So. I broke up with Mr. G. It happened in a haze and I don’t like the way it rolled out – me. tangled up in emotion and letting my anger and frustration marionette my limbs and throw my words. I stormed out and walked away from a conversation (something I need to work on) that was going nowhere because. it felt fruitless. I felt like the conversation was being deflected from talking about us. like I wasn’t being heard. We went in circles – driven by defensiveness and frustration – as it went in a similar conversation between Mr. G and I the week before.
People give a slight gasp and say, “Oh no! What happened?!” when I tell them about the break up. There’s no simple answer so I’ll attempt to give you a more than simple yet not too complex response. Now, this is only one side of what happened and only how I viewed the relationship. I am only sharing what I felt and saw, which is how I prefaced my conversations with Mr. G. Mr. G had his own experience (that I wish I knew).
“I don’t feel connected to you. I feel like you don’t share yourself with me and that you have become more distant. I wanna know! Your thoughts, your fears, your dreams.” I had been feeling like I was picking up most of the slack in terms of being vulnerable and attempting to deepen our level of intimacy. This is how the conversation began (after clarifying to Mr. G that what I had to say was neither right nor wrong, nor a criticism of him…”Everything I am about to share with you is what I feel,” I said. My intention for the conversation was to deepen our connection through conversation. strengthen our relationship via reciprocity: I’ll talk, you listen. You talk, I’ll listen. (easier said than done).
After our first talk, we were able to get to a place of calm. some tears were shed. we acknowledged the cycle we tend to spin into – a whirlpool fueled by my anger, his defensiveness. We agreed that either of us would initiate a time-out in future when we knew that we needed to stop, take a break. before we say something we don’t mean. otherwise something might happen that we don’t necessarily intend. like breaking up. exchanging keys, packing up PJs, rain boots, records, guitar. We forgot to use the time-out.
This is not the first time we have broken up. It’s happened multiple times. I’ve broken things off with Mr. G a few times over the past year. but it was for a different reason before. I was not yet out of a previous relationship. I needed time to myself to figure things out emotionally, for school, for healing. for me. But we always found our way back to each other. Just couldn’t stay away. “There’s something about you that I can’t explain. I feel naturally drawn to you,” I would tell him. It’s visceral.
This time, the break up was spurred by things between just us. There was no outside circumstance pulling me back or confusing my emotional compass. When we decided to start our relationship a few months ago, I was all in. Bought my one-way ticket to Vulnerability City. If you read my previous post, you know that I essentially fought my way back into Mr. G’s life after a couple of my jealousy episodes. I realized I had made a mistake. I love this guy. and I want to work this out. “We can work this out!” I thought.
I thought. I tried.
I have mixed feelings about the break-up: relief, sadness, frustration, anger at the situation, confusion, enlightenment. all of it. everything. But, I wasn’t happy in our relationship. I told Mr. G that, and I told him why. I was hoping we could talk through how I was feeling and I wanted to know his thoughts and his feelings, but instead I found myself responding to defensiveness, to which I would say, “You’re not listening!”
“You always say that! I’m not listening.”
There’s only so much clarifying one person can attempt. and only so much time one can withstand stagnant or regressive intimacy in a relationship. only so much a person can carry in a relationship. There’s only so much I can carry in relationship.
A dear friend shared a quote with me that I love. and fits quite nicely here:
“I will take care of me for you, if you will take care of you for me. ” – Jim Rohn
This captures love to me. Some say you have to love yourself before you are able to love someone else (I’ve said it.) but now I think that the processes can be parallel, symbiotic. Only. both people have to be in that space. together – aware, ready, reflective, and willing. It’s a balance of selfish and selflessness. and perhaps Mr. G and I are on different planes? We can physically inhabit the same space, but relationships are more than that. so much more. There’s a whole world inside each of us that only we can share with each other. and it can be scary as shit to go there, to share it. but that’s part of the process. the abstract construct of love between two people takes two dreamers, two sculptors, two minds, two souls, and two hearts. It doesn’t work when one heart is open and the other is closed.
Now. I know what it is to have a closed heart. It’s not by choice. We’ve had early experiences that calloused over our belief that we are good enough, lovable, valuable, worthy. I’ve had to soften the callous and crack open my heart ribs. I had to learn how to put words to my emotions. and I did through years of therapy and self-work. I still struggle with those negative automatic thoughts. but I struggle. I mindfully struggle and want to learn from the struggle. I want to grow from the struggle. And I hope that I am able to share in this struggle and support another’s struggle with someone who shares this view, this belief, this goal.
In her book, Hold Me Tight, Dr. Sue Johnson wrote, “The ability to attend to our partner’s deeper disclosures is the beginning of mutual responsiveness and engagement. The word attend comes from the Latin ad tendere, which means to reach toward.”
Reach toward. Exactly. To form these connections and build intimacy, we must reach toward each other. and keep reaching. Dr. David Schnarch wrote, “Desire mobilizes you to become more than you are, to reach for things beyond your grasp.” The relationship I want and the love I seek may seem beyond my grasp at times but I want to become more than who I am to reach it. and hold it. in a safe space where only (s)he and I can go.