You Say You Want to Talk to Me
Over the past few of months I met someone for whom I felt a considerable amount of emotion. Love, actually. My readers know him as Mr. Impossible. As you read in the poem I wrote about him “The Moment You Smiled,” I hadn’t planned to stay in touch as friends, but he reached out to me wanting to know more, curious about me, my past, my work.
We started to become friends, and you can imagine I was overjoyed because I felt so much for him already. He was brilliant and kind, funny and real. He had the ability to own his shit and mistakes and apologize. He was honest and trying to be more open, something difficult for him. Above all, he was genuine. Genuine in his words, his actions, and his affection for me.
Then the promises started.
Then the excuses started.
Then the withdrawal started.
Yes. I know the drill all too well.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post called “The Dream of Connection” when I first started feeling things change between us. In that post, I talk about how I went back to my “Major Changes in the Autumn of Life” article to check in with myself and the boundaries I had set for relationships moving forward.
Here is the first of three excerpts from that post:
If you want to be on the right side of my semi-colon you have to earn the right by actively taking part in my life and our relationship. Everyone else stays on the left side.
The sexual assaults are on the left side, as are the predators who perpetrated them.
Children masquerading as men are on the left side.
Narcissists and sociopaths, you are on the left side.
Liars, abusers, misogynists, and cowards, you are on the left side, regardless of whether you call yourself friend, family, or if we have a history. You are now history.
My marriage and husband are also on the left side.
They can all stay there. They are nothing but smoke now.
They no longer exist.
Mr. Impossible would open up and then shut down. He’d be fully engaged and then leave. He’d be in the middle of a conversation with me via WhatsApp and just disappear without warning, without a word. He would say the sweetest, most affectionate thing, then make an excuse to sign off.
I knew he was very busy. I knew he was traveling. I knew he had a full life outside of our chats and budding friendship, so I believed his excuses, mostly because he offered them. I didn’t ask for them. He felt bad. He apologized. He seemed so genuine.
Several times he apologized for being so strapped for time, and promised we would talk more soon. He’d say he really wanted to finish this (and all) of our conversations, and we would (he promised) as soon as he had more time. He said he felt bad he couldn’t share as much as I did (yet), but that soon would be different once he was back home. He hadn’t answered my emails (yet) “on purpose” because he wanted to give them the proper attention and time to respond appropriately. He initiated contact 95% of the time (almost consistently) daily. He told me I was precious. He told me he really cared that much. He promised there would be much more to come “all in due time, my dear.”
I believed him, mostly because I loved him. Mostly because I wanted to believe him.
However, after a month of excuses, empty kindness, unkept promises, and hot/cold behavior, I started to lose faith in his word and began to see what I’ve seen so so so many times in so many people before.
Lie to me once, you’re gone.
Deceive me once, you’re gone.
Betray my trust once, you’re gone.
Tell me I’m too intense or too needy or too emotional, you’re gone.
If you play Jekyll & Hyde games or are afraid of commitment or intimacy, you’re gone.
If you’re aloof, inconsistent, uninvested, unengaged, unavailable in any way, keep moving.
I have neither the time nor the patience for you. No second chances. Not anymore.
I’m not playing this bullshit game any more.
I’ve gotten really good at cutting people out of my life over the past few years, even people who meant the world to me. When they consistently bring me more tears than smiles, they’re gone. When they even breathe like a misogynist, they’re gone. When they aren’t true to their word, they’re gone. If they objectify me, they’re gone.
I’m rather angry with myself for believing for
so too long, but once someone is in my heart, it’s difficult for me to see past that. After all, I spoke with him more than anyone else. He was my closest friend. He had become the most important person in my life. Surely this would all pass soon. As soon as he was home and had more time, just like he said. He had no reason to lie to me. I hadn’t asked for any of this; he offered it. Why would he offer things he had no intention or desire to do?
The first time I could no longer lie to myself was about 10 days ago. I turned to him, my closest friend, in a moment of need [omitted situation], but he didn’t feel up to a chat with the jet lag and sleeplessness. I tried to understand, as hurt as I was, and my compassion and love prevailed. After all, it was a(nother) good excuse, right?
Then the messages from him fell off even more as things [at that situation] escalated. Even though he was “home,” we didn’t talk more, as he had promised. I told myself that it was the stress [situation omitted], that horrible week where he turned his back on me and backed up [omitted]. He didn’t even offer a solitary supportive word privately on the side. Not even one.
I would rather no one call at all than to wait around for
an uninvested man to recognize my worth.
Respect me, or keep walking.
Cherish me, or keep walking.
Engage fully with me, or keep walking.
Embrace everything I am, or keep walking.
When my closest friend wasn’t there for me, I turned to someone else and he was there. He understood and didn’t minimize or dismiss my experience, my emotions. So were two other friends who not only listened and stayed present with me during our conversations, but they also empathized and validated my experience as well.
You know, things that friends do.
Mr. Impossible pulled away even more, and I tried to leave him alone, feeling the growing distance between us. I once asked him if we were okay, and he said we were. I knew we weren’t, but doing anything would just make him leave faster. He wouldn’t talk to me, so there was no option for conversation to clear the air, to understand.
Not one promise kept, and people wonder why I have “trust issues.”
I tried to console myself through my tears, knowing it was happening again. This lovely man who but a week ago was telling me I was precious and wanted to read my work and was sending me flirtatious daffodils “poetry has no boundaries” pictures after I had shared Wordsworth with him was now shutting me completely out, and I was helpless to do anything but watch. It was excruciating.
When I voiced a few days later that he had felt so distant for the past week, wanting to know what was wrong…wondering if I was too close to the [situation] to be a friend, he condescendingly told me “friendships take time to build. They don’t happen overnight.”
Do friendships also ignore vulnerable emails after repeatedly promising to respond?
Do friendships also make excuses not to talk with you?
Do friendships also habitually make promises they don’t/can’t keep?
Do friendships turn their back on you when you’re in crisis?
Do friendships support the abuser rather than their so-called friend?
Please, do enlighten me further on what friendships are.
Between his hurtful behavior and [the person’s] abusive, unhinged behavior towards me last week (but, of course ‘it’s not personal,’ he dismissively reminded me), I ended up in the hospital for a few hours due to a bad reaction between the vodka I had drunk to relax amidst the enormous stress and the Xanax I took to try to (finally) sleep. After vomiting, seeing double, and barely being able to wobbly stand, I was scared enough to call emergency services. The combination, turns out, could’ve been deadly. And for what? A [omitted]? Someone who keeps you in the wings tossing daffodil-shaped breadcrumbs? Someone who doesn’t have your back? Someone who says, “I am a tease and proud of it,” and then denies flirting? Someone who shares intimate stories and then denies we had a close friendship?
He didn’t once ask why I was in the hospital. My closest friend, indeed.
Boy, I sure misunderstood our relationship.
And still, my heart beat for him. The failing friendship and stress[ful situation] became so dangerous to my health that I had two options: block him from my life and [end the other situation] (which I still might do) to ease the mounting anxiety, or tell him exactly how I feel, lay my tattered heart at his feet, and hope for some inkling of that kindness that first drew me to him, some understanding, the remote possibility to open communication again.
Although I may be (very) foolish in matters of the heart, I’m not an idiot. Revealing my heart would likely have the same effect as blocking him, and I was right. I decided to declare my love for my own well-being. For my own peace. It was what I needed to do: end with love and gratitude.
To be very, very clear, I never expected any sort of romantic reciprocation. It was impossible, as I’ve said several times. I didn’t even expect a friendship at first, let alone a close one. He initiated and pursued that, and I was thrilled at the prospect to know him better. I only expected friendship and conversations and time because he promised them, over and over. I expected kindness. I expected honesty. I expected integrity. Declaring my love wasn’t in hopes for any romantic outcome, not in the least. It was an explanation, unburdening my soul, expressing gratitude and admiration, relieving my anxiety because I was tired of crying every day, tired of waiting, tired of guessing.
So I sent a beautifully written love letter for the tiny chance it would clear the air between us with new understanding and we’d be able to talk again, to continue building what started to be such a promising friendship (or finally release it from its death throes). I hoped to reach his kind heart, his compassion with my genuine words. As much as I hoped he’d at least have the decency to respond–to respect the difficulty and courage and vulnerability it took to send a letter like that–this friend didn’t even acknowledge it, let alone respond.**
Regardless, now he knows my heart. He knows how much he means to me. How important he is to me. How much gratitude I feel for him because he showed me I can still feel love and desire…and he withdraws further.
No surprise there, really. He’s not the first.
Fortunately for me, although I’ve lost who became the most important person in my life, I have several new friends with whom I talk regularly. We share our lives via text, our sorrows, our fears, everything I had hoped to do with this very special person, but he didn’t have time for me.
You say you want to talk to me? Then fucking talk to me. I’m right here.
These new friends want to talk to me. You know how I know that?…Because…
They actually talk to me. (!!!!)
They’re present with me when we talk.
They don’t leave in the middle of a conversation without telling me they have to go.
They do what they say they’re going to do. They (take the 10 fucking minutes it takes to) respond to an important email.
They behave, you know, like friends.
**Update 4/1/15: He did respond after I posted this article, and it was unnecessarily cruel. I had only asked for kindness in the face of such vulnerability, the kindness that first drew me to him. I didn’t ask for romantic reciprocation, and I only hoped it would clear the air so we could continue our budding friendship with a new understanding.
He chose to be cruel, which I suppose further shows who he really is, but I didn’t deserve cruelty.
I deserved kindness.