It finally happened: I ran across the Boy on Tinder. Before the huge explosion that was the end of our interactions on New Year’s Eve, he had said something about joining, and had even asked if maybe I’d help him take pictures. He’d made this request of me before, but like almost all of his suggested activities, it never came to fruition.
Even after I reminded him that he’d asked me and offered. Even then he refused…
He should have accepted my help.
That’s not to say the pictures weren’t good ones. I’d seen them before, but he’s taken better ones. They all felt posed and disingenuous. And what he’d written was so bland and unappealing that it didn’t exactly take a lot of convincing for me to swipe left instead of right.
But a little bit of damage was done.
It was a moment, just briefly, where I fixated and thought about how perhaps I should have swiped right to see what would happen.
After all, once upon a time, I swore that I would swipe right because of how I felt about him. I was very convinced for a very long time that he was my soulmate, but that we’d met at the wrong time in both our lives and that if we could just get back to the comfortable place, we could go down the path we were meant to go down…
Damn my belief in signs! Just the day before I ran into him on Tinder, my blog had an unusually busy day getting quadruple plus more hits than usual, but by the same number of people as usual. The last time that happened, he’d been offshore and read my blog to catch up and see what he’d missed. Then a very few days later, on Christmas, he’d sent me that really interesting apology.
You know, the one where he didn’t apologize for his actions, just the result.
Which is to say he never saw that there was anything wrong in his actions, and therefor nothing would ever change.
It took me a really long time for that particular fact to sink in. If he wasn’t sorry for his actions, then he would never be willing to change them. And if he was never willing to change them, then yes, he was going to hurt me over and over and over again.
Which is pretty much what happened.
The times that he would make a change in his actions, he’d make sure to tell me to make note of it, to let me know that “see?” he did do the things I accused him of never doing. Which told me that he was doing them just to prove a point, and not that they were at all genuine.
It comes down to a matter of perception. He had actually pointed it out to me once that he didn’t really see what I was upset about. He didn’t believe that he did the negative things that I accused him of, but he was beginning to realize that it didn’t matter if he saw them, because he felt that I truly believed them, and therefor there wasn’t anything he could do about it…
He most certainly COULD have done something about it! A relatively simple thing, in fact.
See, what I was really looking for was for him to acknowledge that my feelings were valid. For him to actually hear what I was saying and realize the way he was belittling me. The way he would do little things that would initially seem innocuous, but as they continued to happen would begin to make me feel unimportant. I was looking for him to acknowledge that it wasn’t just me being a “crazy female,” but that it was a rational reaction to his continued
mistreatment treatment of me.
I would repeatedly tell him how a thing would make me feel, hoping that one day he would understand that I needed him to just try. To show me that I mattered even a little bit. He had, once upon a time, valued me enough to rearrange his schedule to come meet me and a friend of mine. On more than one occasion, actually, because he did it a second time to meet my mother… though by that time we were just barely hanging on as friends the first time around.
Then today, one of the first things I saw when I woke up was an article, written by a man, explaining the very thing I had been trying to show the Boy for so long.
Three Christmas Breaks later, when I still haven’t received the mix CD he promised me, and mingled with the dozens (probably more like hundreds) of other little slights that he didn’t see as wrongnesses, I had become fed up with his inability to actually see the ways (yes, plural) that he told me I was unimportant, and I gave up.
Two weeks later and it seemed like maybe he was checking out my blog (I don’t know anyone else who would look at so many posts in a single day), and the following day I run into him on Tinder.
Less than a week later I come across an article about a man who’s wife divorced him for not putting his dishes in the dishwasher…
And it sat in my heart. All. Day. Long.
Was it a sign? Should I not have given up so easily?
Don’t get me wrong, I did my job; I taught my kiddos. I continued as if nothing of import had happened, because, well, I have to accept that no, nothing important did happen. Sign or no sign, he’s not likely to change for me. If he couldn’t change for me when he was attracted to me, why would he change for me now that he despises me?
And I most certainly did NOT give up easily! I walked away after a two month depression that nearly got me evicted and then gave him a second chance because he came back! I fought with him for nearly a year to try to make sense of it because even though he’d apologized, he was still doing the same things: not acknowledging my point of view, not giving me whole truths, not considering my feelings in his dealings with me. Not making good on broken promises and denied gifts.
I gave more of myself to him than I’ve ever given to anyone, and he didn’t appreciate it or care. He couldn’t tell me that I was important or pretty or just be cordial to me. He did exactly what the man who wrote the article said a man would do, which was dig his heels in and stand his ground because he thought what I was asking for was silly and irrational, not that it was symbolic of him respecting me and my opinion and my very existence, for that matter!
So I did something probably dumb. I wrote him an email. I thought I had deleted all of my correspondence from him and blocked him, but it turns out that because I saved the last letter (the one in which I told him I was very most certainly through with him, and why) to remind myself any time I had the very doubt that I had today, because I saved that letter, I had his email address still and could send to him the article and point out how much worse his hurts were than a man not putting his cup in the dishwasher. Not even a ton of dishes, just a cup. Repeatedly not putting a cup in the dishwasher.
That’s it. Something that, according to the author, would take maybe 4 seconds. And he got angry that his wife would make an issue out of it, but he didn’t realize, as the Boy never has, that what it says is that winning that one silly argument was more important to him than his wife.
Or at least that is how she would see it, because it was something that was a pet peeve, or a trigger, or whatever you want to call it. That was the thing that let her know that he did not value her opinion. That was the thing that ate at her.
What ate at me was a long and lengthy list. Beginning with him not telling me that he felt like we were moving too fast, but instead telling me he didn’t want anything serious and then completely shutting me out. Suddenly there were a gazillion things I didn’t know about him (while before, I thought we’d been on the same page), and as such I had questions. Just trying to rework where I fit in his grand plan, because I had never been that comfortable with another human being, ever. Never ever ever in my life.
That made him special to me, but suddenly I wasn’t special. I was just one of several. While I’d be talking to him at the exclusion of other people and other important things in my life (because he would talk to me ALL day long), he’d be talking to other people while he was talking to me.
I hadn’t known that.
And learning it made me feel very unstable, which I think is a valid reaction. Instead of acknowledging that my feelings on the matter were in any way acceptable, he told me I was making things awkward, and he shut me out more and more. Even as far back as that, he was denying my feelings.
And I let him.
He changed the pace of the relationship, with no input from me, no discussion. We went out when he wanted, we talked when he wanted, we watched, ate, drank, what he wanted when he wanted. We hung out with the friends he wanted me to know, while the ones who I later learned I actually liked and had things in common with were withheld from me because he didn’t want them to get the wrong idea (fast forward to 2 years later when he brought a married woman as his date to the thing he made me beg to go to).
He let me know in a million not so subtle ways that my opinion didn’t matter.
The fact that I went to hang out with people I was uncomfortable with because it was important to him, but he would only argue that it hadn’t been that important to him instead of acknowledging that I had made a sacrifice for him, let me know that my time didn’t matter.
The fight about the museum, where I wanted him to do something that was important to me, because I was constantly sacrificing my time and my comfort to do the things that he wanted us to do… Another reminder that my time, and my opinions, and things that were important to me didn’t matter.
The fight about one of my favorite movies (which he later enjoyed) because he didn’t want to try it, and it bothered me that he couldn’t just try it because it was something that I’d liked. He made me watch comedies (which we have already discussed are not great for me) and Star Trek (which, okay, yeah those I like, but not ALL the time!) and a handful of other things that he liked, but I had to practically cry to get him to try one of my favorite movies? My opinion was unimportant then, too.
Making me ask if he was in the mood for intimate time, then later telling me that asking killed the mood, made me feel vulnerable and undesirable, and let me know that my needs meant nothing to him.
Telling me he’d make me a mixed CD for Christmas and then not doing it because we’d had an argument, after I’d given him cufflinks with flashdrives in them (which everyone tells me is an AWESOME gift)… yeah, that made me feel very unimportant.
Cancelling our Valentine’s Dinner.
Drinking my birthday gift from someone else instead of getting me the flask he said he’d get me…
Making me beg to get the flask he said he’d get me,even though it is a completely impractical gift that shows that he doesn’t really know who I am or what is important to me.
Telling me that the way I watch movies is wrong.
Telling me that I am at fault for all the things that happened with us because if I hadn’t made him feel awkward then he wouldn’t have treated me that way.
Using me as a sounding board when things got really awkward with his girlfriend, the one he threw me away for, and then not taking any of my advice…
Making me watch as he held hands with a woman that he can never be more than just a toy for at an event that he had made me beg to go to two years before…
And yet, in his mind he has done nothing wrong…
He doesn’t like to hear it. He doesn’t like to see how he hurt me because to him it isn’t valid.
To him I am invalid.
And while it hurts with ever ounce of my being to remember that, I needed to go through it to remind myself that, signs or no signs, I cannot let him back into my life.
I deserve better. I deserve MORE. And I am better off without him.
Things have started looking up in my life (I bought a new car, made some new friends, am more focused at work), and I will not let him, or even just the possible idea of him, drag me back into a depression.