Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The end of the beginning.

It's hard to tell a story when you know at least part of your audience has very strong feelings about it.

So, I'm going to try my best to just be completely, painfully honest.

I met The Ex-Boyfriend Formerly Known as Mr. Wonderful at Starbucks. At first, he didn't recognize me, on account of my hair being longer than he's ever seen. He sat down and basically vomited out this apology: he'd been thinking about it for months, and he just wanted me to know how very sorry he was for how he acted in our last months together. He wanted me to know that I didn't deserve the way he treated me, and he had nothing but great things to say about me.

Oh-kaaay.

I asked what caused this revelation, and he didn't know - he just needed to tell me. He was vibrating with nervous energy, and he looked smaller than I remembered.

And then, we commenced upon The World's Most Uncomfortable Small Talk. How are your parents? How is your family? How is your house? How is your job? Seen many concerts this year?

There were long pauses.

Finally, I asked, "How's the Ladybug?"

Ex-Wonderful laughed. "Actually, the other day, she was playing with those magnets you gave her and she asked me, "Daddy, what were the names of Cha Cha's dogs again?"

At this point, I started pinching my hand under the table so that I didn't start sobbing.

I mentioned that the Geriatric Poodle passed away. Then, I asked, "So, does it bother Lisa when Ladybug talks about me?"

Ex-Wonderful flinched. He hemmed and hawed, and asked if he could consider his response and answer later. I said he'd better answer it quick, and I picked up my purse. He asked if we could go for a walk because he didn't want to get emotional in front of all of the coffee shop patrons.

I agreed.

Lisa doesn't mind when Ladybug talks about me in the context of dogs or magnets or whatever. But Lisa gets upset when Ex-Wonderful talks about me, because it makes her feel like he's not over me.

"Well, are you over me?"

"No ... no, I'm not. I'm still in love with you."

And then I dropped dead from a shock-induced heart attack, in the middle of the parking lot outside of Starbucks. I'm actually writing this from purgatory. The wi-fi isn't bad here, actually.

Actually ... I didn't drop dead. I ran my mouth. "Not over me? You weren't done with me when you started up with Lisa!"

"No! I wasn't with Lisa when we were still together ..."

"My experience was that you were having an emotional affair with her. That devastated me. I deserved better than that."

"Well ... it was ... it was inappropriate. You're right. That wasn't fair to you, it wasn't fair to Lisa, and it wasn't fair to me."

"I don't feel sorry for you."

"I deserve that. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

And we sat on a bench. And it was quiet. Then he said, "You know, we stood in a parking lot towards the end of our relationship, and you told me you'd do anything to make it work. I realize now I should have paid attention to that. I should have listened."

"Yeah, and instead you left me sobbing in my car in the parking lot of a fucking Duds 'n' Suds. I didn't deserve that."

"It was a Duds 'n' Suds?"

"Yes."

"Wow - you're right. But only college students go there. And ... Mexicans."

"You shouldn't have left me there."

"I know. Duds 'n' Suds."

"Duds 'n' Suds. I hate that fucking place."

"Yeah, it should have at least been a dry cleaners."

"Yeah. Even a $1.99 Cleaners. Anything would have been better than a Duds 'n' Suds."

So we joked. And I realized that my arms were crossed, protecting myself, but it was also so odd for him to be sitting at the opposite end of the bench. There was silence, and at one point he said, "You know, I don't mind sitting here in silence with you at all. It's comfortable."

Which led him into a soliloquy about how he could always be himself with me, and how he missed that, and basically how ideal and perfect his life was when we were together. He was confident and felt loved and felt like a good friend and partner and was good at his job. "I was happy," he said. "We had so much fun, and I was really happy."

"So what happened?"

"I got greedy. The grass is always greener."

And we sat in silence some more.

Later, he said, "When I broke up with you, my dad told me, 'you might very well regret this for the rest of your life.'"

Then he nodded ruefully.

I looked at the clear night sky and tried not to cry.

He told me he doesn't love Lisa; that he's seeing a counselor; that he's realizing how much I gave and how it nearly killed me; how he can't look to another person for his confidence and self-love and how that has to come from himself; how he needs to learn how to be happy alone; and about a million other things.

And I mostly kept my mouth shut, mostly for fear of what would come out. However, I did tell him that my wish for him was perspective.

I couldn't stop the tears when I realized that I had once memorized his entire face, and it was so odd for that visage to be there in front of me, the same.

Once the initial nerves wore off, it was easy to be together. We talked - and sat in silence - for about two hours. Finally, he walked me to my car.

There, he hugged me. And the Earth ceased to spin and the stars stopped shining and we couldn't get close enough. We always fit together so perfectly, and that had not changed. My head fit into the crook of his neck, and his arm circled my waist and his hand smoothed my hair, and we stood like that for a very long time, trying to memorize it. In a fucking Starbucks parking lot.

He thanked me for the "gift" of meeting with him, and said he didn't know if we wouldn't talk for years or what, but he'd always be thankful for the time I'd granted so he could say what he needed to say.

We hugged some more. I never told him I accepted his apology - I don't know that I do. I never told him I loved him, too. I guarded my words and my heart.

Then, when I drove off? I sobbed like a wounded animal. I'm not quite sure how I got home.

And today? Today, I've been crying in my cube a good portion of the day, confused and angry and so sad and lonely. I don't think he fully understands the damage he inflicted on me. I don't know if he is wired to ever understand it, or if he's supposed to. I guess that's not my concern.

However, I have been fighting an urge to e-mail him and say, "Get yourself straightened out. Then come home to me."

20 comments:

SCREAMING FOR CHOCOLATE said...

Oh my gosh Cha Cha. This has to be so hard for you. Whatever you do don't make it so easy for him to come back. If you do take him back make him WORK for it.

After what you have been through it may never feel the same. Take things slow. Very slow. And take deep breaths.

It sounds like he is going through so many things and I would hate for you to get hurt again.

Dorrie said...

I agree with screaming for chocolate. Will you ever be able to trust that he won't do it again? Will you ever be able to let your guard down around him? Having jumped back in to broken relationships several times over the years, I have come to believe they rarely work, at least for me.

This man has damaged you. You are guarded and fearful when it comes to relationships now. Just as he has to learn to love himself and depend on himself to be happy, you need to do the same before you can be happy in a relationship again. I think you were amazingly far down that road for just having your heart broken in the last year, but I think you have more road to travel.

I think you are a great person with a lot to offer and would love to see you happy in a relationship with someone, even Ex Mr. Wonderful, I just don't think you are ready to be in a relationship and I think you know that and it hurts. You will get there Cha Cha.

Now please go do something nice for yourself - you deserve it!

dallasdiva said...

Dear Cha Cha,

I can't believe how parallel our lives are in so many ways. I too have that man from my past.

Sadly, our relationship had more of a yoyo quality, so there were at least 3 times I walked away (and then we would some how be back together) before it finally took.

The hardest part was knowing that I would have never, never wanted that relationship for a friend, and I would have been horrified for anyone to return to some one who was so careless with another's heart.

Please don't take him back because you are tired or scared or miss ladybug or think that the bad wasn't so bad.

Take him back because he treated you so well and made you feel so loved and cherished that you are lucky to have him. If you aren't feeling that, don't let the other emotions suck you in.

My heart hurts for you. I'm here if you need a shoulder . . .

Gretchen said...

I don't know how you didn't spend the entire two hours balling! Way to keep it sucked in! (I could not have done that, no matter how I felt about the other person.)

I can't wait to hear more tonight at book club. For now, know that you are loved. (by all of us.) I think it took balls for him to tell you all this. Kuddos to him. He does have a lot to work out, but so do you.

I'm not sure if you can ever go back. It sounds like he has had relationship issues his whole life. Do you want to spend yours being his experiment, not knowing if it will last? Oh, too much to say here. Can't wait to talk more....

Jennifer VM said...

Oh HONEY!

I'm so mad that I'm back hundreds of miles away! Wow. It must have done your heart some good to hear him acknowledge how hurt he's been and to hear his apologies.

It's not your job to fix this or fix him. Take some time to process this yourself, be nice to yourself, and see what happens.

Love you tons!

Angie said...

Just wanted to say I care about you and think the world of you. The only advice I've ever been given worth passing on to you now is "breathe." Hugs

Linda Crispell said...

I'm literally speechless!

Andi said...

Wow. I agree with DallasDiva, in that I had the same situation with CCB. I always knew he was The One for me, but it took him several tries to figure it out for himself. I felt undervalued (for want of a better term) because I didn't understand why I wasn't worth fighting for. Now I realize his issues were his alone and had NOTHING to do with me. He had to work out a lot of stuff on his own before he felt WORTHY of a relationship like ours. And once he did - once he came back to me for good - it has been the most rewarding relationship of my life.

I know you want to share your feelings with Mr. Wonderful, and you should... but slowly. Let him work out his stuff without your love and your needs clouding it. That's what he needs right now.

And seriously, I have been exactly where you are right now. If you ever need to talk, you know where to find me. ;-)

Trenches of Mommyhood said...

Oh. Wow. Thinking of you.

Iron Needles said...

Sometimes what is so comfortable is just the familiar. It is not that it is healthy for us.

But we each need to decide for ourselves what that is.

A gift of time was given. That may be enough for now.

Karen said...

I am so sorry. I wish you the best of luck in deciding what you want.

I just found out my boyfriend of 4+ years has put himself out there online to find someone else. And I know I should be really upset and hurt, and I am, but part of me just wants to tell him to "straighten yourself out, and then come home to me" too. So I have no advice just sympathy for how hard all these conflicting emotions must be, just know you are not alone.

drawer queen said...

Cha Cha, please come for some free yoga from me. It is so good to calm and clear your mind (and make your body feel great!) and let the inner wisdom shine through. Seriously, come. Email me if you want to come. I will set up three classes for you to see if you like it. It might be just what you need to get you through this very confusing, frustrating, emotional and difficult time. It really can help. I want to help however I can!

sherilee said...

I can't think of anything helpful to add that hasn't already been said, but I wanted you to know you're in my thoughts.

you gotta wonder said...

You are loved. I support you, whatever you decide. Bless you for sharing this with us and letting us love you.

~annie said...

My first reaction is: Run, Cha Cha, run! because I've been there, done that. However, I do not know you or all the ins and outs of you and the Ex. So I will amend that to: Take it very slowly, one day at a time, even one hour at a time. Put yourself first and do things on your terms.

SCREAMING FOR CHOCOLATE said...

And we are all waiting patiently to see how you are doing. And thinking of you.

LaDue & Crew said...

I love you Cha Cha... This made me cry. I wish I had eloquent words of wisdom. But I don't, and I am sorry. {{{hugs}}} from me to you. You are a blessing. ;-)

Tracye said...

First of all, thanks for sharing - you know we were anxious for it. I'm not going to offer any advice, as I only know the cyber-you that you choose to share, so how could I possibly know what's best for you. All I know is that life is messy, sometimes hard, sometimes makes ya cry, sometimes worth it, sometimes not. It's life - no script to follow. Glad you met up with him or you'd always wonder "what if" - and I'm really glad you looked so different that he didn't know who you are - because really, he doesn't anymore. No one is the same after they get their heart broken. So do what makes you happy, even if it ends in tears, because you never regret the happy in life.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Wow. Holy emotional avalanche. I admire your fortitude--and your willingness to meet him WITHOUT slipping a vial of arsenic into his coffee.
Here's to your peace, whatever comes of this.

hope505 said...

oh...my...GAWWDD!! !! I haven't been online in a few days and see? See what happens around here?

Well I cried reading this. I wonder what'll happen now... ... ...! Careful cha cha! But how romantic...
<3