It’s not about you

I hate to admit this because we alpha’s, even the neurotic ones, but I have been fixated on the ex lately. I’ve mentioned it before but not in great detail. I’ve also said that I need things to make sense; in this case, the two are related. In a nutshell, her behavior during our breakup really bothered me, but her behavior post-breakup doesn’t make sense to me. Herein lies my conflict. On top of being heart-broken, I’m confused. And it bothers me.

In the end, she just pushed me away. It’s as if one day she just turned. It was crushing for me, I had a powerful connection with this woman. More powerful than I had felt with anyone including my wife. That was the hardest part. Or so I thought. But when I reached out a couple of months later she was totally unresponsive. She wouldn’t even respond to a text. This infuriated me and in addition I was then confused. She dumped me but we were civil about it. I fixated on it because the long and short of it is that this behavior makes no sense to me. I should be the one hating her. Yes, I know that I don’t like anyone to dislike me. That’s my curse and I will have to deal with it. But I couldn’t think of any reason why she would. Finally, I got her to reply to a text asking her for some personals back. She wanted to coordinate with my daughter, who she had a Facebook friendship with, to get my things to me. I thought this was fucking childish and really put me in a mood. She can’t be an adult and face me? What the hell.

I confided in a friend and he said something that really helped. He told me that she was doing me a favor. I pressed him on this. He said maybe it’s not about me.
He asked if I loved her. I said yes and no. He asked if I would go back with her. I told him absolutely not, not after seeing this side of her. He said it’s not about you, it’s about her. For whatever reason, she doesn’t want to engage with you. It could be that she has regrets and doesn’t know how to handle it and doesn’t want to put herself in a situation she can’t handle. That was the most appealing option to me…not going to lie. Option B, he explained, was that she is just an asshole and I’m better off. Also appealing. It made absolute sense to me when my daughter said almost the exact same thing a day later without my mentioning any of the conversation I had with my friend.

I still have feelings for her. Or maybe I cling to the idea of her and how she made me feel. But the takeaway is that, after her juvenile bullshit she really pissed me off. I’ll take anger over grief any day of the week. I can process anger, I really struggle with loss. I’d be lying if I said I was over her, but I’m getting closer. I know I’m a good guy. Sure, I struggle just like anyone else with the challenges of relationships but I know that I have value and I deserve to be with someone who appreciates me.

I guess that’s as much healing grace that I am going to get here. That and the understanding that it’s not always me.

I guess we’re done

*this is the conclusion of a story. It will stand alone in many ways but for missing context please go back a few.*

I had a decent time at the cookout and I put on a good face. But I wasn’t fooling my friend Paul. Paul came up to me with a cold one and said. “Don’t bullshit me, are you ok?”
“Nope, not even close”, I replied.
He had met Cat. “Trouble in paradise?” I told him some of it. He was comforting, as a good friend should be. “You’re probably blaming yourself. I know you. Don’t.” He was right. He knew me, I was blaming myself.
I left soon after.
Several days went by. We had exchanged a couple of texts, mostly about how she was feeling. There was nothing that suggested any intimacy at all. Then we fell into the same pattern, if I didn’t reach out…crickets. The weekend came around and I asked what her plans were and I learned quickly that they didn’t include me. At the end of the second week I finally called her out. I asked if I should stop contacting her. She wanted to know why I said that. I replied that she was clearly ghosting me to which she objected by offering that she always answered me when I reached out. She didn’t get it…she never reached out to me first. Her pathetic answer was that she was going through some stuff. Weak. When I asked her why she didn’t tell me about it she said that it’s not about me. I was pissed at that point. I told her in as much as she was ignoring me over whatever it was then yea, it is about me to an extent.

We didn’t talk for a few hours, then I reached out and told her that I was going to give her some space. 3.2 seconds later she told me that was a good idea. I took off the gloves. “Wow”, I said. “You jumped at that awful quick”. I had pissed her off with that and she shot back “are you giving me fucking space or not!? Because if this is your idea of space then we’re through.”
I was stunned. But my thoughts and emotions were in synch and I shot back, “If you jumped right to ‘we’re done’ that quickly then that’s all I need to know. I guess we are through.”

Believe it or not, that is the last time we spoke. I texted her condolences when her senior dog passed away but I made no attempt at conversation. I don’t want to talk to her. Amazingly, the woman I once thought I was in love with disappointed me so badly, let me down so hard is now a person that even if she wanted to (she won’t) get back together, I wouldn’t want to. I saw too many things in her that tell me that she is bad for me. I thought she was loving, but she’s critical and judgmental. Things that I thought we could work through, her drinking (what was I thinking, that never happens), her fear of commitment, her erratic behavior, the list goes on and I won’t further bore anyone, all came to a head and I know in my heart of hearts that she is not for me.

Still, I miss her. Maybe I just miss the feelings I had for her, feelings that I had every reason to believe were mutual. I miss her falling asleep on my chest and waking up next to her. I miss the intimacy that I never was able to express to anyone, not even my ex-wife in all of my 57 years. And now it’s just plain fucking over. And I don’t know why. Nor do I want to because I know that I will overthink it and blame myself and just feel bad in general.

I have a theory. In all of my moments of neuroses over the job I think she lost respect for me. Because I thought that I could open up to her without being judged. That’s what relationships are about after all, aren’t they? I don’t think I believe that anymore, or at all. She was the first woman I felt comfortable enough to drop my walls and it fucked me over. It will be a cold day in Hell before I set myself up for that again.

To think of all the time spent, mind racing, being pulled between my desire to work and earn and the burning desire to be with someone who made me feel things I had never felt, that I would lose both of them. Wow, just fucking wow.

As I said at the beginning of this series, I once sold a standard shift car that was quite valuable, for one that I could drive with my arm around my then girlfriend. All these years later, I have neither the car or the girl.

If you ask me how I’m doing I’ll tell you I’m fine. But I’m not. Not even close. Big boys don’t cry, but that doesn’t mean they don’t hurt inside.

THE END

the end was near

*this post is a continuation of a story. It will stand alone in many ways but for missing context please go back a few…*

It was a dark time. My subconscious was beating me down. I had gone against character and left a job without notice, leaving a person that I liked hanging. It would be many days before I would stop replaying the argument that led up to my quitting in my head. I didn’t care about the person involved so much as I cared about my reaction to it. Those of us with anxiety are doomed to replay difficult events over and over in our heads. My only comfort was that I hadn’t changed my assessment of the situation. There was no way that I could show my face in there again. I still haven’t gone in. And this bothers me because I really want to offer Vinny an apology. He deserves that. I know that his behavior towards me, as disrespectful as it was, wasn’t personal. He liked me as a friend, at least in the beginning, and was fairly good to me. It’s not his fault that I refuse to allow myself to be treated poorly. I did him wrong and I will apologize to him. I’m not afraid, I just haven’t picked my moment. I suppose part of me is worried that he won’t let me get it out. It’s unlikely, but he might kick me out of the store and I wouldn’t blame him if he did. But it would bother me.

The bigger problem was my deteriorating relationship with my girl. I was making an effort but she was slipping away. I really couldn’t figure out what I did or was doing wrong (my go-to is always to blame myself) but something was definitely off. We argued at least once every weekend, the sex was decreasing in frequency and in passion (that part was always good) and when apart we barely spoke on the phone. When we did it didn’t feel right. As for our texts, I made the sad realization that if I didn’t reach out I wouldn’t hear from her at all. I knew it was over when I offered to come down during the week and she said no. I finally decided to call her on it. I knew we would fight soon enough and the next weekend didn’t disappoint. During some stupid drunk argument (her not me) I finally said, “Don’t people who are in a relationship want to talk to each other, and to see each other? Don’t people in a serious relationship think about the other when they wake up and go to bed?”
She made a face that said it all. Sort of a self-defeating “you’re right” face. She then began to tell me that we’re going too fast, that I’m too intense (I seem to remember her being the aggressor both sexually and in the ‘I love you’s’ department but whatever). She wanted to slow things down, let it flow organically. I thought it was bullshit but I said ok and asked her to define it. She wouldn’t, and as I knew it would be, going forward I had no fucking idea how to act around her. Which only added to the tension. She didn’t get that I needed more, that knowing the truth would really help me. It was then that she told me I was too sensitive.

A week later I arrived on a Saturday. I went to sit next to her on the sofa to watch a movie with her and she freaked out, started accusing me of “invading her personal space”. I was at a loss and was not prepared for the argument that ensued. She went to bed pissed off and I sat on the sofa thinking real hard about just leaving. But we had plans the next day to go to a cookout where I had (operative word) been excited about introducing her to my Mason friends. So I stuck around until morning.

I wasn’t very surprised to see her stumble out of the bedroom the next morning as pissed off as she went to bed. Like a frickin’ idiot I still stuck around for a couple of hours to see what would happen. Those hours consisted mostly of her playing with her phone as her hangover subsided. Then she went to the bathroom and when she came out she announced that she wasn’t feeling well and that I should leave. No hug. No goodbye. She just closed the door to her room. At that point there wasn’t much doubt. This ship had sailed. So I left.

I went to the cookout as planned. All of my buddies who had seen our supposedly great relationship play out of FB asked me where she was. I lied and told them that she just wasn’t feeling well, despite the fact that I knew what was really going on.

The Short-timer

*this post is a continuation of a story. It will stand alone in many ways but for missing context please go back a few…*

At the end of May, I officially went to 4 days. It wasn’t a huge issue because the store hours had been reduced due to lack of help and to give the existing employees, who had been working around the clock, a break. At that point full-time hours were not that feasible. Somehow, despite the reduced hours, the aggravation level increased. Vinny was unbearable to us as well as the customers. Criticism by customers was greeted by a “it’s my place my rules if you don’t like it there’s the door” mentality. It was so bad that when I offered to make an order for a customer after hours I was told that it was “tough shit” for the customer. I made it anyway. Now, of all the things that I disliked about the place, I could add that my friendly and customer-oriented style wasn’t even welcome.

On the relationship front, I confided in my girl about the job and about how conflicted I was. Yes, I continued to waffle back and forth about staying. I liked the money but, well you know the rest. I got the sense that she was annoyed by it. So I kept it to myself after that. We were starting to argue. I certainly take responsibility for my part of whatever was happening, but I was starting to see a side of her that concerned me. She consistently claimed to be a non-judgmental God-loving woman of grace, but she fought like a pissed-off wombat and was as forgiving as a Southern Baptist minister. I, on the other hand, refused to fight to win, I always sought resolution and harmony above all. Still, things were ok, the fights weren’t constant. But there were red flags that were, in hindsight, bathed in neon light.

We weren’t seeing each other very often at that point because of the job so I tried to focus on the positive and blocked out the rest.

At the beginning of June I was working a particularly busy night and Vinny was chirping in my ear about something so objectionable and poorly timed that I got into it with him. He replied with a “shut the fuck up”. I knew at that moment it was over. At this point in my life I had enough money (enough is big with me, I don’t need or desire a lot, just enough) and enough self-respect that I simply refused to be talked to like that. I knew what I was as a person and a worker; friendly, hard-working, helpful to all and respectful. Simply put my values were not fucking valued.

The next morning I gave my notice. I sat him down and told Vinny that I would work until the end of July as to not leave him in a bad place. He appreciated that and thanked me for not walking out and leaving him hanging. He had an ace in the hole, he had just hired someone for the kitchen and with my training he should be able to pick up where I left off. As we concluded I realized that working until the end of July was a period longer than I had even been there. How was I going to do that?

As usual. I decided that it will work out either way.,

Committed

*this post is a continuation of a story. It will stand alone in many ways but for missing context please go back a few…*

Committed. At least I should be, anyway. I am nothing if not a man of my word and I dove back into the job. My head was a mess. Between the red flags about the viability of the job being a long-term prospect for me, and the flags were plentiful, and my head being all messed-up over my new relationship my mind was racing all over. This may be a good time to interject that, if you have not read me before you may not know that I have moderate to high general anxiety. My temperament could best be described as, despite outward appearances, “everything is a big deal to me”. I am a classic over-thinker.

The red flags were the pace, the people, the physical and the collateral effects. Added to the mix was the realization that customers can really suck the big one sometimes.

The pace was frantic. When I took the job I was excited to make food, plain and simple. I am very good at that. I had no idea how busy the place would start out and continue to be. It was non-stop all the time.

Enter the personalities. Vinny, who was starting to reveal the rude and ill-tempered side of his personality. The Kitchen manager (who I liked overall) loved to accuse people of everything and clung to her knowledge as if it were the National Treasure and refused help with anything. Then there were the various dolts who simply couldn’t do the job or thought they were more important than they were.

Physically, I was getting stronger. Vinny was true to his promise to give me hydration breaks whenever I needed. But I was still struggling and I don’t do well in the heat as it is. I went home in a lot of pain every night.

Then there were the customers. Despite the fact that we were making a herculean effort to keep up with the demand, the customers were less than understanding. The cranky old people in town were bad customers. Demanding, impatient and insufferable. The people that came from surrounding areas were downright impatient and negative. They bitched openly at the exasperated employees and posted negative reviews which only served to send Vinny into a tizzy that was then transferred to us.

After a month of that, and not seeing my lady I realized that something had to give. I broke down and asked to reduce my hours. Surprisingly, Vinny was ok with it.

missed chance

*this post is a continuation of a story. It will stand alone in many ways but for missing context please go back a few…*

At the end of February I was informed that we had an opening date of mid-May. Not much had changed on the frequency of work or my involvement. I had done my part to be harmonious, it’s unfortunate that I felt the need to show my ability to get along, by getting to know Susanne. Susanne was the woman Vinny had hired to run the kitchen, a decision that he refused to believe I was okay with. She was still running her soon-to-be shut-down business. She was waiting until a firm start date and then she would shutter her restaurant. I visited her frequently at her shop. We would compare our backgrounds and discuss ideas for the new place. I had absolutely no problem with her and she seemed to like me as well, even going as far as to say that she looked forward to working with me. I wasn’t worried about working with her, I figured we would get along fine. My only concern was where I would fit in. Vinny of course failed to see the good in that, he still thought I had an issue with her. That was the first time that I realized that I really didn’t want to do this new venture. I had a bad feeling but I ignored it because of loyalty and the fact that it was too close to opening. I was too late.

Things with Cat were still good. But I was starting to see some potential problems. She had a terrible drinking problem and a worse memory. I was shocked and saddened to learn that some of the best moments and conversations that we shared were lost. She had absolutely no memory of them. It was if they never happened. Plus we were arguing a bit. Not a lot, but she had a nasty side when we did. Still, I believed that I loved her. She claimed to love me as well. It was moving fast, too fast, but I was feeling things that I had not felt in a long time, perhaps never. I was dreading being away from her on the weekends, which was the only time we had to be together. Once the store opened, I would be working all weekend. I HATED that thought. But I told myself that I had to wait to see what happened.

In a rare moment of confidence, I found an opening in a conversation with Vinny to mention that I was not looking forward to working all weekend every week. He said, “Well, you can either wait to see what happens. I promise that once we are established I will find time off for you. Or you can quit.” He was testing me. I was tempted. But I didn’t take the offer. I knew, with all the hype around town, that we would be busier than a one-armed hooker with two customers for the first month or so. I decided that I would try to have the patience to ride it out and see what happens. I missed my chance to do what I wanted to do most.
Walk away.

I was in love, I was thinking too much about spending time with her. I was aware of the foolishness of that. In addition, my personal code of conduct told me to follow through on my commitment. I concluded that if it was meant to be then our relationship would survive a few missed weekends.

more cracks

*this post is a continuation of a story. It will stand alone in many ways but for missing context please go back a few…*

It was now February. Not much had changed. Vinny was still involving me less and less and I was growing increasingly frustrated. I wasn’t being utilized yet I made myself available. The few conversations consisted of him going on at length about the grandiose plans he had for the restaurant. I was getting anxious ( I suffer from bad anxiety) listening to these conversations; in essence my anxiety was whispering in my ear, “you can’t do this, it’s too much.” The little voice in my head was in agreement. In essence, I felt he would be really hard to work for, even in my controversial “self-inflicted minimized role”. I should have spoken up and told him my concerns. But I didn’t. Not knowing how to react, I remained quiet. This, of course, made him think that I was not into it. It was a constant and annoying process.
And I now had a girlfriend who I wanted to see and the neurotic bastard in me was already concerned that I wouldn’t be able to see her very much. While we still months away from opening.

Things with the girl were going well. I really felt that I had met “the one”. I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible. At the time I thought she did also. So there I was worrying about something that hadn’t even happened yet.

I made the mistake of telling her my concerns. Of not being able to handle it. Of hating the hours. Of not being able to handle Vinny, who was increasingly showing me signs that I was making a mistake. And of course, of not being able to see her.

I now regret that

It’s been how long?

When I was in High School I had an awesome car. Not awesome in the vernacular of the day; I didn’t have anything expensive, exotic, or muscular but instead vintage and uncommon. My Great Uncle, who I had only met a few times, willed me his 1965 Ford Falcon when he passed in 1981. It was a fun car and I wish I still had it. Me and the Falcon, which my father’s “folksy racist” best friend referred to as “The ‘Coon” (my apologies) could be seen bombing around town on any given day. It was a joy to drive because it was a standard transmission with the shifter on the column, commonly referred to as a “three on the tree”. I’ll always be thankful that I was able to experience that, it was an unusual setup to have in the 80’s. The only drawback was that I couldn’t take advantage of the bench seats by wrapping my arm around my girlfriend because I needed it to shift. Like a dumbass, I got rid of the car to remedy this unfortunate situation. We soon broke up. I was left without the car and the girl. It was a unique situation that would never replicate itself.

Or so I thought. Should you tune in tomorrow you can join me as I tell you what I have been up to since I last posted. In April. Holy crap how did I get away from blogging for so long?

Getting easier

It’s been a week since someone pulled my heart out, backed her car over it and then tossed it to the Crows. But I have to say that it is getting easier. It still stings but I have a better grip on it I suppose.

My friends were very surprised when I shared with them my situation. They weren’t so much surprised that I got dumped, but they were surprised at how hard I took it. See, I am famous for concealing or downplaying my emotions. They’ve seen me wear my heart on my sleeve in many areas of my life; Freemasonry, charity work, my children to name a few. I’m not shy about sharing my feelings in most areas. Relationships are different, they are a known sore spot. My romantic struggles are well-documented. While I can’t say that it is all my fault, my penchant for crazy women has been the source of many a conversation. My recent attempts at love, post-divorce, have been messy to say the least. While I have no animosity towards any of them, there is a story to be told and I’m always the one holding the bag. But I famously and typically shrugged it off and moved on with my life. This one was different.
I was in a funk. My friends have never seen me show an emotion like hurt. I was hurting bad and they responded.

Sure, there were a few who offered the standard “fuck her”. It was well-intentioned. They knew that I’m better at coping when mad so they channeled that. Others, those who knew the situation, realized that it was a little more complicated than that, offered sage advice that I am indeed better off. Maybe I am, I don’t know. I would still like an explanation but that’s not going to happen. In absence of any contact I was forced to text my feelings to her. I kept it above board. No insults, nothing nasty at all I simply asked for more than she gave me (by text, classy fucking girl huh?) but she didn’t respond. So I finally sent one long one detailing my frustration and I briefly asserted that I deserved better and that she will find that no matter how many men she dates as she is “exploring” she will not find one that is nicer to her than I was. I know that for certain. I was very nice to her always. Her one response was to ask me if I felt better after all of that and then to tell me that “she thought we’d be friends”. I responded but I never heard another word from her.

There is no scenario in which we can be friends. I don’t need to be that guy that listens to the woman he cares about tell him about all of the guys she is fucking. That is reserved for the gay friends. I’d rather shave my scrotum with a rusty cheese grater. She chose to make us friends, not me. She doesn’t want to be the bad guy. Well fuck that, there is no way that I will ever be friends with someone who treated a genuinely nice guy, sure I have flaws, show me someone who doesn’t please) like the shit that a slug wipes off of his feet. I should have known that someone who went down on me on the first date would burn my ass eventually.

So in summation, I’m angry now. I like anger. I can channel it. And it always fades. Then she will be out of my mind. Just like that. And I have learned a valuable lesson. Listen to the man in the mirror. He knows the right thing to do.

The best revenge is living well. I plan on doing that.

Should have known better

One consequence/perk of having a ton of scars is that I have learned to harden myself to things. I have a big heart and I give of it freely but I’m ALWAYS cautiously watching for the “other” shoe to drop. Meaning, if I am prepared for something to go south I can handle it. Grief, anger, disappointment, sadness, longing, regret…I can handle all of them. I’ve been called a cold fish, I’m not. I just know how to compartmentalize. But now I’ve found an emotion that I can’t handle.
Heartbreak.

The end is finally here, the jury is no longer out on the married woman and I. Shame on me for not seeing it coming, for believing that for once I was with someone that got me, that wasn’t judgmental of my quirks and pecadillos, someone that I could be truly happy with. So I wasn’t ready when I got the text on Sunday night. I’ve been a sad, droopy fucking head case since. I hate it. Every attempt to just wash it off and let it go have failed. The worst part is that I haven’t been given the luxury of an explanation as to her change of heart. All I know is that 3 weeks ago we went on a hike and during that hike she decided that she was going to dump me. I would love to know what I did.

For a year I have patiently lent a sympathetic and supportive shoulder as she came to grips with her lousy marriage and the way her husband treats her. I knew she would eventually divorce him but I was always careful not to offer unwanted advice or try to steer her in a direction that would benefit me. I kept myself open to see her when she had the opportunity and I tried not to ask for more than she could give. All along, we talked frequently of what it would be like if we were together, post asshole husband. To my encouragement she told me that she was finally ready to go through with it. Little did I know that I wasn’t part of her plans after all. With the whiff of freedom in her path, she apparently decided that playing the field, or exploring, was the way to go. Fuck me I guess, I just came on too strong and she can’t give me what I’m looking for.

The funny thing is that I wasn’t even close to being the only intense one. She was as guilty as I about “glimpses” in which we talked of how it would be when (not if) she became a free woman. But her account now is that I was too serious and she doesn’t want to be in another “stifling” relationship. I only saw her when she wanted so how the fuck was I stifling?

I’m confused, I’m angry and I’m hurt and I don’t know how to process this. I loved her. She made me happy. Now I’m alone again and I’m beginning to think that I’m going to stay that way. It has to be me, it has to. Maybe I fall too hard, too fast and too soon. I think I suck at relationships, looking back I don’t think I’ve ever had a successful one. And now I’m gun shy. I’m going to be alone forever.

If it makes her feel better to make me out to be the heavy I guess that’s her journey. I can’t change that. All I know is that 6 months ago I broke it off because I didn’t feel right about running around with another man’s wife. The guy code and all. When I did she continually texted me, often with mean -spirited comments about how I hurt her by breaking it off, etc. How the fuck can I hurt someone who is married? Reluctantly, I started seeing her again. It was great for a while. I saw her on her terms and unbelievably, I actually said no to the sudden slew of attention I was getting from 2 or 3 other women. I chose to be only with her because I don’t like to confuse things. One person at a time and keep it simple. She even expressed jealousy over them, she called it being “territorial” and I asked her how she could be because again, she’s married.

Now I’m holding the fucking bag again. Half of me wants answers and the other just wishes that I could just forget her altogether. If only it was that easy.

See, the signs were there. The burner phone, the sneaking around on her husband. Her wanting to get together even after I withdrew my date offer when I found out she was married. If she did it to him she would do it to me. I’m not so dumb to think that it wouldn’t. In fact, I’m pretty sure that she already has someone in mind and she got bored with me. She definitely would have cheated on me had we stayed together. And that would have REALLY hurt.

I don’t like heartbreak. Anger is easy. Disappointment I can handle. But I don’t like being discarded like a old soiled napkin. I was too decent to her and I don’t deserve it. She obviously doesn’t give a fuck about my feelings and definitely didn’t realize just how good I was to her. She is going to recognize what she had someday and in the event that she comes back I guarantee I will not be down for that shit. Fuck me once shame on you. Fuck me twice shame on me. I gave her all that she would allow when she would allow it. Over time I gave her my heart. She returned it broken and bloody and covered with muddy footprints.

She may read this, in fact I hope she does. These are the things I didn’t have the courtesy of time to talk to her about. Nope, she just avoided me for three weeks and then broke up with me by text. It’s an indignity I have absolutely no damn clue how to handle. It hurts and I want it to stop. Now.

My conscience knew it was wrong to get involved with her. My brain also warned me. But my heart wanted what it wanted and now here I am. Please tell me that it will get easier.