Today was Olivia’s going away party, so I’ve been down in Alexandria since about noon. After the shindig, I headed back over to Rob’s with them for some coffee and playtime with his pups. While I was there, Chris unexpectedly called. I debated on answering it, but given I was with my brother, my number one confidante through this whole ordeal, I had to. It was… weird.
Just like all the times before, he didn’t want to talk about anything in particular. He told me that he wanted to call me more often, more than just once every couple of weeks. He’s called at least once a week since we split, but I didn’t mention it. I reminded him that we’d just talked on Wednesday, and he said, “I know, I just haven’t been very regular about calling, but I want to get better at that.” Uh, okay. But why? You wanted this separation. You wanted to work on your addiction and your inability to function in a relationship on your own. You chose this. So why do you want to talk to me more frequently? I genuinely don’t understand.
I thought all those things but didn’t say them.
He rambled on about a snafu he had with the new mattress he bought for his apartment being too big for the bed. He commented about how Ikea doesn’t do cash returns, so now he has an $800 gift card that he doesn’t know when he’ll be able to spend. He made a point of telling me that he didn’t want to commit to a lot of furniture for this apartment. So… does that mean he thinks he’s going to be coming to Colorado at some point in the future? He went on to ask about what day the movers would be cleaning out the storage unit, and I suggested he meet me there to get any other belongings he wanted as they were shifting things around. More to himself than to me, he wavered on if he wanted any of his things or if he’d just “figure it out later.” What the hell is going on?
Finally, I asked him if he’d be coming to our therapy appointment in person or if he was going to call in. “Oh, I’ll definitely be there. I want to see you before you go. Actually, I was hoping to see you outside of that appointment. Maybe to get dinner or something?” Oh, boy. I told him that I didn’t have anything else going on that weekend that I knew of, so we could figure something out.
I was so completely caught off guard. Rob was just mind-blown. He kept saying, “This is not how relationships work! It’s like he thinks he’s in a movie. This is not realistic!” But we’ve already established (and Chris has admitted) that he doesn’t know how to 1) separate reality from fantasy (this is part of his addiction) and 2) function in a relationship. He simply doesn’t know how to adult.
I told Rob that I feel like he’s contacting me more often because he’s recognizing that I’m moving on, that I’m letting go. He sees me finding happiness, and this is his weird attempt to stay connected so I don’t drift too far away. Rob said he believes I’m Chris’s “backup plan.” Here was his analogy: “You’re a football. Chris decided he needs to ‘take a break’ to figure some shit out. Which only happens in the movies, by the way. This is not how problems in relationships are resolved in real life. Anyway, you’re a football, and he punts you clear across the field. And I use the word ‘punt’ intentionally because that shit hurt. So he punts you across the field, but then tells you that you have to stay within the bounds. And he calls you every so often just to say, ‘Hey, you’re still on the field, right?’ How fucked up is that?”
I’d never really thought about it that way. The thing is, Chris is so completely not self-aware that he doesn’t even realize what he’s doing. Rob suggested that I just stop answering his calls. Don’t have to be angry or mean, just don’t pick up. It’s not doing anything good for either of us.
But with this appointment coming up in just one week, I need to figure out what I’m going to say. There’s a lot that I want to say.
In the last two months, I’ve actually come to enjoy being on my own. I do what I want, when I want. I’m in complete control of my household, my activities, my future. I don’t turn down things I want to do because I’d feel bad leaving you home alone sulking and isolated. I also don’t do things I don’t want to do just to grasp for a connection that’s not there anyway. I’ve found my self-respect again.
At the same time, I’ve realized that there were more things I was missing than just sex. I missed being in love. I missed feeling desired. I missed feeling adored. I missed that feeling in my gut that told me everything was right. I was nothing more than a roommate with you for years. You were not just sexually unavailable. You were emotionally unavailable. And neither is acceptable for me.
While I feel I have made huge progress in the last two months, you’ve given me no indication you have. You’ve told me snippets of how you’ve been working toward sobriety, but otherwise, it’s all doom and gloom. You’re miserable in your new place, you’re miserable at your job, and you’ve still found no new healthy friends or hobbies. I know these things take time, but you need to understand that I have no interest in reconciling while you’re still in this place. I cannot live in despair again.
Reconciling is also not just as easy as finding happiness. You’re a complete stranger to me now. You’ve told me your story. This cycle you have of being on top of the world, starting a new relationship, then diving head first into this dark place. You’ve done it over and over again. Which means, you’ve never truly been a healthy adult. So have I ever even met the real you? Who will you become when you do take control of your sobriety and your mental well-being? I know you won’t be the man I’ve lived with for the last six years. But I don’t think you’ll be the man I met and fell in love with either. I think the real you — the man that will come out on the other side of this — is someone nobody’s ever known. And I can’t just magically be in love with a stranger. Hell, that man might not fall in love with me either.
Our recent conversations make me feel like you consider me a backup plan. Something to fall back on if staying behind doesn’t work out the way you hope. I can’t allow myself to be a consolation prize. I feel like you recognize that every day I’m letting go a little more, and the more frequent phone calls are an attempt to force me to hold on. And that’s incredibly unfair.
I don’t know how much of this I’ll actually say on Saturday. But when I see his face, I’ll know in my gut.