Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Butterfly Effect

You asked me if I was serious when I told you I'd go back and not get involved with a commitment-phobic 32 year old if given the chance. I told you that our three years together weren't wasted. That I probably wouldn't change all of it if I had the option. But I do wish I could've avoided all of the trauma.

It's not that we didn't love eachother. We did. We do. But I spent at least three years wondering when we'd take the next step, and why you didn't think I was worth your commitment. For a good deal of time I took your reluctance to further commit to me as proof that you were cheating, and I beat myself up constantly, worried about where you were and who you were with. Once I cleared that hurdle, I started to wonder when you were going to propose. Because you told me at my friend's engagement party that we'd be engaged by the time of her wedding. You tossed around the idea of getting married on a cruise. You kept saying "later," "soon," "not yet," and I took that to mean that it would happen, so I hung in there. But what you meant was, "I'm hoping I'll want to marry you one day, but I'm afraid to tell you that I'm pretty certain it's not what I want because that may be the one thing that will actually make you leave. And I don't know if I want to marry you, but I do know I don't want to be without you." And I guess, deep down, I knew that. But I was starving, and the morsels you fed me were just enough to keep me from dying.

As time went on, you stopped mentioning marriage, and you began again to avoid the subject altogether. You started to refer to your future and leave me out of it. I noticed it. My mother noticed, my friends noticed, everyone did. And they told me "Watch out, be careful, don't get hurt again," and I said "Oh, don't worry about me, I'm fine, I know what I'm doing..." as I laid myself down in front of the speeding train of our relationship. Then, the impact: "I don't want this, Laurie. The marriage, the kids. I just don't." And there I was, mangled and bleeding, knowing that I could've spared myself all of this.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean here, except in my case I was a guy involved with a woman who ultimately lacked commitment.

Initially, her house was "our" house, her car was "our" car, none of it prompted by me, nor demanded by me, just promises she felt it necessary to make. We did love one another. We still do. Well, I still love her, despite everything.

Throughout, because of a wicked bad divorce in her past, she wasn't sure about marriage, but she was sure about a lifelong partnership with me. And that's all that mattered to me -- the commitment. The rest is just pieces of paper. She told me I was her best friend, her partner, and I felt the same way about her.

Over the last year, though, she changed to "my house" and "my car" and all that, and there was less and less talk of life-long partnership, and more of what she had to do for herself. All this while she refused to work (she'd lose her daughter to her ex-husband, she feared, which was an utterly irrational fear) and depended on my continued financial contributions to keep her bills paid.

And now, two weeks after declaring at Christmas that we were a team and would be forever, she abruptly broke it off. Boom. Done. Over. And broke up with me over the phone, no less, to add insult to injury. And her self-description of "I'm emotionally dead, I'm emotionally fried, I can't be there for anyone, not even you" is the only explanation I'm likely to get.

So though I'm 40 and a bit further along in life than you, believe me I understand where you're at. "Mangled and bleeding, knowing I could have spared myself all this" captures it perfectly.