When HB left me standing at the door for a second time within a few short months, I was once again devastated. I was, however, determined that I was not going to do what I had done the last time: if he really didn't think that we should be together, I wasn't about to demean myself by running after him and trying to convince him that what we had was real, and right, and could possibly last forever if both of us would just take the chance on it. Instead of texting or calling, I reminded myself that it wasn't just him who didn't believe that we would be able to make it last forever, or saw that the relationship was not the best thing for either of us. I knew that I should not be in a relationship with someone who didn't share my faith, and the reality of the disparity between what HB believed and what I believed had come to the forefront several times in the eight months we had known each other. No, I told myself through my tears (and they were many!); we shouldn't be together anyway. He's not a Christian; he isn't always there for me the way I need him to be; he doesn't love me enough to work through whatever issues or problems he imagines us having in the future. I don't want to be with someone who doesn't want to take a chance on me.
I told myself all these things, but it hurt. I had been certain that spending time together without the physical aspect of our relationship would show HB how very much we meant to each other even without that, and it certainly had done that, but rather than draw closer to me when he recognized it, HB felt the need to pull away from it. After hours and hours analyzing and pondering and talking with friends and my sister, I recognized that the issues and worries that HB had brought up that night when we "had to talk" were probably not the real reason that he ran from our relationship: the reality was that he was scared to death of a real commitment to anyone. When we began our relationship, HB hadn't been looking for anything long-term, but it had turned into so much more than he had anticipated, and more than he was ready for. The fact that I loved him, and the idea that if he loved me back he would have to make a commitment, terrified him to the extent that it was easier to run than to take a deep breath and jump in.
I wondered if he was avoiding telling me his true fears, but in retrospect I believe he didn't see that he was so afraid of what we had between us. The issues he had brought up back in May were legitimate, and he grasped at them as a way to avoid the real, deeper issues.
I don't want to play amateur psychologist when it comes to HB, and I am well aware that I sound like I am making justifications for him or perhaps am a little full of myself when I say "Oh, he couldn't handle how much he looooved me!" It sounds almost stupid. Maybe my conclusions are completely out to lunch; I don't know. But it's been nearly three years of this and I almost think I can consider myself an expert in the field of "HB and His Confusing Emotional Reactions".
|It should be a degree program, really.|
July - December 5, 2010
We went for coffee and then moved quickly back into our crazy relationship, graduating from at-arm's-length chummy "hanging out" time to holding hands as we walked in the evenings, to calling each other "Baby" again, to snuggling on the couch when we watched our shows. Occasionally we would talk of our sadness that we didn't have a real relationship, that we couldn't kiss, and I always held my breath as I waited for him to burst out with "It doesn't matter anymore - I love you and I want to be with you!" Of course, it never happened. And in December, just after I had placed my order for a ring I had designed for him as a Christmas present, he flaked out again.
Once again, it happened as we were just relaxing together. "What are we doing?" he asked suddenly.
With an inward sigh I said, "I don't know what you're doing...I'm just loving you." I knew he was heading out the door again. This time I yelled at him. I wasn't about to pretend I was okay with this.
He yelled back, "We've talked about this so many times! You know how I feel about this!"
I screamed at him, "I understand where you're coming from, I understand that your worries are real for you, but I don't have to like it and if I want to be upset then I DAMN WELL WILL BE! I have every right to hate that you are doing this to me again!"
He calmed down, agreed I had a right to my anger, apologized, admitted he was selfish and confused, and trotted off in a way that had become very familiar to me.
It didn't take long for the inevitable to happen. Within a few weeks he was back in my life and, in some ways, acting as though nothing had happened or changed. We went Christmas shopping together, and I gave him the ring I had designed and had made for him. He absolutely loved it, and immediately went to the jeweler to have the same ring made for me in a smaller size.
Even though I knew what would likely eventually happen, I relished every moment we had together. I cherished every "I love you", even though they were often tinged with regret. I wore his ring with pride and was so happy every time I saw him wearing his. "I'll never take it off," he said once; "I want to be buried with this ring on." The thought crossed my mind that his eventual wife - whoever she would be, as he had made clear that it would never be me - might not like that too much, but I clung to the slim hope that perhaps he would grow up and recognize that I truly was the one for him.
|This is credited to Shakespeare, which I find doubtful...but I love the sentiment no matter who wrote it.|
This time, it lasted a lot longer. HB became much more relaxed and I began to think that it might actually become what I wanted it to be: a real courtship that would culminate in a real marriage, and I would finally really be "his". But this time, after having outwardly come to an acceptance of what our relationship was and deciding to just enjoy the time that we had together, I was the one who wasn't happy with the situation. HB was my semi-pseudo-quasi boyfriend, but we weren't together. He told me he loved me and held my hand when we were together, but he wasn't going to marry me. He even avoided kissing me for fear that we would become too emotionally involved. We both talked about the fact that we weren't together as though it was the norm, but for the most part, we acted as though we were husband and wife.
I was determined that I would get HB out of my system, and, as I had done too many times in the past, I looked for a substitute for him. I began dating, to try to find a man who could replace HB in my affections, so that perhaps I could stop feeling so strongly for him. I didn't talk about the dates I went on - which were all disastrous, by the way - until one day in June 2011 when HB mentioned that he was trying to date, but that it felt like he was cheating on me. I nodded and agreed. This was the strangest conversation to be having with the man I was in love with - here we had not kissed in nearly a year, but were intimate in a way that many people who were physically intimate could never be - and we were discussing our dating lives. HB was surprised to find that I had been dating, and it upset him. In a way, I was glad that it had come up, because maybe he would realize how important I was to him and then he would finally smarten up (ha ha...well, I can dream!).
I knew that if we kept going the way we were going, then one of three things would happen: either a) HB would finally take the chance and make our relationship a real one; b) he would panic again and run off (which, judging from the previous timelines, was bound to happen sometime soon), or c) I would finally get fed up with the ambiguity of what we had and say (both to myself and to him), "I'm not doing this anymore." I could feel myself getting closer and closer to the third option: I wanted it all, or I wanted nothing, and I didn't want to be the one left crying as he walked down my driveway again. If it was going to end, I was going to end it on my terms, and that meant completely, without speaking to him or seeing him.
When I had a very entertaining and comfortable first date - a walk around Beaver Lake - with Stu, a wonderful Christian man who set off the first sparks of attraction for me since that Starbucks date with HB, I knew that it was time to break things off. It wasn't that I wanted to jump into a relationship with Stu, but seeing that I could feel an attraction to anyone besides HB, and that there were good, kind and attractive Christian men out there available to meet, I felt I needed to do it.
With tears in my eyes I wrote a very long, heartfelt email to HB, outlining the reasons why I couldn't do this on-again, off-again thing anymore, and explaining that loving him so much meant that I had to break it off completely. I told him that although I wanted very badly to continue to spend time with him, it wasn't healthy for either of us. I know email wasn't necessarily the best way to do it, but I express myself so much better in writing than in speech (I can organize my thoughts better, most of the time!), and more importantly, I knew that if I saw him in person and tried to end things, I would break down and be unable to do it. With the support from my wonderful friend Red and my mother, both of whom walked me through it as I bawled unceasingly, I finally hit Send. And then I cried...first in despair, and soon after that, in relief.
But, as crazy as it sounds, we still weren't finished. And if you think you're getting sick of this long story, imagine how my friends and family felt when we started up all over again.