Thursday, July 17

No more avoiding

I definitely avoid telling people what's new with the boyfriend. Not just on the blog; people I know. It took me over two weeks to tell my mom that we got back together, and even then I only told her because he's my date at my cousin's wedding. I wondered, why do I hesitate? Am I uncertain about the relationship? Embarrassed?

Maybe.

Or maybe it's because I get such awful responses. People roll their eyes, laugh, or groan. "Again?" They say. It's like they forget I have feelings.

When I told my mother, during a late-night call, the phone went silent. I braced myself.

Finally: "I don't know what to say."

"Okay..."

My mother went on and on: I always go back and forth with the relationship, this is difficult for her, blah blah blah.

Instead of reacting to her statements, I calmly replied: "You seem upset, Mom. Why are you so upset?"

"I'm just trying to protect you."

I had to point out that for all her judgments, she never asked me how I felt about it. She didn't even ask me why we got back together or how. She simply disapproved.

I am not a fool. I don't know if this relationship will last, and it still has problems. But it was my decision to get back together. I should not have to apologize to anybody about that.

The last time we broke up (in May), it was for several reasons. He refused to move to New York, and I couldn't commit to living in Los Angeles. Beyond that, there were several communication problems that I was unwilling to fix. Most importantly, we didn't talk about anything substantial. I kept envisioning us, finally living in the same place, having nothing to talk about. We'd go see a movie and have a five minute conversation afterward: "What'd you think?" "I liked it, you?" "It was ok." The clink of silverware would fill the air.

I was satisfied with my choice to split up. A few weeks later, I broke the silence to check in. He told me he wanted to get back together, to which I angrily listed every problem I had with our relationship. Every problem, down to his roommate's "Get me a beer" poster hanging on his living room wall.

He didn't fix everything that's wrong. Again, I'm not a fool. I even bet that poster is still up. But he told me a few things about himself. He told me about coming out of a depression caused by losing his best friends, being lonely, and feeling purposeless. He told me he was willing to move to New York. He responded to my concerns and acknowledged that it would take a lot of work to make things better.

I'm used to hearing promises like this. I was skeptical and angry at myself for getting back together. Sure, he sounded more mature. But that might not make any difference. It would turn out exactly how it had before: we would be close for a little while, but nothing would change. We would have short, vapid conversations and he would continue to close himself off.

To my surprise, we've had several non-vapid conversations. The first was about politics. I've always hated talking to him about politics, because he's pretty conservative. (In our first private conversation, way back in high school, he asked me how I thought the world came into existence. After my bewildered response (Big Bang), he told me he believed Genesis.) I was shocked, then, to hear him say "us" in reference to the Democrats.

Yesterday, I left a meeting with a director in Park Slope. Walking to the subway, I checked my Blackberry and found an email from him. He told me that he was proud of all the work I've been doing and felt lucky to get time to talk to me in spite of my schedule. He then caught me off guard, saying:

"I feel like I haven't always known what I was doing with our relationship, like how to act. I knew how to make you feel good about yourself, I knew how to compliment you, and how to be sweet, etc. But that kind of stuff (though I have always been sincere) seems kind of shallow, and until recently I don't feel like I was fully intuitive toward your feelings."

He ended the email with a bit of a confession. During the wedding, we are going to be separated most of the time because I'm a bridesmaid. In the past we've had arguments about him not coming to family events, and he finally admitted that he felt awkward around my family. In the email, he told me he was intimidated by how well I got along with his family, and said that in the past he would have found an excuse to avoid coming to the wedding. But he wasn't doing that anymore.

I was touched by his honesty. Talking about his feelings? Deciding to do the uncomfortable thing and sit on his own with my family for hours?

Obviously I haven't told him about my mom's reaction. I'm hoping she behaves herself.

13 comments:

crystall said...

I get where your mom is coming from. relationships that are...not easy can take a toll on other people. however if this is what you want, I think your reaction to her and your bf's amazing support is a step in the right direction. good luck!

ÄsK AliCë said...

My mom ALWAYS makes remarks about my on-again, off-again (off maybe for good this time?!) guy. Like about him not commiting.

Um hi, Mom? Have we met? I'm your commitment-phobe daughter - nice to meet you.

I getcha. And sounds like he's trying to change and sees at least a few of the issues...

Good luck

Sipwine said...

Mom always has a say. Sometimes she's right, sometimes wrong. (IN my case, she was right, I ended up throwing up my meals for 4 days after the "final" break up with my bf, after getting back together with him twice, but she has been wrong before).
You can always tell someone this: "If I don't do this, and I listen to only you, then when I look back on my life and I think I let "the one" get away because of you, I'll blame you."

That usually shuts people's traps.
Everyone has advice, just 80% is usually talking-out-the-ass bullshit.

Lillith said...

I've been lurking on your blog(s) for quite a long time. You need to know that you're not alone. Every single word you've ever written I could write. My re-boyfriend (together, apart, together, apart, together, apart - together, again: thus re-boyfriend) and I have done this for almost three years. Everyone I know rolls their eyes and sighs dramatically when I admit we're back together again.

I hate that you're having to go through all this, too. My mom is just like yours. A big part of me just wants to scream "Can't anyone at least pretend to be happy for me for one damn minute!!!!"

Perry said...

My wife and I have been married 3 times. Currently separated, but trying to work things out still. We love each other, we just don't cohabitate well. Can you imagine the looks and comments I get? I quit talking to people about it. Good luck and if you love the guy, give it your best so you won't have to live with any regrets!

Jen Kucsak said...

I hate it when moms are all up in our relationships. I totally understand how much they care... etc. But at the same time, it's OUR relationship! We're old enough to realize our mistakes. Good luck with everything!

Dropout! said...

Or maybe it's because I get such awful responses. People roll their eyes, laugh, or groan.

Aw, I bet I laughed when you told me. To make up for that, I'm writing a new blog post? Eh?

To be fair to me, I only hypothetically laughed because I knew your break-up wouldn't last and was just waiting for you guys to figure that out.

just a girl... said...

It seems someone always has something to say about our men. It looks like this time he might be on the right track.

M in SF said...

wait. are you dating my ex??

and i really hate to say this, but moms are usually right.

but always easier said than done, wish you luck!

Delicieux said...

I had one of these guys :) There's just something about them that makes you hang on. And for whatever reason, you're with him right now for that particular reason.

Have a fabulous time at the wedding! And don't worry about apologizing to anyone about your own decisions! :)

Jen Kucsak said...

Ugghh I HATE when mom's get all upset about the guy we are dating. I understand that they want to protect us, but at the same time, they are not dating the same guy we are. It's our decision!

Wanderlusting said...

Mom's (and friends) are usually right. I've gotten so sick of my all my friends and their "on-again-off-again" relationships because, like Crystall said, it can be hard on the other person to have someone cryin on your shoulder every few months. Sometimes its worse than hard, its infuriating, especially when you are a friend who is just trying to give good advice and the person just does not listen.

That said, these people are still my friends. I still support their decision and am still there for them. But I can tell you, the minute they start crying or complaining, I can't listen and I am so tired of saying "I told you so."

You sound exactly like you know what you are getting into and it's your life. Your mom (and/or friends) are just worried about you that's all but they'll still support your decision in the end. And you never know - it's your life! Love doesn't always come easy to everyone.

Me! said...

You have to go with your gut on this one, not anyone else's reactions. My college sweetheart and I were on again, off again for awhile. Finally broke up "for good", which lasted six months. We've now been married two years, and it's been AMAZING. I had my issues, he had a few too, and I guess we finally allowed the time for them to work out.

Hope it works out for you!