Feb 202014
 

hourglassAn unfortunate consequence of falling sand is that it grows heavier as it piles up.

Every slight (both real and imagined) feels like a punch to the gut, and every little miscommunication feels like a blow to the heart. Each tiny grain of sand feels like a boulder atop an already-impending landslide that threatens to bury us both. It might. It might not. I’m not sure how much it matters — the end is coming either way.

J and I are preparing for the oncoming spring, both separately and together. Historically, it’s not been an easy time of year for me, and for him, it means tying up loose ends of his life here and making a new place for himself out west. We’re both feeling raw and exhausted from fighting the impulse to pull away, shut down, and wall ourselves off from the other to spare ourselves some measure of the pain we know is coming.

line break

This past weekend, we were fortunate to spend time together, despite his error and despite my making it a million times worse.

My approach to what I’ve perceived as J’s infrequent moments of inconsideration has been to ignore them. What good is working on a relationship that’s about to end? I do very little to acknowledge the situation, and instead, wait quietly for the hurt to subside. If I allow some minor emotional bruise to take a place of prominence in my mind, it compounds and grows and will ultimately require so much more than quiet to get past.

So I pull back a little. It’s not in any dramatic way or for any significant length of time, it’s just my way of managing a small and temporary distance to keep minor instances of hurt feelings in perspective (in light of the daunting size of what’s to come).

On Friday, I didn’t realize how much he needed me at the exact moment I pulled back. He was vulnerable and emotional… and I had no idea. He tried to step back too, but was unable. When he vocalized his own hurt feelings, I was crushed. Of course, I don’t enjoy causing him pain (not the kind I don’t intend), but more than that, I was so fucking angry that he failed to spare me his feelings when I do so much to keep him safe from mine.

Of course, he didn’t know the degree to which my feelings were hurt because I do so much to hide them. That’s my own fault — it’s a consequence of the choices I’ve made in trying to navigate our twilight without mangling my heart, or his heart, or the time we have left.

In the wake of a small issue that grew into something else, J admitted he would have to work on being less vulnerable in order to keep his heart safe.

I understand it, but I can’t help but hate it.

Keeping his heart safe from vulnerability and pain means keeping his heart safe from me.

While I want so much more of him, and want so much more from him, I won’t destroy him to get it. I won’t push J to make himself vulnerable to me if it causes him a pain I cannot mediate. I love him too much for that. I love him more than I love myself.

line break

hourglassWhat does it all mean moving forward? I don’t know.

We talked a little. I revealed a bit of what I’ve held back and accepted the fact he might have to hold back too. I understand why he might have to be less open and less vulnerable, both in general and to me. I understand it, but I don’t have to like it.

What it meant to the rest of our weekend isn’t clear to me, either.

After we talked, we had a lovely time together. I threw myself into all of it and enjoyed him thoroughly and completely… but not without tiny nagging questions in the back of my mind about how much he was holding back, about what parts of himself he was keeping safe (from me), and about what more it might have been if not for Friday’s friction.


“The Sands of Time” (2013) by Alexander Boden. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)
“In Search of Lost Time” (2007) by Alexander Boden. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

  12 Responses to “holding back; moving forward”

  1. You’ll excuse me if I process some of my own issues on here.

    I’m in the Theories of Counseling stage of my grad school program and have been confronted each week by what the Great Thinkers of psychology have had to say. I was confronted by Adler telling me I have no courage if I refuse to change (my perception of Adler’s words, of course). I was thrown by the Existentialist reminding me that so many people choose to stay in their fear because they don’t want the responsibility of choice … and its consequences.

    I guess what I’m leading to is this: Great reward only comes at great risk. You do not impress me as a cowardly woman. I encourage you to take the risk and give yourself completely for what time there is left. Be a lion-hearted woman.

    • You’ll excuse me if I process some of my own issues on here.

      No excuses needed. :) I appreciate your perspective!

      I was thrown by the Existentialist reminding me that so many people choose to stay in their fear because they don’t want the responsibility of choice … and its consequences.

      I don’t believe choice and being in fear are mutually exclusive (not that this was Adler’s point, but it speaks to my perspective).

      Besides that, I’ve already made a choice, several actually — I’ve chosen to be “all in” in this relationship since fairly early on. I’ve chosen to stay with J until he leaves (rather than bailing out when I realized he was leaving). With the latter, I’ve accepted the consequences — being all in, staying despite an inevitable ending means stronger ties, more connection, and more of a place for him in my life… and as a result, it will mean more pain, more sadness, and more of an emptiness when he leaves.

      I’ve also chosen to keep some of myself from him — the parts of me (and parts of my experience) that I know would destroy him. He knows I’m broken about him leaving — he doesn’t need the gory details. He knows I love him — he doesn’t need to know how much (not that I have words to describe it).

      Great reward only comes at great risk. You do not impress me as a cowardly woman. I encourage you to take the risk and give yourself completely for what time there is left. Be a lion-hearted woman.

      Agreed. :) I’ve already taken the risk, I’ve enjoyed the rewards (and I hope to enjoy them for a bit longer) and I suspect I’m only starting to deal with the consequences now.

      As for being lion-hearted, I think I have been somewhat brave in making the choices I have (selfishly… I wanted the rewards!). In my mind, being fearful of the consequences of a choice doesn’t negate the lion-heartedness required to make it. (I’m not sure who I’m kidding here — I had no choice… I fell in love). :)

      As for giving myself, I won’t give him (burden him) with the parts of me that will be broken when he leaves. That’s not for my benefit — it’s for his.

      (As for Adler and the school from which he came, while I appreciate their contributions, I’m no fan of the humanistic view of subjectivity, determinism, rationalism, or individual autonomy/agency… but such are the existentialists… I suspect they’re more useful in counseling-related disciplines than in my own areas of interest)

  2. I was going to say that you are so brave … but further comment feels superfluous after your scorching self-insight, not to mention night owl’s professional knowledge.

    But seriously. I wish I had the courage to do what you are doing.

    • I know, right? Night Owl is fucking smart. :)

      Also, thank you. My apologies for the far-too-deep introspection — it’s my nature. I couldn’t avoid it if I wanted to. :)

      As for bravery, I have very little. Most of me is motivated by those rewards Night Owl mentioned — they’re more than worth it. He’s a good man and I’m happy with him — I’m very, very lucky to have him for whatever time we’re granted.

  3. I can so relate with this, and yet at the same time i can’t begin to understand how stressful it should be for both of you. Not so long ago i was in those shoes, my partner which i love was leaving to the mid of the country towards the west coast and i am staying in miami for the next 3 years at least, is really amazing how much stress the fact that the person you love is leaving can put in a relation. Is a constant depressive feeling, the stress causes fights and fights, you start thinking of ignoring issues and enjoying the moment because is about to end, that makes every little fight even worse, and every time you fix things momentarily you wonder what if, how strong is your love if you are pulling through all this, honestly it really f***** sucks. D just you will pulled through but if you want a bit of advice from someone that went through the same thing but on a smaller relation in matter of time, be raw, be loud and enjoy every moment, don’t hold anything back, at the end of the day he is leaving and you want for him to know what you are feeling, because while there is really no point, it can be argued that there is no point to holding anything back anymore

    • be raw, be loud and enjoy every moment, don’t hold anything back, at the end of the day he is leaving and you want for him to know what you are feeling, because while there is really no point, it can be argued that there is no point to holding anything back anymore

      I appreciate your thoughts, Tito.

      But I wouldn’t wish my thoughts and feelings on anyone — I’m intense — weighty and fast and hard with absolutely no middle ground. I love… hard… and the consequence of that bond breaking isn’t anything I’d wish on anyone.

      The point (I think), in holding back is sparing someone I love deeply from a pain I could certainly share, but one that cannot be lessened by distribution. It’s okay, though. I embrace it — it’s evidence of a love well-placed and well-spent on someone deserving. :)

  4. While this may be of small comfort to you, as I have followed your posts, I am struck by the love, strength, maturity, and care with which you both appear to be approaching a very difficult situation.

    It is my hope that you will both negotiate this successfully and emerge as better, and stronger people.

    • I am struck by the love, strength, maturity, and care with which you both appear to be approaching a very difficult situation.

      I appreciate it, Stephen. But all the same, I can’t take credit for all those lovely things you’ve attributed to me (to us).

      Honestly, I’m a coward in facing it. I wish I didn’t have to. I feel as if I’ve found my person (and I didn’t think that sort of thing was even possible!) and I’m frightened to death at the prospect of losing him.

      I don’t want to be better or stronger… I want to be myself… and I am most myself when I’m with him.

      Eh… all relationships end, right? Right.

      I’ll be a better person for it.

  5. I read your posts about J leaving and it leaves an ache in my chest every time. I feel too much and get really emotionally attached to people I don’t know.

    But this post is one of the ones that makes me hurt a little for myself too. It’s very hard to be so inside of your head like that during something that should be fun, sensual, sexual–loving, even. I know the feeling… dead in the middle of a “scene” or a conversation, or even sex, wondering… how much are they holding back, how distant are they really, what the hell is actually happening in their head and (sometimes) in their heart?

    It’s a shitty feeling.

    I’m sorry you had the friction… it’s so easy to have a dent in communication, even between two people who are excellent at communicating. All it takes is one niggling little feeling of doubt or a moment of selflessness or selfishness.

    xoxo

    • Thank you for the kind words, Fatal. I vacillate between that achy chest feeling and feeling totally Zen about it all.

      It’s very hard to be so inside of your head like that during something that should be fun, sensual, sexual–loving, even. I know the feeling… dead in the middle of a “scene” or a conversation, or even sex, wondering… how much are they holding back, how distant are they really, what the hell is actually happening in their head and (sometimes) in their heart?

      You’re absolutely right about this. I’m too much in my head as it is, so on one hand, having one more thing bouncing around in there isn’t a big deal. But on the other hand, it sucks to have to think about how much your partner’s head and heart is in the game too.

      Here’s to hoping that are dents are few and far between. :)

  6. Every-time I read one of your posts, I can’t help but hurt a little.

    I am completely in awe of you both and how you are trying to handle this situation … I can’t imagine being in your shoes. I just hope that, somehow, you both eventually emerge stronger for what you’ve shared with each other.

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