I was at my Mom’s having coffee late yesterday afternoon. This has become a part of my daily routine. Doing so, I get to check on my Dad and help out as needed. Sometimes my ex/business partner will join us. He remains a part of my family and things between us are good.
As I was leaving, my ex stopped me to talk further. It was a nice day out (almost 60 degrees), so we lingered. He’s a great guy, who I still love very much. Also, I feel horribly guilty about leaving him, though I did have my reasons.
He told me that my Mom had given him permission to have a boyfriend. Okay, my eyes popped… but wait… it gets so much more… uncomfortable.
He then told me that everybody (two of my sisters, their husbands and my Mom) has been holding their collective breath, waiting for me to come to my ‘senses’ and put things back the way they were before. My ex told her they could stop doing that. He was pretty sure that I was not going to be returning to the fold.
He was right. I’m not.
It is still taking me a bit of time to wrap my head around what I did to myself during the last seventeen years; all that I put my psyche through. I can tell you this: it was not going to end well, no matter what they all think.
You see, my ex suffers from a number of disorders (OCD, hypochondria, anxiety), and all that craziness went unrecognized by me for a number of years. I thought it was all part of being in a relationship.
But the constant drama, endless criticism, illogical fears, over-the-top worry, countless doctors and emergency room visits, and ceaseless nagging finally reached a zenith and I had to get out or… I’m not sure what would have come next.
Another thing: he’s a talker – the best salesperson I have ever met. And I… am not. I like alone time. I enjoy silence. And it’s not simply that he is chatty, for he also fails to listen, not only to reason, but also to anything I have to say and that has exhausted me on a number of occasions. In regards to the dogs and our business, it still does.
I spent the last few years of our time together sitting on the end of a couch like some weird gargoyle that would look up from his laptop long enough to hiss or take a swipe at him as he passed by. That is, when I wasn’t out trolling for sex or hooking up with some random.
Turns out, I didn’t like the person I had become at all.
Near the end, I just kept holding my breath, praying to make it to the end of the month, the week, the day…
And so, one day, I took a deep breath, put on my big boy pants, and quietly abdicated the strange throne I had created. I had to rescue myself.
Here, in the aftermath, I am finally finding my feet. Initially it was thrilling and terrifying at the same time. People kept surprising me, none more than my own mother. It seems she had something in mind where I was concerned and leaving my ex – that upset her sense of order. Our relationship went through a very rough patch, with me storming out of her home a number of times. But I kept coming back, because I have a commitment to honor where my parents are concerned and things have gotten a bit better.
I also had to keep reminding myself that my Mom knew very little of what was actually going on between my ex and myself. We always managed to pull it together for family gatherings. My youngest sister knew most of what was going on, and every once and awhile some of the cracks would show, especially during the holidays, but we managed to look the loving couple.
Only, we weren’t.
Yes, we had our moments. It wasn’t all bad, but my ex refused to seek treatment for his anxiety disorders and that created a whole set of problems that it turns out I couldn’t fix or deal with in a healthy manner.
I’m only just starting to realize how all that crazy helped shape my life during the last seventeen years.
And it’s not all his fault. I realize that many of the choices I made weren’t very smart at all. But that was how I coped.
Some things were easy to dispense with. All that casual sex – it seemed fun in the beginning, but after a time I came to see it for what it was; destructive, empty, and joyless. In the process I scared the hell out of myself.
I’m still not sleeping well.
But a lot of the other things - the crazy coping methods, the illogical fears, the horrible self-talk – I’ve started to recognize them for what they are and I’m slowly starting to lay them down.
I’m starting to breathe again.
And everybody else?
Well, they can stop holding their breath, too, because…