I keep going back and forth as to whether or not I should write about this. I hesitate because I don’t want to give him any sort of vindication and also because when we dated, if you could even call it that, for a split second, he asked me to write a post about him. He had read some of my blog posts and asked me on several different occasions whether I would write a blog post about us, and what I thought our ending would be.
I told him I never write about romantic relationships while they are happening. I try not to write in the heat of the moment, but rather let things simmer and see where the chips fall so that I can provide as fair a perspective as possible and not write out of hot anger, heavy hurt, or blinding madness.
But, this isn’t about him. It’s about me. And I do want to write about it despite his curious request to have me write about us, or him, really. I found it a bit odd because no one has ever had the gall to ask me to write about them. At first I thought it was an incredibly vain, albeit a realistically vain, request. He readily admits is a shameless self-promoter, like any good salesman, which he is. Now, I have come to believe that it was probably more of a cry for help than anything else. As any human is, he is desperate to have his life validated. Unfortunately, he is going about it in a way that will bring him anything but validation, as most of us do when we are unable to fulfill our own basic needs and create our own sense of satisfaction.
I say a cry for help because I think he is fully aware of his predicament, even if he might not be willing to admit it. Unfortunately, despite what seem like attempts at trying, he doesn’t appear able or willing to really help himself. No one magically knows how to help themselves — they have to seek out help to help themselves and then be willing to work on themselves, for possibly the rest of their lives.
He may have also asked me to write a post about him, in part, because he wanted to know how I felt about him. I think he saw how much better I express myself through the written word than the spoken one, and since I wasn’t giving him any spoken validation, I needed to give him a written one. But I didn’t do it. I thought he knew how I felt without me having to say anything directly to him. But, apparently, he needed that reassurance, and I did not give it to him.
In any case, I found him and his background intriguing even if his request and other premature announcements made me a bit wary. I had been in a four year relationship that I had only recently, and finally, let go of — or, rather, he let me let go of it. I’ve never thanked him for that, but one day I hope I will. It had been less than four months since the break-up and I wasn’t remotely interested in re-entering into anything serious.
We had met at a friend’s fundraiser. He came up to me at the bar, asked what I was drinking, told the bartender he would have what I was having, and brought me over to meet his friends — he was there with a great couple, and that was that. Even though I was there with my sister, we spent a good portion of the night talking, and the five of us went out afterward.
He was British (it’s hard not to love their accent and be drawn in by it), and a pithy conversationalist, which I loved as well. When we spoke it felt like we were jousting in a combined production of Hamlet and Taming of the Shrew. Not that our dialogue was anything like that of Shakespeare’s, but that was the image conjured in my head when we were talking.
He was electric, fun, and more gregarious than me, which I rarely find in a guy. He literally spoke to everyone regardless of sex, age, beauty, and all the other factors, which I found endearing. Perhaps I should have been thinking that he might have been coked up. I don’t think that was the case, but, looking back there was a certain freneticness to his behaviour along attached to his earnestness and eagerness.
Needless to say I was hooked. Even though he didn’t look like the guy I typically went for — tall, dark, and handsome. I figured since it didn’t work out with the last one, his new looks and personality might be exactly what I was looking for, or needed at the moment.
His Aryan looks of blonde hair and blue eyes combined with a stout figure made him look like a rugby player who enjoys his pints and fish and chips. And his name, a name that I love, luckily was neither one of the names that my dating life oddly oscillated between. Another artificial bonus. At minimum, he was, at least, a superficial way to break habit and change my unsuccessful pattern.
But I really had no idea who he was or what he was about. It was obvious that he was charismatic, but if there’s nothing to support the charisma, then the veneer quickly wears thin. It was obvious he liked attention — who doesn’t? But I have come to learn that it is not the right kind of attention. It is a temporary enjoyment; an empty attention. A vacuous desire that breeds more of the wrong kind. The kind that makes Alice want to go down the rabbit hole.
Later that night, at a restaurant bar close by, he shamelessly flirted with both an embarrassed male waiter and three other girls. I wound up talking with the couple who were his friends since it was impossible to stay at his energy level the entire time. At first, I thought he was just having a good time and being incredibly outgoing. Looking back, I realize how unstable that kind of behaviour is, and how unsettling it made me feel. He was a human high. I felt “fuori di testa” or “outside the head”, but translations never give proper justice to the saying.
At the end of the night, at the third place of the evening, he pronounced to my sister that he was going to marry me. She just gave him a wry smile that encapsulated a “whatever” ”yeah, right” and “good luck with that one”. We all eventually went our separate ways. He had picked up some stragglers from the second bar, but after they left, he was the first to go home. He had hit a wall. His mood had dramatically downshifted. He went from being spiked full of air to utter depletion. Knowing when you’ve reached your limit is always a good thing. But, having experienced what he was experiencing, I should have recognized such a drastically unhealthy flip — between the extreme extrovert and the insipid introvert.
We exchanged numbers after I walked him out to say good-bye. He gave me what he called a schoolboy kiss (a barely there peck on the cheek) and was off into the night and into his own darkness.
I vaguely remember talking about going to see a movie the following day, and the next day I heard from him. He wanted to see Bond. I had already seen it. So we settled on Flight. He bought the e-tickets. The day was drizzling rain and we were both exhausted from the night before so it was a perfect day to go see a movie.
Instead, we wound up watching one at his place. He lived in the Village, where I have always wanted to live, and he had been on his couch practically all day, which sounded exactly where I wanted to be, so I was more than happy to go over.
His place was great (although I would have liked any place in the Village). The living room was enormous and sparsely filled with an L-shaped couch, an Ikea table, and an enormous flat screen tv, required equipment piece for any single man. The ceiling was high, the windows were tall, and there was a ceiling fan. I was in heaven. And we could order practically any movie we wanted, thanks to his Apple TV.
Externalities aside, the best part was that it immediately felt like we had known each other for years. Like we had been best friends forever. Like we were already in a couple’s routine. It was a feeling I had not felt since my first love, and that was years ago. There was familiarity paired with electricity. He was warm and welcoming and wonderful. I felt immediately comfortable and safe. Free to be me. He was like a cocoon I just wanted to wrap myself in.
There’s a saying I kept hearing in yoga class around the time I met him — to press down to lift up. It never made much sense for a while until one yoga teacher explained it a certain way — press down through your feet in order to lift up your upper body. How would pressing down lift you up, I wondered. So I didn’t try it. But when I finally did try it, it made lifting up so much easier. That’s how I felt with him and that’s what I wanted to do keep doing with him — pressing down to lift up. Because pressing into him felt so damn good.
But I didn’t allow myself to do that. I was still in protection mode from my last relationship that had left quite a scar. I wasn’t ready to make myself vulnerable yet and as wonderful as he made me feel I wasn’t able to get past a sneaking suspicion that somehow none of this was real. That it was too good to be true. That there was no way we could both feel like this, this quickly.
But, he did. Or so he said he did. Yet I didn’t believe him. I didn’t let myself believe him. He told me he really liked me. He told me he thought this could be amazing. He told me he didn’t really date that much. He told me everything I wanted to hear. Even his friends, who I wound up meeting on New Year’s Eve, told me how wonderful he was. They would fight to the death for him. They confirmed everything he said about himself. But I was still not convinced.
I had always been told that if something seems to good to be true, it probably is. I didn’t want to believe that saying. I wanted to be optimistic. So I ignored that little voice in my head and went along with him. He felt so good to be around — too good. But when we parted ways and after the high was gone, all I could think about was him and when I would get to see him next. I couldn’t concentrate on work. I couldn’t think about anything other than how amazing it felt to hang out with him. My head was spinning and my heart was pounding. My mind was in the clouds. Nothing could stop me. I was invincible. Maybe this is it, I thought. Maybe this is what I’ve been missing. Maybe I would get to experience first love all over again. He was a human drug.
But drugs and first loves are intense. They’re madness. Insanity. They’re a thrilling and terrifying roller coster ride. Did I really want that again? Absolutely not. What I wanted was a steadier love, a more grounded love. A love that is just as real, but without the lovesickness ando pangs.
So I went for runs, did yoga, did anything to get myself out of my head. But it wasn’t until I went for a spin class with a very good, old friend of mine who always gives sage advice and works hard at making sure she has both feet firmly planted into the ground. Kat, she said, don’t get ahead of yourself. She could probably tell I was a bit delirious from my encounters with him and that my excitement was the kind that can easily turn into despair if what you are excited about doesn’t come true.
Slow down, she was saying. Yes, slow down. That was exactly what I had been working on for the past year. To not get caught up in the future or tied down by the past. To take things as they come and not make any more out of it than what it is. To try not to become too attached to what I want to happen because it can easily change in an instant.
But when you’re with a guy who constantly jokes to random people whilst we were out and about that we just got married and when he is telling you he wants to have lots of babies with you and when he is showing you pictures of his nieces and nephews and sisters and parents and his quaint English village where his dad is a Vicar who is still madly in love with his wife who has become somewhat debilitated by a stroke, you can’t help but think that maybe everything you’ve fantasized about will come true. That you will get married to the man of your dreams, that you will have dual citizenship babies, hopefully with insanely cute British accents, that you might live between London and New York, that you are married to a man that is deeply in love with you and just wants to take care of you, especially when the two of you have an amazing time together, you start to get ahead of yourself.
Getting ahead of ourselves is perfectly normal. It’s whether or not we can come back to reality (to what is real, as they say in yoga) that matters. And sadly, so, so sadly, his words did not match his actions. A fellow Taurus and friend who I adore told me early on to “watch his feet”, which I did, and which I told him I was doing, to which he replied “what does that mean?” Perhaps I should have taken that response as yet another hint.
Despite his thoughtless behaviours, I still believe he is a genuinely good person. I just don’t think he is aware of the consequences of his actions. Nor do I think he is willing or ready to face what is truly haunting him. But that is his own battle to fight. I have my own. All I know is that the more I confront my own ghosts, the easier it becomes to live with them. To accept them, and move on. It is an incredibly difficult task; to untie those Marley chains from past, present, and future and un-scrooge our feelings toward them. It is a harrowing task, possibly a never-ending one.
I take on this work because I want to make peace with my ghosts. Be free of them. I don’t want to be beholden to things that are beyond my control. I want to take what was good, learn from what was bad, and move on with my life.
But he oscillates between two extremes — a really high high, and a really low low. I saw his high when we were out, and I saw his low the day we watched British comedies on his couch. I know it all too well. You go at such full speed to distract yourself from whatever it is you are trying to distract yourself from that when you stop, you crash. It’s like you are comatose. Catatonic. It is a hellish form of existence. It is purgatory.
I had been working so hard to get away from that place and I knew I didn’t want to go back there. I was afraid that if we were to be together I would get sucked right back in.
I had also learned from my last relationship that no matter how wonderful the guy may be, if he allows whatever he is battling to run his life and make him act strange, then it’s not worth waiting it out. I did that. For four years. Thinking it was going to get better, that he would get better, that he would get to where he wanted to be and then we could get to where we wanted to be. If I were still with him, I would still be waiting. And I am done waiting. Done waiting for someone to battle their own demons. I have my own monsters to befriend and it’s never smart to fight two battles at once.
So I let this take its course. I didn’t try to make anything of it. I didn’t force it to be something it wasn’t. I just let it be. And so it became nothing.
Helen Keller said, “When one door of happiness closes, another one opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
It’s not that I cared so much about the door closing, or perhaps I did because I saw such wonderful potential, but I’ve learned that if it doesn’t exist now, there’s no reason to hope it will exist in the future. So I had to let go of yet another romantic notion. But what was most bothersome was that he didn’t bother to close the door.
He just receded. The bombardment of texts died down, the emails with links to articles about why it’s great to date an ex-pat stopped coming, and the voice I rarely heard on the phone to begin with went silent.
I knew it was coming, but it’s still painful when it happens. And it lingers even more when someone decides to start something but doesn’t have the cojones to end it. It feels like a waste of time. Why bother starting something if you know you’re eventually going to fade away? Why waste your time treating yourself and someone else with such carelessness? Why regurgitate sweet nothings into deaf ears?
I know why .. now. And I hope he understands as well. He deserves more from himself and I deserved a tangible ending. But we all know what happens when we expect great things from an Estella.
I at least thought there might be some poetic justice to it all. I had broken up with my ex-boyfriend only a few blocks away from where it had all began with the Brit. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have something new begin where something else had ended. Absolutely. But life doesn’t get tied together that neatly. Barriers get broken, boundaries are crossed. So we have to find a way to navigate a much more fluid existence.
I must live with the fact that I will never get any real closure from him because he is incapable of providing that, and I can try to be thankful that he is no longer my problem. Even though it seemed like it would have been a nice one to have.