A week ago I wouldn’t have gone to listen to this musician.
Instead, I would have laid in my apartment on a Friday night, watching reruns of Babylon 5 and wondered.
I would have laid there doing the mental gymnastics I’ve done for 10.5 months wondering, “What should I do now?”
I would have spent time contemplating how to “protect” © and keep her “safe”? How to show © I care and love her. I would have spent hours agonizing over what © needs and wants, and what was best or right or true.
I would have spent my energy guessing how to take responsibility and what else I could do. I would have done what I have done so often over the last ten months: I would have spent my energy guessing what was happening behind ©’s mask of silence and how I could best love her.
And probably Tweeting Ester Perel and reading story after story of betrayed Partners.
© told me to take responsibility, but when pressed she simply went silent…again…and left me to guess. So I guessed: Where do I live? When can I come home? Can I email her? Call her? Should I write a letter? Send her a book about recovering from trauma? Send her more money? Send her less money? Should I just show up? Is she saying this out of anger? Does she mean it? Is it a test of my commitment? Did she tell people to say that?
That has been my Pattern for 10.5 months: endless nights and weekends guessing.
Her Pattern? More of the same silence.
So I sat and waited for answers that will never come.
I would have laid there holding both my love for © and the pain of her rejection, struggling with how to both and honor the experience.
But now isn’t then…
I saw clearly in how many lifetimes I’ve made ©’s space and feelings more important than mine. How many times and places she has been my Queen.
I saw clearly how nearly everything I have done since © asked me to leave I have filtered through a guesswork of, “How will this impact ©? How can I show to her she has always been the one for me?”
I see clearly now how I allow her silence to manipulate and hurt me.
I saw clearly how my pursuing answers from someone frightened of vulnerability left me endlessly wondering about the past, the present, and the future. How the Pursuer-Distancer Dance brought out the worse in Us. How her willingness to use Flying Monkeys to carry her anger is a reflection of something deeper, truer, and Uglier about her.
I saw clearly how unwilling she is to look to her own Patterns while I dissect mine, bleeding over and over, as I dig deeper into the damage, exposing it to the light as I clean out the wounds.
I saw clearly how many times over our seven years together © ran and left me do the hard things with work, money, the boys, the relationship, art shows, and the business. I saw clearly how she used me to hide from the adulting leaving me responsible for the emotional and financial weight of our lives together with no concrete commitments in return.
For the first time, I clearly saw her betrayals in relationship to mine.
Dr. Deb asked, “Sean, based on what you’re telling me, can you tell me, what was © responsible for contributing to the relationship? Do you sense the inequity of your promises to keep her safe? How did she keep you safe? Give me an example of where © has your back?”
I sit in Dr. Deb’s office and think back to © and all the people she called and wrote post-discovery. I reflect on her self-serving silence as near strangers write horrendous and ugly words at me. I reflect on how quickly she cut me off and told others I am a narcissist. I reflect on how willing she is to play the damsel and felt entitled to more from me even after she told everyone the relationship was over. I reflect on how she abandoned me at the Broad Ripple Art Show and left me for hours guessing about what to do next and where she went as I struggle between protecting her, working the booth, calling the cops, or keeping the peace.
I think of all the times she disciplined the Twins by shouting, and whispering, “You better do XYZ, or Sean will be mad.” Constantly making me the heavy forever wounding my relationship with the boys.
She carries nothing.
I reflect on ©’s dire warning early in our relationship: “One day I will wake up and all my resentments and anger will make me snap and I will be done. I won’t talk about it beforehand.” I wonder now if I subconsciously heard that to mean, “There is no future here if I’m left to constantly wonder: is this when she snaps?”
Not one time in 10.5 months has she asked me if I’m safe or okay. Not once in the years, we were together had she apologized for being wrong or hurting me.
Not once…because she doesn’t believe she has.
What I realized Friday after talking with Dr. Deb, is © isn’t thinking of me or giving what I need or want a second thought. She uses my vulnerability and love as a weapon to gain attention or sympathy, fueling Hero after Hero, triangle after triangle with each new Hero.
While I’ve spent energy nearly every day over seven years, ten and a half months considering ©’s safety, needs, and wants, looking at ways to create a way back through counseling, adulting, and vulnerable truthfulness, © has been doing what she has always done: running, hiding, and recruiting new Heros.
Over the last 10.5 months, I’ve spent thousands of hours alone, driving from place to place, leaning into my pain and loss, owning my decisions and consequences, sending © money and loving energy, patiently trying to love her, and digging into my Ugly through counseling, friendships, and journaling.
But on Friday, as I left Dr. Deb’s office, I accepted the truth: there is no future.
It doesn’t matter to © what I do or say, it doesn’t matter to her what I need or want, it doesn’t matter to her what happens to me (as long as she isn’t inconvenienced), it doesn’t matter to her what harm she has done to me, it doesn’t matter to her I slept with my ex-wife, it doesn’t matter to her what I’m doing, or where I do it because if © cared about any of those things she would have made some effort to dig into the truth of our life together as she has made to pretend our life never happened.
It hurts to face this truth. It’s humbling.
However, embracing Radical Acceptance, “means completely and totally accepting something from the depths of your soul, with your heart and your mind. You stop fighting reality. When you stop fighting you suffer less.”
I find myself, without awareness, having walked through the door of Radical Acceptance.
The moment I awoke to the reality that © doesn’t care about me, our life, or our future, I am free. I am free to go dancing. I am free to walk into any place and order a beer. Free to ask a friend that loves me, accepts my Ugly, and hasn’t run, to dance with me.
I don’t have to buy. I don’t have to sleep with her. She simply wants my company, without any promises.
I am not responsible for how ©, or her Love, perceives me or my life and the stories they imagine…because of the silence © has embraced, all she has are stories and a belief that my life is still all about her. Because of her silence, she will never have any closure which would require risk, uncertainty, and emotional openness.
I once promised to keep © safe and protect her and the simple, beautiful elegant truth is this: I care deeply about ©’s well being but her healing, safety, needs, and wants are not my responsibility. I cannot do for her what she is not willing to do for herself. All I can do is offer to hold her hand and listen if she wants to talk.
However, because of her choices, I am free, and no longer bound, in this life or the next, to any promises to her. I have met my responsibilities to her.
And in my freedom, I am discovering a better Pattern for living and loving. A life with less suffering…and more dancing.
And in the process, ironically, had my questions about the real © answered.
That was Friday.