I had a boyfriend of almost four years. I could get a whole lot in to it but I’ll try to keep it short. My last psychiatrist had me fill out a paper listing significant relationships. When it came about to answer the question I saw that she had asked why the relationship ended. I wrote, almost without thinking, “Because he is a loser.” I stand behind that reason. He was a terrible loser.
I am not too crazy even writing about this. I get a strange feeling in my bones and I don’t like it, but I think my ‘victory in boundaries’ is worth talking about
When we broke up, he moved to Alaska to do God knows what. I suppose it’s a change of pace if it’s nothing at all. Anyway, I hadn’t seen him since and three or four years had gone by. I was in a bar and restaurant that is where the creative people gathered to drink and see people they hadn’t seen since last vacation. It was fun. I looked very cute that day, too, if I do say so myself. My hair was really curly because of the moisture in the air (like Deborah Messing in Will and Grace 🙂 ) and I had this great new leather jacket I had bought myself with birthday and Christmas money. I’d leaned up because of the hills at University and didn’t carry around the baby fat in my face that I used to. My friends and I are snacking and drinking and having fun, and who walks in but him and his entourage.
I practically curl in to the fetal position. I do not want to see him and I do not want him to see me. Breaking up with him is among the told 5% of smartest things I’ve ever done. There was never any desire to see him or sleep with him after he got on that train to Alaska. I did not feel any differently now.
But I uncurled and decided, “Why not? Why should I be afraid?” I excused myself and went outside and stepped into the circle his friends were in. I shook their hands, said hello, asked them polite questions and then stopped at the Ex-Boyfriend. I held out my hand to shake it, and felt nothing. Then the conversation started.
“So what are you doing?”
“I’m still a medic.” Now, how in the world was I supposed to know that? This was before the days of Facebook where everyone was in touch with everyone else. My further questions continued,
“How long have you been doing that? How are your parents?” ridiculous questions I know, but I wanted to be nice, and I wasn’t going to have a power struggle. People I knew were coming outside to smoke or see other friends. They’d look over to Ex-Boyfriend and me, then gasp, and walk away. Some of them, according to an outside source, spent years pining for me. It kinda grosses me out.
Anyway, out of conjecture and back in to facts. The best example of a conversation with him went like this: “How is your brother?”
“He’s about to be a father. He’s really having trouble dealing with it, it’s just-”
“That’s wonderful! Your mom must be thrilled.”
I didn’t let him rope me in to his stories of misery and the sadness of his life. I knew his brother, not really well, but enough to know he did not have a long talk with Ex-Boyfriend about his feelings regarding the birth of his child. I knew his family would open their hearts to any child they had. Ex-Boyfriend had something to say about everyone I asked about, and all of the things he said were about their tough times and misery and whatever negative stuff could say about anything horrible. It was just like old times.
Except, I didn’t let it bother me. I knew his reality was a sieve of unhappiness and co-dependency, getting rid of the good and holding on very much to the hurtful and bad. I was so relieved I was rid of him. I went inside and told my friends what had happened, although not with the same details or insights as I’ve provided here.
Soon after I came inside, he disappeared. I have the hunch, but unverified, that we went to walk around the Arts District pretending to be a wolf. He liked wolfs.
I was thankful and admit that I was kind of, but not really, amused by the whole thing. Here was this guy, almost thirty, whose idea of self-preservation was to pretend to be a wild animal. He was into shamanism and stuff like that, but really, grow up, buddy.
This was about the time that Mr. Malakoa came in to my world. We had been to exactly one movie together, but somehow I felt that I knew he was, “The One.” (Whatever the heck that’s supposed to mean. Maybe I meant, “My One.”) Anyway, seeing Ex-Boyfriend and getting a realistic glimpse of the way he is now was quite healing for me. I had loved this guy, but didn’t now. I felt nothing beyond the basic care and love that I have for people in general. There was nothing left in my heart that was specially reserved for him. He and I were really through. I had really moved on. And my heart (I hate this kind of writing) was open again to something real and good. I believed that I was finding that with Mr. Malakoa, and I was right.
Things are not perfect between us, in fact there have been times we have fewer good times together than bad, but Mr Malakoa is nothing like Ex-Boyfriend. He and I know better how to set boundaries with each other and I believe that came from some of the boundaries I learned in the previous relationship. I have a better sense of what is unacceptable and am able to communicate with about that. It may be that those four years of mostly unhappiness taught me about how to prevent that ca ca from happening again. I hope so.