself in my darkest places. I had only come to recognize that as strong as I thought I was, I could still be overpowered by an ingenious, manipulative, powerful lover and it scared the hell out of me.
My heart ached. How could I be in love with someone so deeply and be terrified of him at the same time? Why did I compromise? Why had I yet again jumped into a relationship that was doomed? What was my attraction to emotionally unavailable men? Why did I have this sign on my head that said “pay as little attention to me as possible and I will fall for you, and follow you anywhere”?
Why in God’s name did I keep doing this to myself? Why, when I was so incredibly strong in every other area of my life, did I have this one point of weakness?
What the hell was wrong with me???
I decided to stop. I had been pursuing a relationship, getting into a relationship or recovering from a relationship since I was 18 years old. There had been two failed marriages, a whole bunch of weird and unfulfilling relationships and a ton of heartbreak over the past 31 years. I was exhausted. It was time to re-evaluate. It was time to just take a breath.
I learned a lot. I recognized that I had been following this pattern since childhood; that I had been taught to love in the wrong way. I had been unintentionally set up for failure. I had been taught to love broken people and to keep loving despite the fact that they would not return that love. I had been taught that I needed to keep loving in hopes that my love could cure them or fix them. These broken people accepted my love, and would give me just enough attention, in the midst of manipulation, to keep me dangling on the end of a string. I recognized the pattern and yet, I had followed it over and over again. Each time I told myself that it would be different this time…and each time, it ended up the same.
I recognized that I was broken too.
After a few weeks of soul-searching, I decided that I was better and that I could launch back out into the dating world; that I had figured my shit out and I was ok. I wanted to date again, I wanted to have fun but I had also decided that I was ok with being single and that I would stay that way until someone proved to me that it was worth not being single to be with them.
It worked for a while…I held my own…but then…
He seemed to be the right guy, he was kind, he was understanding, he wanted to get to know the real me. We talked for hours on the phone. He was passionate. We seemed to meet on so many levels. And I fell again.
I had a couple of other prospects, but this guy wanted to be exclusive. He seemed so right. It was easy to tell the others that I had met someone who wanted me to be his girlfriend. I figured it was miraculous and it was “meant to be”. He had this cool way of reminding me to eat and he would tell me “do what you’re told”. I thought it was cute. He called me often; he checked in on me, he helped me through some rough situations at home. But then one day he said that he didn’t want to go out and do things because it cost too much for gas. When I asked him about it later, he told me that I needed to be patient, that things would work out. I thought that perhaps my pattern was bailing before things had a chance to work out and maybe I did need to be patient. After all…this was meant to be…and maybe…maybe.
Later the same day, we were talking on the phone, and he was discussing something that I didn’t want to talk about. It was harmless really…just gross hunting stuff. I told him I didn’t want to talk about it and he kept it up. I talked over him playfully, and said “no, really, I don’t want to talk about this”. He continued. I said again that I didn’t want to talk about such things and he said “you’ll listen to whatever it is that I decide to talk about”
I said “nope” and hung up on him.
And never went back.
I realized that I had abandoned my common sense yet again. When I told him that I was going to date other people because I didn’t think he was ready to really be in a relationship, I should have stood firm. Unfortunately, I got caught up in this whole idea that he wanted me to be his girlfriend. I would be somebody’s girlfriend and that was alluring to me. The promise of a relationship was just too hard to resist.
I just shake my head at that one…it’s a carrot and stick proposition. It’s a lure, and it is accompanied by this whole “meant to be” trap.
I didn’t waste very much time beating myself up over it. I knew that all of this had served a purpose and that he had enabled me to walk away from some potentially disastrous situations with other men. I recognized that such things were necessary. There were also people that I still wanted to get to know. I reached out to those people and they were more than happy to pick up where we had left off.
I found it interesting that around the same time, some of my ex’s were also reaching out to me. One had a girlfriend, but wanted to meet for drinks and perhaps make out…I said no thank you. One needed me to help him with a situation, I said yes.
And then…for some unknown reason, I reached out to HIM.
I didn’t know why. I was shaky…my heart pounded in my chest. I had deleted his number long ago, but I knew that I could dig it out of my phone’s memory, so I did. I sent him a text and let him know that I was thinking about him.
An hour later, I received a text back “call me”
No “please”. Just “call me”
I sent a text back that I had things to do, but I would call that afternoon.
His text back was “call me asap”
I told him I was busy, and I’d call when I was done.
The initial phone call was weird and high energy. He told me that he knew I had found someone else and that I was only calling him now because we had broken up. Funnily enough, he was placing the blame all on me, it was my fault, I had strayed and now I wanted him back because I needed to be serviced properly. He was willing to forgive all of that because there had been no one like me since. He said I owed him. I told him that I didn’t owe him anything. He said he had to go and he would talk to me later.
Later that day, he sent me a text “so are you ready to make it up to me for breaking my heart?”
And so the manipulation began.
My best friend and roommate was incredulous. She asked me “why are you even talking to him??”
I told her that I didn’t know…but after a few text messages, it became clear to me. I had to stand up to him.
My pattern since childhood had been to bend and twist and contort, to bargain, to placate, to manipulate; to do anything I could to get what I wanted. I had never taken the direct route. I had never just said to a man “this is what I want, I am worth this”. I needed to stand my ground and I needed to stand up for myself.
I hadn’t planned it but somehow it needed to happen and so there it was.
He tried everything. He pulled out all the stops. He cajoled, he accused, he charmed. My body responded, I was shaky, I was excited. For the first time in forever, I ignored all of these things and listened instead to the inner voice that told me that I am worth so much more.
He wanted to go back to the way we had been. I told him no.
He said my manipulations were exhausting him. (I found that kind of funny…pot…kettle?? Really??)
I told him that it wasn’t my intention to manipulate and if he felt that way, I was sorry. I told him that I would not use sex to lure him into anything. I explained to him that the promise of the possibility of a relationship if we have sex is also a carrot and stick situation. I said that we didn’t need to play that.
And then I gave him the bottom line.
I told him that I am single and that I enjoy being single. I said that I would be dating other people, not to make him jealous, but just so we were clear. I told him that he that he could take me out on dates, or he could be friends with me or I could just walk away because I didn’t want to complicate his life. I told him there were no guarantees and that it was up to him.
He said “ok, friends it is”
And then added…”I don’t know why you had to ruin something that was so perfect”
I told him that my phone battery was dying (it was) and that I had to go.
I didn’t tell him that it had only been perfect for him…he wouldn’t have heard me anyway.
I walked away with a feeling of triumph. I felt like that simple (yet complicated…it always is with manipulators) act of standing up for myself and declaring what I wanted OUT LOUD, without compromise, with no guarantees, and with a willingness to have it rejected was what I needed.
And yes…I “loved” him, but I loved him from a broken place.
Standing up to him from a healed place and a place of strength gave me so much more than I could ever get in a seedy motel room.
Does this sound familiar…could this be your story? If it is, reach out for a complimentary session and let’s talk about it.