By Herb Goldberg
By Herb Goldberg
Sometimes little things just annoy me. This bothered me today.
“It’s good to see that you’re still alive,” says the woman who is likely my ex now.
So, I should probably start by pointing out that I’m a little bad at confrontation, and I’m still learning to say things like, ‘No,’ which is how every single one of my previous exes has pushed me around. I mean, it’s really amazing how good I am at finding people who will, consciously or unconsciously, happily push me around and force me into doing the things they want me to do, and nothing else.
This last situation, she told everyone including her family that I was her new girlfriend before ever checking with me on the matter. As stated in my last post on relationships, this is the second San Francisco area relationship where the new ‘love interest’ decided we were closer than we truly were – an assumption with which I am not okay.
Now, when she finally did ask if it was okay to call me her girlfriend, I felt a bit cornered into the new title. After all, she ‘okayed’ it with me during a party at which all of her friends were in attendance, and I couldn’t very well pull her aside to discuss how unsure I was about being in a relationship, right then, particularly when she’d already told everyone there that we were. So, coward that I am when it comes to confrontation, I nodded and added some related anecdote – an okay.
I sort of fell out of interest with her after that. I tried really hard to be as attracted to her as I had been before that happened, even tried to blame myself. “Oh, it must be my depression shutting me down, again.” Now, yes, I have been rather depressed for about the past … 20 years or so. However, it wasn’t until Thanksgiving, when she tried to push me to go to her family’s holiday dinner, that I started to figure out what exactly was going on.
I mean, a Thanksgiving invite can be a nice thing, and I would appreciate it if, upon telling her that I had been feeling depressed and being social at that point in time would be a bad idea for everyone involved, she had backed off. Instead, she got defensive and moody with me because I didn’t want to go. So, rather than endure a fight, I turned off my phone that weekend. When I turned it back on the following week, I had a text message from her and several voicemails to which I still have not listened. The text message asked if I had had a moment to talk, but had been sent the prior week. I didn’t want to deal with the confrontation so I didn’t respond, which is – again – a cowardly thing to do, I admit, but it’s not as though she didn’t know what was going on. I had outright told her during our ‘argument’ that I needed to be alone when I felt like this. She deals with depression issues, as well, so she should have understood… or so I assumed.
People who deal with depression shouldn’t be judgmental about other people who deal with depression. My dad understands when I’m ‘too busy’ to call him sometimes for months on end, because he has the same problem. My best friend texts me every couple of months then disappears, and I understand no matter what I’m going through. Sometimes, people who deal with depression really just need to disappear for a while and deal with it. After all, it’s not as though I’ve never reemerged. I always come back.
Today, two (or has it been three?) weeks later, I emerged. I woke up and told myself that I was going to all of my classes no matter what. I told myself that it was going to be a productive, social day. I pushed myself out of bed, forced actual clothes onto my body, and shoved myself onto the bus; I was at school.
Now, I understand that I may not have been as communicative as I could have been. I’m bad at talking about my own problems, or really anything that isn’t done via writing. I also don’t like talking to people verbally who know anything about my communicative issues, because if it’s something they’re not going to like they always use my inability to communicate verbally on the spot against me. So I write everything, I plan out difficult conversations with a list of points to address, or I simply write it down and give that to them. I think I’ve developed a bit of a handicap by doing this, but it’s difficult to practice tough conversations beforehand so I don’t know how to improve this.
I had to go to the class we share together. I almost talked myself out of it. I went.
In this class, I have a close friend who almost made me cry when, upon seeing me, she gave me a huge hug, told me how much she missed me, and instructed me to sit next to her and tell me about the past couple of weeks. So I did. Fifteen minutes later, the probably-ex-girlfriend walked in, but I didnt’ see her at first. All I know is that in the middle of the conversation she interrupted us to say, as sarcastically as she could manage, “It’s good to see that you’re still alive.”
Have I mentioned that I’m A.D.D., and that I’m bad at on-the-spot conversations and interactions?
My friend was still talking. I managed an “Oh, hi!” to the probably-ex, turned my head as my friend kept talking (trying not to lose the thread of the conversation), and when I turned back, to let her know I hadn’t forgotten about/was not ignoring her, my probably-ex was already walking away – not my best moment. I let her go; I was too distracted to think through it properly.
Then during a class that I really didn’t want to be sitting in, I started thinking. I thought, wait a minute! Granted, I never responded to her last text message, and it’s always possible that there’s a voice mail on my phone from her to which I have yet to listen. She did not, however, send any messages to see what was going on with me. She did not take into account the deep depression, which I did warn her about when it started. She ignored the fact that I had mentioned I could not endure the company of others in that state, at-fucking-all. She did not try to find out if I was better, or if I even received her messages. She has also gone months without listening to her voice mails, missing several I have left her. She’s ignored or forgotten about or simply not responded to texts I’ve sent her, as well as emails. So, as an opening statement, I found her response today to be completely out of line, and really rather annoying. That’s rich coming from you (we’re taking a Shakespeare class together… I’m allowed one cliche).
So I left class without saying anything to her, knowing that, annoyed as I was, anything that came out of my mouth was likely to be far too blunt and/or unkind. I don’t think she deserves for me to be unkind to her, so I walked away.
I think she assumed my walking away was a kind of unkindness, in and of itself. It could be perceived as such. It could be.
The thing is: I’m so tired of people pushing me into doing something they want me to do without considering my feelings on the matter, and then getting all upset about something I finally do to stand up for myself. It’s not my fault that I felt pushed into a corner, and trapped into a relationship with someone. It’s not my fault that I need a bit more time, and perhaps some real moments to feel as though I’m close to someone new. In fact, I feel as though that is how most people who live in reality feel about being in personal situations, with very few exceptions.
Why should I just automatically trust you when you went behind my back to create this situation, in the first place? Why should I take your feelings into account now, when you didn’t bother to consider mine in the beginning?
I’m being blunt now, and that’s something on which I need to work, I know. However, I think that it’s best if I work on it alone, without someone who’s trying to fit me into their fantasy world without bothering to considering the reality in which I live. Relationships are mutual. You cannot make someone live in your fantasy without considering theirs, and you cannot force someone to feel a certain way about you without earning at least some part of it. Maybe, I just exist too much in reality? And, maybe, irony is just really overrated.
I’m beginning to think that all my relationships (barring those with some family members and one or two friends) have been with people who see some idealized version of me, and assume that’s the person with whom they’re in a relationship. They don’t see or want to see the real me, and when they can no longer ignore her that’s when they’re disappointed or annoyed. These individuals try to force me into being someone I’m not, becoming surprised and/or angry when I refuse to bow down to their mental image of ‘the perfect (girl)friend.’
To add to this, in this new city in which I now live the trend is to assume an unearned level of intimacy; a trend that I cannot understand. Why would anyone want to pretend with another person, who has not yet actually proven they can be trustworthy, that they have shared experiences that have not been shared? It makes no sense to me. You cannot tell someone that the two of you ‘are really close’ when all you’ve done is share a few weeks’ worth of conversations. That is not intimacy, it is a budding friendship – relationship, if you will. Even sex is not enough to achieve intimacy, though it is mistakenly believed to be enough by many people.
Assuming that you’re at a greater level of intimacy with someone with whom you’re not is a shortcut that can only be pretended. With all this fabrication going on how can anyone maintain a relationship?
This is the real reason why marriages fail – constant assumptions, miscommunications, fantasizing, and expectations of instantaneous fixes to any problems. Until people can accept other people for who they really are this institution will continue to fall and these relationships will continue to fail. I, for one, am fed to bursting with the idea that someone can just tell me how intimate we have become, or how I should behave in our relationship. Your fantasies hold no sway over my mind or my actions.
Thanks for reading my relationship rant, and have a lovely day.
I’m really tired of people (guys especially) assuming that attraction equals relationship responsibility. Here’s the story:
I work with this guy who I had a small crush on for a little while over the summer. It turns out that he’s also had a crush on me – though I’m not sure for how long. Well, we went to a work-function where everyone was encouraged to drink and ‘get to know each other better.’ It didn’t go badly, but he really expressed his interest then and I expressed my ‘I don’t have time for a relationship right now’ position. To be honest, he had me considering a date anyway, until he let slip that he still lived with his then current girlfriend.
Now, I’m no saint by any stretch of the imagination, but I do not EVER cheat. That’s the coward’s way of doing things. If you no longer want to be in a relationship with someone, you break it off with them BEFORE finding a new lover. As soon as he told me this, I was like a robot whose on-off switch had just been pushed into the off position – I was done with him.
Given that I’d already expressed my lack of interest in a relationship, however, I didn’t tell him I was no longer interested because I felt we’d already had that conversation. He did not take it to heart, though. This guy continued to email me every day, sometimes anywhere from one to two dozen times a day, and would come and flirt at me while I was working in the office. I just responded coolly, thinking that if he didn’t listen the first time I said it then he wasn’t going to hear me if I repeated myself about not having time for this kind of crap.
Then, he broke up with his girlfriend, and starting that day and every day since until this afternoon he put the responsibility for his own happiness into my hands. I am not responsible for anyone else’s happiness! I tried that already with my last long-term relationship, it doesn’t fucking work! You are responsible for your own happiness, and the minute – the very instance – in which you place that responsibility into someone else’s hands you have lost your chances of being happy with that person. It does NOT work. Build a relationship, a life, a home, a family, etc. with that special someone, but do NOT expect them to be responsible for your happiness. It’s a trap, and it will ensnare anyone involved, cutting and tearing at everything that you’ve built together.
He’s very depressed now (says a co-worker of mine, who then added that I should try to reach out to him). Well, not to be cold but I did warn him from the beginning that this wasn’t going to happen between us. He is not my responsibility. I have brothers, parents, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, uncles who come WAY before him. I have friends who have a right to depend on me, who’ve been there for me and who I’ve been there for during years and years and difficult times in our lives. Those people are allowed to depend on me when they’re having a rough time. New friends who need help can reach out to me. Strangers on the internet who need a helping hand can reach out to me. Someone who is trying to make me do or be something I don’t want to, however, that person does not have the right or the privilege to do the same. No. No no no. I will say it again: I am not responsible for your happiness. Just because you’ve decided that we would make a good couple, does not mean that we’re ever going to be a couple.
Now, I wouldn’t be so angry (or ranty) about this, except that he sent me a poem, and I overheard him talking earlier whilst drinking. The poem was all about this ‘anonymous woman,’ and in it he talked about someone being too busy for his love. He implored this woman to slow down, and if she did he would show her how amazing it was to be with him. He went on and on about how life’s too short to chase after things that may never be, but he was a sure thing. And on and on and on like this it went. Excuse me? I’m chasing my dreams. I’m busy living my life, and pursuing goals that were not possible before I moved from New Mexico to California. …and I’m supposed to set those things aside, these fleeting things that I have put so much effort and blood and sweat and hope into, because YOU have some new interest in me? Fuck.off. I am not a possession to gain, and lock away in some room for your viewing/playing pleasure. I am a human being with dreams and goals and a life of my own.
The drunk conversation, of course, was all about how I’d led him on, turned him down, started ignoring him, and how he shouldn’t share his ‘real self’ with anyone ever again. Now, I was straight with him from the get-go… didn’t even let him know I was interested at one point because it could not happen. Fair enough on the second two points, I guess, because I kind of did… in a way. The third point, however, is why you don’t place the responsibility for your own happiness into someone else’s hands. Be down and in the dumps if you like, but blaming me for it…? No, that’s your own damn fault. You should never have assumed anything based on a ‘smile’ or a ‘hello’ or even a shared interest or two.
Anyway, I had to get that out before it ate me up inside, or I outright told him off for it. I’m not responsible for anyone’s happiness except my own, no, but I don’t need to tear someone up when they’re already down. So I rant here, instead. Thanks for reading my October Rant, and have a lovely evening/weekend! ^-^
…before I could figure out the crush was mutual.
Sometimes we’re alone together, and she does something so sweet – so cute and unexpected – that I think, “I think I’m in there… she likes me, too.”
Then we’re apart for a few days, I don’t hear back from her, and I tell myself, “Obviously, she’s just not that into you.”
But then we’re alone together again, and…