Thursday, 16 July 2009

You keep coming in and out my life

Something bad happened.

It was shocking news that made me stare at my computer screen and think "How? Why?". I could imagine him trying to make sense of it and slowly realising that I would understand, because it's happened to me.

He likes to know why things happen, and if they have no rhyme or reason then the issue will sit on his shoulders until he can make sense of it. He doesn't like to brush things under the carpet.

Bad things have happened to me, too. Shocking things that have come out of the blue and made me very sad. They happened one after the other to people whose ages ranged from 43-79, over a relatively short period of time.

They effected me more than I think he and I realised at the time; it made me all too aware of the fragility of life and how quickly things can be taken away without explanation. At the time he didn't understand what I was going through, he'd never come close to something bad happening to someone he loves. But if him understanding meant he had to experience something similar, then I'd rather he remained naive.

But there's a flip side to being there for him, and that's the nagging feeling deep down (and from my friends) which tells me it's not my job any more. That I'm teetering on offering too much, whether that's practical advice, as an ear who understands, or actual physical time. He might only want my support over the course of one phonecall, or an evening, but in my mind it takes up more than that. I don't switch off when the phone gets put down or I get on the tube home.

Last night I met up with him, mostly to talk about the bad thing, but also because we'd been emailing while I was in France, talk of catching up. I wanted to see him and I think he wanted to see me. Trafalgar Square had a plinth with a Lollipop lady standing on it, she wasn't doing a lot really. We went to get food, and as we sat in the restaurant I looked around and saw that we were surrounded by other couples. You'd have thought we were one, too. Laughing, joking, catching up. Getting things off our chest; my debt, his housemates. Venting frustrations. Life as per normal. Back to Trafalgar Square, via Haymarket and Leicester Square. Sitting down and watching the opera which was randomly being screened in front of a plastic mac clad audience, against a darkening turquoise blue sky. Another woman was on the plinth now, taking photos of the crowd.

Suddenly he noticed the time, 9:48pm, said it was getting late and he had to go. As I'd glanced down at his phone, I'd caught a glimpse of his phone screen, the dialled numbers. I saw my name, now suffixed with my initials, as if Jo or the nickname I used to have in his phone wasn't appropriate any more. Two down from there and listed was another girl's name. It hit me like a kick in the teeth, innocent or not, friend or more - whatever - it was there. We hugged and went our separate ways.

Look, I feel as if I'm missing a trick here. Out of the loop. Can't see the blindingly obvious.

Whenever my friends talk to me about their relationship problems, or when I read blogs, quite often you see what that person doesn't. Whether they're receptive to that view is another matter, but you have the benefit of impartiality. Right now, I feel a bit like someone needs to go "Look, you blaady eedjit, can't you see that...." because I honestly can't see what's going on. I need an outside perspective.

When we meet, we don't refer to the break up. We don't talk about our relationship, not since it ended that night on the South Bank. We don't talk about what's going on here, why we e-mail each other, why he turned to me when something bad happened. There's so much I want to talk about but there never seems to be a time, place, or way to bring it up.

What the hell is going on?

PS. I'm writing this on a bit of an impulse. Not sure if I'll keep it up.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps you need to take it at face value:
for a long time, you and him were the most important people in each others' lives - you can't just erase that. He needs someone to talk to and he trusts you and knows you have been through something similar.

I hope it gets easier. Hugs.

Elaine said...

What the hell is going on?


My husband and I separated in 2005.It is now 2009. 4 years.

4 'let's try agains.'
4 years of trying to move on, but not being able, or not wanting to, or trying...but it not working.

4 years of wanting to go back, but not being able or willing to.

4 years of limbo.

4 years of still reaching to each other in the bad times.

4 years of going to bed alone.

It sucks. x

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Honestly, he should find someone else to email/lean on. That's so unfair to you. I had to man-up and leave someone alone that I cared very much about (Still do. Had a dream about her this very morning.)but it was in her best interest, so I did. It's not easy, but it's what must me. Big raspberries on him.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

blueskies - It seems straightforward enough when you put it like that. It doesn't quite cover the rest of the contact though. It's like there's something not being said.

Elaine - But did you both feel the same? Did you talk about how you felt? Me and my ex don't, we don't talk about it. Without talking about it, there's a massive elephant in the room for me. It does indeed suck big balls :( Nice to know you're still reading x

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Unbearable - You are voicing the same opinion as a friend of mine, who I talked to yesterday at work.

"Her: Can I be honest?
Me: No.
Her: Rhetorical question. It's not your job any more. "

Then I think, would I be upset if he hadn't told me? Gone to someone else, a mutual friend, and I'd found out that way? Possibly.

Anonymous said...

He wants his cake but wants to eat it too. Quite simply.

He doesn't want a relationship but he wants you to be there for him.

And you still have feelings for him so you let him.

It makes him feel better about it all if he thinks he's being 'friendly' (the emails) and it's lovely for him to have you to turn to...

but like someone said, as hard as it is, that's not your job any more xxx

db said...

It seems like he might be the kind of guy who takes awhile to completely open up to people. His past connection with you (as well as your similar loss) probably makes him more comfortable talking to you instead of this new girl. But does it mean that he wants to get back together with you? No. Should the two of you get back together because you can share these painful moments with each other? No. Truth be told, he is using you--in a way. If I were in your place, I know I would prefer that he told me instead of talking to someone else. But you shouldn't think that it means anything more than a temporary shoulder to cry on.

Anonymous said...

Let him go girl. Move on and don't let him screw with your head this way. xxxx

Reluctant Blogger said...

Oh fiddlesticks. I had no idea you were still in touch with him.

I know how hard it is to cut someone out, believe me, I know. It hurts like nothing on earth. But probably it is easier now - because you are emotionally more distant from him than before. You MUST do it. However much you feel sorry for him, however much you feel you have this or that left unsaid. Do it. Refuse to take his calls, don't read anything he sends. But better still just make him promise not to get in touch. If he has any respect for you he will do it.

But you are not me. It worked for me and enabled me to heal and move on. And whilst it was hard I am SOOOOO glad I did it.

But you are you and you have to do what is right for you.

But don't let him use you. I don't mean in a nasty way - but in a needy way. Just don't.

Ellie said...

Do you want a relationship with him?
Do you want to be back with him? If he called and asked if you could start again, what would you say?

Think about it. If you'd say yes, then probably best to stay away. Distance yourself.

If not, then I think it's just the natural pain of separation. It takes time. I kind of agree with blueskies ... just take it on face value. But, why not ask him directly?

Huw said...

If I might be so bold as to venture an opinion:

I think, for both of your sakes, he needs to cowboy up a little here. Being friendly with each other is great - bravo, very adult, etc and so forth - but you aren't the person he can go to with this now, and nor can you to him. Sad stuff, harsh though it may be, happens a lot, and that's what your nearest and dearest are for, or you grow a pair and be British about it and pretend everything is okay. If he's decided you no longer fall in the nearest and dearest category, then I don't see why it should be delivered to your doorstep.

From what little insight I have to this situation though - i.e. next to none - I just get the impression Jo that, for you, even the just being grown-up and adult - bravo, etc and so forth - might be a bit more than you need. The emails and occasionally meetings might make you feel like you aren't flushing something important away completely, but they will slow the recovery down. How quick you want to recover is down to you though.

Now, I will remove my beak, and explain away being so overbearing by stating you wanted that outside perspective. I'm just glad you didn't ask this on Twitter...

Miss Milk said...

I'm not sure how appropriate it is for me to say this given the subject matter, but as a piece of writing I really liked this post.

As for The Issue... my personal method of dealing with my own recent break up has been to stay as far away as possible, especially since he broke up with me (the same situation you were in, I gather) and that always leaves you in the more vulnerable position.

So far, my way has been working for me. It's not mature and for now it involves flat out ignoring him when I do have to see him, but I think if we'd remained close friends and confidantes I'd still be heartbroken right now. Instead, I'm fine, and I'm moving on.

You were with your partner a lot longer than I was with mine, you went through more, and he loved you once. All of that makes it a million times harder. But for me, I still think the easiest way to cope is to let that person become a stranger. You don't need him - you'd be surprised at how many other people pop up to fill the 'close confidante' position when it's vacant.

And if he needs you... well, he can suffer.


Fenz said...

I think a lot of the time it comes down to familiarity. You and he know each other, you've been there for each other in the past, when you were in a relationship. Out of habit we tend to go back to those who have been there in the past, those who we feel most comfortable with. It has nothing to do with a relationship or lack thereof. It's up to you to decide if you want to be a part of that sort of arrangement.

James said...

I'm always of the opinion in these situations that you get things out there. Don't have an elephant in the room.

You're a couple which has broken up, yet are gradually communicating more and more. Just say it how it is... Ask how each other feel, explain what you want and don't want. And if you can't have those conversations honestly then I'm not sure you've got any sort of connection that is worth keeping.

Games and second guessing and all that nonsense just drives you nuts (well it does me)

Elaine said...

We do talk, rather a lot. But not about the past. When we do that, we argue...and blame...and get nasty. So we sweep it under the carpet and pretend none of it happened.

But the memories (of the bad times)are still there along with the knowledge that if we got back together again, it wouldn't work.

So we live apart. Speak daily. Spend weekends together, but with no intimacy. Neither of us wants to be with anybody else, but neither do we want to be a 'proper' married couple and live together again.


Big, sucky limbo.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

PJB - No doubt I still have feelings for him. I just wonder whether he still has feelings for me, or whether he's just trying to brush it all under the carpet and doesn't understand what emailing and meeting and contact means to me.

db - Yeah, some fairly hard stuff to take in there - but I wanted opinions, so thanks :)

Anon - Easier said than done!

Relucs - I cut him out for about 8 months, was very strong with myself for a long time after we broke up. It was realising that keeping my friends - our friends - means I'd have to see him and opened the gate to more communication. I think if we didn't have the friends, I'd find this a lot easier. But he's in my social cirlce, I'm not prepared to lose friends over a breakup. Thank you for the comment, you always make a lot of sense.

Ellie - The answer's yes, I would say yes. Maybe after a few days of token thinking, although it would be a relatively bad idea. If we met up and argued relentlessly it would be different, but we meet up and get on just the same as we did when we first met. And this, you're right, means I should stay well away. I can't be friends yet but he's asking me to do friend stuff.

Huw - An outside perspective is just what I wanted, and your comment is just that. So thanks. You also talk alot of sense, particularly about needing to talk things through. It is a very british thing to bottle it all up and choose to ignore the facts and feelings.

Miss Milk - Thanks for the writing compliment. It was a fairly mutual break up in that it had been a long time coming, he acted whereas I would never have done it. But it was a relief of sorts for someone to make the decision. I spent a very long time with no contact, but that meant cutting out a lot of friends, so gradually we've been in contact more. I need to be strict with myself again.

Fenz - Nail on the head there I think, thanks for that comment - it makes a lot of sense and kind of correlates with what blueskies was saying about taking things at face value.

James - It drives me nuts too, I'm not good at keeping stuff inside to boil up (hence the blog, and occasional crying in bed over things that my brain imagines, ala last night) and he used to be someone I could talk to about it. It needs to come out at some point.

Elaine - God, that's so difficult. What happens when you both meet someone else then? Would it hurt just the same as if you'd broken up a week before, or would there be problems if one of you tried to see someone else? I read your blog for a while and you and your ex seemed to have such an amicable relationship, although it's no doubt a difficult one to upkeep.x

Around My Kitchen Table said...

Perhaps it's time you both moved on. You split up, presumably, for good reasons and, presumably, those reasons haven't changed. It sounds like he's using you as a crutch which is not fair to you. You deserve more and better. I'll say it again. YOU DESERVE MORE AND BETTER.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

I do deserve better - thats what I told him the night we split up. I suppose I just have to keep reminding myself of that. Although if I had to write down a definitive list of all the reasons we split up, I think I'd find it difficult to pin point exactly why.

Thanks everyone, helping me clear my head as always..x

Time Traveller said...

Babe please dont waste any more of your time on him. I've wasted three years in limbo like Elaine. It does indeed suck.

If you must meet him (I really DO NOT advise this) then don't hang onto things he says, doesn't say, does, doesn't do. Like the phone list, like a look etc. it just breaks your heart, over and over again until there's nothing left to break.

We do the thing of 'not talking about us', mainly becuase he doesn't want to. He's selfish enough to not let me go, knowing full well that the contact will keep me in limbo.

If he wanted to talk about 'us' he would do.

Don't find yourself in the same situation a year from now x

Anonymous said...

TT has wise some words there.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

She does indeed Perp.

TT that's really good advice, thanks, I've been thinking about it a lot since I read it yesterday actually. I hate being in this weird place where we both contact each other as if we're friends but I know that's not what I want. You no doubt know how difficult it is to not respond to emails or ignore text messages though, but luckily he has been fairly sporadic in the contact (as have I) compared to some others. But you're right, I don't want to be still clinging to the possibility of us getting back together a year, or even months from now. It'll be a whole year we've been apart in October and it feels like that date is whizzing towards me, I want to have moved on by then. I don't want to have to be with someone else to help me get over him, but sometimes it's feels like I'll have to. But then it's frustrating not to be able to find even someone to have a fling with. The single / rebound dilemma.

Time Traveller said...

October will come and go and you'll still be in the same place,if you don't make that desicion and stick to it.

He might be seeing you has 'happy' as your posts seem to suggest and think its ok to contact you now, not realising what it does to you.

About the rebound relationship comment. I was thinking the same, that I didn't want to 'see' someone else until I was completely over him, but it didn't really work out like that. I liked someone and he liked me, its not the same as THE EX but its nice and we know where we stand. It helped me move a few more steps forward.

Just keep doing what you're doing and maybe tell him you need some time (6 months - 1 year) with no contact. You'll contact him when your ready. If he cares about you, he'll listen. If he wants to be with you, he won't listen. No lose situation.

Kirses said...

I'll tell you what happens when ex's stay friends, both of them remain single for a really long time. In my Boyf's case - 5 years while they still hung out frequently and were eachother's plus ones.

The other thing that happens is that one of them gets really upset when the other eventually starts seeing someone else and then proceeds to make the new girl's life and new relationship difficult...

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

TT - I know sometimes people give advice and it falls on deaf ears, and it's the most frustrating thing in the world. Often it's the most irrational thing and they tell you to do the opposite of what you feel like doing, but whenever I've followed people's advice over this breakup, it's done me the world of good. So I'm going to take your advice.
Really, actually am.

Kirses - You're right - and I've always said I didn't want to be that ex. I've experienced the ex who was hanging around in the background, too, and know it's never something I can do. But the only way to not be that ex is to stay away. Coz they only hang around to see if there's a chance of getting back together. Fact.

Kirses said...

Thankfully the ex who plagued me for a year or so finally got her shit together and found her own boyf about a year ago...she still lives downstairs but with her boyf now...

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Bloody hell, she may have moved on but not out, eh? A bit close for comfort, I bet.


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